Every day we read in the news or hear about one anti-Semitic act or another. Anti-Semites seem to be everywhere today but are they all the same?
Anti-Semites come in all shades of horror and hostility, which is to say that not all anti-Semites are anti-Semitic equally.
Some anti-Semites speak malevolently about Jews but limit their verbal haranguing to family and friends, while others maliciously disrupt Jewish events or vandalize Jewish property, while still others are rabid Jew-haters obsessively dedicated to wiping out Jews and Israel.
Today, from neighborhoods to college campuses to government offices and through the worldwide web, anti-Semitism is ubiquitous and takes many forms, each presenting a particular kind of danger to Jews and Israel. To this observer of anti-Semitism the wide spectrum of Jew-hating warrants a classification system of anti-Semites.
Why categorize Jew-haters?
A classification system gives a basic framework for identifying anti-Semites and provides an understanding of what kinds of anti-Semites they are, what kinds of threats they may represent, and how best to deal with them. It gives context and perspective and an order that can be used to make predictions or appraise escalations in threatening behavior. It provides a sensibility to the whole abhorrent picture, which is comprised of everything from rogues and brainwashed people to college professors and everyday citizens.
Of course, an anti-Semite classification system can be inaccurate or problematic for various reasons such as it is difficult to measure one’s degree of anti-Semitism or anti-Semites may not fit neatly into categories as they may be fluid and not limited to one type of anti-Semitic behavior, but as a general indicator for gauging and monitoring anti-Semites, a classification system or hierarchy of anti-Semitic behavior can, I believe, be beneficial for the reasons enumerated above.
My classification system of anti-Semites breaks down into eleven categories, from most dangerous or threatening to Jews and Israel to least dangerous or threatening to Jews and Israel. There is nothing scientific about my classifications; they are based for the most part on my informal study of belligerent actions and malice toward Jews and Israel as I have observed though media reports. In fact, one may dispute my categories, from their constituents to their rankings, and that is fine. My primary intention in creating a classification system of anti-Semitism is to start a dialogue on a pecking order of Jew-haters and Israel-haters, and for people to try to understand anti-Semites in the context of their rankings and the dangers or threats they present.
Category I Anti-Semite: Annihilators. These are countries, governments, state-run armed forces and terrorist organizations dedicated to destroying Israel. They endeavor to achieve their goal by the use of weapons of mass destruction and sundry other means of warfare. Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS are examples of Category I anti-Semites.
Category II Anti-Semite: Terrorists. Murdering individual Jews or Jews in groups (this being more preferable), as well as creating widespread fear among Jews, is the goal of the anti-Semite terrorist. Militants, radical jihadists and suicide bombers are among the bloodthirsty constituents of this group. Anti-Semite terrorists use bombs, assault rifles, guns, vehicles, knives, stones—indeed, any kind of weapon—and move stealthily, to carry out their attacks. They also endeavor to kidnap Israeli soldiers so they may make immense demands in exchange for them. So deeply embedded is their Jew-hatred that most are incorrigible and would gladly sacrifice their own lives in any mission to kill or harm Jews. Terrorists are often members of Category I anti-Semite entities and crave the annihilation of Israel.
Category III Anti-Semite: Sociopaths. Sociopath anti-Semites are virulent Jew-haters who kill, shoot, stab, assault, mug, beat, or harass Jews, as well as, perhaps, individuals of other ethnic minorities. They are psychologically disturbed individuals possessed of irrational hatred who may be loners or be part of hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan or white power skinhead groups. They have a pathological obsession with hating or harming Jews, as well as, perhaps, other minority individuals.
Category IV Anti-Semite: leaders, political parties and inter-governmental organizations. This category includes everything from elected officials to political parties in western and democratic nations, as well as international bodies such the United Nations. Anti-Semitic leadership can stir up violence toward Jews, and Jewish residents of countries or cities with anti-Semitic officials may live in fear. The United Nations has a long tradition of being overtly unfair in its treatment of Israel, and continually endeavors to shed a bad light on the Jewish state on the world stage.
Category V Anti-Semite: Anti-Zionist Groups. These are groups of radical, brainwashed and misguided individuals who accuse Israel of being an apartheid state and of committing genocide and other war crimes, among other alleged wrongdoings. They essentially advocate the delegitimization of Israel. This category includes such groups as Students for Justice in Palestine and Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS).
