Who Let the Anti-Semitism of the 20th Century Out of the Bag in 2019?

It’s 2019, it’s sad but true, the ugly demon of anti-Semitism still exists and seems to be getting worse—or is it that the perpetrators feel it’s fine in today’s world to talk publically about their anti-Semitic beliefs? In writing this blog there were a staggering number of incidents with varying degrees of seriousness to choose from posted from the U.S. to around the world . . .

  • 10/27/2018 shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in which a gunman killed 11 worshipers. When the horrific shootings at the mosques in New Zealand occurred in March, the Tree of Life synagogue immediately set up a GoFundMe campaign to help the victims and their families.1 An outpouring of love for their Muslim brothers and sisters from fellow victims.
  • Vicious attack on Argentine chief rabbi in his own home whose assailants told him that they knew he was the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association’s (AIMA) rabbi. The AIMA’s building was target of the country’s worst terrorist attack in 1994—a bombing that killed 85 people and injured hundreds.2
  • In Britain, nearly 70 grave markers have been vandalized at Manchester’s Urmston Jewish Cemetery. The attacks took place in three separate incidences.3
  • In Paris, France, the store window of the Bagelstein restaurant was painted with the word “Juden” in yellow paint. The word means “Jews” in German.4
  • February 9, 2019, 20 swastikas were spray painted on a wall at the Bondi beach in Australia.5
  • In a parade in the city of Aalst, Belgium on March 3rd, an anti-Semitic float featured vicious caricatures of stereotypically Jewish figures. According to The Observers “The float is fronted by two giant models in pink suits, wearing sidelocks and shtreimels—the fur hat traditionally worn by Hasidic Jews—and with large hooked noses. One of them has a rat on his shoulder. Both are standing on piles of gold coins and are surrounded by bags of money.6

The list of incidences throughout the world is far too long to enumerate. What all officials seem to agree on is that anti-Semitic acts are dramatically on the rise.

  • German police announced a 60 percent rise in violent anti-Semitic attacks.7
  • The number of anti-Semitic acts in France increased by 74% last year, from 311 in 2017 to 541 in 2018.8
  • There was a 60 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents across Australia in 2018 as compared with 2017, according to a report by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.9

Now, do we make a bigger deal about the more institutionalized evidence from organizations rather than individuals? Probably. We know that individuals can ultimately be supported by organizations, movements and then they can even become part of a government. Hitler was the ultimate case in point.

Psychologist, Tom Stafford, says “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth,” and is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels.10 Understanding this effect can help you avoid falling for propaganda,” but how many people look further than what they are told?

And to have elected officials in the U.S. support the BDS movement seems like a first step down a slippery slope.

U.S. Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are supporters of the BDS movement. The innate bigotry and anti-Semitism shown by Ilhan Omar’s tweets as she accused Jews of having allegiance to a foreign government has long been an anti-Semitic slur used to harass, marginalize and persecute the Jewish people for centuries.

Because Jews care about Israel our ancestral home? Israel has always been a place where we were welcome—that is, by each other. Of course there is a caveat. If you chose to move to Israel when the anti-Semitism got too much where you were living, you’d have to get used to the never-ending shelling from the Palestinians and risk your life. For me that was a litmus test for how bad it was in the country they were leaving.

Another outrageous tweet was Omar’s suggestion that American support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins” — demonstrating her belief in the bigoted trope that rich Jews control the world.

What is the BDS movement? The name stands for Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel. It is a highly funded, sophisticated international organization that seeks to strangle Israel economically with the ultimate endgame of wiping Israel off the map. This is reflected in their protest signs replacing Israel with Palestine while their members sing “From the River (Jordan) to the Sea (Mediterranean), Palestine will be free.”

The Algemeiner says, Barghouti (a founder of BDS) himself has a long record of controversial statements about Israel, including endorsing its destruction in favor of an Arab-majority state, defending the use of terrorism, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, accusing the Jewish state of supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda, denying that Jews faced persecution and violence while living in Arab-majority lands, and calling for the “euthanasia” of Zionism.11  

He promotes the realization of the “Right of Return” by Palestinian descendants to “return” to Israel.12 Realize the majority have never lived in Israel since their descendants left in 1948—and if they did move to Israel, it would make the Palestinians the majority of the population. Since Israel is a democracy and citizens have voting rights, who do you think would win the election and what would their platform be?

