Eve Barlow is a Scottish-born, LA-based music journalist who has written for just about every great music and culture magazine out there, including Pitchfork, Variety and GQ, in addition to serving as deputy editor of iconic music magazine NME.
Eve has recently emerged as a powerful voice online and particularly on twitter, where she takes on questions related to rising global anti-Semitism. As a proud progressive, she tackles the issue from the left—and in doing so, offers a rare critique of the kind of anti-Semitic vitriol emerging from both sides of the political aisle. On account of this important and brave work, Eve was named to Algemeiner’s list of the Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life in 2020.
Follow Eve on Twitter twitter.com/Eve _ Barlow
ASHLEY: I think we'll start out and just tell me, who you are and what you do, where you come from, and then we'll...
EVE: I’m Eve Barlow. I grew up in Glasgow, in Scotland in a very small close-knit Jewish community. I grew up in a very traditional household. I was bar mitzvah in an Orthodox synagogue. I grew up going to shul every Shabbat. I went to all the high holidays. I participated in all the festivals. I learned Hebrew growing up. I would make an annual visit to Israel every year. So, even though we didn't use terminology such as Zionism, I mean, I wasn't, you know, growing up, I wasn't five years old getting on a plane, getting on an eight hour flight to Israel thinking I'm a Zionist. But, you know, I was very much embedded with both the religious context and the ethnic context and the ideological context that sort of comprises Jewish identity in the modern age. And I loved it, and I wound up when I was 17, I left Glasgow and I went to Manchester University in England and I studied, I read law and I did that for three years.
And then I moved down to London, and I went to the University College London, and I did a master's in Human Rights Law. I graduated around 2008 when the recession hit. You know, I was a good, nice Jewish girl, and my dad was a doctor. I know it’s cliche, but it was sort of the typical situation where I was a very academic child and I was very successfully performative in academia, and so the choice was presented to me of, "Well, you can either be a doctor or you can become a lawyer." And for me, I was more interested in... I was deeply interested in philosophy and politics and modern studies and literature. So, I naturally veered towards law rather than towards the sciences. But when I graduated in 2007, 2008, and it was the height of the recession; I was faced with a decision because I had, until this point in my life, 21 years old, all I had known how to do was sort of perform within the parameters of academia and be really good at it and get great exam results and succeeds.
But the fact of the matter is that the supply did not meet the demand, and there were not enough job opportunities to meet graduates with law degrees. And so, I had to return from London to Glasgow with my tail between my legs. And I remember being back in my room that I grew up in four years after absconding from that life. And I looked to my bookcase and it was filled. I mean, I had books, I did read books growing up, but I mainly had all of these music magazines in the bookcase. And I just thought, "Well, if I have done the responsible thing and gone to law school and got this great degree and tried to become a lawyer and hasn't a works, then I may as well pursue the pipe dream and get on a bus and stalk rock bands around the world and write about music" because that's the thing that I really love in my spare time, and so I pursued that.
I didn't know a single journalist; I didn't know anyone in the music industry, I just had a passion. I knew how to write about music. I knew I had opinions and I knew that I had a really good ear for breaking new music. And I went from there really; I applied for internships and I built a portfolio of work that I really hustled for. I mean, nobody was giving me by-lines or opportunities. I was seeking them myself. I was finding out who the local bookers were for venues. I was trying to photograph the gigs and then kind of write them up on a tumbler account that I had created and grab five minutes with the band backstage. Unfortunately, in my case, Glasgow, the city that I grew up in benefited from being a really... it's actually a very historically important music city and has a ton of venues and a lot of opportunity for someone like me who wanted to try and break into, or create a role for themselves within this world.
So, I guess I just was resourceful. You know, I was resourceful. I was passionate and I really just wanted to make it work. And eventually, I found my way down to London and I got a couple of internships at some of the music magazines that I grew up reading. And once I got my foot over the door, I essentially did not let anyone let me leave the building. I just hustled from there and worked for seven odd years in London really at the apex of music journalism in London. I wound up becoming the deputy editor of the New Musical Express or the NME, which is one of the biggest music magazines worldwide. And that involves being second command and running a magazine and running an office of 30 to 40 people and putting out a print products every week and breaking new bands, new artists. And that was two and a half years of my life that I lived and breathe and was incredibly exciting.
