Like Bret Stephens (see attached), I too was reluctant to write this piece about antisemitism.
First, it felt too self-aggrandizing. Being unabashedly Jewish put me in the obvious camp when it comes to anti-Jewish sentiment. I’m against it.
Second, so much has been written about this and the latest antics of Kanye West (aka Ye), Kyrie Irving, and Dave Chappelle that how can I be anything but redundant?
Third, at this time of rising antisemitic fervor, we also have genocide in Ukraine and mass killing in Africa. Discrimination against people for what they are is rampant and not at all limited to American Jews.
Nonetheless, once former President Donald Trump hosted Ye and his buddy Nick Fuentes, a known white supremacist, for dinner at Mar-A-Lago while launching his campaign for the Presidency again, it’s time to speak up. So here it goes.
For over two thousand years Jews have been blamed for so many of the ills befalling mankind including the killing of Jesus, who as far as I can tell was Jewish himself. The latest iteration of antisemitism has two parts.
Part one is that which emanates from the far right in the form of Fuentes and the crowd in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us.” This is what gave birth to Ye’s “death con 3 for Jews,” Kyrie Irving’s promoting an antisemitic film, and Dave Chappelle’s awful SNL monologue a few weeks back. You know the drill. Jews control everything—banking, Hollywood, the arts in general and they are doing what they do at a cost to the historically downtrodden, especially African-Americans. It’s a familiar trope—always insulting, always demeaning to both the Jews and to the downtrodden.
Part two is from the left in the form of the Squad and their anti-Israel stance which tends to bleed into antisemitism quite easily. The distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is real but an awfully fine line to walk. Those of us who are Jewish and pro-Israel barely see the distinction, although there is one I guess. You can be pro-Palestinian and not antisemitic, but Israel is the Jewish state and that’s a pretty narrow path to walk. That being said, not supporting the pending right-wing government in Israel is perfectly fine. I had such hope for the last 8-party coalition, but alas, the Israelis felt differently as is their right. It’s their country.
But the point for today is about what is coming from the right and seemingly freely from major representatives of the African-American community. This is, of course, historically humorous given the great contributions of Jews to the civil rights movement in the past, but alas, that was then. This is now.
The real goal of the Republican Party should be to rid itself of this bigoted toxin by jettisoning Donald Trump once and for all. As Stephens points out, only Mike Pence of the Trump cabinet has denounced Trump’s behavior using his name. There are a lot of Republicans who have yet to speak-up against Trump, his new candidacy, and his new friends.
It should be a prerequisite of any GOP candidate to call out Donald Trump for those with whom he associates and get rid of the formerly latent antisemitism that poisons the GOP overtly today.
There is no place for bigotry of any kind in our national elections. Trump made it mainstream. Now let’s have the new GOP leadership expunge it. Mr. DeSantis?
Here’s the real concern. First, low boiling antisemitism is how it always starts. It is critical to nip it in the bud so as not to have a repeat of 1930s Germany here in the United States. As Philip Roth made clear in The Plot Against America, it can happen here and almost did in the 1930s and 40s. This must stop now and all real American politicians must condemn antisemitism—out loud!
Second, because it can still happen here, we Jews must support Israel. It may be the last place we can go if it does happen here.
I know this all sounds gloomy and overly pessimistic, but one thing my mother taught me is always to be ready for the knock on the door and be packed and ready to run.
It’s sad, but that is our fate. We hope we have found our home in America, but just in case, we better be sure that our old and new home in the Middle East stays strong.