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The Abuse of Jewish Fragility
Abusive relationships require victims to internalize their abuser.
When someone is in an abusive relationship, they often have to construct a mental model of their abuser in order to survive. They use this mental model to understand what will set off the abuse. If I do this, will they attack me? Every action is run through this mental model of their abuser to see what will trigger abuse.
This is incredibly draining for the victim. Not only do they have to expend all the energy for what they want to do, but every action has a second layer of being run through this mental model before acting. This is a form of emotional labor, meaning unpaid, often invisible work that a person is compelled to do by others to keep them happy.1 In an abusive relationship, this keeps the victim in a state of hyper-vigilance, because if at any point they fail to do this labor, they risk being harmed.
Unfortunately, this abusive relationship dynamic is the current dynamic between activists against genital cutting and Jewish fragility. If at any point those against circumcision express their thoughts or feelings in a way that triggers Jewish fragility, they risk abuse. This abuse can take the form of anything from slurs and insults to actual incitements of violence. When Jewish people call activists and survivors “Nazis” or “antisemites,” they are inciting violence since violence against people in those categories is socially permissible.2 Jewish organizations also have systemic power with the ability to deplatform people from social media,3 put them on law enforcement watch-lists,4 or remove them from banking and payment processors.5 In order to avoid this abuse, most activists have to build a mental model of what will and will not trigger Jewish fragility and lead to abuse and run every action they take as an activist through this model.
One reason I believe many activists suffer from burnout is the unpaid emotional labor opposition groups demand of them. Attending a protest or writing an article requires a certain amount of energy. Monitoring everything you say or write to make sure none of it will be used to frame you as something you are not through the eyes of an invisible internalized abuser requires significantly more energy. Energy spent on that is not spent advocating for survivors, furthering the cause, or even self-care one might need doing activism that regularly exposes the activist to trauma and pedophilia. If activists are spending significant amounts of their energy caretaking their opposition rather than the activism, it is easy to run out of energy and experience burnout, especially if they are not aware of this energic drain.
Victims often internalize their abusers to such a degree that they start falsely believing that they “caused” their abuser to harm them. They think if only they behaved differently, their abuser would not abuse them. Abusers often frame their abuse this way, through statements like “you made me do this!” Yet the cause of abuse is abusers, period. Someone with a different emotional or psychological disposition could receive the same treatment the abuser did and react to it in a non-abusive way. Likewise, activists and survivors often blame themselves for the actions of fragile Jewish opposition. They think if only they behaved differently, their abuser would not attack them. However, social justice activists on other issues engage in far more aggressive language and tactics than any activist against circumcision ever has and they receive popular support. The only people responsible for the abusive Jewish reaction to activists against circumcision are Jewish abusers.
As a survivor, I never agreed to this emotional labor. I should not have to consult anyone else to express my thoughts and feelings about my own lived experience, and certainly not about a sexual assault I endured as a child. The expectation that I will ensure everything I say, write, or do never triggers a Jewish person is a form of fragility. The idea that if someone says or does something upsetting to you it is okay to harm them is the mindset of an abuser. Jewish identity groups have institutionalized their fragility through media, non-profits, and social constructions to create a society-wide abusive relationship with survivors.
No one else publishes as much or as frequently on the issue of genital cutting as me. The reason I am able to create this much is because I have stopped expending energy to protect the fragility of abusers. If you are struggling to create or speak your own truth around this issue, it is likely because of fear. Most people with “writer’s block” have internalized an abuser of some kind, sometimes called an “inner critic.” On this issue, that internalized abuser could take many forms, including the reaction of Jewish fragility. If you want to create more, see what happens when you stop doing unpaid emotional labor for people who hate you.
Healthy relationships still include conflict. Conflict is not abuse. Jewish people are free to disagree with me and other activists on any issue. What I am challenging here is the various forms of abuse Jewish people and institutions engage in. If a survivor triggers Jewish fragility, they risk social sanctions and incitements of violence. These social expectations amount to “never trigger your abuser.” That is an unreasonable demand to place on young men trying to talk about a sexual assault they experienced as children. Jewish fragility harms survivors, and the abusive relationship created by Jewish fragility must change.
Resnick, Ariane. “What Is Emotional Labor?” Verywell Mind, 20 Sept. 2021, www.verywellmind.com/what-is-emotional-labor-5193184.
Greenblatt, Jonathan. It Could Happen Here: Why America Is Tipping from Hate to the Unthinkable―And How We Can Stop It. Mariner Books, 2022, p. 88.
Stack, Liam. “Attack on Alt-Right Leader Has Internet Asking: Is It O.K. to Punch a Nazi?” The New York Times, 22 Jan. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/us/politics/richard-spencer-punched-attack.html.
ADL. “Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and ADL Announce Lab to Engineer New Solutions to Stop Cyberhate.” Anti-Defamation League, 10 Aug. 2017, www.adl.org/news/press-releases/facebook-google-microsoft- twitter-and-adl-announce-lab-to-engineer-new. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.
“The FBI and the ADL: Working Together to Fight Hate.” Federal Bureau of Investigation, 12 May 2017, www.fbi.gov/news/speeches/the-fbi-and-the-adl-working-together-to-fight-hate.
Irrera, Anna. “PayPal to Research Blocking Transactions That Fund Hate Groups, Extremists” Mail Online, 26 July 2021, www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-9826637/PayPal-research-blocking-transactions-fund-hate-groups-extremists.html.