Originally published May 1, 2019
“Not only one has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation they rise against us to annihilate us.” These words, recited during the most emotional point of the Pesach Seder, still ring true, despite the incredible freedoms American Jews enjoy. Six months after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, last week another shooting occurred at the Chabad in Poway, California. A few days earlier, The New York Times published a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu depicted as a big-nosed dog with a Jewish star necklace leading a yarmulke-wearing, blind President Trump. Anti-Semitism rears its ugly head in many forms, and American Jews must be knowledgeable of who our enemies are and where they come from if we are to continue to survive.
The shooting in the Chabad of Poway occurred on the last day of Pesach, when most people turn up for shul to say Yizkor for a lost parent. One of those people was Lori Kaye, 60, who was shot when she jumped in front of the rabbi of the shul to shield him, and she later died. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, suffered injuries to his fingers, and was, according to witnesses, calling for calm and unity even after he was injured. A nine-year-old girl and her uncle were also injured in the attack.
The hate-filled monster who allegedly committed this atrocity will not be named, lest he receives the attention he seeks. He posted a manifesto similar to the white supremacist who shot up a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, a few weeks ago. In it, he claims responsibility for an attack on another mosque in Escondido, California, a few weeks ago. The alleged shooter was 19 and ran away after an Army veteran chased him and an off-duty Border Patrol agent fired back at him. He later surrendered to the police.
Since the attacker has the profile of a white supremacist, the media coverage has already been far higher than the Muslim terrorists who killed hundreds of Christians during Easter services in Sri Lanka. White supremacists are linked by the media to the right-wing of the political spectrum, and therefore receive more coverage than radical Islamic terrorists, as Muslims are considered an oppressed victim group. The linkage occurred during the 2016 election cycle, when alt-right leaders such as David Duke and Richard Spencer endorsed then-candidate Donald Trump. Although Trump disavowed the endorsements, he only did so after numerous calls to do so, thereby giving a perceived “wink and nod” to the alt-right. Additionally, Trump campaign chairman and advisor Steve Bannon turned the right-wing news site Breitbart into a breeding ground for alt-right politics. In arguably the lowest moment of the Trump presidency, he is accused of giving moral equivalency to alt-right protestors and neo-Nazis and those who were protesting them in the infamous Charlottesville attack of August 2017. (Trump’s defenders say that Trump meant there were “fine people on both sides” of the confederate statue debate, not the attack itself.)
Given these facts, it is easy for American Jews to run as far away from Republican politics as possible. However, that would be a serious misread of who, in this generation, “rise against us to annihilate us.” Upon examination of the alt-right and white supremacists, it’s clear that they follow a playbook that is as different from American conservative right-wing politics as possible. Philosophically, the alt-right believes in identity politics, despises religion, and dismisses the individual in favor of the group. Economically, they push for single-payer healthcare and are decidedly anti-capitalist. Their foreign policy is to fully remove America from foreign wars and are thoroughly anti-Israel. These views are more in line with the American political left than the conservative right.
The liberal media illustrated this, both literally and figuratively. As stated above, The New York Times printed an anti-Semitic cartoon reminiscent of Der Sturmer, the Nazi propaganda publication. After depicting the leader of the Jewish state as a dog leading a blind, yarmulke-wearing Trump, The Times was relentlessly and universally condemned. Upon issuing an apology, The Times claimed it was an “error in judgment” to print it. Harvard professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz rightly said that a simple apology is not enough. “The @nytimes owes its readers more than an apology,” Dershowitz wrote on Twitter. “We are entitled to an investigation and explanation: How did the anti-Semitic cartoon get published? Who approved it? What steps are being taken to prevent a recurrence?” Dershowitz received backlash from his comment that anti-Semitism is “a symptom of a deeper problem on the left. It’s acceptable to many on the left to employ anti-Semitic tropes as long as they’re directed against Israel. Anti-Zionism is becoming an acceptable cover for anti-Semitism.” However, he is undoubtedly correct. The mainstream media provides a smokescreen to the political left, allowing them to associate with impunity with characters every bit as despicable as those on the alt-right.
