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July 29, 2016 4:32 am

Red Flags and Antisemitism in America

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Protesters burning the Israeli flag outside the Democratic National Convention. Photo: Twitter/United With Israel.

Protesters burning the Israeli flag outside the Democratic National Convention. Photo: Twitter/United With Israel.

The current American election campaign is being touted as the most fraught in recent history. After arduous internal battles, the Republican and Democratic parties have finally nominated their candidates for the presidency of the United States — presenting the public with a choice between two unpopular and widely vilified candidates.

This turn of events is disheartening, as it is causing many voters to claim they will shun the ballot box in November. Far more disturbing, however, is the societal genie it has let out of the bottle — open expressions of Jew-hatred across the political spectrum. Thanks to social media, it is neither necessary nor possible to sugarcoat or qualify the nature of the comments on Facebook and Twitter. Nor can the words of angry mobs defending their candidate of choice by attacking their opponents be interpreted as political criticism.

The cat is out of the bag, and its name is antisemitism.

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First came the white supremacists sending Donald Trump’s critics — whether Jewish or only perceived as such — to the gas chambers and bemoaning the fact that “Hitler didn’t finish off the job.” And now there are the Black Lives Matter and Students for Justice in Palestine gangs, banishing “Zionist pigs” from the Middle East and American universities. Oh, and burning the Israeli flag outside the Democratic National Convention — to protest Hillary Clinton’s victory over contender Bernie Sanders, a Jew. The irony would be sweet if it weren’t so tragic.

Meanwhile, as was revealed by the latest report released by the AMCHA Initiative — a watchdog organization that monitors antisemitism on US campuses — Jewish students are the group most targeted for systematic attack. According to the report, which bases its findings on the State Department’s definition of antisemitism, this phenomenon has sharply increased since last year alone. And the top institutions of higher learning at which Jews feel least safe are Columbia, Vassar and the University of Chicago — illustrious schools filled with Jewish students, academics, alumni and donors.

As the late historian Robert Wistrich told me in an interview nearly a decade ago, “On the substantive issue of when criticism of Israel becomes antisemitic, I think that there are good criteria. Every rational person understands the difference between criticism and defamation. If you talk about an individual in a defamatory way, you’re going to the heart of his character, his essence. The same is true of countries.”

Indeed, the kind of anti-Israel vitriol spewed on the internet and chanted at rallies is unmistakably defamatory. And though extreme right-wingers are guilty of it, it is the Left that has given it a cloak of legitimacy and intellectual respectability.

This marriage made in hell is producing the satanic progeny that, if not kept in check, will destroy the very fabric of the free society that has enabled it to rear its ugly head and thrive.

“Antisemitism is a kind of barometer to Jews and to nations, both of what is wrong — because it is often a symptom of major pathologies in a given society — and a warning signal of catastrophes to come,” Wistrich said.

The “canary in the coal mine” metaphor could not be more apt today. It is worthy of note in this context that American flags were torched alongside Israeli ones at the DNC in Philadelphia this week.

In 2007, Wistrich explained that, for historical reasons, “antisemitism has been much less of a political force in the US than in Europe.” America, he asserted, “is exceptional; it’s an immigrant society in which there’s no established state religion.”

Though acknowledging that the US had periods of “outspoken antisemitism in the 1930s and 1940s,” he said things “improved dramatically in the 1960s — the beginning of the Golden Age of American Jewry.”

Are we witnessing the tarnishing or even demise of that age? Let us hope, for the world’s sake, that the answer is no.

Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.

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  • Its not clear whose protesters burned Israeli flag and why. Its written that it was Bernie’s supporters against Clinton. But which connection has either one with Israel, especially, Clinton?

  • richard sherwin

    we’re watching the birth of THE FACEBOOK NATION as someone headlined it. a world community built on the world religions lowest common denominator — jewhating. it unites elites with streets (the good old Duffy’s Tavern slogan), pagans everywhere, christian establishments with biker gangs, ISIS with the christians theyre genociding wherever possible, russian orthodox with communist remnants, all the left wingers from british madmen to california universities, feminists with rapists, it’s better and more true and successful than cecil b demilles BIRTH OF A NATION…. oh toss in black americana with white racists…. for good measure…

  • Soy antisemita y a mucha honra, por que no es por su raza, o su religión sino por la conducta del pueblo judio en su devenir entre las naciones:rapaz, perversa, criminal y genocida serial.
    Si solo hubiera un patriota valiente, que amara a su país, ya hubiera convocado a los ciudadanos norteamericanos a tomar las armas para combatir a los políticos sionistas que han traicionado a EEUU, abrogando su soberanía y convertido en una colonia de Israel, a cambio del voto judío y el financiamiento de sus campañas electorales

    • BB

      La respuesta explica por qué su especie siempre come mi excremento

  • Ilya

    This article is talking about “…Jew hatred across political spectrum …”. I haven not observed any of that at the Republican convention. Please present facts first – then make a conclusion. Short of that this looks like yet another politically correct lie – sorry.

