June 19, 2024

American Anti-Semitism, Unpacked

It’s not complicated: There’s no room in our nation for either anti-Semitism or pro-terrorist activism. None.

Far too often these days, we hear the plaintive refrain: What’s happening to our country? So many things seem off-kilter, out of tune, even surreal.

A case in point is the sudden entry and seemingly viral spread of anti-Semitism everywhere — angry protests, college campus encampments, highway blockades, subway confrontations, even disruption of a New York City event memorializing the victims of the October 7th assault by Hamas terrorists.

But something is terribly wrong — that can’t be true. This is the USA, the land of the free, the world’s guardian angel. Just last week, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of D-Day, when American troops landed in Normandy — many at the cost of their lives — to join with our allies and free Europe of Hitler’s Third Reich and its monstrous initiative to exterminate Judaism.

Watching virulent anti-Semitic protests in our own cities is as discordant as it would be to watch a KKK march in 2024 down Main Street. I can think of nothing more alien to American culture, traditions, and values than the enthusiastic public activism in support of anti-Semitic terrorism that we see on the evening news almost every day.

The eruption of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli protesting on American college campuses a few months ago seemed so out of character to me that I thought them to be a fluke, a trendy flash-in-the-pan movement that would disappear as quickly as it cropped up. Collegians are notorious for embracing the latest cause — and this one, with the romanticized (but genocidal) “from the river to the sea” chant and the stylish Hamas Keffiyeh scarves seemed very cool indeed. Surely, reality would take hold once the Hamas barbarity of October 7th, their positioning in Gaza behind Palestinian human shields, their interception of humanitarian supplies, and their use of hostages as bargaining chips all began to sink in.

But so far, the opposite has happened — the campus movement seems to have metastasized and is spreading unchecked. The demonstrations are now regularly punctuated with calls for “Intifada” (rebellion), “Death to Israel,” “Long live October 7th,” and the like. Even last week’s heroic rescue of four hostages by Israeli special forces is being condemned by Israel’s critics because of collateral damage — bloodshed that is the direct consequence of Hamas’s intentional placement of hostages in densely populated areas of Gaza.

The obvious questions: Is this new strain of American anti-Semitism real? Where is it coming from? Who’s behind it? And WHY??

I’m baffled — but my own thoughts:

  • Anti-Semitism is not pervasive here in America — we’re hearing the loud voices of a small minority. Yes, we are a nation of human beings, each with our baked-in prejudices, but just as the assertion by a few that our nation is systemically racist is untrue, the notion that just below the surface, most Americans harbor deep prejudices against Jews is just not credible.

  • The movement seems to have taken residence in the far left wing of the Democrat Party — and it doesn’t fit well there either. That’s a curious place for it to land, given that in mainstream political commentary of 2024, progressives constantly preach the gospel of DEI — Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — which would certainly seem to be a natural haven in support of those of Jewish faith who may suffer prejudices. But evidently not.

That’s become a serious election-year challenge among Democrats and has prompted President Joe Biden to waffle on his “rock-solid” commitment to Israel. In my view, the president’s attempts to mollify an irrational splinter part of the Democrat coalition base achieve nothing but muddying the waters — he’d be better served by standing firm in supporting our Israeli allies in their pitched battle with a foe (now joined by Hezbollah, another terrorist power) bent on their annihilation.

  • Who’s behind it? It is routinely and reliably reported (by NBC News, as one example) that the campus protests and subsequent activism are bankrolled by a variety of left-wing, big-pocket Democrat supporters, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the George Soros Open Society Foundation. One thing is for sure: The large-scale movement is a pricey endeavor and the money is coming from somewhere.

  • And the big question: WHY? Again, it’s baffling. Certainly, it may be rooted in genuine concern for the long-term and very real Palestinian plight; the Soros organization advises that its goal is lasting peace in the Middle East. But logic argues that loud, disruptive protesting will not solve the Palestinian homeland problem or win over very many converts among American citizens, and it will drive a lasting wedge between the United States and Israel, our long-term ally and the only democratic state in that tumultuous region.

That leaves us with the more sinister potential motive that we see from time to time from both political extremes — to stir the pot, keep us at each other’s throats, deepen our divides, sharpen our antipathies, and in so doing, open opportunities to advance otherwise unlikely ends. If so, their initiative constitutes a truly malicious threat in our midst.

This past week, there seems to have been a cool-down in the public anti-Semitic protesting — perhaps it’s running its course. If so, that’s great news, but we’d best not lose sight of first principles: We Americans respect and protect the safety of our citizens regardless of color, creed, or ethnicity, and there is no cause, no mission, no objective — however fervently held — that can justify raw terrorism. Ever.

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