Beloved Democrats and Democratic supporters like Ilhan Omar, Al Sharpton, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Louis Farrakhan have been accepted by the center-left after their true anti-Semitic colors have been revealed. Omar appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with Nancy Pelosi. Sharpton visited the Obama White House over 70 times, and every 2020 Democratic presidential candidate went to kiss his ring at his National Action Network event in early April. At a rally, Sarsour introduced New York Senator and 2020 Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, who referred to Sarsour and Mallory as “suffragists of our time.” Farrakhan has been spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric for decades, but he’s been pictured with Barack Obama, hugged by Maxine Waters, and sat next to Bill Clinton at a funeral.
As Dershowitz said, anti-Semitism is acceptable as long as it has the façade of anti-Zionist or anti-Israel sentiment. This is why both Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke both feel comfortable referring to Netanyahu as a “racist.” Sanders threw around the term with such apparent ease that he didn’t stop to consider that many Israelis and Palestinians are of the same race, Middle Eastern. O’Rourke had the additional temerity to claim that he doesn’t believe Netanyahu “represents the true will of the Israeli people,” despite the Israeli people electing him four times. Their criticism of Israeli policy does not, in and of itself, make them anti-Semitic. However, when they ignore far worse actors on the world stage, and primarily and consistently view the issues in Israel through a biased, anti-Israel lens, they are “winking and nodding” to anti-Semitic individuals and movements. One of those movements, IfNotNow, also refers to Netanyahu as a racist on a regular basis.
Democrats also have a problem condemning the terrorist organizations that barrage Israel with attacks. In 2008, Jimmy Carter met with Hamas leaders. Then-candidate Obama didn’t condemn the meeting because “he’s a private citizen. It’s not my place to discuss who he shouldn’t meet with.” Comments made during the Trump presidency alone proves that Obama is not one who stays silent when he disapproves of something. After Hamas endorsed Obama in 2008, his chief strategist David Axelrod referred to the endorsement as “flattering.” Throughout his presidency, Obama regularly gave moral equivalency to the terrorists and their Jewish victims. Obama sent $1.7 billion in cash to terrorist-sponsoring Iran. In the final hours of his presidency, Obama sent the Palestinians $221 million, despite the fact that the PA compensates the families of terrorists after they attack Israel.
The media so regularly botches the headlines on terror attacks in Israel that it has become a trope. This distorted information becomes the reality that Democrats like Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez use to club and condemn Israel, while supporting the anti-Semitic BDS movement. At the same time, the media inextricably links mainstream conservatives with alt-right white supremacists. The Economist recently accused Ben Shapiro, one of the most prominent conservative voices in America today, of being “the alt-right sage without the rage.” The Washington Post twice compared Shapiro’s views with alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s in the last few weeks. Jordan Peterson, Candace Owens, Christina Hoff Summers, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are a few of the many others who have been unjustly tarnished with the “alt-right” label because their opinions fall outside of the left-wing orthodoxy.
The media regularly ignores anti-Semitic attacks in New York when they cannot be easily attributed to a white supremacist. The New York Times admits as much. When describing that anti-Semitic attacks are the most prominent hate crimes in New York by multiple factors, the question arose as to why this isn’t well known. “If anti-Semitism bypasses consideration as a serious problem in New York,” The Times wrote, “it is to some extent because it refuses to conform to an easy narrative with a single ideological enemy. During the past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far-right-wing group.” According to The Times, if an anti-Semitic hate crime is perpetrated by a black person, or a Muslim, or anyone who can’t even be tangentially linked to the political right, it is not worthy of being a “serious problem.”
While a cartoon is not comparable to the tragedy that occurred at the Chabad in Poway, they are both symptoms of a larger problem. The enemies of the Jewish people rise up in every generation, as has been known since the exodus from Egypt. Some of these enemies are obvious: They parade around with swastikas and openly claim to hate the Jews. Others are more nefarious, because their attacks come with a friendly face and they are considered credible. The Jewish people cannot afford to ignore either of these enemies. Anti-Semitic enemies must be called out in all its forms, from all directions, to prevent the annihilation that they seek.
You can follow Moshe Hill on Twitter @TheMohill.