Anti-Zionist groups are very harmful to Jews and Israel and the tactics they use can be brutal. They stridently disrupt speeches, engage in vociferous anti-Israel chants, scream slurs at Jewish people, intimidate Jewish students on college campuses, desecrate the Israeli flag, sponsor anti-Israel rallies, hold “die-ins.” They pressure divestment by universities, companies and other entities that invest in or support Israel. They encourage boycotts and sanctions of Israel. They pressure entertainers not to perform in Israel. They call for an end of American military aid to Israel. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East but of course, they do not castigate any other nation in the region.
Members of these activist groups, some of whom are Jewish, and even some anti-Zionist activist groups composed primarily of Jews, often vehemently deny being anti-Semitic or take offense at such an accusation. But their actions, platform and vitriol are veritably anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. To paraphrase the old adage, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a duck.
Category VI Anti-Semite: Miscreants. This category anti-Semite does physical harm to Jewish property such as burglarizing, vandalizing or setting fire to Jewish property. In carrying out their depraved deeds they alarm the Jewish community and their crimes have the potential to physically injure people (or worse).
Category VII Anti-Semite: Inciters and deniers. A hodgepodge of people generally not affiliated with activist groups or who act mostly on their own fall into the category of those who try to stir up action against Jews and Israel through inflammatory remarks and lies: professors, authors, speakers, deniers of the Holocaust and other professional agitators. They spew incendiary rhetoric about Jews and Israel, and promulgate false or distorted information. Truth has no relevance to them; they make assertions like the Holocaust did not happen or Jews caused 9/11. Unfortunately, college professors have the platform of a classroom and often a respected college or university to give them credibility and get them attention. Indeed, it shows how far societies have fallen when colleges and universities hire or retain teachers who are deeply prejudiced and promulgate anti-Semitic and anti-Israel opprobrium to impressionable young people.
Category VIII Anti-Semite: Menaces. This group consists of those who threaten to do harm to Jewish property as well as Jews themselves. They make threats to Jewish institutions, distribute anti-Semitic literature; defame or besmirch Jews; send menacing letters in the mail. Their threats can demoralize the Jewish community. When they actually perpetrate the crimes they threaten, this category anti-Semite graduates to a higher level such as a Category VI anti-Semite.
Category IX Anti-Semite: Culturally-bred Jew-haters. It’s no secret that certain societies teach children from the youngest age that Israelis are evil, purloiners of their land, and killers of their people. Hating Jews is indelibly ingrained in these people’s minds. They grow up and live their lives hating Jews and Israelis, and unfortunately, some become terrorists.
Category X Anti-Semite: Defacers. Defacers are generally those who draw swastikas or other anti-Semitic graffiti or by writing anti-Semitic messages on homes, cars, synagogues and other Jewish (as well as non-Jewish) property. One may not be a hard-core anti-Semite to be a defacer; “milder” anti-Semites including neighborhood teens could fit into this category.
Category XI Anti-Semite: Casual. Casual anti-Semites make offensive comments or think anti-Semitic thoughts but don’t perpetrate physical acts of violence. They speak disparagingly about Jews and Israel, but may limit such comments to family and friends although there are more brazen ones who utter anti-Semitic remarks in public, sometimes to strangers, who, unbeknownst to them, could even be Jewish. That in itself affirms their ignorance. They often repeat sentiments they grew up hearing such as Jews are money-hungry or cheap or have big noses or horns.
There are also who don’t make any direct anti-Semitic remarks but utter innuendos or act anti-Semitic in discreet ways so a Jew couldn’t prove they were anti-Semitic but could sense it anyway.
All anti-Semitism is offensive but as we can see from the different categories enumerated here different anti-Semites pose different threats. With its snapshot profiles, an anti-Semite classification system clarifies the playing field of what’s out there in terms of the dangers to Jews and Israel and may help Jews understand what they are up against or who to be on guard against.
By: Harvey Rachlin
(Harvey Rachlin is an award-winning author of 14 books including Lucy’s Bones, Sacred Stones, and Einstein’s Brain, which was adapted for the long-running History Channel series History’s Lost and Found. He has published hundreds of op-eds , essays and articles and is a lecturer at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York)