Twitter Explained | What’s Your #JewishPrivilege?

Twitter Explained | What’s Your #JewishPrivilege?

July 17, 2020 in Jewish World, Latest
3 Comments

Twitter is a marvelous place. Often toxic and a huge time suck yes, but marvelous nonetheless. This website (and those who use it) has the power to shape political conversation, spread excitement, end careers and flip anti-Semitic rhetoric on its head, which is exactly what happened earlier this week. 

On July 12, #JewishPrivilege began trending. A ploy by far-right (and some far-left) Twitter users and bots, the hashtag was used to spread anti-Semitic propaganda, all too common conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the media and Holocaust denial, among other hateful lies.

Some of the initial tweets came from accounts pretending to be Jewish, writing about “taking responsibility” for their #JewishPrivilege and “admitting their sins” of privilege.

And if the tweets themselves weren’t evidence enough that the hashtag surfaced because of extreme right and left-wing inciters, screenshots of conversations on 4chan, an anonymous chat and image sharing web platform frequented by many white supremacists and hate groups, cleared things up. 

Appalled Tweeters immediately began responding, using #JewishPrivilege to share statistics about rising anti-Semitism and the increase in the amount of anti-Jewish hate crimes. 

A handful of Twitter users tried to find some middle ground, by discussing the intersection of white privilege and Jewish adversity.

But this smattering of clapbacks wasn’t enough, and, not long after the trend began, Jewish Twitter came up with an organized reaction, flipping the hashtag and taking ownership of a term often used in anti-Semitic discourse.

Israeli writer Hen Mazzig tipped the first domino by tweeting the story of his family’s expulsion from Iraq and Tunisia and encouraging his Jewish followers to share their personal and familial stories of religious persecution.

The idea quickly spread, and countless twitter users coopted #JewishPrivilege to share their stories, from those of Holocaust survival to anti-Jewish bullying in schools to pride in Jewish religion and culture.

The take-back-the-hashtag campaign extended beyond the Jewish Twitter world, reaching celebrities such as comedian Sarah Silverman, former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, and TV producer David Simon.

But most surprising of all was the reach it had outside the broader online Jewish community.

Usually, seeing anything Jewish trending on Twitter makes my heart sink to my stomach. But these tweets by non-Jewish supporters, as well as the overwhelmingly positive reaction to calls for support from Jewish tweeters to their non-Jewish followers almost makes that feeling go away. Almost.

3 Comments
  • Bindy Bitterman 16:36h, 21 July Reply

    I don’t do Twitter and am not going to, but I certainly appreciate this article. I’m 89 years old, and terrified about the future Americans face. Not only we Jews, but if Trump’s nationalistic fervor (and that of some others assuming power both internationally and nationally) continue to take hold and spread, what sort of world will this be? Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it???? Dear God!

  • David S Fishback 17:04h, 21 July Reply

    American Jews are beneficiaries of White Privilege, even though we did not create it. There is no separate Jewish Privilege. What separates us from so many other beneficiaries of the Privilege is that so many of us recognize its existence and its unfairness and are allying ourselves with victims of the Privilege to fight against it.

  • Susan 11:20h, 22 July Reply

    Ask the white coal miner’s widow with no health insurance in Appalachia, how privileged she feels? Probably as privileged as I feel, the child of Holocaust survivors, child refugee of the Hungarian revolution, coming to a country without knowing it’s language, with only the clothes on our backs. We are very privileged in that we did not wallow in our ptsd, but rather created a life and a future for our children. We will not let hate and prejudice deprive us of what with the help of G-d and our ancestors, we created!

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