Latinos and Jews: A Perspective on MALDEF and La Voz "Anti-Semitism"

by Anonymous Saturday, Apr. 14, 2001 at 3:20 PM

La Voz de Aztlan received a threat over the weekend from the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) because of an editorial published recently with the title: "La Raza and Jews on Collision Course in Alta California." Thomas A. Saenz, National Senior Counsel of MALDEF, sent a strongly worded message that requested La Voz de Aztlan cease from publishing articles on Jews in California. La Voz addressed the controversy in an IMC posting (see April 2) that can be problematically read as "Anti-Semtic," and demands a clarifying opinion, offered by this anonymous author.

La Voz de Aztlan's sentiments are "anti-semitic" in expression, since they focus primarily on the "Jewish"

ethnicity of the suspected colluding Hispanics from MALDEF or Edison, their spouses or affiliations. But one must keep in mind that even the term "anti-semitic" is suspect since it gives a privileged status to racism against Jews, significant in light of past atrocities committed against a people, but problematized by the current oppressive character of the state of Israel.

The racial, ethnic, and class dimensions of being of Jewish decent or being an orthodox Jewish person are fluid and varied (as the working-class Jewish respondent notes above), which makes it ironic that an upper class-based, Anglo-Saxon or Central European image of semitic people has become so prevalent in the social imaginary of anti-semites and other prejudicial people. There is a reason for this, explaining how Jews have become the pawn and scapegoat of people quick to point a finger when things go awry.

People of Jewish decent, but Anglo-Saxon or European in racial appearance-a diversity that can include Spaniards, French, and a myriad of Eastern European ethnicities-have historical held positions of power in major American industries, such as the mass media, since they were a part of their inception and development as forms of popular entertainment a century ago. This has resulted in familial legacies being a part of certain industries--the "Jews run Hollywood" myth is more a product of nepotism and a coincidental tradition inherited from ancestors, coming out of

an immigrant background., i.e. 'the American dream.'

It is significant that these individuals are in positions that involve business networks and relations, which often operate along certain cultural or fraternal affiliations more secular that theological, but that does not constitute a conspiracy or racially-biased agenda. If anything, affluent American Jewish people--or of an other nationality--in positions of power are a part of a greater power structure and institution that is oppressive and unscrupulously serves its own self-interests, whether taking form of the corporate mass media or the power companies. But that does not legitimize singling their involvement out. Granted, some have other agendas, such as capitalists of Jewish decent who finance Israel and its state terror against Palestinians, but for the most part the semitic people that La Voz shows prejudice towards are a part of a larger pyramid; one that is primarily white and European in appearance.

Jewish people suffer this racial and class based anti-semitism because historically their culture has been co-opted by Western and Central European monarchies and clergy, who manipulated Judeo-Christian myth and instituted Zionism to claim Middle-Eastern land during the Crusades, and later the Americas. These are also the same parties responsible for merchant banking and financing medieval wars in the first place, their role in these sordid affairs clouded and obscured by the myth of the so-called 'Jewish banker.' More importantly, Anglo-Saxon, Spanish, and other monarchies historically appropriated Jewish ancestry and mythic notions of 'sacred' bloodlines to legitimize their rule-all those myths of the lost tribes of Israel, the descendants of King David and such. This confusing legacy has resulted in a present U.S. state where Anglo and British capital reigns supreme-obviously since much of it is inherited and passes through the hands of the true bankers and hucksters--while Jewish people take the blame for controlling the system.

Granted some Jews are responsible for perpetuating Anglo and European notions of whiteness through the choices they make in their own drive for social mobility and status. But we are all guilty in that regard-including many, many Hispanics--since white supremacy in America and in other parts of the world is so pervasive that it internally oppresses us to the point where we start submitting and aiding the oppressor.

Some Hispanics are Jewish, witness the populations in Mexico City and Miami. Is it ironic that many former Jewish

ghettos, such as Boyle Heights in Los Angeles and Calle Ocho in Miami are now Latino barrios? That says more about the history of marginalized people in America than nepotism. If Hispanics are guilty of helping Jews in shady business deals and practices, its because the same Hispanics in question are shady operators to begin with, "selling out" their own people-ethnicity is not the key factor. If Hispanic business people and lawyers are participating in the co-optation of Latinos under the white supremacist power structure, which is more invested in capital than race, then they should be held accountable without fear of censure or a lawsuit. But La Voz needs to focus primarily on the structure of the problem, rather than its color, since even that approach has already been co-opted.

Original: Latinos and Jews: A Perspective on MALDEF and La Voz "Anti-Semitism"