I left that position in the winter of 2014 and got on a plane, came to Los Angeles. I came to live with a band that I had written about a lot in NME, and I thought I was coming here on a kind of like break and sabbatical. I'm a workaholic, and I wind up beginning to find a place... find a use for myself as money was kind of falling out of the music industry and out of the media industry. I was very handy to a lot of media worldwide who could no longer afford to send a freelancer to America to cover the scene out here, which was obviously very important and ever evolving and growing. I became everyone's sort of point person in America and for the next six years sort of up until now... I don't know, I've been a freelancer for pretty much any publication you can name.
I've written over three dozen cover stories, and interviewed some of the biggest artists, whether musicians, bands, actors, activists, models, public influencers, and figures in the world. That's been my bread and butter; that was my remit. But tangential to all of this, you know, especially as a freelance journalist, I've really been at the Vanguard of a lot of intersectional conversations. I find myself three or four years ago being really key to telling a lot of stories at the height of the... or the nascence of the Me Too movement. Even when I was at NME, my goal was to diversify the cover mounts. So, I was always fighting to get more people of color on the cover mount to diversify and make sure that there was more female representation in the magazine, which was severely lacking a lot of the time.
And so, once I became a freelancer, this became even more part of my stake. And I've, you know, I helped sort of build LGBTQ verticals that traditionally hetero-sex orientated major media conglomerates. Yeah, I've been crucial in entailing the narratives and the stories of human beings who don't fit into the norm core mold of entertainment and of increasing visibility for undermine demographics. So in the past couple of years, when it come to me seeing... I mean, I have to sort of stipulate that I am a person of multitudes. I am a feminist and I am a female, and I have dealt with a lot of misogyny in my industry, and I'm also a career person, but I'm also a Jew. And I realized in all of these humanitarian increased visibility conversations that it was always that last demographic, that last multitude of myself, of my identity that was always being overlooked and overshadowed. And at the same time, was the one that I often found to be the most under threat, actually, honestly, especially in the progressive communities that I had formed a real standing in.
I found myself really attacked because not just because of my... not really primarily because of my Judaism, but because of my ideological stance. And I felt like I was being asked to compromise my Jewish identity and to just to lessen it in order to fit into a progressive world, and that's when the alarm bells started ringing. And when I thought; "Christ, well, if I fought all of these other battles, then this is actually the back lining to fight." Because I look at the sphere around me, and there were a lot of people doing a hell of a lot of amazing work to increase visibility for LGBTQ voices and to continue the fight of the Me Too and the Time's Up movement, which is nowhere near off the ground. It's still in very much its nascent period.
And also, just the strength of the voices and the power of the voices in the Black Lives Matter movement, I thought, well, all of this is... it's not that they don't need my allyship and I'm always there to offer it. And I have a lot of learning to do as does anyone else, but I really was very shocked and scared by the lack of advocacy that was taking place with respect to the Jewish fight against anti-semitism. Particularly when you look at this statistics, and you see how bad it is, and people talk about rising anti-semitism, and I think they are so in a cloud or in a dream because anti-Semitism is not rising, it has risen, and it's really, really bad. And the fact that we do not have enough voices that are not just highlighting it, but combating it, educating people who know nothing about it is extremely worrisome to me.
So, that's why tangentially to my career and also taking into consideration the sort of, I guess the conditions imposed upon us by COVID and the fact that my industry is largely shut down and slowed down; I had the room in my life to be able to really take up this mantle. And I have the biggest scare of my life in 2019, when as a British Jew, I was dealing with the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and was proactively part of a group of loud voices in Britain, low-pros Jewish voices who were unafraid to take a stand against the mountain that was seen as the benevolent kind, could do no wrong, prime anti-racist, who would be the future leader of a progressive more inclusive, you know, for the many, not the few, leader for Britain. I had had enough by this point and I had to say something. And because of that experience, I was extremely non-hesitant when it came to really kicking off the fast from the state side perspective once I saw similar patterns and marching here, and that's really where my focus has shifted, I would say probably the last four to five months.