BDS doesn’t speak about the conditions of the millions of Palestinian refugees (more than the number in the West Bank and Gaza) who went to Arab countries and are held in camps.13 Why is their treatment by their Arab brethren not mentioned? Only Israel is held to be the brute—the Palestinian leaders of the West Bank and Gaza who use the millions of dollars of foreign aid they are given to send missiles instead of building an infrastructure of schools and hospitals to make their own people’s lives better are not held accountable. But then again if the Palestinians feel their leaders should do more for them and speak up, too often they are beaten, dragged off to jail and/or killed. The Palestinian leaders don’t allow descension. Meanwhile, Israel is used as the universal scapegoat.

The BDS epitomizes Natan Sharansky’s 3Ds of new anti-Semitism; Demonization, Double Standards, and Delegitimization. Sharansky had also said, “Whereas classical anti-Semitism is aimed at the Jewish people or the Jewish religion, “new anti-Semitism” is aimed at the Jewish state.”14

The NGO Monitor describes BDS this way:

The rhetoric used in BDS campaigns explicitly violates a number of precepts of the United States State Department Definition of Antisemitism. In particular, BDS activists are:

  • “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”
  • “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism to characterize Israel or Israelis”
  • “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”15

 The NGO Monitor maintains that: Through false comparisons to apartheid South Africa, BDS activists attempt to transform a political and territorial dispute into a question of racial discrimination.16

BDS members harass and intimidate Jewish students on campuses throughout the U.S. and the world, increasingly making them feel unsafe to identify themselves as being Jewish especially during pro-Palestinian demonstrations. This is 2019—why are they being allowed to intimidate our most precious asset—our next generation?

At universities across our nation, 129 anti-Israel resolutions have been presented and 38 have passed.17 BDS inaccurately describes Israel’s self-defense as genocide—another intentional distortion calling up memories of the Holocaust in a hurtful fashion. The college administrations often let the BDS protestors say or do whatever they like under the guise of freedom of speech. What about the Jewish students on campus? Aren’t they allowed the same rights by law? Why should our Jewish college students be forced to feel unsafe at their home away from home?

And Jews don’t only have to fear the impact of the bigotry from the BDS movement, there are always the hate crimes from the rise of white nationalism to watch out for. On April 9, Eileen Hershenov of the Anti-Defamation League, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Hate Crimes regarding the rise of white nationalism. She reported that:

White supremacists in the United States have experienced a resurgence in the past three years, driven in large part by the rise of the alt right. There is also a clear corollary, as our research shows, to the rise in polarizing and hateful rhetoric on the part of candidates and elected leaders. This is a particularly dangerous problem; white supremacists have been responsible for more than half (54%) of all domestic extremist-related murders in the past 10 years. And in the last year that figure has risen to 78% of all extremist-related murders – that is, white supremacists were responsible for more than ¾ of all domestic extremist murders in 2018.18

Then there is the more subtle case of how Israel is portrayed, but that may be less obvious. Hmm, let’s look at the fact Israel is a Jewish country. They are repeatedly attacked with missiles, mortars, incendiary devices and explosives and they were told to use restraint and don’t do anything to those who attack you. Why that’s strange, would another country continuously attacked be told the same? Or constant news stories when they do retaliate to stop the missiles and what you read in the headlines is Israel bombs Gaza and x number of people are killed or injured with no mention of why Israel was defending itself. No mention that Israel forewarns the Palestinians that at x o’clock we are going to destroy x, leave immediately! But their leaders tell them to stay, be a martyr and your family will be paid ad infinitum for your death by foreign governments.

When taking a look at Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, written in the 1930s, which is made up of six sections that chronicle the evolution of the German mentality towards Nazism, it gave me the chills. The character of Sally Bowles, who was the character in the second section later became the inspiration for the musical “Cabaret.” Isherwood compares himself to an emotionless camera that was merely commenting on what was happening regardless of the human implications toward the Jews of Germany—as Jews we can’t afford to do that. As people, no matter what your religion or race, you shouldn’t either and we need everyone’s attention.

