The subject of antisemitism in America is something I never thought would become “a thing” and I certainly never imagined it would become a series to write about.
On Saturday night a domestic terrorist, for want of a better term, invaded a Chanukah party taking place at the home of Rabbi Rottenberg, a Hassidic Rabbi in Monsey and began stabbing and slashing the participants, injuring 5 people. One of them is in a critical condition.
But the Monsey attack didn’t come out of the blue. It is not even the culmination of the recent antisemitic attacks taking place around America. Barely 2 weeks ago we witnessed the deadly attack on the kosher supermarket in New Jersey, and of course there have been 2 murderous attacks on synagogues, one in Pittsburgh and one in Poway, in the last year and a half.
Here is a short, rather horrifying video showing just a few of the latest attacks on Orthodox Jews in the New York area:
In my post about the Jersey attack I quoted Eli Steinberg, an Orthodox writer, who wrote about the deafening silence surrounding these attacks on Orthodox Jews. The crux of his argument is still valid:
What happens when the victims are people who publicly align themselves with the President? What happens when the people committing the acts of anti-Semitism against them aren’t white nationalists, but minorities — like the former Black Hebrew Israelite who committed the Jersey City murders?
Then we ignore it.
When people can only recognize anti-Semitism when it comes from the other side of the aisle, it isn’t ant-Semitism which bothers them; it is their political enemies. It isn’t Jew hatred that is at stake but politics, and winning.
Since the attack in Monsey, gallons of ink have been spilled in all the media, not just Jewish media but in the mainstream media too – finally! – about the rising levels of antisemitism and the physical danger facing Orthodox Jews in particular, (mainly because of their visibility).
Nita Lowey and in The New York Times talk about the right response to the antisemitic Monsey attack:
First, we need to recognize the problem for what it is: an epidemic. We are no longer talking about isolated, occasional actions — bad enough as those are — but a regular phenomenon. Like an epidemic, it must be treated comprehensively, addressing root causes.
Second, we must acknowledge that there are multiple ideological sources feeding this paroxysm of hate; it is not a result of a single political outlook. Some critics wish to exploit the issue to undermine their political opponents. That is no way to deal with anti-Semitism. There is no one-size-fits-all profile for the perpetrators of these attacks.
One of the people getting a lot of blame for allowing this latest antisemitism to occur is New York Mayor Bill De Blasio whose liberalism ignores left-wing or black antisemitism as he puts the blame only on the right-wing:
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that anti-Semitism is a “right-wing movement” — while rejecting a claim that the left plays any role in discriminating against Jews.
“I think the ideological movement that is anti-Semitic is the right-wing movement,” de Blasio said at a Brooklyn press conference Tuesday about the increase of hate crimes in New York City. Hate crimes against all minority groups are up 64% compared to this time last year. Anti-Semitic incidents have spiked by 90%.
De Blasio said he did not agree with a claim by a reporter that there is also rising anti-Semitism “on the left in the BDS movement and around the world.” The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a largely left-wing campaign to ban Israeli products.
“I don’t agree with the mayor,” said Chaim Deutsch, a Brooklyn Democrat.
“I have not seen any white supremacists coming in here committing these hate crimes,” he said.
Indeed, NYPD Chief Dermot Shea said at the same press conference that perpetrators of hate crimes “run the gamut” from teens, to people with mental illness, to first- time offenders, and career criminals.
In this vein, Karol Markowicz in the New York Post explains how liberals are helping antisemitism to flourish:
Mayor Bill de Blasio released his usual by-the-numbers statement. “Hate doesn’t have a home in our city,” he tweeted. But hate does have a home here, and it has found it while Hizzoner has mostly looked away.
The mayor added: “In light of recent anti-Semitic attacks, the NYPD will increase their presence in Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg.” But the recent attacks have spread to Midtown Manhattan and Gravesend, Brooklyn. The problem has gotten worse while inaction paralyzed the mayor.
I first wrote about the uptick in May. The reason the city’s liberal political class was ignoring it, I argued, is that the criminals don’t fit their picture of Evil Bigots. They aren’t, for the most part, MAGA hat-wearing white guys with tiki torches. In fact, many of the attackers are people of color, as investigative reporting by Tablet’s Armin Rosen and others has shown.
Imagine if they were white nationalists. How much faster would the mayor and other city leaders have taken action?
Will he face the facts now? Or will Jews need to actually die, not just be pummeled, for our leaders to grasp the threat?
