The Politicization of Anti-Semitism

In the Oct. 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 inquiring “what, short of an outbreak of violent anti-Semitism, might recreate a feeling among young Jews as being members of a unique people.”

While Neumann’s answer remains instructive, the intervening days have shown that the premise was wrong. The outbreak of violent anti-Semitism transpired that same weekend, but a celebration of Jewish unity has not resulted… because for many Jews, the aforementioned liberal activism came first.

I feel I have yet to adequately process my grief and sorrow regarding the horrific slaughter at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. This is due not only to denial, but how I learned about this atrocity.

As 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.

So 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.

The 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 fashion.

The question for Trump-haters was why he was to blame. By that, I do not mean an incredulous “why” would Trump be responsible for the actions of an individual who opposed him – and did so specifically because Trump is “surrounded by kikes” and “there is no #MAGA as long as there is a kike infestation.” They had no such question; for them, blaming the President was a given.

Rather, a better word is “how” to justify this improbable connection. They offered multiple, mutually-contradictory rationales, connected by nothing other than the writers’ pre-existing hostility towards the President. Others incriminated Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with no greater consistency except in their previous opinions of their target.

Consider 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 how to leverage it for political gain. For multiple Jewish writers, tweeters and pundits, partisan agendas come before Jewish unity. It is possible that this is even a greater tragedy than the attack itself.

Anti-Semitism 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 against Jews is something other than Jew-hatred, and that to the extent that it is, the Jews brought it upon themselves.

No 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 potentially eliminate. And thus it is understandable why Jews fall into this trap. Understandable, but horribly wrong.

Anti-Semitism is found at the extreme ends of all political movements, rather than stemming from one. That Farrakhan referred to Jews as termites, while Bowers referred to a “kike infestation,” is no coincidence – because 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.

It is true that anti-Semitism increased in 2017 – if we include the 163 bomb threats against JCC’s made by a mentally-disturbed Israeli teen and the Obama volunteer who was stalking his former girlfriend. Of the twelve 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 (over 90%) of whom support President Trump. Not one of the perpetrators has been identified as a white supremacist. So the leftists are not merely wrong, but are blaming the very Jews who clearly know anti-Semitism far better than they do.

No 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. It must, finally, 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 described the precision elimination of fifty terrorists in that mob as a “massacre.”

Jews cannot pretend that this hatred afflicts only those of particular political affiliations. That delusion only makes all Jews less safe.

Jew-hatred 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 Bowers: “All Jews Must Die.” It cares not whether a Jew is conservative or liberal, religious or secular, rich or poor.

That is exactly why all decent people must fight it, and why all Jews must continue to proudly identify as Jews. Together.

This article first appeared in American Greatness.

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9 Responses

  1. SQ says:

    Not one word about the fact that the Pittsburgh shooter explicitly said he was motivated by the conspiracy theories about the “caravan” of immigrants that Trump was pushing?! He chose a shul precisely because the local shuls had hosted a HIAS event in support of refugees. The fact that you left this out of your post destroys any credibility you might have had.

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      This (typically) anonymous comment demonstrates the accuracy of my statement about the mutual, self-contradictory reasons why Trump was supposedly to blame. This writer does not assert that Trump encouraged supremacist groups, but rather that he encouraged “conspiracy theories about the caravan of immigrants,” which Bowers tied to HIAS. Although supremacist groups undoubtedly support conspiracy theories about immigrants, both legal and not, encouraging them and their Jew-hatred, vs. encouraging anti-HIAS hysteria which then turns to hatred of Jewish support for HIAS, are two very different things.

      It is telling that Trump is accused of “racism” and “conspiracy theories” for echoing the precise sentiments of then-President Bill Clinton regarding illegal immigrants in his 1995 State of the Union address, to extended bipartisan applause. It is also telling that the writer uses “caravan” in scare quotes, as if “migrant caravan” were not the common term used for the large group of South Americans poised to attempt to illegally enter the United States.

      Bowers chose a shul because “all Jews must die.” Sadly, the commenter proves not only my specific point on the specious reasons used to blame the President, but the larger point about trying to find ways to blame anti-Semitism on something other than hatred of Jews.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    Will the Left continue to coddle and support a host of blatantly antisemitic public figures in and out of government? Will the sun rise in the east?

