Tuesday, August 9th | 12 Av 5782

February 7, 2021 5:57 am

Combating Antisemitism: We Need Swivel-Headed Jews

avatar by David Harris


Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Photo: Screenshot.

For the last two decades, my organization has been blowing the whistle on the rising tide of antisemitism worldwide. When asked the source, our answer has always been the same, depending on the specific circumstances: Look in one of three basic directions: far-left, far-right, and jihadists. Too many in our hyper-partisan world, however, would prefer to shy away from this trifocal analysis. For them, it doesn’t necessarily sit well politically, the facts be damned.

But, true to AJC’s mission, we don’t have a particular ax to grind or, if you will, a “preferred” enemy to confront. We’re a Jewish front-line, nonpartisan agency that doesn’t get to pick and choose our threats because they might suit a partisan outlook.

Whether it’s the march in Charlottesville and the chants of “Blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us”; or the 11 victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; or the fatality at the synagogue in Poway; or the “Camp Auschwitz” neo-Nazis at the Capitol on January 6; or, most recently, the crazed Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who’s an embarrassment to her party and the nation; or the dark web that supports the radical right, we know the threat from the far right is real, deadly, and urgent.

And as dangerous as it is here in America, in recent years the far right has also flexed its muscles abroad, particularly in some strongholds in Western and Eastern Europe (and created international networks with likeminded individuals and groups). Think groups and parties like AFD in Germany, Jobbik in Hungary, National Rally in France, Nordic Resistance in Scandinavia, Golden Dawn in Greece, etc. In some cases, they have even vied for (and won) seats in regional and national parliaments.

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Grave as these challenges are, the dangers for Jews, alas, don’t end here. Nor, therefore, can our concern and focus. For one thing, the far-left also poses daunting challenges, especially in the academic, cultural, and intellectual spheres, not to mention the political world, including now in the US Congress.

Many in this arena seem to have a problem with one country on earth (and its supporters) and it just happens to be the only Jewish-majority nation around, with a Jewish population of nearly seven million people.

No other nation awakens the far-left’s misguided passion in the way that Israel does. Only democratic Israel is constantly in their crosshairs. They celebrate self-determination for the Palestinians, but would deny Jews the right to live and defend themselves in their own ancestral homeland.

Is this obsessive, relentless attempt to challenge the Jewish people’s national aspirations not a dangerous form of antisemitism? Of course it is, and has been acknowledged as such by the UN secretary-general, the French president, and other astute leaders.

And when was the last time, for example, that anyone saw a protest by these self-professed human rights campaigners of the far-left about mass murder in Syria; the Venezuelan government’s wholesale destruction of a country; North Korean concentration camps; or Iran’s serial violations of the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities?

Their blatant selectivity speaks volumes, even as they shout that to ask such questions is only an attempted distraction — “whataboutism” — when it’s actually an exposure of their hypocrisy.

But bifocal lenses aren’t sufficient either. Trifocals are needed.

Consider: Every fatal attack against Jews in Europe in recent years — except for Halle, Germany — has been carried out by Islamist extremists. From the kosher supermarket in Paris to a Jewish school in Toulouse, from the Jewish Museum in Brussels to the synagogue in Copenhagen, from the murders of Ilan Halimi and Sarah Halimi in Paris to the Israelis (and Bulgarian) killed in Burgos, they were all perpetrated by jihadists. Add to that the genocidal ambitions of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas; incendiary Salafist teachings in some madrassas around the world; and the ubiquitous antisemitism in segments of the Arab media.

By all means, we must shout from the rooftops our utter revulsion when Congresswoman Greene spouts her wacko theories, is assigned a seat on the House Education Committee, enjoys inexplicable support in her district, and is reportedly attracting significant financial support.

Jewish dismay also needs to be manifested when members of Congress, from the other end of the spectrum and a different party, level toxic dual-loyalty charges against Americans who support the US-Israel relationship; suggest that Israel is guilty of, yes, blood libels; and support groups calling for Israel’s disappearance. And add the small handful of fellow legislators who support them, as well as those in Congress who endorsed their reelection last year and even, shockingly, contributed to their campaigns.

In other words, those who genuinely care about antisemitism must open their eyes wide and be swivel-headed and not allow partisan political thinking to narrow the field of vision and sense of outrage.

David Harris is the CEO of American Jewish Committee (AJC). Please join 79,300 others and follow him on Twitter @DavidHarrisAJC.

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