This article currently appears in Lay of the Land: https://layoftheland.online/2021/07/21/but-you-dont-look-jewish/
Antisemitism takes on an additional and sometimes distinctly misogynistic element when aimed at Jewish women. *Warning – contains language some may find offensive.
“But you don’t look Jewish”. I have lost count how many times I have heard this. I normally respond by asking the protagonist what they think a Jew looks like. “You don’t have a Jewish nose” is often the response. Epic face-palm moment.
There is a perception that Jews fit a certain stereotype in the way we look. Over the last year or so, as antisemitism rises, so this has come more to the fore and ugly stereotypes are rearing their heads. This time there is a new iteration – singling out Jewish women.
Following the recent conflagration between Israel and Hamas, there has been a misogynistic element to the antisemitism that women are experiencing. Movie star joker, Seth Rogan, most famous for toilet humour type antics and smoking his fair share of wacky baccy, piled into journalist, Eve Barlow, after she wrote an op-ed for Tablet Magazine describing how some of the anti-Semitic invective online resembled an “online pogrom”. Barlow was vulnerable, sharing some of the horrendous messages she and many of us who are active online, receive on an almost daily basis.
Rogan’s response was to trivialize and mock this by commenting “Eve Fartlow” – with a fart emoji.
Mature, isn’t he?
Many were quick to defend Barlow, calling out Rogan’s rather flatulent response.
Barlow wasn’t alone. In an op-ed for Tablet Magazine, fierce and fabulous social media maven, Emily Schrader, describes her experience with some of the online trolls. She shares some of her “messages” here:
“Go suck Netanyahu’s ball [sic] … Hey slut I will bomb your house.”
Another stated, “Your vagina is so dirty and disgusting, I can assure that it was a rape of an Israeli dog [sic].”
During the height of the conflict with Hamas, a convoy of pro-Palestinian goons drove through suburbs of London where there are large concentrations of Jews screaming:
“F*** the Jews, rape their women”. Because raping Jewish women is going to “Free Palestine”?
But last week there was an incident that really motivated this article. Fashion designer and podcaster, Recho Omondi, who hosts the show “The Cutting Room Floor”, trotted out some distinctly anti-Semitic stereotypes to “call out” (yes this is a verb from the dictionary of Woke) ManRepeller Founder, Leandra Medine Cohen for her “privileged upbringing”.
Omondi in this episode, in which Cohen discussed not realizing until recently that she “actually grew up rich” despite being raised in a “privileged environment” on the Upper East Side.
“I couldn’t stomach another white assimilated Jewish American Princess who is wildly privileged but thinks she’s oppressed,” Omondi said on the episode after ending the interview with Medine Cohen, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.
“At the end of the day you guys are going to get your nose jobs and your keratin treatments and change your last name from Ralph Lifshitz to Ralph Lauren and you will be fine.”
From where I write this in the diverse state of Israel, Jews are a kaleidoscope of multiple ethnicities. We are blonde hair (dye not withstanding!) blue-eyed like me, we are Jews from Ethiopia and India, South America and Scandinavia, the USA and Europe. I thought the term “Jewish American Princess” went out in the 90’s like stone-washed jeans and boy bands but evidently not. We are not all “spoilt princesses”. Some of us fled Arab persecution, survived fascism, walked from Ethiopia through the Sudan to freedom and are the descendants of names of relatives that echo through the generations, names of relatives who perished in the Holocaust. To diminish us like Omondi did to nose jobs and hair treatments, negates our noble, proud and more often than not, tragic history.
It made me think about a time in my own history when I was personally diminished as a Jewish woman. At the age of about 20, I worked for a radio station. This was a time that long preceded the “Me Too” movement and sexist comments towards female staff was just another day in the office. I was the youngest and only Jew and the running joke used to be that if you broke a mirror or needed to break a curse of sorts, then one should “F*** a Jewish woman – then you will have good luck”.
Without the wisdom and confidence of age, my reaction was to look slightly uncomfortable, say nothing and cry in the car as I drove home, feeling humiliated and diminished.
Speaking about my experiences, and these are just a few of many, is deeply painful – but an absolute necessity. We are having important conversations about tolerance and racial discrimination. Not all discrimination or racism is experienced in the same way. For Jewish women, the reduction of us to mere sex objects to be derided or spoilt princesses with bad noses coupled with the usual gross hate invective that is the every-day experience of Jews is untenable.
We need to be included in the conversation and we need to be taken seriously – not reduced to fart emojis. This is our lived experience – online and off. We need to summon the courage of our ancestors, because that stubborn, brave, will to survive that was in them is inside us as well and remember who we are. The descendants of queens, matriarchs, priestesses, mothers, pioneers, trailblazers, judges, warriors and Zionesses.
The time for us to roar back is now.
And if my nose is not petite enough for some, it is time they checked their moral compass.