Less than a century after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is spreading across America to a degree unimaginable just decades ago. Although they represent only 2% of the American population, Jews are the most targeted religious group in the United States. A person identifiable as Jewish is several times more likely than a member of any other minority to be the victim of a hate crime. But don’t expect to hear that from DEI officials; many of them are themselves guilty of anti-Semitic prejudice.
The fact that well-paid diversity advocates say that Jews, those whom the Nazis massacred because they were not white, benefit from “white privilege” is only a symptom of the underlying disease . Willful blindness to left-wing hatred has allowed it to fester.
Recognizing anti-Semitism is not always easy. He disguises himself behind facades that give him respectability in different societies and cultures. It is the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories, and an untrained ear will often mistake anti-Semitic prejudice for legitimate opinion and vice versa.
In Christian Europe, of course, this disguise was religion itself. The Enlightenment demanded a new “intellectual” logic, and “anti-Semitism” – the academic study of the supposedly inferior ethnicity of Jews – became fashionable. Today, of course, blatant racism no longer has cultural value; society’s supreme concern is respect for human rights. But this noble cause was derailed, like religion and science before it, by antipathy toward the Jews.
Modern definitions of anti-Semitism share predictable flaws: First, they often focus on the aforementioned facades rather than the underlying hatred. Worse still, they can be accused, rightly or wrongly, of bias. And finally, as the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks observed, “most anti-Semites do not consider themselves anti-Semites.” In other words, anti-Semites will define anti-Semitism in a way that exonerates their own bigotry. Even those who challenge hateful positions may not recognize that they are opposing a familiar evil.
Classical Jewish thought, on the other hand, removes the masks and identifies the underlying lies that anti-Semites tell themselves. Rabbi Naftali ZY Berlin, dean of the greatest rabbinical school of the late 19th century, clarified two fundamental superstitions: the idea that all Jewish property is stolen through fraud and deception, and that Jews, considering themselves superiors, denigrate and harm everyone. .
These two warning signs are unambiguous. Since Rabbi Berlin died decades before Adolf Hitler came to power, no one can accuse him of political partisanship. His intention was simply to inform the Jews of the hatred they faced.
This brings us to what I call the Promised Land paradox. The story of the Promised Land is part of everyday language. Everyone knows what it is, where it is, and to whom it was promised – and how central it is to the faith of Moses and the Jewish people. Yet millions of Americans, many of whom claim to value both religious tolerance and human rights, have adopted a fictional narrative built on a European colonialist term for that Jewish homeland: Palestine. For the community of rabbinical scholars, the source of this revisionist history is unfortunately familiar.
In this alternate reality, the descendants of the Arab marauders are “native Palestinians,” whose homeland, by a miraculous coincidence, traces the borders of modern Israel. In other words, the Jews are “stealing” Judea, just as Rabbi Berlin predicted.
Note also that “Palestinians” referred to Jews for more than 2,000 years. There was no significant Arab population in the Holy Land when the Palestinian Talmud was written, and even into the 1930s the “Palestinian” football uniform featured the Star of David. Today, the term “Palestinian” is used to racially exclude these same Jews and to label them “colonialists” for returning home.
Despite multiple attempts by Arab armies to repeat the Nazi genocide in modern Israel, Israel provides its Arab citizens with superior health care, higher education and the right to vote. Yet it is demonized with words like “oppression,” “brutality,” and “ethnic cleansing.” This is incomprehensible without recourse to Rabbi Berlin’s trenchant observation: anti-Semites view Jews as fundamentally bigoted toward others.
There is no debate among rabbinical scholars, even among those who strongly oppose modern Zionism, that boycotts of Israel for the alleged theft of “Palestinian” land are rooted in classic anti-Semitism. Those who claim otherwise are at least, if not worse, ignorant of anti-Semitism and its manifestations.
Ultimately, it is not enough to simply deny that Israel is a racist and apartheid state. The reality is that only a racist would call Israel an apartheid state – a particularly clever and dangerous racist.
Political scientist Joseph Overton posited that in every society there is a range, or window, of acceptable ideas. Rabbi Sacks said anti-Semitism, or any hatred, becomes dangerous in a democracy when it moves from the margins to a mainstream party, the party’s reputation is not tarnished and those who protest are vilified. He wasn’t talking about America, but his words apply today: Jew hatred, when expressed against Jewish self-determination in the Jewish homeland, has moved to the Overton Window – and towards Congress.
Of all the initiatives that have been and can be taken against anti-Semitism, the most crucial is to restore the human character of the Overton Window.
In early 2019, former Congressman Steve King reportedly supported white supremacy. From that moment until his elimination, he was persona non grata. It was almost impossible for him to find cosponsors for the bill.
In contrast, ten left-wing members of Congress recently endorsed racist prejudice against Israel, even boycotting the left-wing Israeli president when he came to address them. Yet other representatives, including several with exceptional records of fairness and friendship toward Jews and Israel, continued to co-sponsor these 10’s legislation.
This is what must change so that the Overton window once again encompasses only those positions compatible with a civilized society. Congress must, in a bipartisan manner, reject racism in its ranks, even when it is expressed against Jews.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken is the executive director of the Coalition for Jewish Values.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.