People demonstrate against the Drag Story Hour outside the Queens Public Library in New York in December. The stories drag queens read to children and their parents have only become the target of anti-LGBTQ protesters, whose language suggests a “convergence” of anti-Semitism and anti-LGBTQ hatred, according to one group. (Yuki Iwamura/AFP/Getty Images – photo credit)
Over the past year, a new front of hate has opened up across Canada and the United States, with drag performances and gender-affirming caregivers becoming targets of harassment and threats. But the vitriol has an all-too-familiar tone — a cause for concern, according to a well-known anti-hate organization.
The US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) warns of a “convergence” of anti-Semitism and anti-LGBTQ hatred.
“Anti-Semitic extremists and conspiracy theorists have capitalized on spreading dangerous and offensive untruths about LGBTQ+ people,” according to a January 24 article from the ADL Center on Extremism. At the same time, the organization writes, the anti-LGBTQ “fear campaign” serves to reinforce anti-Jewish prejudice and conspiracy theories.
The increase in language defaming Jews and/or LGBTQ people raises a red flag for organizations fighting discrimination for fear that hateful rhetoric could lead to violence.
“Demonizing people is the first step in perpetuating violence,” Sheba Birhanu, associate director of partnerships at the Toronto-based Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said in an interview.
“When so many different communities are hit by the same forms of hate wearing different hats, the worst thing we can do is turn our backs on each other.”
CLOCK | Family drag performances are under threat:
Same hate, different goals
For S. Bear Bergman, an American author and justice and inclusion consultant living in Regina, it’s no surprise that people with transphobic and homophobic views are using anti-Semitism to advance their cause.
“Scratch a transphobe, you’ll see a racist, right? Scratch an anti-Semite, you’ll see a sexist, a misogynist,” he told CBC News.
The intersection of anti-Semitism and hatred of the LGBTQ community manifests itself in various forms – from phrases, slogans and images to plots about wealthy Jews funding bridging operations for minors.
Last summer, Boston Children’s Hospital became the target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, harassment and violent threats over its gender-affirming nursing program, and false claims that the facility performed sex-change surgery. sex on minors. The smear campaign included a video posted online titled “Jewish Hospital Removes Wombs From Young Girls.”
Telegram channels dedicated to spreading anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ messages feature anti-Semitic cartoon stickers of a Jewish man holding a pride flag on the floor – one of many stickers included in a collection of stickers with the title “Jude” was found.
Tom Popyk/CBC News
In Pflugerville, Texas, last September, a group of neo-Nazis showed up outside a bar hosting a drag brunch, with some protesters waving Nazi flags and signs with transphobic and white racist messages, according to local media.
And, as the ADL noted, terms such as “grooming” and “indoctrination” are common in protests against drag performances and organizations that support gender-affirming care for transgender people, or when curriculum discussions that emphasize diversity and inclusion. Such tropes have long been used against LGBTQ people and Jews.
“A Practical Target”
Any hatred against an individual or group based on their creed, race, sexual orientation or gender identity is concerning, said Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, chief rabbi of Temple Shalom Vancouver and former chief rabbi. Reformers of Canada.
But, he explained, Jews are “an easy target” for what could be seen as “the evils of society.”
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
For centuries, Jews have been reviled and scapegoated for societal problems ranging from economic crises and political unrest to the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages and even the COVID-19 pandemic.
But one of the long-standing anti-Semitic expressions favored by white supremacists, nationalists, and other groups promoting transphobia and anti-LGBTQ hatred is that children are exploited.
Moskovitz said it had its roots in the blood libel, a nearly thousand-year-old conspiracy theory that Jews performed ritual sacrifices and used the blood of Christian children to make matzah, a flatbread without leaven.
Although various anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and stereotypes have persisted over the centuries, he said there is now a danger that the tools used to spread hateful rhetoric, disinformation and propaganda are more powerful than ever.
“They have [many] more weapons of mass destruction,” Moskovitz said. “You can do it from your mobile phone.”
CLOCK | Presence of hate, anti-Semitism on social media platforms:
The use of terms like “indoctrination” and “preparation” and the perception of promoting an “agenda” have also become commonplace in discourse on LGBTQ rights, support for gender-affirming care and gender diversity. For example, drag performances, including family storytimes, have been the target of protests and threats across Canada and the United States.
According to a study by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, the “representation of child endangerment” also stems from anti-Semitic motives.
Aura Carreno Rosas/CBC
“Much of this fear involves children having ‘become’ gay or transgender through disclosures in schools or through the media, institutions that appear to be controlled by Jewish people,” the study notes.
“We’re very happy to blame those we hate for the idea that they’re somehow bad for kids,” said Bergman, a Jewish father of three who identifies as a queer and transgender man.
He dismissed the perception that exposure to LGBTQ issues and gender diversity was an attempt to convert children – any more than exposure to Judaism would influence non-Jewish children to change their religion.
Instead, Bergman said he thought it was an attempt to avoid discussing equality and the issue of discrimination.
“Every time I hear a parent say that this child is too young to learn about racism or anti-Semitism, homophobia or ableism, all I hear is, ‘My family don’t ‘is not directly affected by this prejudice,'” he said.
Bergman said expecting hate talk is not a privilege given to families like his.
“Do you think I can decide when it’s time to explain to my children what homophobia or transphobia is? ” He asked. “Do you think black kids should wait to learn more about racism until their parents feel ready? Do you think Jewish children will have to wait to learn more about anti-Semitism?
CLOCK | Crowd drowns protesters during Drag Story Hour event:
Education and allies
CIJA’s Birhanu said “addressing hate makes people uncomfortable” and that there are often “backlashes when something is seen as progressive or out of school”.
But she said she knows firsthand how hate can thrive in schools and the importance of education in combating it.
Birhanu described attending a Jewish cultural club in middle school and seeing other children walking by gesturing in a Nazi-style salute.
Such incidents continue to occur in schools: last March, for example, the Toronto District School Board — Canada’s largest school district — experienced at least six anti-Semitic incidents in a single month.
Education is a tool to fight prejudice, but Birhanu and Moskovitz stressed the importance of alliances and others spoke out against all forms of hatred.
“Jews won’t stop anti-Semitism,” Moskovitz said, “it will be non-Jews who will stand with us, just as Asians won’t stop anti-Asian hatred and LGBTQ people won’t stop. not anti-Semitism – LGBTQ hate”.
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