    • You are right. Republicans and their nominee Trump are not at all against Israel Their platform (#50)read: fight with DBS,
      Wile all democrats are pro-Palestinian and endorse DBS. Even Jill Stein endorsed DBS. That’s why I suggest that Jews vote for Trump. Don’t trust the terrible wild propaganda of Democrats charging Trump in anti-Semitism. Its absurd. Democratic terror and lie embraced the country

  • enufizenuf

    I haven’t read about many attacks on Jews from so-called right-wingers in the US. In fact, there are very few of such people while there are 10s or 100s of thousands of muslims, leftists and blacks who are openly and viciously anti-Semitic. For that matter, to get an audience David Duke has to go to Iran as his few followers here are pot-bellied, low income, sexually frustrated middle-aged white slobs who don’t want to get in any real trouble. If Clinton is elected she’ll complete what has been the DOS and BO’s dream, to flood the US with so many muslims the political influence of the American Jewish community will be diminished and ALL support and association with Israel ended. Jews WILL be very much under attack by all the muslims she’ll bring here, but as she is an ABSOLUTE JEW HATER that will be just fine with her. You’re afraid the golden era of American Jewry is over? Then you better vote for Trump, and you’d better encourage your Jewish friends to arm themselves while they can.

  • Mike

    If the left is guilty of taking antisemitism mainstream, why do so many of my fellow Jews vote Democrat.

  • joe quellman

    “Oh, and burning the Israeli flag outside the Democratic National Convention — to protest Hillary Clinton’s victory over contender Bernie Sanders, a Jew. The irony would be sweet if it weren’t so tragic.”

    correction- sanders is of “polish immigrant heritage”. any semitic appellation must be prefaced by “anti”.
    include jill stein, the proclaimed “ecumenical” self loather, with that term too. similar flag demos for the greens are only a match or an unfurling away.

  • howiej

    While the author did mention near the end of her article that flags of the USA were burned, she failed to note that while no American flags were on display inside the convention hall the first day, a flag of the P.A. was prominently shown along with signs reading “I Support Palestine.”

  • Jay Lavine

    There is antisemitism and there is antisemitism. The antisemitism being discussed here is anti-Semite-ism, the perception of Jews as an ethnicity, and, yes, it is pervasive among both right- and left-wingers. It also happens to be the perception of Jews held by most people who call themselves Jews, including the right-wing pro-Israel contingent.

    But there is a far more pervasive form of antisemitism that would most properly be called Judeophobia, because it has to do with the Jewish way of life, which is not limited to any ethnicity. The role of Jews has been to spread monotheism, “letakein olam bemalchut shaddai,” from which the original and correct meaning of “tikkun olam” was derived.

    Although Jews never attempted to impose their way of life onto others, they did embrace certain Torah-derived precepts, the seven Noachide commandments, that they felt were incumbent on all humanity. One of these was the prohibition against stealing. Stealing does not involve only material objects. One can steal ideas, and one can also steal people’s minds by deceiving them in order to bring about some gain for oneself. According to the rabbis of the Tosefta, this latter form of stealing, called geneivat da’at, was considered the worst form of stealing because the stealing involves other people’s minds and not just their money.

    If we are to judge by the way today’s Machiavellian politicians go about their business, deceiving and lying at every opportunity, it’s clear that the Jewish message has gone unheeded. Even worse, most people today view such lying among politicians as inevitable and have come to accept it, voting for candidates who simply conform to their own political ideology. This rejection of honesty, transparency, and even-handedness is what I would call a blatant example of Judeophobia, because it is a repudiation of everything Judaism stands for.

    If Jews are to be in the forefront of people promoting those Jewish values that are truly universal in order to make a difference in society, they need to drop their idolatrous secular political ideologies and return to Judaism as the way of life that it is supposed to be as opposed to the ethnicity that it is not.

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