Dictionary of Anti-Semitism: A Belated Response to Richard Williamson

“To apologize—
What a mess I’ve made of history, he thinks without thinking.”

- Joy Harjo, “Everybody Has a Heartache: A Blues,” Poetry Magazine, March 2014

anti-Judaism 1.) the characterization of Judaism as an obsolete, legalistic, and morally defunct
religion, especially in light of the creation of Christianity
2.) The snow that stuck to the bottom of my shoes has melted into puddles across the museum floor. Because of the shadows cast from the glass display cases, the puddles look flat, and black, and dry, like they’re faults in the floor, made into its face. In front of the puddles hangs the painting I came here for. There’s only a little water in frame, flowing out from a golden fountain that points toward the heavens. The water pools in a basin so clean the water mirrors the fountain that makes it and the coins that it catches, and the Catholic priests are so delighted at what they see they cast their hands toward all the metal. Meanwhile, the guards shove the Jews back. Their Hebrew scrolls crumple against the ground, and their garbs skim across the mud, and their bodies
fall back on each other, back out of frame. I bow my head. I can see the puddles a step from my feet, shimmering whatever light gets through the glass.
3.) a view expressed by Bishop Richard Williamson when he stated that Jews were “the enemies of Christ”

antisemitism 1.) hatred of the Jewish people on the basis of a trait or traits perceived to be inherent to Jews, often a racialized or ethnic trait
2.) a word Richard Williamson called in a 2008 interview with Swedish television “dangerous”
3.) a word defined by Richard Williamson in a 2009 interview with the BBC “to be against every single Jew because he is Jewish”
4.) a word defined by Richard Williamson in a 2009 interview with Der Spiegel as “many things today, for instance, when one criticizes the Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip”
5.) a word that Richard Williamson believes does not apply to him because he once had a Jewishrabbi come in and speak to seminarians
6.) a word that Richard Williamson has said he does not care about

apology 1.) “The Holy Father and my Superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, have requested that I reconsider the remarks I made on Swedish television four months ago, because their consequences have been so heavy. Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them. On Swedish television I gave only the opinion (…”I believe”…”I believe”…) of a non-historian, an opinion formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available, and rarely expressed in public since. However, the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St. Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused. To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize. As the Holy Father has said, every act of injust violence against one man hurts all mankind.” - Richard Williamson, February 26, 2009
2.) in the Jewish faith, an apology must repair what went wrong, a concept known as “tikkun.” Repentance is called “teshuvah,” which literally means, “to return to God.” Maimonides stated that the four most important steps of teshuvah were to verbally confess your mistake and ask for forgiveness; to express sincere remorse, resolving not to make the same mistake again; to do everything in your power to appease the person who one has hurt; and to act differently if and when the same situation happens again. In the Jewish faith, when one apologizes, one works to change one’s entire life and repair the whole world.

Bishop Richard Williamson 1.) an English traditionalist bishop who was illegally ordained into the Catholic Church in 1988 but whose ex-communication was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI in January 2009 to appease protesting bishops
2.) an intellectually vacant human being who believes that the September 11th attacks and the July 7, 2005 bombings in London were inside jobs and who thought that the London Olympics in 2012 were going to be bombed with nuclear weapons
3.) a backward sexist pig who thinks that women should not have careers or go to college
4.) a morally deficient antisemite who believes that Jews are the enemy of the Catholic Church and that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is an authentic historic document
5.) a vapid and reprehensible Holocaust denier who in 2008 asserted to Swedish television that there were no gas chambers at Nazi concentration camps
6.) a gibbering and geriatric fool who speculated that Jews created COVID-19 to grind society to a halt
7.) a sod who calls The Sound of Music “soul-rotting slush”
8.) I remember hearing about Richard Williamson from my father while he was driving to Hebrew school. He told me he was angry at the Pope because he approved of a bishop who denied the Holocaust. I don’t remember my dad’s exact words, but I remember him bringing Williamson up with anger in his voice as he glared ahead through the windshield, and I do remember that my dad never said Williamson’s name.

history 1.) the past
2.) one of many narratives about the past
3.) Because history is nothing but narratives, because history is behind us and can only be accessed through hindsight and through bias, people have decided that history can be whatever they make it to be. And when history can be whatever one wants it to be, history becomes the present. It takes on the reality of the now, and its nature of being past and establishing the precedence for now becomes obsolete. So history reflects aspects of one’s present knowledge, one’s present experience, one’s opinions.

historical evidence 1.) that which we use to construct our narratives about the past
2.) that which reflects our biases; that which we choose to remember
3.) that which we view as objective, which merely counts as subjective

Holocaust 1.) a religious animal sacrifice that is completely consumed by fire, i.e. a burnt offering. For centuries, a holocaust was the greatest form of sacrifice a Jew could give to God.
2.) the World War II genocide of the European Jewish people

