It’s Not Always Anti-Semitism

Two police officers knocked on my door yesterday. Apparently they’d had a call about suspicious activity at my house, something about someone calling in that they didn’t recognize my car. They said there had been some break-ins in the area recently. They checked my license against the car registration, got confirmation that I did indeed live here and own the car, apologized and left. The whole thing was very cordial.

I told my friend about it after and his response was “I guess you have an anti-Semite for a neighbor”, which really annoyed me. Whats the origin of this knee-jerk reaction that any seemingly negative thing involving a Jew is a product of someone with a deep-seated hatred of Jews? Based on what the cops said, it’s safe to assume I have a skittish neighbor, probably an older person with the free time to observe the neighborhood and worry about things, especially if there have indeed been burglaries in the area.

I’m halfway curious and halfway disturbed at the idea that I have friends who apparently view the world through the prism of “he hates me, she probably hates me, I think I saw her smirk at my yarmulka when she handed me my coffee…” I can recognize the origins somewhat. My generation grew up with a plethora of holocaust literature and stories from the shtetl, all of which can reinforce the idea that you live in a dark world where your local barista is just waiting for an Austrian dictator to ship you off so he can loot your house and take your stuff. I’m mocking a bit, sure, but I’d rather think that I have an overly cautious person on my street who’s suspicious of youngins, than someone shaking a fist at that damn Jew while thumbing a dog-eared copy of Mein Kampf.

3 Responses to “It’s Not Always Anti-Semitism”

  1. Yeah that Mein Kampf, great read that one.

  2. Harold Hecuba Says:

    The thing is that it very often IS anti-semitism. To slip into the mindset that the banishment from England (700), Spanish Inquisition (500), even the Shoah (65+) are all so freaking long ago, so what’s the big deal, is not very astute in terms of cultural awareness or self-preservation. The mainstream North American & perhaps European mindset towards Jews has improved very slightly in the last one or two generations, but there IS still everything from mild disdain to immense hatred to be found there. The influx of new immigrants that is taking place in most Western nations is also bringing those vehement “old world” forms of anti-semitism back to areas that had been becoming more moderate in their views, as some newcomers don’t seem to realize that there is some baggage they are simply not entitled to bring here. So, it’s not always anti-semitism, but it still is such a little too damn often for me & responding w. a “What’s the big deal?” attitude isn’t prudent.

  3. Edward Berg Says:

    Harold,
    I’m 2nd generation. It could just as easily been that his yenta neighbor saw what she thought was a strange car in his driveway and was concerned for the safety of her “nice Jewish” neighbor. Why so quick to go to the bad place, as my wife likes to say, when talking about racism and anti-semitism?

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