ASHLEY: So one thing that pops up right away from me, because I've seen the same thing for forever, which is, you said that there weren't, and aren’t, voices standing up on this issue and speaking about anti-Semitism, particularly, almost where matters. I feel like there's a lot of the institutional voices that run Lauders and the people in Jewish Federation, and obviously in the ADL, obviously, they're talking about it in some certain way, which is hugely essential, of course, but we don't hear it from other corners and quarters. And we don't even hear a lot of it coming from Jewish people, which is the most disturbing; it's always been the most disturbing thing. How do you explain that? You know, how do you explain it on the progressive side? How do you explain it in terms of young Jewish people, or even not young Jewish people, just people who are not being paid to advocate, who are just not speaking out? Even if they feel and see these things going on and feel that there's a need, but they still don't do it, so where where's the gap, where is it coming from?
EVE: I think there's a number of ways in which to answer this question. I think the Holocaust bears a massive… there's a massive symbolism to the Holocaust in the sense that people learn about it and they learn about never again, but they attach it to a past precedent. And there is a huge misnomer around anti-Semitism and a lot of people, including Jewish communities and a new generation of Jews who really do believe that anti-Semitism was born and ended with the Holocaust, and with some kind of like historical anomaly that existed in 1930s, 1940s Germany, which of course we know is not true. We know that Jews have been pillaged, raped, ostracized, expelled from countries all over the world for thousands of years, but, there is a real lack of education and anti-Semitism. There is a real lack of education and knowledge-base in Jewish identity, Jewish history, and a disregard for what anti-Semitic tropes are and how they manifest.
And I think a lot of people consider the most recent and truly horrifying example of anti-Semitism taking its highest toll. And they look at that as a precedent in respect of using it as a litmus test for a potential carbon copy without understanding that the real disease of anti-Semitism is that it mutates in every generation and it actually presents itself very differently. And in order to really spot it and understand this mental disorder, because it is a psychological infestation, it's very different from other types of Patriots because the people who are anti-Semitic really actually relish in their enjoyment of their hatred, and it's almost like a sport to them. And they also often assuage their prejudice by... and this is what we see a lot in the progressive community. They assuage their prejudice by removing the emotional culpability and masking their anti-Semitism as a need to "fairly criticized Israel," which is just completely ludicrous.
And we have this debate over and over, but the point is that, in order to understand modern manifestations of anti-Semitism, we need a new generation of Jews and non-Jews really because anti-Semitism isn't actually a Jewish problem. Of course, it negatively impacts our lives and affects us, but anti-Semitism is the problem of the non-Jewish world. There is no hatred that survives for thousands of years that is not systemic and institutionalized; it has to be by nature of the fact that it has lasted this long. And it's the same as it's always been, it just as I said, mutates. And sometimes it shows up in fascist communities and sometimes it shows up in socialist Marxist communities, and we have to be able to look at the entire spectrum and see anti-Semitism for what it is and not be partisan about it because that is where the danger lies.
And yeah, just to get back to the point, it's really essential for a new generation of Jews and non-Jews to really grapple with what are the tropes? Where do they come from? What is the history of these tropes? What is the first blood libel and how does it manifest and economic libel, racial libel, all of these tropes, anti-Semitic tropes, and conspiracy fantasy that justifies a hatred and escape ghosting of Jews have existed for thousands of years and need to be studied and understood in order to be recognized in the modern dialogue and conversation. Because I'm on Twitter every day, I'm on social media every day, and I'm in the world every day; this is not just about the internet. I see these tropes on a daily basis and people do not identify them as anti-Semitism because they don't know what anti-Semitism is. They don't know who the Jewish people are. They don't know our story. They don't know why we have a country, and they don't know where we come from. And they don't know the parameters by which we've survived all that we've survived.
So, the non-Jewish world will come learn about Ann Frank's diary and read it and I know the names of all the camps and the Holocaust, but without actually knowing the context by which we got to the Holocaust and what happened in the aftermath of it and why, it feels defunct to me. It feels almost like a red herring, like it's obstructing the actual education that needs to take place in order to proliferate Jewish survival, which is under threat right now. And I think that we really need to be honest about that. We need to see what is happening in the diaspora and in Israel and recognize how threatened Jewish survival is.
