zizek19_Carsten KoallGetty Images_jewish and anti-semitism Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Anti-Semitism and Intersectionality

The European Jewish Association’s recent insistence on the exceptional nature of anti-Semitism raises important questions about the nature of privilege and oppression in contemporary societies. The risk is that the EJA’s conceptual framework could all too easily reproduce the very bigotry it seeks to oppose.

LJUBLJANA – On May 14, 2023, the European Jewish Association held its annual conference in Porto, Portugal, where it adopted a resolution calling for anti-Semitism to be “treated separately from other forms of hate and discrimination.” The EJA is urging “other Jewish organizations to reject ‘intersectionality,’” a conceptual framework that tends to categorize groups as being either “privileged” or “oppressed.” According to the EJA, “anti-Semitism is unique and must be treated as such,” on the grounds that it is “state-sanctioned in many countries,” “given cover by the United Nations,” and not always regarded as a form of racism by other groups affected by hate.

But why are intersectionality and the demarcation between the privileged and the oppressed problematic from a Jewish standpoint? Generally speaking, intersectionality is a useful concept in social theory and practical analysis. When we consider particular individuals or groups, we discover that their experiences of oppression or privilege reflect a wide array of diverse factors.

Let us shamelessly quote Wikipedia’s definition:

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