Holocaust denial 1.) the claim that the Nazi German state did not pursue the genocide of the Jewish people during their reign, only the deportation or confinement of Jews, as found in the sentence, “I believe that the historical evidence—the historical evidence—is strongly, hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.” - Richard Williamson
2.) the claim that substantially fewer than six million Jews died during that genocide, as found in the sentence, “Between 200,000-300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them in gas chambers.” - Richard Williamson
3.) the claim that no gas chambers were used to kill Jews, as found in the sentence, “I believe there were no gas chambers.” - Richard Williamson

host desecration 1.) the supposed deliberate destruction of Host wafers by Jews, often completed by re-enacting the crucifixion
2.) The whole idea of iconoclasm, of destroying a religious icon or representation of a religious figure, like a Host wafer, is that the person destroying the icon recognizes its power but denies its authority. If the person truly felt that God or Jesus or whoever was not in the artifact, they would not care about it. By destroying it, they recognize there is power in it. Through making the accusation of host desecration, antisemites say that Jews know that Jesus is king and work against him anyway. It marks Jews as the ultimate enemies of Christianity.

Kniefall von Warschau 1.) On December 7, 1970, West German Chancellor Willy Brandt visited a monument in Warsaw dedicated to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. He raised a wreath before the monument, then fell to his knees. For half a minute, while dignitaries gawked and press photographers snapped their photos, Brandt knelt in silence. He crossed his hands in front of him and stared forward, his head slightly bowed. He uttered no prayers, he asked for no forgiveness. When asked why he knelt, he stated, “Under the weight of recent history, I did what people do when words fail them.”

Leuchter report 1.) a pseudoscientific, antisemitic “scientific report” made by an execution technician with no engineering or toxicology degree, which asserts that cyanide compounds are not present in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, despite the fact that they are according to people who actually have toxicology degrees
2.) “Historical evidence” - Richard Williamson

Night 1.) a work by Elie Wiesel about his confinement in Nazi concentration camps; part novel, part memoir, part deposition, part diatribe, part eulogy
2.) Wiesel visited a rabbi in 1967 whom he had not seen in twenty years. Wiesel told the rabbi that he was a fiction writer, to which the rabbi replied, “That means you are writing lies!” Wiesel paused, and then replied, “Some things do take place but are not true; others are--although they< never occurred.”

poetry 1.) “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” - Theodor Adorno, 1949
2.) “Jewish Museum, Oslo"

There’s a soft violin that plays
over the testimonials of
the one or two family members
who were led from the camps.

Their sputterings of Norwegian
can be made out from the
headphones hung in the far
corner of the room.

None of them spoke English.

There are displays in English, though,
for each Jewish holiday,
Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Tisha B’Av,
and there’s a small wordless
sukkot with plastic apples
on the floor
and a kippah duct-taped to the ceiling.

There’s one employee,
an eighty-something-year-old
who recognizes American accents
and fled to Sweden in the forties.
He’ll tell you his story if you
talk to him for longer than a moment,

in front of the feeds of five security cameras,
after walking through the locked gate with the buzzer
and right of the timeline that stops in 1942.”
- Me, 2016

Protocols of the Elders of Zion 1.) a rambling, schizophrenic, largely plagiarized pulp fiction that espouses that Jews are trying to take control over Western civilization for shits and giggles
2.) “Authentic” - Richard Williamson
3.) “Gibberish” - The United States Senate, in a report published in 1964
4.) I’ve never actually sat down and read the Protocols until now. The introduction of this version, published in 1922, is kind enough to define for me what the term, “protocol,” is: “minutes of the proceedings.” For something that’s supposed to be minutes, a word which here means, “a summarized record of the proceedings of a meeting,” these protocols are rather thorough. They’re written in complete paragraphs with long, flowery sentences that read like
something a pretentious freshman would write, like: “The abstraction of freedom has enabled us to persuade the mob in all countries that their government is nothing but the steward of the people who are the owners of the country, and that the steward may be replaced like a worn-out glove.” The scribe must have developed carpal tunnel syndrome after writing that out. I got a headache just now trying to fathom all those noun clauses. The only people who could view this kind of stuff as “authentic” historic evidence are the kinds of people who want history to be whatever they make it out to be, who don’t know the definition of the word, “the,” let alone “protocols.”

revisionist 1.) someone who claims to reinterpret or challenge orthodox constructions of history
2.) someone who negates orthodox constructions of history
3.) Holocaust deniers like Richard Williamson call themselves “revisionists,” because it’s a nicer word than “deniers.” They do not negate history, history as it is seen by the masses, they take a second look at it. They remember it in a new light.

Yom HaShoah 1.) We remember so we are aware, so we have in our minds what has come to pass, using the form of the word found in the sentence, “We remember those who cannot speak.” We remember to do what is necessary, using the form of the word found in the sentence, “You must remember your history, lest you be so unfortunate to repeat it.” We remember to emphasize the importance of what we assert, what we live, what we inherit, using the form of the word found in the sentence, “I must remember that this is my heritage.” We remember because we do, because we have to in the face of those who choose to forget.

SAMUEL FISHMAN is a graduate of Oberlin College and he works as a marketing writer in the Boston area. He occasionally posts at