As always, I invite you to Join Me on My Journey . . .

 

Endnotes

1 “Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue is raising money for New Zealand shooting victims,” The Week, March 18, 2019, https://theweek.com/speedreads/829964/pittsburghs-tree-life-synagogue-raising-money-new-zealand-shooting-victims

2 Almudena Calatrava, “Attack on Argentine chief rabbi raises fear of anti-Semitism,” February 26, 2019, https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/attack-argentine-chief-rabbi-raises-fear-anti-Semitism-61327024

3 Hana Levi Julian, “4 Anti-Semitic Attacks on 3 Continents: Jews in UK, France, Australia, NYC Targeted,” February 10, 2019,  https://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/ny/4-anti-Semitic-attacks-on-3-continents-jews-in-uk-france-australia-nyc-targeted/2019/02/10/

4 Hana Levi Julian, “4 Anti-Semitic Attacks on 3 Continents: Jews in UK, France, Australia, NYC Targeted,” February 10, 2019,  https://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/ny/4-anti-Semitic-attacks-on-3-continents-jews-in-uk-france-australia-nyc-targeted/2019/02/10/

5 Hana Levi Julian, “4 Anti-Semitic Attacks on 3 Continents: Jews in UK, France, Australia, NYC Targeted,” February 10, 2019,  https://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/ny/4-anti-Semitic-attacks-on-3-continents-jews-in-uk-france-australia-nyc-targeted/2019/02/10/

6Anne Hendershott , Anti-Semitism Growing on America’s Campuses, Minding the Campus, April 9, 2019, https://www.mindingthecampus.org/2019/04/09/anti-Semitism-growing-on-americas-campuses/

7 “Violent anti-Semitic attacks in Germany increase by 60 percent,” The Local, February 13, 2019 https://www.thelocal.de/20190213/anti-Semitic-offences

8Angeli Chrisafis, “Spreading like poison’: flurry of antisemitic acts alarms France, February 12, 2019 The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/12/french-police-investigate-antisemitic-attacks-in-paris-simone-veil

9 Hana Levi Julian, “4 Anti-Semitic Attacks on 3 Continents: Jews in UK, France, Australia, NYC Targeted,” February 10, 2019,  https://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/ny/4-anti-Semitic-attacks-on-3-continents-jews-in-uk-france-australia-nyc-targeted/2019/02/10/

10 Tom Stafford, “How liars create the illusion of truth,” Mind Hacks, November 11, 2016, https://mindhacks.com/2016/11/11/how-liars-create-the-illusion-of-truth/

11 Benjamin Kerstein, “US Blocks Controversial BDS Activist Omar Barghouti Ahead of Speaking Tour,” Algemeiner, April 11, 2019,  https://www.algemeiner.com/2019/04/11/us-blocks-entry-to-leading-bds-activist-omar-barghouti/

12 “Omar Barghouti – Portrait of a hypocrite,” BDS Guide http://bdsguide.com/omar-barghouti/

13 Judith Miller and David Samuels, “No Way Home: The Tragedy of the Palestinian Diaspora,” Independent, October 22, 2009, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/no-way-home-the-tragedy-of-the-palestinian-diaspora-1806790.html

14 Nathan Sharansky, in the Foreward of the Jewish Political Studies Review, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-sharansky-f04.htm

15 NGO Monitor, “Goals of BDS,” https://www.ngo-monitor.org/key-issues/bds/about/#goalsofbds

16 NGO Monitor, “Goals of BDS,” https://www.ngo-monitor.org/key-issues/bds/about/#goalsofbds

17 “Anti-Semitism: Campus Divestment Resolutions in the USA,” Jewish Virtual Library, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/campus-divestment-resolutions

18 Remarks by Eileen Hershenov, Senior Vice President for Policy, ADL, “Eileen Hershenov’s Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism,” April 9, 2019, https://www.adl.org/news/article/eileen-hershenovs-testimony-before-the-house-judiciary-committee-on-hate-crimes-and