I am writing this blog just days before Passover. Passover commemorates the murder of our firstborn in Egypt and our harsh life there, concluding with our ascent to Zion. It marks both our establishment as Jews under the Torah and of antisemitism. We also approach Yom HaZicharon and Yom HaAtzmaut. What do these holidays have in common? Jew-Hatred.
Hatred of Jews, the world’s oldest prejudice, is once again fashionable. The disease is an epidemic on college campuses where it is the “in” thing. And it is becoming commonplace everywhere. Jews per capita are the victims of more hate crimes than any group in the US and Canada. Using FBI data, the American Enterprise Institute found that American Jews were 2.6 times more likely than Blacks to be hate crime victims in 2019. We are 2.2 times more likely than Muslims to be hate crime victims. These figures are from 2019, and since then, antisemitic hate crimes only increased dramatically. In New York City, antisemitic crimes were almost four times more prevalent this January than in January last year.
Nevertheless, the media often fails to report on Jew hatred. Alyza Lewin of the Louis D Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law says that people do not recognize antisemitism when it happens. They acknowledge it only when it only resembles the antisemitism of the holocaust, perhaps involving a swastika, white supremacist propaganda, or murder. They fail to consider as antisemitic the harassment of Jewish students by teachers or fellow students.
Even we forget or are ignorant of the media’s past antisemitism. In her book “The Newspaper Axis,” Kathryn Olmsted notes that following Kristallnacht in 1938, the Daily News editorialized that “plenty of people just now are exercising their right to dislike the Jews.” This editorial could have been written today in many campus newspapers.
While the media fails to see Jew-hatred, we see it and are frightened. American Jewish Committee’s 2019 survey revealed that 42 percent of American Jews believe the status of Jews in the US is less secure than the year before. Matters have worsened since then. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of American Jews report that antisemitic acts are a problem.
Why then has the media and the public ignored this problem? Some believe it is because Jew-hatred no longer looks like it did during the holocaust. It has mutated. What now defines it. Much of the world is committed to following the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. It lists three considerations: Demonization, Double Standards, and Delegitimization. Note that the definition acknowledges that criticism of the Israeli government is legitimate. Indeed, it is Israel’s national sport. However, demonization, delegitimization, and double standards reveal Jew-hatred.
What is and has been the brain disease of antisemitism? Yossi Klein Halevi sees it in society attributing to and scapegoating the Jew as its worst evil in every generation. In every generation, the Jew becomes the source of all of society’s worst catastrophes.
- For the Christians (until a few decades ago), we killed their messiah. We made our matza from the blood of their missing children. (Even today, you can watch this blood-libel defamation on Arabic TV and read it in books.)
- For the Muslims, we denied their prophet by refusing to accept Islam as the only true belief.
- In the middle ages, we poisoned the wells and brought on the plague. We are blamed more recently in flyers and emails for the COVID-19 pandemic. This year a prominent Republican political figure claimed the COVID-19 vaccine is part of a plot by “the Jews” to exterminate people.
- To the communists, we were capitalists. To the capitalists, we were communists.
- To the whites and KKK, we are colored; to the Blacks, we are white. To be white these days “is a kind of slander,” writes The Jerusalem Post’s Seth Frantzman. Jews have been transformed into “white Jews,” which Frantzman correctly notes is, at its core, “anti-Jewish.” He writes that being Jewish “has become synonymous with ‘white supremacy.’” (In Israel, most Jews identify as non-white.)
- The Nazis murdered us for polluting their pure race, yet Whoopi Goldberg asserts that the holocaust was not about race.
Today, the antisemite says we are the present evil. They say we are racists. They say we violate human rights, are oppressors, occupiers, racists, colonialists, and practice apartheid. In their minds, we are the worst offenders of human rights.
According to Irwin Cotler, Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, society in the past turned us as individuals into “the other,” denying us as individuals our place in society. The new form of antisemitism extends such exclusion to the Jewish collective. The Jewish collective is our nation-state of Israel. To the antisemite, our Jewish homeland has no right to exist. It is illegitimate. Cotler says that traditional antisemitism sought to deny Jews their place in society. The new antisemitism seeks to deny the only Jewish State its place in the society of nations.
To the new antisemite, the Jewish nation is the worse offender of today’s evils. There is no harsher offender among the nations than Israel. Not a word against Iran, China, or Russia. It does not matter that in Israel all races, genders, and ethnicities are equal under the law. It is the Jewish state and, therefore, must be eliminated. Denying Jews our homeland is not a political debate, it is the current form of Jew-hatred. Such Demonization, Double Standards, and Delegitimization acts are antisemitic by definition.
Consequently, it that imperative that we speak out when we see or hear antisemitism, no matter where we find it.