Free «Anti-Semitic Depiction and Veil in Orientalism» Essay Paper

Anti-Semitic Depiction and Veil in Orientalism

Compare and Contrast the Pre-World War II Anti-Semitic Depiction of European Jews to the Depiction of Muslims in Western Media Today

The anti-Semitic depiction of European Jews has had a long history whereby it was being expressed since ancient civilizations and mostly originating in the Christian as well as pre-Christian civilizations in Europe. This anti-Semitic depiction is referred to as anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism refers to the hatred of Jews or the discrimination against Jews which was connected to their heritage. This phenomenon was highly institutionalized by European Christians after the Jewish center of Jerusalem was dissolved, therefore leading to the Jewish population being forcefully segregated and also being restricted from participating in the public life of the European society.

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World War I resulted into the arising of Nazism in Germany. The Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler excluded Jews systematically from the German national life. Jews were viewed as the driving force behind international Marxism besides Capitalism. According to Aly (2014), the Nuremberg laws enacted in 1935 prohibited marriage between Jews and non-Jews. These laws also prohibited sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews. The society was pervaded with anti-Semitic propaganda which was done on behalf of the Nazi regime. Mass violence was encouraged against Jews by this regime. Dawidowicz (2010) asserts that Jews were sanctioned and killed by the regime in 1938. Property belonging to Jews was also destroyed and their synagogues torched. During the Holocaust, millions of Jews were killed in Germany. Additionally, Jews were blamed for the Germans defeat during World War I. Hate wave arose against Jews and they were referred in anti-Semitic pamphlets as “dirty Jews”. Nazi cartoons showing “dirty Jews” generally portrayed badly dressed Jews (Dawidowicz, 2010). Articles were written attacking Jews and they concentrated on the commercial, besides the political activities of Jewish people who were prominent. The articles attacked them basing on religious dogmas like blood libel.

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In Poland, Jews were forcefully put in ghettos. They were later on sent to concentration camps, death camps and were murdered. In the United States, Jews faced discrimination as far as employment opportunities are concerned. They also faced discrimination in accessing residential in addition to resort areas and club memberships. They also experienced discrimination in acquiring teaching posts in educational institutions such as universities. Anti-Semitic ideas were propagated in newspapers. Aly (2014) opines that in the USSR, there was mass murdering of Jews using death squads. The death squads were assisted by local populations. Later on, this murder practice was replaced by another procedure whereby Jews were gassed in death camps.

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Muslims are depicted differently from Jews in media today. There are no similarities with the initial anti-Semitic depiction of Jews. Massad (2015) explains that war on terrorism led by the United States has resulted to increased Islamophobia (the fear or the hatred of Islam). This increased Islamophobia is, in turn, being reflected in the manner in which media addresses and stereotypes Muslim population. While some frame Muslims positively with a view of countering Islamophobia, many Muslim portrayals have contributed to the negative stereotyping of Muslims by media today.

The most common Islam stereotype exposed by media is based on the jihad or holy war of Muslims. Massad (2015) indicates that this stereotype generally depicts Muslims as being inseparable from violence as Muslims seem to believe in this jihad war. They believe that on participating in violence and killing people, they will be rewarded. Media portrays Muslims using the religion as justification for their engagement in violence. Moreover, Muslim women in Western countries are in most cases portrayed as victims who are submissive because of the male dominion imposed on them. Female Muslims are also depicted as feminists who are strong in opposing male dominion.

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The media also depicts Muslims as marginalizing women and giving Muslim men more power. Massad (2015) asserts that Muslim women are described by media using such words as “segregated”, “human rights” and “insults”. Media takes photos of showing Muslim women being avoided by non-Muslims. Moreover, there are various stereotypes concerning Muslim clothing; these cloths are associated with acts of violence whereby terrorists dress in them to hide while performing their terrorist activities.

