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J.K. Rowling gives a master class in identifying antisemitism

By Ron Kampeas/(JTA) – There’s an unsettling debate underway in Britain about whether the right or the left is more antisemitic, and videos of Jewish members of Parliament reading out some of the antisemitic invective they’ve suffered have gone viral.

J.K. Rowling, the non-Jewish author of the Harry Potter series, decided to weigh in on Wednesday, April 18, defining antisemitism for her 14.4 million Twitter followers. She posted a screen grab of a non-Jew gentile-splaining what Judaism is – “Judaism is a religion not a race” – and gently explained why this is hardly relevant to defining anti-Jewish bias. “Most UK Jews in my timeline are currently having to field this kind of crap, so perhaps some of us non-Jews should start shouldering the burden,” she said. “Antisemites think this is a clever argument, so tell us, do: were atheist Jews exempted from wearing the yellow star? #antisemitism.”

Rowling’s head-smacking was almost audible as she sorted through responses to that tweet, including one that said arguing against antisemitism was “culturally insensitive” to Muslims. “When you only understand bigotry in terms of ‘pick a team’ and get a mind-boggling response,” she said.

She also reacted with impatience when someone argued that Arabs can’t be antisemitic because they are Semites. “The ‘Arabs are semitic too’ hot takes have arrived,” she said.

“Split hairs. Debate etymology,” she said in a tweet attached to a definition of antisemitism as “hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” “Gloss over the abuse of your fellow citizens by attacking the actions of another country’s government. Would your response to any other form of racism or bigotry be to squirm, deflect or justify?”

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