Daily Briefing:Rediscovering American Antisemitism (November 28,2019)

Antisemitic graffiti in Klaipėda, Lithuania
(Source: 28,20Wikipedia)

In honour of Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld who will be the keynote speaker at the CIJR’s 31st Annual Gala in Montreal on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, this week we will be highlighting Dr. Gerstenfeld’s myriad articles on the subject of contemporary anti-Semitism.  For tickets call:  514-486-5544.

Table of Contents:
Whitewashing Antisemitism Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, BESA, Apr. 1, 2019

Anti-Semitism in the US Today is a Variation on an Old Theme:  Pamela S. Nadell, The Conversation, Nov. 6, 2019

Rediscovering American Antisemitism: Harold Brackman, Algemeiner, May 8, 2019

Anti-Semitism Rears Its Ugly Head at McGill University: Barbara Kay, The Post Millennial, Nov. 2019


Whitewashing Antisemitism
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
BESA, Apr. 1, 2019

The whitewashing of Jew-hatred in the US drew much attention recently in the Ilhan Omar affair. The new Democratic member of Congress made several outspoken antisemitic remarks, and prominent whitewashers fell over each other to obscure the meaning of her words or offer explanations for them.

Nancy Pelosi’s statement about Omar must be included in any collection of whitewashing classics: “The incident that happened with [Omar], I don’t think our colleague is anti-Semitic I think she has a different experience in the use of words.”

Jewish Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s take also merits inclusion in this collection. She remarked, “Ilhan Omar is a refugee from Somalia. She comes from a different culture. She has things to learn.” The uninformed reader might infer from this that Omar had only recently arrived in the US. In fact, she has lived there since the 1990s. In that time she has learned to run successfully for Congress, a challenge far more difficult than avoiding the expression of antisemitic comments.

In 2016, as cases of antisemitism in the British Labour Party were starting to pile up, party leader Jeremy Corbyn appointed Shami Chakrabarti to investigate the problem. The opening sentence of her report was a masterpiece of whitewashing manipulation: “The Labour Party is not overrun by antisemitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism.” No one had claimed that Labour had problems with Islamophobia or racism. With this opening line, Chakrabarti diluted her investigation from the start.

Antisemitism in Labour existed before Corbyn became its leader in September 2015, but it was far less pervasive. The Labour party is now full of antisemitism whitewashers. A poll of paying Labour members in March 2018 found that 47% believe antisemitism is a problem, but its extent was exaggerated “to damage Labour and Jeremy Corbyn or to stifle criticism of Israel.” A further 31% said antisemitism is not a serious issue. Sixty-one percent thought Corbyn was handling the antisemitism claims well.

There are many ways to whitewash antisemites. The best known and most virulent American antisemite is Louis Farrakhan, long-term leader of the Nation of Islam. In 2018, Barack Obama’s former attorney general, Eric Holder, posed for a photo with Farrakhan. In 2005, before running for president, Obama himself stood for a “grip and grin” photograph with Farrakhan. This photo was only recently revealed and publicized. Public figures who meet with Farrakhan legitimize and whitewash his antisemitic rhetoric.

In Western Europe, many people feel the need to hide the problem of widespread Muslim antisemitism. There are multiple possible reasons for this. First, some progressives absurdly claim that only white people can be racists. Second, many politicians argue that because Muslims can be subject to Islamophobia, one should not aggravate the situation by pointing out the extent to which segments of the Muslim population contribute to antisemitism. A further reason may be that as Muslims are often immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, European governments do not want to open themselves to the accusation that they perpetrated a mass import of antisemites without any selection process. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Anti-Semitism in the US Today is a Variation on an Old Theme
Pamela S. Nadell
The Conversation, Nov. 6, 2019

Senators Jacky Rosen and James Lankford, who describe themselves as “a practicing Jewish Democrat from Nevada and a devoted Christian Republican from Oklahoma,” are spearheading a new effort to fight an old problem: anti-Semitism in America.

The Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, wrote the senators in an opinion column for CNN, will “collaborate with law enforcement, federal agencies, state and local government, educators, advocates, clergy, and other stakeholders to combat anti-Semitism by educating and empowering our communities.”
They’ve got a big job ahead of them.

Ancient roots

After calls for her resignation, Trenton City Council member Kathy McBride had to apologize for using the phrase ‘Jew her down’ in a meeting. AP/Mel Evans In early September, Trenton’s City Council President Kathy McBride uttered the phrase “Jew her down” in a public discussion. McBride said she was sorry 12 days later. The Associated Press ran the headline: “Politician apologizes for use of anti-Semitic trope.”

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar responded to GOP threats to censure her for denouncing Israel, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” She was referring to the dollars AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, purportedly throws at legislators standing up for Israel. Omar later apologized.

President Trump tells American Jews: “If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”

Likely none of these politicians grasped in the moment the anti-Semitism underlying their remarks. This was not the first time on American soil that Jews were charged with financial cunning, government manipulation and questionable loyalty.

These canards, rooted in ancient and medieval anti-Judaism, have a long history in America.

Religious anti-Semitism

There are different strains of anti-Semitism. Religious anti-Semitism is the charge that the Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. In this formulation, their descendants must, forever, pay for that treachery – sometimes by being locked behind ghetto walls, other times with their lives. It dates to the split of Christianity from Judaism in the first century.

Fifteen centuries later, in 1654, New Amsterdam Governor Peter Stuyvesant tried to expel the 23 Jews fleeing persecution who had just landed in the colony. He called them a “deceitful race – such hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Rediscovering American Antisemitism
Harold Brackman
Algemeiner, May 8, 2019

Recently, an opinion writer in The Washington Post told readers that preoccupation with the Holocaust has blinded us to the prevalence of antisemitism in American history. In other words, Holocaust museums somehow distract from the reality of antisemitism.

The truth is somewhat different. In the 1980s and 1990s, American Jewish intellectuals began to doubt that antisemitism had a future in the US. Jerome Chanes’ book, Antisemitism in America Today: Outspoken Experts Explode the Myths, even offered a premature obituary. Jewish intellectuals felt at home in Reagan’s and Clinton’s America, despite a lunatic fringe, and pointed to public opinion polls showing that anti-Jewish sentiment in the US peaked before and during World War II and started to decline thereafter. Even earlier, during the 1950s, conservative-minded Jewish historians like Daniel Boorstin argued that antisemitism had never been much of a force in an America where the New England Puritans from the start wanted to build “a new Israel.”

Boorstin began his career as a young communist before he discovered the virtues of America’s democratic capitalism. He also became a supporter of Zionism, like many Jewish intellectuals who, after 1948, came to believe that Israel would create a haven for Holocaust survivors and a miniature American democracy in the Holy Land.

The 21st century is shaping up differently for two reasons. First, according to a new Harris poll, Generation Z (born around 2000 and including young Jews) no longer view “socialism” as a bad word and, in fact, prefer it to capitalism. To explain, I would emphasis the traumatic impact — which is still felt — of the 2008 financial crash on Generation Z’s families even more than left-wing indoctrination in high schools or college campuses.

Second, political traumas, starting with the 9/11 attacks and continuing with the ugly partisan divide along both ideological and racial lines under President Obama and now President Trump, have stopped the decline in American antisemitism according to FBI “hate crimes” statistics.
The debate now among Jewish politicians and intellectuals is not over whether antisemitism is a clear and present danger in the 21st century, but whether “the right” or “the left” is primarily responsible for it. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Anti-Semitism Rears Its Ugly Head at McGill University
Barbara Kay
The Post Millennial, Nov. 2019

Anti-Semitism is an escalating global problem, and no objective observer denies it. There are many contributing factors, but a common two-ply thread is the demonization of the state of Israel as an all-evil oppressor and the Palestinians as an all-innocent oppressed people. The obsession rises to its crescendo on university campuses, where fulltime hate-fuelled activists plow their Israel-delegitimization furrow without surcease via the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).

