Whether it’s the “blood libels” of early modern Europe, Germany in the 1930s, Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, or even Occupy Wall Street, any person of good will should be able to detect the pattern: Jews are the canary in the coal mine. In a society with a large population of Jews, when things start to go wrong, that’s where we unfortunately point fingers. In American culture, it is certainly a disgrace on the right.
The work William F. Buckley Jr. did to rid the conservative movement of the John Birchers seems to have lost some of its power as the tiki-torch wielding Jacobins of Charlottesville rose together as to speak with one voice, chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” This would be enough of an embarrassment but it only gained steam when President Trump gave one of the more mealy mouthed denunciations when addressing the horror that took place in Charlottesville, which resulted in the death of an innocent woman. It seems, however, that this issue has gone under reported on the left, for it is certainly a problem on the political left as well.
When Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz went to the University of California, Berkeley recently to discuss the liberal case for Israel, the student newspaper, the Daily Californian, ran a cartoon that could have easily sprung from the mind of Joseph Goebbels. The cartoon depicted Dershowitz as all anti-Semites depict Jews: ugly, exaggerated features, while he propped up the murder of Palestinians by an IDF soldier.
This blatant anti-Semitism would no doubt be explained away in terms of anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitism. It is convenient how often the two intersect. The same conspiratorial language is often used and, as one can see here, the same horrifying stereotypes are often employed. In Charlottesville, hundreds of people felt comfortable enough in their anti-Semitism to march in one of the nation’s most prominent college towns. In Berkeley, the editorial board at the newspaper of one of the better respected universities in the country, felt comfortable enough to print an anti-Semitic cartoon. The comfort of both of these groups of people is quite disturbing.
Indeed, the anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism is not limited to the Daily Californian. Rutgers University, right here in New Jersey, is currently investigating professor of food science, Michael Chikindas, for posting anti-Semitic images on Facebook. Here, the stereotypical and conspiratorial memes he posted were in a similar vein as the Berkeley cartoon, but with the volume turned up to 11. The images Chikindas allegedly posted could have quite easily been pulled straight from the neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer. Chikindas’s excuse? Anti-Zionism.
The ease and comfort with which anti-semites promulgate their message is deeply disturbing. It is worth noting that these anti-semites should not be censured legally; the first amendment protects even the worst among us. Nor should these horrible people be shouted down when attempting to speak on college campuses, as has been the recent trend.
They should, however, face extreme social censure. Discrimination is, of course, not at all limited to the Jewish people. Many racial and ethnic groups unfortunately face discrimination every day. African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and many others have historically faced, and continue to face, racism. But, as mentioned above, people seem to be the most comfortable attacking the Jewish people today across the country. And, most importantly, this discrimination seems to be coming from both sides of the aisle. Someone on the right is statistically more likely to have racist attitudes towards African Americans. Bernie Sanders had a strange obsession with our trade deficit with China despite the fact that our trade deficit with Germany is larger. This could easily be described as a type of racism. However, both sides of the political aisle seem to have a problem with Jewish people.
Since Pharaoh hardened his heart in Egypt 3,500 years ago, the Jewish people have faced ruthless discrimination in near perpetuity. Some anti-Semites are open about it, others choose to hide behind the anti-Zionist label. Do not let them. The casual attitude with which some people speak of money lenders, control over the media, or any number of other things is disgusting and must be ripped out root and branch from our culture. When hate goes unanswered it only metastases.
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