ASHLEY: But, you know, one thing I think about with all this, and when you're talking about how... it's almost like furniture, anti-Semitism is a fixture of the world, it's always here and you start to think, "Okay, so what's the goal? If we're going to fight, whose minds are we fighting for? What are we trying to achieve by it if it's going to pop up again?" It's really this like whack-a-mole hatred. Whereas, an alternative approach could be like, just to say to yourself, "Okay, you know people think what they think I'm going to be over here doing my thing." Over here might mean Muncie, or it might mean Televiv or whatever else, you know, but what's the fight for? And what do you think are the specific aims and who are you fighting for? Because I imagine, you know, there might be some point in speaking to a Neo-Nazi if it happens to be the right Neo Nazi, who's just kind of like one of those lost souls that falls into a movement, and you show them something that he or she didn't know. But as a group, I imagine speaking to those type of people is not the point, and speaking to whoever else is not the point. So, who are you fighting for, if you see what I mean by that?
EVE: I do see what you mean. I'm not in the business of fighting anti-Semites. I know that that might seem like a really bizarre thing to say, because I am on the internet every day at the moment talking about anti-semitism, but I really do believe that it's a bottomless pit. You could dedicate the remainder of your life to fighting every anti-Semite on the internet and you would not get anywhere. It is so widespread. It's futile trying to do that. What I am actually trying to do is not fight anti-Semitism, but empower Jews to really learn about their history and their identity and step into a place of feeling like they can own their narrative and that they can speak from a position of knowledge and pride about who they are and where they come from.
Because the fact of the matter is that Jews are more and more under attack for their ethno religious ideological background, and we shouldn't feel like we have to be quiet. There was a whole, you know, there's a lot written about the sort of... it's a terrible term, and I really hate to use it, but people talk about the post-Holocaust glow, which is really insane to me. But this kind of period of time where after the Holocaust, Jews were somehow safe from attack and hate, which actually we know to not be true whatsoever. I mean, Jews were denied, Jews who were liberated from the camps were denied entry into Western countries. And then obviously, the Jews who established the state of Israel were immediately attacked by their surrounding neighbors and had to defend the land.
Anti-Semitism has even in the post-Holocaust years, never gone away, but I do think that there was a culture that existed post-Holocaust where a lot of families probably largely through trauma decided that rather than continue to fight the hatred and to continue to try to educate the non-Jewish world, they were just going to assimilate and keep their heads down and wear their Magen David under their shirt, and go to Synagogue and private and make excuses about their dietary requirements. I know that that's the way that I grew up. I grew up telling people that I was vegetarian. I never confessed to people that I would go on holiday to Israel. Like, I was just on holiday somewhere, you know? I was actively discouraged from making my Judaism visible when I was a kid.
And I grew up in the early nineties, and where I grew up in Scotland, I always remember there were these two kids that came to my primary... that my primary or slash elementary school halfway through, I think I must've been eight or nine years old. And there were these two kids that came from Soviet Russia, and there were Jews who were fugitive, they were on the run. They were on the run and they came, and that was my modern day example of a family who had to flee anti-Semitism who was no longer safe in a country. So, that was a culture I grew up in was hydrogenism, and I think that this was a post... I do think that this was endemic of post-Holocaust society of feeling... it was a survivalist mode. Don't talk about your Jewishness, just try and assimilate, try and blend in, and the less foster you can kick up the better.
Whereas I think now, I mean, certainly I speak for myself and I think some other advocates who are really loud voices here, we feel almost... I mean, I don't want to shame my elder generations and ancestors, but we do sometimes feel kind of let down and ill-prepared by the older generations who didn't necessarily give us the education that we need in order to really grapple with the diatribe that we receive all the time. I mean, I have had to go away and do my homework. I've had to read lots and lots of texts, and I've been to Israel every year of my life, but I've had to read up on the conflict so that I can deal with these every day happenstance conversations that people who know nothing about the Israel-Palestine conflict, try to engage me on.
I feel... and it's actually not fair. It's not fair that me during the diaspora who actually can't vote in Israel, who has never held citizenship in Israel, though, of course, I do have a birthright that I can entertain at any point in my life, and thank God. And I'm immensely proud of that. And I'm immensely proud to call myself a Zionist, but I also draw a line under me having to be on trial all the time by the progressive left to answer questions about a conflict that is existing in a country, thousands of miles away from me and which I do not have a say. You know, resent is a strong word; I don't resent the fact that I've had to go away and learn about it, but there are other things I want to be doing with my time in life.
