The past couple of weeks there has not been much bedtime activist writing. A combination of the summer season, moving and a good dose of covid left the keyboard out of sight. But definitely not out of mind. Let me pick up the thread of my blogs with something that keeps on coming back, and to which I woke up this morning. For the umpteenth time, the Dutch Jewish social justice organisation I co-founded is accused for being zionist, and for that reason an unwelcome partner in the anti-racist movement. Today’s case was a reply to an announcement about a new anti-racism alliance with a broad spectrum of participating organisations representing many voices in the movement, including our Jewish one.
The eagerness with which this rhetoric moves around the Dutch intersectional anti-racism movement caught my attention before. But where earlier the pith of the matter seemed to be a problem with a perceived false loyalty with the State of Israel, echoing antisemitic double loyalty tropes, this time the accusation is used to implore silencing. The underlying motivation seems to be to question our organisation’s legitimacy in participating in the alliance.
The apriori silencing of a minority voice and the questioning of their right to participate in the antiracism movement is disconcerting. Considering the context that the past decade or so Jewish representation in the broader intersectional movement was hardly visible, and that the Jewish participation in the alliance is an attempt at changing that, this rhetoric is even more amiss. It begs the question as to why it is seemingly so easy and normalized to question Jewish concerns and why it is not being called out by others in the movement.
Working on the crossroads between fighting antisemitism and antiracism is a challenging sweet spot. There is plenty of work in either direction that I embrace: including antisemitism in the antiracism effort, disentangling the conflation between Jews and Israel, stimulating more Jewish involvement in the antiracism movement and creating lasting allyships that will bring the broader movement further. But having to prove the legitimacy of one’s existence in every single interaction is not only wearisome but points at something way more problematic. In a movement that aims to be inclusive, intersectional and safe for all oppressed and discriminated against people, this persistent discourse of silencing and sidelining needs to be tackled. I am taking some deep breaths. To catch my voice again.