BDS has failed to achieve many of its stated goals, such as forcing universities to divest financially from Israel or boycotting scholars from Israel (they have no power to do either in any case, no matter how many resolutions they pass). But they have made great headway in their unstated goal, which is to normalize the concept of Israel as a moral pariah state, and to create a climate of fear amongst Jewish students who are justly proud of their homeland’s democratic character and high achievements, but are too intimidated, thanks to relentless BDS pressure—psychologically and even literally in many cases—to express their pride.

For many years, extreme anti-Zionists indignantly denied that their hatred for Israel was a form of anti-Semitism. People of good faith struggled to believe this was true. But there has been too much ugliness in the BDS to keep that flimsy veil in place. Even Justin Trudeau, usually better known as a fence-straddler than an outright Israel supporter, has been forthright in his denunciation as BDS.

University administrators are rightly alarmed by the creeping pall of BDS menace that shadows their campuses, and, encouraged by the Canadian government’s signing-on to the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism created by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IRHA) in 2015, they have adopted it for their own purposes. Amongst the examples the IRHA definition offers as an expression of hatred toward Jews are these: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor;” and “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

At McGill University, the principal vehicle for disseminating Israel hatred is the McGill Daily, which is frequently guilty of the forms of anti-Semitism described above. The Daily has always been inclined to far-left ideology, and extreme anti-Zionism has been an integral component of the far left for many decades. The Daily, which is funded by student fees, receiving $300,000 annually, makes no secret of its bias, rather takes pride in it, constantly publishing diatribes against Israel, but refusing to accept pro-Israel counterpoint articles.

Last week the Canadian Jewish News reported that at the beginning of the academic year, the Daily announced its definition of Zionism as “represent[ing] a racist attitude and violent practice against Palestinians” that “only recognizes Israeli/Jewish hegemony and legitimacy to self-determination in Palestine.” A link to a BDS site was provided to readers.

Two McGill law students, Michael Aareau and Josh Shapiro, submitted a rebuttal, in it contending the Daily definition was “not only factually inaccurate, but malicious as well,” and further stating that “Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people to express their right to self-determination,” which the Daily turned away. The letter-writers appealed to university administrators, arguing the discrimination was a violation of the Daily’s letters policy. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

For Further Reference:

Bret Stephens: Yes, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism:  Bret Stephens, National Post, Nov. 28, 2019 — There is a common misconception that anti-Zionism amounts to nothing more than very strong criticism of Israel, and I’d like to begin by dispelling that notion.

Contemporary American anti-Semitism Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, June 22, 2018 — “While American history is not free of anti-Semitism, there is a substantial contrast to the situation of Jews in several European countries today.

Antisemitism: A Growing Concern in Canada’s Political Left:  Jakob Glogauer, The Post Millennial, November 2019 — The Liberal Party’s antisemitism problem has now been realized with one of their caucus members.

Antisemitism Is Real — We Must Fight It Loud and Proud: Melissa Landa, Algemeiner, Nov. 14, 2019 — Jews are under assault in the United States. White nationalists are marking the landscape with a trail of blood and swastikas, desecrating Jewish tombstones, and plotting to blow up synagogues.

Jews Lobby Non-Jews to Browbeat Jews – What Do You Call That? Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 5, 2019 — Thank you, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Bernie Sanders and J Street’s conventioneers. At J Street’s recent conference, they ended their charade. J Street is not the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” movement it long pretended to be; it’s the anti-occupation lobby, lacking nuance, balance and any ability to criticize Palestinians.

Know Comment:  Thankfully, Stephen Harper and Others Defend Israel:  David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 8, 2019 – For Jews everywhere, this has been a depressing year –  with antisemitic and anti-Israel activity on the rise.