“Anti-Semitism is an attack on the values of our city — and we will confront it head-on,” de Blasio tweeted after this latest round of violence against Jews in the city. He has to stop beating around the bush. These attacks aren’t an attack on “our values.” They’re attacks on visibly Jewish people.
Even Sunday, after the Monsey stabbings, he blamed Trump and “Washington” for creating “an atmosphere of hate.”
De Blasio needs to stop trying to find a “them” to be the opposite of his “us.” His juvenile obsession with having the right adversaries allows anti-Semitism to flourish.
Although it is politically incorrect to say this out loud, many if not most of these individual attackers (as opposed to the men who shot up the two synagogues) are black. What is causing the black community to turn on the Jews so viciously?
One very important reason is the far-left campaign of delegitimization of Israel, one of whose projects is the “Deadly Exchange” protest. This project protests the training of US police officers by Israeli police, claiming that this has encouraged the US police to kill black civilians. Of course nothing could be further from the truth, but as the proverbial saying goes, a lie is halfway round the world till the truth gets out of bed.
Prof. William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has written a thorough analysis of this “Deadly Exchange” campaign, and its equally deadly results. It is a long read but very worthwhile and necessary in order to understand what is going on. Here are a few excerpts:
While this seems to come out of nowhere, in fact there has been a highly organized and aggressive campaign to stoke and exploit pre-existing racial tensions against Jews as part of anti-Israel activist tactics. The effort goes back decades to Louis Farrakhan, who serves as an inspiration for “intersectional” activists like Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour, formerly of the Women’s March.
But more than anything in recent years, anti-Zionist groups, including anti-Zionist purportedly Jewish groups, have sought to turn Blacks against Jews for the purpose of demonizing Israel by blaming Israel and American Jewish groups for domestic police violence and other policing problems.
Leading the way has been the anti-Zionist non-Jewish group calling itself “Jewish Voice for Peace” (JVP), which launched the “Deadly Exchange” campaign in 2017 falsely tying anti-terrorism training of U.S. police chiefs during short visits to Israel with police violence in the U.S. That “Deadly Exchange” campaign now has spread more broadly to the anti-Israel community, where various groups led by JVP seek to disrupt and terminate U.S.-Israel police exchanges.
As detailed below, the recent deadly shooting of Jews in Jersey City was by a Black supremacist group which espoused conspiracy theories eerily similar to the Deadly Exchange propaganda. While not all of the recent attacks can be tied to such conspiracy theories, what cannot be denied is that JVP and the other anti-Zionist groups promoting Deadly Exchange are playing a deadly game by promoting false claims of American and Israeli Jewish responsibility for police shootings.
The claims that Jews are responsible for the spilling of minority blood in U.S. cities is reminiscent of ancient blood libels which incited pogroms against Jews. The anti-Zionist activists’ hoped-for uprising against Israel and Jews may be playing out in ways they didn’t intend, but that doesn’t justify the continuation of the Deadly Exchange incitement.
In one of our analyses of the program, Professor Miriam Elman explained the premise behind and methodology of Deadly Exchange:
Launched several years ago by JVP, “Deadly Exchange” falsely blames Israel and its American-Jewish supporters for fueling police brutality and discriminatory policing practices against minority communities in America, and militarizing the approach to crime and public protests.
At its root, the campaign traffics in tropes and canards about Jewish power in order to accuse Israel and US-based Jewish organizations, like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), for conspiring to harm and oppress American black and brown people.
Since its launch, the Deadly Exchange campaign has been taken up by a variety of anti-Israel groups (including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the anti-Zionist blog Mondoweiss, and American Muslims for Palestine). Such groups undoubtedly hope to use the campaign’s purported concern for the welfare of Black- and Hispanic-American communities as a way to sever those communities’ previously robust relationship with American Jews.
Afraid of the power of traditional Black and Hispanic Christian identification with Israel, Deadly Exchange advocates seek to use the campaign to recruit minority populations to the anti-Israel movement instead.
With the support and collaboration of such anti-Israel organizations, JVP’s Deadly Exchange campaign has directly engendered public expressions of naked anti-Semitism.
Jewish Voice for Peace and its anti-Zionist allies may have thought they hit on a useful tactic in blaming Jews for policing in minority communities as a way to turn minority public opinion against Israel. But it’s a dangerous and potentially deadly game. It is a modern blood libel with the potential to incite antisemitism at a minimum, and violence in those who buy-into the conspiracy theories and have other axes to grind.
In this time when violence against Jews is spiking in the communities targeted by the Deadly Exchange campaign, it is time for people of conscience to speak out against the Deadly Exchange incitement.
