Daily Briefing: Tree of Life Anniversary: The State of Antisemitism in The U.S (October 25,2019)

 

                                        CIJR Gala 2019 – Announcement

The CIJR is proud to announce that Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld will be the keynote speaker at the CIJR annual gala, which will take place this year at Montreal’s Spanish and Portuguese synagogue on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019.  Dr. Gerstenfeld, the world’s leading authority on antisemitism, is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and a member of the CIJR International Board. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, and the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  He will speak on what can realistically be done to counter the rise of antisemitism within Western countries.  Further details regarding the gala are forthcoming.
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People pay their respects at a memorial to the victims of a mass shooting in front of the Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 4, 2018. (Source: Wikipedi

Table of Contents:
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Tree of Life Anniversary: American Jews See Rising Anti-Semitism in Alarming New Survey:  Avi Mayer, USA Today, Oct. 23, 2019  


Understanding Online Antisemitism: Towards a New Qualitative Approach:  Mathias J. Becker, Fathom Journal, October 2019
Major Steps To Confront Antisemitism:  Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 23, 2019
Antisemitism: Far Worse than You Thought:   Vic Rosenthal, Jewish Press, Sept. 22, 2019
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Tree Of Life Anniversary: American Jews See Rising Anti-Semitism In Alarming New Survey
Avi Mayer
USA Today, Oct. 23, 2019

Last Oct. 27, millions across America and around the world gasped in horror at the news that a shooting during Shabbat services at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue had killed 11 Jews — the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in our nation’s history. As we prepare to mark the first anniversary of that attack this weekend, my organization, the American Jewish Committee, is releasing the results of what we believe to be the largest and most comprehensive survey of American Jews ever conducted on the subject of anti-Semitism.

One year ago, some may have questioned the need for such a study, regarding anti-Semitism as largely a thing of the past or a problem confined to fringe groups or other continents. Indeed, while two comprehensive surveys of European Jews on anti-Semitism have been conducted in the past decade alone, our research shows no such studies of American Jews have been done for at least half a century. Today, however, after the deadly attack in Pittsburgh and another at a synagogue in Poway, California, and as anti-Jewish hate surges among both the far right and the hard left, this survey could hardly be more necessary or timely.

American Jews are deeply concerned about anti-Semitism and believe it is getting worse. Nearly nine out of every 10 American Jews (88%) believe anti-Semitism is a problem in America, and over eight in 10 (84%) say it has increased over the past five years. That includes a plurality — 43% — who say it has increased a lot.

Concern about anti-Semitism cuts across differences of age, politics and Jewish denomination. More than nine in 10 (93%) Democrats, 87% of independents and three-quarters of Republicans say anti-Semitism is a problem in America.

A startling number of American Jews have experienced anti-Semitism in the past five years. More than a third say they have personally been the targets of anti-Semitism, including nearly a quarter who say they’ve been recipients of anti-Semitic remarks in person, by mail or by phone; a fifth who say they’ve been targeted by anti-Semitic remarks online; and 2% who say they’ve been physically attacked for being Jewish.

Young people are significantly more likely to have been victims of anti-Semitism, with 45% of respondents ages 18-29 saying they have been targeted by anti-Semitic remarks or have been physically attacked for being Jewish.

Disturbingly, nearly a third of American Jews say they have avoided publicly wearing, carrying or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jewish, while a quarter say they avoid certain places, events or situations out of concern for their safety or comfort as Jews at least some of the time. Young people are most likely to have hidden their Jewishness in public, with nearly four in 10 of those ages 18-29 saying they have done so.

Being anti-Israel seen as anti-Semitic

American Jews resoundingly view efforts and statements against the state of Israel as being tainted by anti-Semitism. The statement that “Israel has no right to exist” (anti-Zionism) is viewed by 84% of respondents, including 78% of young people, as anti-Semitic; 80% say the same of the statement, “The U.S. government only supports Israel because of Jewish money,” and 73% say so about the statement, “American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Understanding Online Antisemitism: Towards a New Qualitative Approach
Mathias J. Becker
Fathom Journal, October 2019

THE INTERPLAY OF HATE SPEECH AND HATE CRIME

When the antisemitic Pittsburgh shooting happened roughly a year ago, on 27 October 2018, mainstream media drew attention to the assailant’s activities online before he committed his crimes. The Guardian noted that the ‘suspect railed against Jews and Muslims on site used by “alt-right”. Robert Bowers appears to have used the platform Gab to accuse Jews of bringing “evil Muslims” into US’.  And only recently, on 9 October 2019, in Halle (Germany), the gunman referred to an antisemitic conspiracy theory on Amazon-owned platform Twitch, insinuating that Jews aim at destroying the German culture before he tried to kill roughly 80 people celebrating Yom Kippur at a synagogue.