I feel like because I am a loud Jew and I'm an active voice now, I have to do this. And it's strange; it's strange because nobody would ask any other ethno-religion or identity to have to be so schooled on a geopolitical region in order to fight for their own humanity and to be treated with dignity. It's really insane to me, it's a real cognitive dissonance and disconnect, and I wish more people could understand that. The amount of times I tweet something about Judaism, I never mentioned the word Israel and I'm pelted with Palestinian flags in response, and I haven't said anything about Israel.
ASHLEY: Well, I think in a way, in a backhanded way, it's almost appropriate because people who do that kind of thing, you know, we like to create these very neat distinctions about what it means to be a Jew, what it means to be Israeli, they're separate things, and it's kind of like, you start to understand that maybe it would be nice if they were separate things, but they are not. And no one's going to allow them to anyway. So that association is... on the people who are doing that, it's almost... it's a brigaded action, but I think haphazardly, it puts its finger on something which is true. It's just that the fact is you and I, and all the other Jews, we're members of a nation and it's a nation that isn’t defined by a state.
And it's very hard to wrap our minds around these concepts because they're so boxed in to dominant theories that they completely defined. You know, we think nation state or religion. And if it's a religion and a nation state together, then we think it's automatically fascist... some sort of fascist construction like Iran, the Iranian regime. Whereas, we existed as a religious nation when there wasn't even a possibility of a state for 2000 years. There was no notion of power besides what could be applied within our own communities, within the walls of our ghetto. And I think that does depend on education of oneself. And I think that's the point you're really making is that we ourselves don't know.
I saw this video on Twitter of Gilbert Godfrey, who I believe is Jewish and I hope he is because if he's not, a lot of my assumption about the world had been wrong. But he was reading a Hebrew text, a transliterated Hebrew texts, with his squinty eyes. And he's reading as if he was reading Chinese or Greek or a language, he had never been challenged to pronounce in his entire life. And that was the gag; it was supposed to... it wasn't funny, sad, because he was poking fun at his... and not even poking fun at his own illiteracy. Use poking fun at the strangeness of the text, of a text that is his text as much as anybody else's.
And when I see that kind of stuff, I'm like, how can... and I do... it's not, you know, to put this on the diaspora to put it on American Jews. I think there is something specific about American Jews and I'll give myself the leeway to say that as someone who grew up in America as a Jew, but there is something...
EVE: Where in America did you grow up?
ASHLEY: I grew up in Philadelphia, Las Vegas, San Diego, was at university in New York, and then I lived in San Francisco for a while and then I left. But I find that in general, and especially among younger generations, illiteracy is the norm in terms of Judaism, understanding of what Judaism is, history, religion, culture, et cetera, among American Jews of a certain strata. And even among those who are more religious, they're just maybe illiterate in different ways about different things. And I think that's a kind of a huge thing. Why do American Jews who are so educated and are they're so culturally rich in so many ways, why have they put this blind spot in their intellectual and cultural lives when it comes to their own tradition and history? And that's something that I think is tied to what you're saying because you can't talk about something you don't know and don't really believe in. I don't say believing in terms of faith and observance; I mean believe in the culture and believe in the identity.
EVE: Yeah. There's something so specific to American Jews as a result of American exceptionalism and the whole idea of the American dream, which reports that whatever you are, race, creed, religion, ethnicity; you are welcome here and you can thrive and you are no different from anyone else. And that has created a culture in this country where people, I think, you know, Jewish Americans that I have met... first off, you know, actually even before they identify as American, they identify as Democrat or Republican, and then they identify as American and then identify as Jewish. And I think that this is intensely unique because I don't think that Jews in other realms of the diaspora feel this way. And I don't think that they have had the opportunity to feel this way because there is a grander false sense of security to being Jewish in America, just by the fact of numbers.
It is the biggest Jewish community in the diaspora. So of course, there is this false impression of safety by numbers. And I think... you know, a reason to be perhaps a little hands-off when it comes to prioritizing, learning about Jewish identity over for instance, identifying with a certain politic. I think that Jews here sometimes are on the back-foot because they learn about the fury of their own politics, and then they try to insert their Jewish identity into that. And what they're doing is actually trying to mold themselves to fit into a non-Jewish world, into a non-Jewish parameter. And we know from history that Jews have never successfully managed to do that. The Jewish people as a nation cannot fit into a non-Jewish narrative because the non-Jewish world was established in so many ways foundationally to beat down the Jews. So, when we are asked to fit into a non-Jewish norm, we are dwindling an element of our identity.
