A Letter To Those Who Distributed Antisemitic Fliers At UIC

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Dear antisemites behind the fliers distributed at the University of Illinois at Chicago this week,

Privilege is defined as “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.”

My people, the Jews, have not been granted any such privileges. Quite the opposite, actually.

Since being exiled from our indigenous homeland almost 2,000 years ago, we have been living in different countries in the Diaspora, where the pattern has more or less repeated itself. We start off disadvantaged, limited as a minority in the society. But through our culture of intellectual pursuit, hard work, dedication and family – and, dare I say it, G-d’s blessing – we succeed. Resentment ensues, and we end up being persecuted and thrown out of the country. And that’s if we are lucky enough not to be killed.

Rinse, wash, repeat.

And true to form, many Jews in the US have become successful, despite starting off as poor immigrants, with only the clothes on their back.

So what your brochure is actually illustrating is Jewish success despite the odds. A culture of succeeding in the face of being disadvantaged, not privileged.

In this way, the antisemitic thinking you display is not far off from the kind of thinking that tells us Jews that we are colonizing Israel, our own homeland. The kind of thinking that looks at people who have succeeded and paints them as automatic aggressors, persecutors of the ostensibly weaker party. What you and these people fail to realize is the weaker party are to blame for their own predicament, rather than because of those who succeed despite the odds. In this case,  their failure can be blamed on their preoccupation with trying to destroy us, rather than spending their time on trying to build a better future with us.

Sure, it is easier to have a scapegoat, but perhaps taking the easy way out instead of doing the hard work is part of the problem here.

So thanks for your fliers. I hope they encourage everyone to understand we all have the ability to transcend unprivileged backgrounds.

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