From the perspective of interdisciplinary internet studies, these are troubling, but not astonishing observations. For several years now, antisemitic, racist and misogynist attitudes have been disseminated especially on right-wing supremacist platforms, but also on subchannels of mainstream social media, such as Reddit, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. It should not come as a surprise that there are correlations, past and present, between hate speech and hate crime. The Nazi crimes would not have been possible without an omnipresent antisemitic discourse in all parts of German society throughout history. Today, the way users in a web milieu continuously frame and evaluate certain individuals and/or groups (that in their eyes represent a rejected out-group) has an impact on their treatment of the latter – in dialogue contexts, but potentially also in analogue ones.

Pittsburgh and Halle are not the only examples in which individuals have expressed hate speech before committing related crimes. With regard to the terror attacks on the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, the synagogue in Poway, close to San Diego, and recently on the Walmart in El Paso, the assailants exhibited a proximity to the right-wing extremist platform 8chan. It is highly probable that it was through a permanent engagement with antisemitic (and other hateful and exclusionary) outlooks in such a virtual environment, that the assailants were radicalised in the first place.

The transition of hate speech into hate crime is apparent in all these events. We also see an imitation effect, a mutual influence among lonely wolves taking up arms. Of course, such correlations are not happening in a monocausal frame – they always depend on the predispositions and needs of the individual, but it is striking that all the assailants are part of the same ideological spectrum and web milieu.

Triggered by terrorist attacks in the last twelve months, the media, politicians and the public have started to pay more attention to antisemitism and other forms of hate ideologies online. For far too long, these internet trends have been ignored. In the political sphere, decision-makers have not seen the danger of radicalising language use there, despite the huge impact of the web, especially on the younger generations who tend to experience and engage with new ideas primarily online. Today, language use on the internet determines the way young people think and feel, but neither the research community nor decision-makers have caught up with this fact.

UNDERSTANDING ANTISEMITISM ONLINE: THE STATE OF THE RESEARCH

Questions about the nature, consequences and challenges of the digitalisation of society have risen too slowly up the research agenda. There are few major studies on the nature of virtual forms of antisemitism, and antisemitism research in combination with internet studies is still a fringe phenomenon. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Major Steps To Confront Antisemitism
Manfred Gerstenfeld
Jerusalem Post, Oct. 23, 2019

In the huge battle against antisemitism, Jews and sympathetic non-Jews have to ask themselves: What can they contribute? Early in the new Jewish year is a good occasion to list priorities for action by those willing to participate in this confrontation. What can the Israeli government, citizens, Jewish leaders and individuals abroad do to improve the situation? The major impetus has to come from Israel. The State of Israel has far more possibilities to act than even the largest Jewish organizations abroad.

The Israeli government has greatly failed in systematically analyzing, monitoring and confronting both classic antisemitism and anti-Israelism. The Knesset has equally missed the opportunities to demand that the government set up an anti-propaganda entity.

There is a new Knesset now. Each adherent of a political party or person who has access to a Knesset member can ask him or her: “What are you or your party doing to convince the government to establish such an entity, even though it is very late in the game? We have an army to fight our enemies and terrorists. We have intelligence services to provide intelligence about our enemies and enact counter-intelligence. Israel invests a huge amount of resources in cyberdefense and security. Why don’t we have an anti-propaganda agency?” It is indeed, mind-boggling that this has not been established in the past two decades.

A second priority is to target Israeli and Jewish leaders. They should encourage non-Jewish leaders and high-profile figures to publicly acknowledge that antisemitism is an integral part of Western culture – or at least to say that antisemitism is interwoven with it.

This hatred has erupted almost continuously in Western societies over the centuries. So far, only a few Jewish scholars and writers have stressed the obvious. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, is one of the exceptionally rare non-Jews who have admitted this truth. In this context, it also has to be made clear that even though antisemitism is interwoven with Western culture by no means implies that most Westerners are antisemites. Without this intermingling of Western culture with antisemitic belief systems, the Holocaust would not have been possible.

The decades-long extreme singling out of Israel for blame by the United Nations, with the support of many Western countries, is just one of many examples of contemporary antisemitism. Yet another is that antisemitism sooner or later finds a place in major new ideological movements or Western intellectual trends, either directly or through Holocaust abuse. We can see this, for instance, in areas such as human rights, feminism, post colonialism, intersectionality, veganism, animal rights organizations, anti-nuclear groupings and children’s rights movements. Recognition of the interweaving of antisemitism with Western culture provides a much wider perspective on the reality of this centuries-old hatred.

INDIVIDUALS CAN also play an important role. They can educate themselves on how to answer critics who single out Israel for blame, without referring to the extreme criminality of the Palestinian leadership and the lack of significant opposition to it from Palestinian society. According to the main non-legal definition of antisemitism, that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), cases, where Israel is the only democratic country blamed for certain actions also committed by other countries, is an expression of antisemitism. Attacking Israel and looking away from the huge crimes in parts of the Muslim world with extreme genocidal intentions such as Iran and terror organizations makes the attackers de facto allies of criminals.

