Politicization of Anti-Semitism
the October 24 issue of Mishpacha magazine, popular in the Orthodox Jewish
community, columnist Jonathan Rosenblum interviewed
Jonathan Neumann, author of the excellent book dismantling the false
equivalence between Jewish values and liberal activism, “To
Heal the World?” Rosenblum closed by asking “what, short of an outbreak
of violent anti-Semitism, might recreate a feeling among young Jews as being
members of a unique people.”
Neumann’s answer remains instructive, the intervening days have shown that the
premise was wrong. An outbreak of violent anti-Semitism transpired that same
weekend, but a celebration of Jewish unity has not resulted. For many Jews,
liberal activism came first.
feel I have yet to process adequately my grief and sorrow regarding the horrific
slaughter at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. This is due not only
to denial, but also to how I learned about this atrocity.
a Sabbath-observant Jew, I knew nothing about what had transpired until after
nightfall, when I had returned from synagogue and started up my computer. I
happened to look at social media before the news.
the first thing I read was not the report of the worst anti-Semitic crime in
U.S. history. What I read first was that it was my fault.
blood of the victims was not yet dry, and already people were diverting our
attention from the simple fact that Jews are still murdered for being Jews—and
not hesitating to blame Jews for anti-Semitism, in classically anti-Semitic
question for Trump-haters was why the president was to blame. By that, I do not
mean an incredulous “why” as in, “Why would Trump be responsible for the
actions of an individual who opposed him?” Though this is a good question
given that the shooter opposed Trump specifically because Trump is “surrounded
by kikes” and “there is no #MAGA as long as there is a kike infestation.”
Trump-haters had had no such questions; for them, blaming the president was a
a better word to describe their leap in logic is “how.” They proposed to
show “how” they justify this improbable connection. They offered multiple,
mutually contradictory rationales, connected by nothing other than the
writers’ pre-existing hostility to the president. Others incriminated
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with no greater consistency other
than that it aligned with previous opinions of their target.
that many of those who say this barbarian felt empowered by Trump also claim
that anti-Semites in Gaza turn to violence because they feel powerless. There is
no consistency, for none is required. Their underlying concern is not
understanding anti-Semitism, but understanding how to leverage anti-Semitism for
political gain. For multiple Jewish writers, tweeters, and pundits, partisan
agendas come before Jewish unity. It is possible that this thoughtless division
is an even greater tragedy than this attack itself.
is a unique form of hatred. Xenophobia says the “other” is shiftless,
worthless, and criminal. The Jew, on the other hand, is conniving, resourceful,
plotting. The “other” robs banks; the Jew controls the banks. And one of the
basic anti-Semitic ideas is that hatred of Jews is something other than
Jew-hatred, and that to the extent that it is Jew-hatred, the Jews brought it
one likes to be hated, and without a clear theological understanding of why
anti-Semitism exists, it is comforting to pretend that it is going away, or tied
to a political ideology that we can hope to eliminate. And thus it is
understandable why Jews fall into this trap. Understandable, but horribly wrong.
is found at the extreme ends of all political movements; it does not stem from
only one. That Louis Farrakhan referred to Jews as termites, while the Tree of
Life murderer referred to a “kike infestation,” is no coincidence. Their
ideology is the same, at least when it comes to Jews. The image of Jews as
parasites was common in Nazi literature, and long before.
is true that anti-Semitism increased in 2017—if we include the 163 bomb
threats against Jewish community centers made by a mentally disturbed Israeli
teen and the Obama volunteer who was stalking his former girlfriend. Of the 12
violent hate crimes against Jews in New York State, nine—fully
three-quarters—were in Brooklyn and directed against easily identified
Orthodox Jews—the vast majority of whom (more than 90 percent) support
President Trump. Not one of the perpetrators has been identified as a white
supremacist. So the leftists are not merely wrong, but are engaged in blaming
the very Jews who clearly have a better grasp on the nature of anti-Semitism
than they do.
explanation of the Pittsburgh massacre is valid that does not address the
shootings at the Overland Park, Kansas JCC in 2014 and the U.S. Holocaust Museum
in 2009, and the Crown Heights riot of 1991. It must also encompass the
Hypercacher killings in 2015, why synagogues from France to Denmark are defended
with armed troops less than 75 years after the Holocaust . . . and the Holocaust
itself. Finally, it must explain why international media reported a rioting mob
in Gaza—gathered in order to “rip down the border, and rip the Jews’
hearts from their bodies”—as a “peaceful protest” and
simultaneously described the precision elimination of 50 terrorists in that mob
as a “massacre.”
cannot pretend that this hatred afflicts only those of particular political
affiliations. That delusion only makes all Jews less safe.
is not about politics. It is tied to no other agenda. As it has been for
thousands of years, it is about hatred for God, Torah, and values—and the same
genocidal mission shared by Haman, Hitler, and Pittsburgh synagogue shooter:
“All Jews Must Die.” It cares not whether a Jew is conservative or liberal,
religious or secular, rich or poor.
is exactly why all decent people must fight it, and why all Jews must continue
proudly to identify as Jews. Together.