Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

What is Anti-Semitism?

Avi Bar-Zeev

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I’ve noticed that some people are afraid to speak up about the conflict between Israel and Hamas for fear of being called anti-semitic or otherwise racist. Many are torn by anger and empathy for both sides. Others are just so angry with The Jews for allegedly causing this tragic response to what they call Apartheid and even genocide.

I see misinformation flying everywhere, and not necessarily symmetrically. Hamas, for example, very likely misfired a rocket into a Gaza hospital parking lot and then claimed the IDF bombed 500 people inside. They also claimed they personally killed no civilians on 10/7, despite their own media as well as live posts of rape and murder to their victims social networks.

Israel, for its part, doesn’t share how it is targeting anyone in Gaza or confirm its civilian casualties, which doesn’t reduce the world’s humanitarian concerns. We get the mismatched death counts, tragic videos, angry social media posts, and not much more solid information.

I try to keep an open mind, find commonality, respect for our differences and hope everyone else does too. The biggest enemy of peace, in my opinion, is not the actions of either side but radicalization of everyone.

As someone who is Jewish but not religious, anti-semitism has been a persistent but subtle factor in my life. I can’t equate it to any other kind of bigotry. Some Americans rightly fear the police on a daily basis, and teach us all about micro-aggressions. Anti-semitism is something that comes up sporadically, lurking always, but occasionally going from zero to death squads very fast. Today, it’s perhaps a bit less difficult to imagine how it might have felt in Germany, late 1930s, as the majority of Germans remained quiet while their countrymen gassed and starved millions.

I can remember, as an 11 year old kid, being chased down our quiet tree-lined street to the shouts of neighborhood kids yelling, “You killed Christ!”

What? We had Christmas trees for the holidays, but not much in the way of religious education. I didn’t understand what they meant or how ignorant it was. I am not, nor have I ever been, a Roman soldier. And if we could ask Christ whether he would have preferred any other Jew to die to save his life, I’m pretty sure he’d say no.

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Avi Bar-Zeev

XR Pioneer (30+ years), started/helped projects at Microsoft (HoloLens), Apple, Amazon, Keyhole (Google Earth), Linden Lab (Second Life), Disney (VR), XR Guild