Jews Don't Count- A review and reflection
In between working on Babka, I recently had the opportunity to read (or technically, listen to the audiobook of) David Baddiel’s new book Jews Don’t Count. The book’s central premise is that when the mainstream culture talks about racism, antisemitism or Jew hatred is not included in the discussion.
The book is excellent, and I can’t highly recommend it enough. Baddiel takes the issue of Jew hatred in modern culture on from multiple angles. Each section of the book is a new lens by which we, the reader, can evaluate whether or not Jews are considered either the oppressors or the oppressed, and in each section Baddiel demonstrates clearly that Jews are always judged in the worst possible light.
Moreover, Baddiel correctly identifies a deeply disturbing trend among left-leaning political communities to see Jews not only as not an oppressed people, but to buy into very old Jewish stereotypes of Jews as evil oppressors, leading to casual antisemitism in people who otherwise identify as caring deeply about racism, bigotry, and social justice.
One of the main themes that runs throughout the book is the part that social media plays in our lives, especially in the discussion of antisemitism, but also generally. As someone who cares deeply about social media and Jews that he’s working on a Jewish social media site, this is a topic I think about a lot.
For Jews online, we are largely stuck in a trap- either we accept the regular hate speech that we receive or are exposed to in places like Twitter and Facebook, or else we accept entirely closed communities where we’ll only encounter other Jews, and only other people who feel comfortable on the same forum as ourselves.
Neither of those solutions seems good to me. Jews cannot lock ourselves into a closet, or more aptly an echo chamber where we only encounter each other and are isolated from the larger world. A Jewish echo chamber not only harms us, by keeping us from meaningful connections with people outside ourselves, but it also harms the non-Jewish world by not letting them see Jews living full and complete lives, including celebrations, setbacks, interests entirely unrelated to Judaism.
That is why one of Babka’s key values is Interculturalism, and the way we express that idea of interculturalism is through Federation. Federation is the idea that there can be many social media sites, each run independently, but each able to talk to one another, allowing the members of each site the opportunity to make meaningful connections to people outside their corner of the world while maintaining the identity and the benefits of a community.
I’ll be talking about Federation this Sunday and I invite everyone to come and join me for a discussion about how a social media site can exist within a network of other social media sites, the ways that Babka will keep its identify and its values at the forefront, and how we’ll handle interactions with others, especially those with very different ideas than us.
If you’d like to attend, just sign up for the newsletter and we’ll send you the details!
In the meantime, I can’t recommend Jews Don’t Count enough and will be buying several copies for friends!
If you’d like to get a copy for yourself, here are some links that can help!
Bookstore.org has the book in both hardcover and paperback, and buying from them supports local bookstores
Kobo.com has Jews Don’t Count as a DRM-Free ebook that you can buy
The Google Play Store has Jews Don’t Count as a DRM-Free audiobook that you can download and listen to.
Written by Serge
Founder of Babka