Seth Franzman in the Jerusalem Post points out the “inconvenient antisemitism” that is being perpetrated in America – the fact that the perpetrators are not your usual white supremacists, but very often “people of colour”:
How did we get here? The motivation behind the Jersey City attack is clear from social media posts one of the perpetrators made, according to a research by the ADL. This included claims that Jews are “Khazars,” and that “Brooklyn is full of Nazis-Ashkenazis,” and that the “police are in their [the Jews] hand now.” The worldview matches with the larger milieu in which Jews are portrayed as not merely “white Jews” but in fact as controlling the slave trade and police violence. In this new antisemitism Jews are reframed as both being “fake,” as in not really Jews from the Middle East, and also being “white” and running white supremacism. This replaces German Nazis with Jewish Nazis; it replaces white supremacists with a hidden hand of Jews controlling both the American far-right and also the police. Instead of pushing back against this there are attempts to excuse it or just remain quiet about it and hope this antisemitism goes away.
Despite the way this this antisemitism has combined traditional antisemitism with a twist, turning Jews into “whites” as opposed to hating them for being wandering Middle Easterners, there is very little recognition that it is dangerous. This is despite hundreds of violent attacks over the years, primarily targeting Orthodox Jews. Now, this has resulted in murder. But many voices want to downplay it and explain it away. For instance, The New Yorker asked whether an “influx of Hasidic residents in the Greenville [Jersey City] neighborhood spur two assailants to embark on a shooting spree that left six people dead.” Jews, simply for moving somewhere, may cause a shooting spree, in this explanation. Jews are the only US minority group who, when they move somewhere, are accused of being an “influx.” Others have argued that we can’t even label the recent attacks “right wing” or “left wing” because it’s totally different to “white nationalists whose beliefs are based on antisemitism.”
A review of the discussion about the New York City attacks reveals an America that has trouble adjusting to and describing antisemitism when it comes from unexpected perpetrators. This is partly because the general view of racism in the US is that racism is not just about racism but about power. That is why in the US people look for racism in “white privilege” and the way racist views can be perpetuated even through code words and social settings and institutions. Confronted with the idea that minority groups are also racist, such as Hispanics using the n-word, there is a struggle to come to grips with how to define and confront. With the Jewish community there has been an agenda to argue over its relative “whiteness” and insofar as Jews are then removed from the intersectional agenda of minority groups fighting white privilege, Jews become either a separate category or part of the oppressive majority. This is odd but it is part of a wider agenda to assert that Zionism is racism and Jews are somehow linked to far-right groups through Israel and Israel is a modern apartheid colonialist structure. These ideas didn’t inform the Jersey City killings, but they are part of the milieu that informs those who might excuse the attacks.
In a similar vein Debbie Hall writing at Israellycool talks about “The Elephant in the Room” of black antisemitism – and is justifiably upset:
We are told that as non-black people that we don’t have a right to police black people or the leaders they choose. We are told as non-black people that Farrakhan has done amazing things for the black community and because of that, it’s perfectly okay that he is considered a leader in the black community, despite his violent, antisemitic rhetoric. As a non-black person and as a Jew, I’m here to tell you unequivocally that it is NOT okay that Louis Farrakhan is an accepted leader in the black community and I will tell you why. If you want to have the right to claim that racists against black people should be shunned, taken to task, and rejected by society (a stance that I agree with 100%), then you have to be prepared to do the same for the bigots among you. Otherwise, your appeals to anyone else to reject racist leaders are hypocritical, you will have lost all credibility, and you are no longer justified in making that demand of others.
Right now, white supremacists are laughing at both of us. They hate us both and black people are doing their dirty work. They are celebrating these attacks on Jews by people of color. The black people committing violence against Jews have put themselves in a subservient role to white supremacists by attacking their enemy for them and going to prison for them. While we should be uniting and fighting white supremacists together, you are in fact, making them stronger and in the end, they’ll be coming after you once the Jews are out of the way.
Antisemitism is rising all over the world – in Europe, in Britain (although maybe it will improve now with the election of Boris Johnson and the defeat of Jeremy Corbyn) and now in America. In all these places the hatred emanates from both the right and the left. In all these places it seems harder for society to acknowledge the hatred from the left. After all, the left are the righteous ones, the ones with their heart in the right place, the ones who fight for social justice.
But in America this right-left divide is complicated by the issue of race. It is something that the entire society has to face up to in order to defeat this evil phenomenon, before it consumes them all.