A priority target for Jews is the battle against Jewish masochists abroad and in Israel. There is a long Jewish masochistic tradition dating back thousands of years that has manifested itself in many ways. A major contemporary version is criticizing Israel as if it has to be the only perfect state in the world. These masochists do not criticize Israel’s enemies – or if so, do so only perfunctorily. They seem, to enjoy – or at least get satisfaction from – stating Israel’s real or imaginary shortcomings. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Antisemitism: Far Worse than You Thought
Vic Rosenthal
Jewish Press, Sept. 22, 2019

I just finished Bari Weiss’ book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism. I suggest that you read it. Not because I agree with everything in it, especially her answers to the question implied by its title. Be proud of being Jewish, she says, stay liberal, don’t hide your Jewishness, don’t let the Linda Sarsours push you around, live your life according to Jewish principles (by which she seems to mean the ones you learn about in a Reform synagogue, not the traditional mitzvot) and more. Even “support Israel.” All good things, but – with the exception of an injunction to take measures to protect the security of Jewish institutions – not much that you can use when they are banging at your door in the middle of the night.

I also think that she goes a bit far when she asserts that Donald Trump “trashed – gleefully and shamelessly – the unwritten rules of our society that have kept American Jews and, therefore, America safe.” His legacy is “a culture demolished, smashed, twisted beyond recognition,” according to Weiss.

No. A great deal has gone wrong in America in the last few decades, but there are plenty of villains to go around, including Trump’s recent predecessors and the over-the-top insanity of the Left’s reaction to Trump. If the culture is smashed, Trump is one of the fragments, not the one who smashed it.
And although Weiss’ historical chapters, including her analysis of the three directions from which Jews are being bombarded today – the Right, the Left, and “Radical Islam” (I think her editor stuck in the word “radical”)  – are well written and very informative, they are also not why I am recommending the book.

I want people to read this book because there is no way you can do so and still maintain that there is no runaway antisemitism problem in North America. There is no way you can maintain that Jews in the last remaining safe diaspora stronghold will continue to be safe, and not just from a few heavily armed neo-Nazi wackos. If she does one thing exceptionally well in this book, it is to accurately convey the extent of the phenomenon. The neo-Nazis, the intersectional leftists smugly categorizing Jews as exploiters with no rights, the Farrakhanists on New York subways, the imams preaching about killing Jews – there are more of them every day.

Weiss talks a lot about Europe, where everyday life for Jews is rapidly becoming more difficult and dangerous, mostly because of the influx of Muslim migrants from places where, as she points out, Jew-hatred is normative. In other words, it’s part of almost everybody’s repertoire of common knowledge. Is the Pope Catholic? Does the bear defecate in the woods? Are the Jews a subhuman race descended from apes and pigs? Ask anyone in Iraq. In Somalia, when you stub your toe you curse the Jews. Muslim migrants from places like that do not leave their antisemitism at the airport along with any prohibited invasive plants.

Should French Jews proudly wear their kipot? She doesn’t know if, in their place, she would. But Europe provides a clue as to why her solutions won’t work in the US. France has the third largest population of Jews in the world (about half a million), after Israel and the US. But they comprise only about 0.7% of the French population. If the non-Jewish population and the government can’t protect them, then it doesn’t matter how proud they are of their Jewishness, how liberal they are, or how “out” they are about being Jewish. And many French Jews have already decided to either move to “safe” neighborhoods in large cities – you could call them ghettos – or to abandon careers or sell businesses and leave the country. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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For Further Reference:

AJC Survey of American Jews on Antisemitism in America:  AJC, 2019 — AJC’s 2019 Survey of American Jewish Attitudes about Antisemitism, conducted by the research company SSRS, is based on telephone interviews carried out September 11 – October 6, with a national sample of 1,283 Jews over age 18. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2%. Find the methodology report here

Did German anti-Semitism Ever Really Go Away?:  Ian Birrell, Daily Mail, June 15, 2019 — Nine months ago, Liam Rückert left his home and mother in Berlin to start a new life at a boarding school in Israel.

Blood Libel: The Conspiracy Theory That Jews Are ‘Anti-Human’:  John-Paul Pagano, National Review, Sept. 23, 2019 — Anti-Semitism has many exceptional qualities. Unlike most forms of racism, it is a conspiracy theory.

“Not Long Ago. Not Far Away”:  Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Jewish Press, Oct. 23, 2019 — My wife and I decided to utilize our Chol HaMoed time to travel to the “Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust”, located in Battery Park City in Manhattan.

 This week’s French-language briefing is titled Communique: Le virage anti-israélien du Parti démocrate est-il inexorable? (October 25,2019)

 CIJR wishes our friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!