And at the moment, what we are dwindling is our Zionism, which has become such a dirty word because essentially it is the modern day blood libel, it is the modern day trope and Jews are asked to leave their Zionism at the door if they are going to be accepted. And what is not spoken about enough is the fact that Zionism is just the first step on a rang of a ladder in which we will asked to then strip ourselves of another part of our identity and another part of our identity, because we have seen this throughout history,
ASHLEY: It's happening now with [unclaer36:09] and availability of meat fo Kashrut as a...
EVE: Exactly. It doesn't matter how much we strip ourselves off, at the end of the day, we will always be Jews. I have said some pretty controversial things on the internet about anti-Zionist. And you know, a Jew as a Jew, and I would never say that a Jew is any less a Jew because they are not a Zionist. Absolutely not! What I do maintain however, is that if you are going to strip part of an identity that is recognized by the vast majority of Jews worldwide, it is not going to be long before you realize why there are certain Jews who are stubborn about maintaining that identity, because eventually before long, you will realize that you are being asked to dwindle yourself even further, because it's not good enough for the non-Jewish world. And this is the real danger is Jews that do perform to lessen themselves to fit, to fit the mole, to fit the narrative. And it obviously makes life hard, a lot harder for the Jewish voices who are trying to educate the non-Jewish world at large about Jewish identity wholesale without negotiating these particular terms that are the ones that are used in a libel capacity to bludgeon us in this day and age.
ASHLEY: Yeah, it makes me think about Amos Elon book, The Pity of it All, about German Jews and the tragedy of German Jews who fought for hundreds of years to be accepted into German society. And when they were, then it was a few decades, maybe a little bit more until they were massacred, until there was a complete genocide of them. And I connect so much of what you're saying about the way Jews go... certain Jews, because I look at Jewish communities in South Africa where my family and I was born; it's not the same. It's not that, they are what you called earlier loud, proud Jewish voices. They do not take shit, and I think there are a lot of other communities around the world, Mexican Jews that they're very tight. They're very tight knit, and they're very strong, even though they're tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny minorities in the places they are.
But I think when I connect this; the kind of ethic that German Jews had developed for whatever reason and brought to America where they were the elite Jews, you know, think about, Jews like Anna [unclear39:10] and the Souls Burgers of the New York times. And it was this idea of keeping your head down and exactly what you were talking about as integrating your identity into the politic that isn't braced as almost a prerequisite for your existence. This is who I am first, the Jew thing can be integrated if it can be integrated, which is not always something that they would allow to happen. But I think, you know, we saw this big conversation going on in the Jewish world for the last 10 years that the gap between Israel and American Jews, that young American Jews were growing distant from Israel because they didn't like Israeli policies.
But, I think we're at a new inflection point where I think young Jews they're so hounded on campuses. They're so hounded in daily life. There is no space for them in the progressive movement, which they naturally, I think, are sort of gravitating toward that they're saying this got to be another way. And that other way has to be my own identity, there's no other option. It's either that identity or my identity, so let's just try this other tactic and see what happens. Do you think that's something that's actually going on? Do you think that's something that younger Jewish people are turning toward a new conception of Jewish identity that's not democratic or progressive and sort of integrate some values, but it's really more that cuts to the core of what it means to be a Jew and they're searching for that? Is that the case or is that just an illusion that I'm seeing from a far?
EVE: No, I don't think it's an illusion. I think that there is... and I can get quite emotional talking about this because I look at these kids and I recognize that what they are dealing with on university campuses is the same thing that I dealt with on British university campuses 15 years ago, and didn't do nearly as much bold work about because it hadn't had this type of boiling point where it is at now. And I shared a figure today that I can't remember off the top of my head that was shared by the group End Jew Hatred about the outrageous figure of attacks upon Jewish kids on college campuses in America. And I see the boldness and the bravery and the lack of apology in certain voices.