  3. Gabriel M says:

    This is not really true. The shooter hates Jews because he believes they are irredeemably hostile to white Christians and express an anti-gratitude to their host nations by endlessly advocating for mass immigration and other policies and ideas designed to weaken the cohesiveness of the majority culture.

    One of the sources he got this view from is the burgeoning far-right presence on the internet, particularly those who are inspired by the works of Kevin MacDonald (which everyone should read for roughly the same reasons that everyone should read the works of the Satmar Rebbe). Another source are Jewish media personalities, intellectuals, and organisations who endlessly announce that this is in fact the case and that Jews will always advocate for higher levels of immigration precisely because the are Jews and that this is a non-negotiable component of their Jewishness that they will never change. The inevitable backlash this creates only strengthens their resolve: ‘see, look how anti-semitic these [insert host country here] people are, we must work even harder to make them a minority’ and so the cycle continues. The relationship of official Jewry and anti-semites is symbiotic.

    Anti-semitism is a punishment for Jews because of their sins. Since there has been a lot of sinning over the past 200 years, there has been a lot of anti-semitism. It’s not rocket science. However, as we know, G-d usually works through hidden causes. Over the past 200 years he has worked by having renegade Jews play a disproportionate and prominent role in every form of destructive leftism, which inevitably (though, I emphasize, not fairly) makes people hate Jews. No Holodomor, no Holocaust.

    The irony is that Trump’s blend of content-free civic nationalism, protectionist stimulus, immigration controls, and aggressive philosemitism is the last chance that America has to save itself from becoming Brazil + Muslims, a destination that will be particularly bad for Jews who will find themselves equally despised by the Coalition of the Oppressed who view them as rich whites who deserve to be plundered, and heritage Americans bitter at their dispossession. Hence their manic, vitriolic hatred for Trump among the American Jewish elite. Those who G-d will destroy, He first makes mad.

  4. Rafael Quinoaface says:

    Hello! The Pittsburg murderer hated Trump, felt he was under the influence of Jews, and stated so explicitly. I am baffled how the Left twists itself into a pretzel so that President Trump takes the blame for murder committed by an anti-Trump far-Right extremist. Just look at what you are saying its – its ludicrous and completely irrational!

  5. Nachum says:

    It would be nice if HIAS and other Jews pushing for more immigration would at least admit that they are doing something deeply unpopular with many Americans, and are causing anti-Jewish animus by doing so, especially- but not only- if they do so as Jews. It might even motivate them to act a little more cautiously, or maybe leave the controversial stuff to the non-Jews.

    But they probably don’t even know that people disagree with them, or, if they do, they simply write them off.

  6. Bob Miller says:

    Gabriel M wrote at November 13, 2018 at 9:24 am that
    “The shooter hates Jews because…”
    Regardless of what killers like this offer up as their motives/excuses/smokescreens, what really moves them to go beyond just hatred and kill may be a whole other thing.
    Antisemites have accused us of everything and its opposite, often in the very same rant.

    As for “renegade Jews”, these have come in all flavors for millennia. They all want to portray something false, whether it be some religion or some antireligion, as Judaism. They cherry-pick and twist elements of our sacred writings and traditions. We have all varieties of such people hounding us or trying to seduce us nowadays.

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    HIAS should rethink whether it’s advocacy of unlimited immigration has any sources within Jewish law rather than cherry picking and distorting sources to support its position

  8. Bob Miller says:

    We’re fighting a defensive battle on numerous fronts. Socialists, National Socialists, radical Muslims, and others act out their own characteristic forms of antisemitism. Faced with this, we’re certainly not obliged to fight on one front and ignore all others. But there are qualitative and quantitative measures of where the greatest current threats lie, which is where the greatest defensive efforts must be mounted. One can fully accept that Nazis and other fascist types are threats, while acknowledging that the threat posed by the Left in league with radical Muslims now dwarfs the others. Jews inclined to be liberal, no matter which party they claim to belong to, have too often blinded themselves to threats from the Left. This is why ADL, the JCRCs, and other liberal “defense organizations” now sit somewhere between useless and harmful.

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