Lastly, media also depicts Muslims as using their Islam teachings and prayers to further acts of terrorism. For instance, Massad (2015) is of the view that ISIS, a terrorist group linked to Islam is portrayed to be teaching Islamic writings and prayers to new members who join the group. Moreover, in videos of terrorism that are circulated via media, the terrorists are depicted conducting Islamic prayers. Therefore, Muslims are depicted to be violent and blood thirsty and associated with gender discrimination.

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The Significance of the Veil in Orientalism

Orientalism refers to the constructed lens through which the West uses in understanding and dominating the East. Orientalism sees the West as rational, superior, human and developed. On the other hand, the East is seen as inferior, undeveloped, barbaric and irrational. The veil signifies eroticism and oppression in Orientalism. Brunotte, Ludewig, and Stähler (2015) assert that according to the orientalists, the veil is comprehended as a tool the keeps men apart from the women in the Muslim society. These men constantly seek to penetrate the space of women that is secretive and exercise their power of dominion. Orientalism signifies the veil as a tool of oppression where Muslim women are trapped in polygamous marriages. These veiled women from the East are imprisoned by barbaric Muslim men and thus, they are forced to use their veil for covering their bodies. Therefore, the East is viewed as underdeveloped as their women can only find their way out of these oppressions by being helped in addition to being educated by the West.

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Additionally, the veil is signified as a denotation tool that can used to differentiate the West from Islam. In this case, the veil represents the East’s retardation and thus, the West desires to remove it. Lewis (2013) points out that Orientalism can be seen in contemporary media whereby Muslims are stereotyped as terrorists who are threatening. The media presents photographs of veiled women as militant radicals. These women, as portrayed by media, seek a breakthrough of the backwardness of the East. The women also seek to be saved from the oppressions they encounter from the East.

Furthermore, orientalists signify the veil to acts of terrorism. This is as a result of the connection between the war against terrorism and the protection of veiled women. The West associate veiled women to terrorism and hence, these women are constantly attacked. Heffernan (2016) affirms that this led to formation of the movement that encouraged American women to avoid wearing veils even if they were Muslims. In addition, the Western media links veiled women to acts of terrorism as some of the videos that are aired show terror groups involving veiled women who are used to conduct terror attacks. This has led to the onset of a negative attitude against the veiled women in the West.

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The West associates the veil as an agent of not being civilized. They argue that the veil represents the Islam uncivilized ways. Women in the West believe they are liberated and the veiled women from the East are not. Therefore, they postulate that for liberation to take place in the East, their women should be unveiled. The West hence associates the non-liberated women from the East with forces of non-civilization that exists in the East.

The veil is viewed by the West as a social and moral disgraceful object. Westerners believe the veil is a symbol of the sacrifice of Muslim women of individual freedom. Thus, Heffernan (2016) indicates that the veiled women from are socially disgraceful as they are passive, obedient and submissive. Comparatively, women from the West believe they are brave and bright. This is because these veiled women from the East succumb to male chauvinism that is thriving. Thriving male chauvinism is a character ascribed to the East.

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The veil is also viewed as an agent of gender inequality in the East. The West has made efforts in establishing principles as far as gender inequality is concerned. Brunotte, Ludewig, and Stähler (2015) opine that the United States through feminists’ movements has championed gender equality in all countries of the world by being exemplary in the crusade. It has eradicated gender inequalities in employment opportunities giving women a chance to work in any sphere of the United States economy. Therefore, the East is portrayed as going against the principles of gender equality by the unlawful subjugation of the women by fathers and husbands.

The veil is also signified as political strife in the East by orientalists. This is as a result of the political instability in the East. The East faces numerous political upheavals as a result of the fight between Christians and Muslims. Heffernan (2016) holds the view that the instability was followed by the burning of churches and even attacks on some Christians because of their faith. The strife tends to be unending because of the frequent misunderstandings between Christians and Muslims.











In conclusion, the veil is signified negatively by the West. The veil is viewed as a representation of negative occurrences in the East. Gender inequality in the East is also equated to the veil in addition to the political strife experienced in the East. Additionally, the veil signifies non-civilization in the East as well as being viewed as a social and moral disgrace. Therefore, the veil is a denotation of the West from the East as the West is developed.

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