There was a group on Instagram called Jewish on Campus who are so inspirational. And they only appeared a couple of months ago and have already built to something like 25 thousand followers. And they're run by a group of dispersed college kids across America. And every day they post anonymously anecdotes from kids all over American campuses who have experienced the most heinous examples of anti-Jewish hatred, just because they are Jewish, just because they are Zionists. You have the cases of human beings like Rose Ritch, who was I think vice-president at USC, the USC university of Southern California and Los Angeles government of the university. She had to stand down from her position because she was bullied out of her position as a Zionist. She was wrongfully smeared as a conservative, as a homophobe, and a racist, and xenophobe and genocide, you know, apologist, and a baby killer and all of the regular tropes, because she was a Zionist.
This is outrageous that this is happening and it's happening perversely in the name of academic freedom. It's unreal. And unfortunately, we are currently under an administration that somehow purports to care about this and is legislating against it. And that only further entrenches the trope that Jews are, you know, fascists and right weighing if they identify with Zionism, it's a real catch 22. And I see these kids who run Jewish on campus. I see voices like Julia JC, and Isaac DeCastro, and Blake Flaten... they fill my cup; they make me want to be loader because I am not on a university campus right now. I don't have to walk into a lecture hall every day and defend my very existence just because I have the audacity to want to read a subject at a university in America and study and graduate with a good degree.
The fact of the matter is that every Jewish kid who identifies strongly as Jewish and has an affinity with Israel, who goes to an American campus at the moment is under threat for their ideology and for their identity, and hope tragic is that? It's really terrifying. And these students, these Jewish students who are bold and brave and educated enough to stand up against this, they are, in my opinion, on the front lines of the battle ground here, they are doing that work, because this is where we build our politicians. This is where the leaders of the future are educated, and no one's asking them to challenge these tropes and challenge this misinformation on campus, but they're doing it. And hopefully that we can support them and their fight will not go unnoticed, and they will be able to dismantle some of the propaganda and the misinformation that has been so largely fed to students even in lecture theaters, and in textbooks about the history of the Jewish people and the state of Israel with Jew among the nations. Hopefully they can start to disseminate and dismantle this propaganda, so that the non-Jewish world around them and around us doesn't then go forward in 20, 30 years’ time with power to institutionalize further and entrench further anti-Semitism that will threaten all of us.
ASHLEY: So when do you think people... individuals can and should do today? And what do you think we as a group of people who might hear something like this, and be like, "I understand these people are talking about, understand what was talking about." Okay, what are we all supposed to do together? And what are the actions that we ought to be taking?
EVE: It's difficult because, like I said, a bit earlier in the conversation, I'm not in the business of fighting anti-Semites online. Jews are 0.002% of the global population. You think about how many people are on the internet, how many Jews are actually active on the internet of that tiny proportion and have the ability to counteract some of these people who have enormous online accounts and enormous reach. We're not going to combat that like this, but I think what we can do is work internally. I think we can correct what we haven't been given. I think so many of us feel like we haven't been given the resources to really understand our identity and to not even just combat the hatred, but recognize it. I think the reason why so many Jewish people are ill-prepared to fight anti-Semitism is because they don't even really realize what is anti-Semitic and they excuse it. They have a fundamental black... they have a blind spot in respect of what anti-Semitism looks like, and they don't have an emotional response to it because they don't even recognize that they are being attacked.
So I think that we really... if there is a message that I would impart it is to work internally on our Jewish identity, educate ourselves in a way that perhaps our ancestors, our parents, our grandparents, our great-grandparents weren't able to educate us because they were so traumatized by the last great travesties upon our people. We have to do the work. We have to go back and we have to learn about our history. We have to learn about our humanity and our story. You know, there's this really amazing Instagram account by a guy called Rudy Israel, who is an Instagram influencer, I guess. And he recorded an IGTV video a little while ago, and he said something about how rights aren't given, they're earned. And I really thought this was so important because here is a man who fights anti-Semitism every day, and yet, wasn't backwards in coming forwards of telling the Jewish community, "Hey, you cannot just expect our allyship. You have to demand it. And you have to demand it from a stance of knowing why you deserve it and what your story is."
Because the fact of the matter is that we see this all the time, you see it on a daily basis online; people do not understand who the Jews are. Who are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here? What is our story? Why do we have a nation? What did we do to get that nation? And what have we done to being teen its existence? Why does it still exist today? And why does it function the way that it does? We need to communicate this to the world. And I think that is actually where the hard work is, and that is where the more success is gleaned. Education and knowledge is power. And if we can whet the appetite of the non-Jewish world to learn more about us in a way that will elicit some empathy as to what we face in order to survive as a people and elicit some respect and admiration for everything that we have been through and also everything that we've created.
