A framework for understanding anti-Semitism

This is my submission to the 2016 Labour Party/Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry on anti-Semitism (see link at the end for the full PDF).

(This piece was later adapted to become A framework for understanding exploitative societies.)


This document summarises a framework within which to understand anti-Semitism, to assist in the development of effective policies and programs to address anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, and other organisations.

In order to understand anti-Semitism more fully I think it’s necessary to step back, to take in a bigger picture – of oppression and mistreatment in general – before looking at anti-Semitism in particular. It is useful to look at how oppressions such as racism, sexism and anti-Semitism arose, and how they became part of our cultures, our societies and our unconscious minds. Oppressions, including anti-Semitism, aren’t individual ‘character defects’, but are part of a wider and more general problem in our society. These oppressions operate in individuals mostly at an unconscious and emotional level but, because they are often unconscious, we have also unwittingly built them into our cultures, institutions and social structures.

Overcoming anti-Semitism will require understanding how oppression (in general) works both at the emotional level and at the structural level. Blame and punishment tend to perpetuate the root causes of oppression, both at the emotional level and at the structural level, and so are entirely counter-productive.

The rest of this document consists of the following sections:

  • Where does mistreatment come from?
  • Oppression is organised mistreatment
  • Punishment and blame are counter-productive
  • Divide and rule
  • Anti-Semitism and the ‘middle agent’ role
  • Constructing solutions

For a PDF of the full document follow this link: Submission to The Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry 1v7 (7 pages)

Central Ideas

Human beings are capable of high levels of cooperation, love and caring. However, for thousands of years most of us have been living in societies that systematically suppress these human qualities. These inhuman social systems now function to sustain themselves, the systems, not the people within them...

Divide and rule has been used to control populations for thousands of years... This division is not natural or inevitable – we can understand it and undo it; we can build a society organised for the benefit of all people and all life...

When we humans are very young, our fragile minds are sometimes overwhelmed by experiences they can’t yet handle...

Human minds seem to be vulnerable to being hurt emotionally, but also equipped with emotional healing processes...

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