How many Jews do you know who are embarrassed to be proud of all of the things we have contributed to the world? Be them in the science realm, or in arts, or in politics. You know, we talk about all these civil rights movements right now; I don't see people doing a hell of a lot of heavy lifting in terms of educating on how fundamental so many Jewish voices were to so many of these civil rights fights. And maybe if we talk that up a bit more, people would be more receptive to hearing about why we were there, why were we standing side-by-side with Martin Luther King? Why were we at the intersection of the LGBTQ fight?
ASHLEY: And why are we being airbrushed out of it?
ASHLEY: I think about Selma the movie, where the famous march, everyone's marching arm-in-arm. And in the front row of that march was one of the most prominent American rabbis of the last hundred years who was airbrushed out of the movie. They just didn't put them in. You think, what happened there? I mean, this was a movie about something that it was historical event and they changed it, and the way they changed it was to take the Jew out of it. And, okay, fine, the director has his creative prerogative, but where was the hearing cry among American Jews?
EVE: There wasn't one. And you know what? I don't even think that it's because they didn't recognize that; I think it's actually because they don't know. I think so many American Jews don't know their own history. And that is deeply tragic, and it is something we have to question ourselves why. Are American Jews so arrogant to think that it doesn't need to know its own story to add it to the pallet of all the stories that the rest of American groups and immigrants, and, you know... I don't know another... well, maybe there are other American immigrant groups that are as shy and dimmer about coming forward and telling their stories, but the Jews needn't be that way. You know, like, no groups should be that way, but certainly I feel like the American Jewish community needs to do a hell of a lot more work to root into itself and really understand. It's really important that the American Jewish community understands this sort of... I don't know, I don't want to call it a disease, but the handicap of American centrism and really recognize the Jewish story outside of America and around the world.
And, you know, the amount of leftist anti-Zionist American Jews who would throw Israel under the bus and destroy the state tomorrow, who know nothing of the Mizrahi Jewish story or the (??) Israel Jewish story. They have no idea that even this year in 2020, the last 100 Jews of Yemen were being chased out by the Iraqis and were desperately trying to get to Israel to survive. They don't know that, they do not know the extent of Israel as a refuge point for Mizrahi and Betel Israel Jews. And Ashkenazi Jews in France also as a major example, who are being chased out of societies and require a birthright to a nation that doesn't ask questions and we'll give them a pass and we'll provide sanctity and security.
ASHLEY: Even in the UK when I’m there, you go to Shul to synagogue and every single synagogue there is a network of guards standing outside. What’s going on here? Who are the people that are gonna come into the synagogue? Who are they? I want to know, I’m trying to understand why.
I hope you’re writing a book about this and if we’re not I hope you’re going to start one.
EVE: We’ll see…
ASHLEY: In the meantime I wanted to thank you for your time. It’s been really interesting, it’s a great perspective, I think for me and I hope for people I know will listen to this, a lot of our perspectives are more sort of inner circle about people who are commited zionists, and a lot of us have already moved here and this what we know, that is going on over there, still very unknown and misunderstood by us. I think that’s another blindspot from us. We are not looking outwards sufficiently and I think that’s institutionaly the case as well. When I think about the Jewish agency I think, where is the Jewish agency in all this? What are they doing from here? And not just the ones who are in the US. This is a great way of thinking about this issue and I think it’s tremendously important so, thank you very much, thank you for what you’ve done, and are doing on Twitter because it is inspiring, and I think everyone still has that tendency to hold back, and we have to get past it,
EVE: Well, you know no one who was very well liked really, you know, well some people who are very well liked do achieve something but I think that if you’re really going to talk about something that needs to be discussed you’re going to make ennemies and I think that’s the testament to the success of what you do, if you’re angrying a quarter of the world it probably means that you’re doing something right so, unfortunatly you take the rough with the smooth but it doesn’t intimidate me. The only thing I’m motivated by is the part of integrity and speaking truth to power. That’s it really, at the end of the day. That’s what a lot of people, particularly in the progressive world, are doing also. It’s ironic to me that some people are allowed to speak truth to power and others are not.
ASHLEY: Thank you, Eve Barlow
EVE: Thank you, Ashley.