The Legitimization of Antisemitism Must Be Stopped
JNS.org – Hatred and bigotry can become societally acceptable when two things happen: They move from the realm of the unfathomable to the legitimate; and collective outrage and resistance towards them is inadequate or stifled.
The sharp rise in antisemitism in the United States, as around the world, is occurring because it has become legitimatized. In the United States, it has been mainstreamed by Democratic members of Congress and by the platform and leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Condemnations of antisemitism are laughably insincere when made by the same people who are perpetrating the phenomenon. Worse, antisemitism cloaked in ostensible concern for the Jewish people is a brilliantly evil strategy to subtly legitimize Jew-hatred.
It is the strategy currently utilized by individuals elected to represent the public. Take Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), for example. At a rally more than two years ago with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) by her side, Omar stated that supporters of a strong US-Israel relationship “push allegiance to a foreign country.”
Around that same time, in January 2019, Tlaib criticized Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s efforts to punish those attempting to boycott Israel with a tweet, “They forgot what country they represent.” Rubio, who is not Jewish, posted, “The dual loyalty canard is a typical anti-Semitic line.”
Meanwhile, Omar and Tlaib both voted for House Resolution 183—which states that “accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to the Jewish community than to the United States” constitutes antisemitism—while engaging in the very antisemitic conduct it condemns.
Their antisemitism runs much deeper than the dual-loyalty canard that has been a direct line of fuel to the fire for the attacks on Jews in America. Both support the antisemitic BDS movement.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which the Biden administration adopted, makes it clear that supporting BDS is antisemitic. Omar Barghouti helped found BDS and said its goal is the destruction of Israel. Tlaib makes it clear that she supports the destruction of Israel, which is also antisemitic under the IHRA definition.
It just recently came to light that a co-founder and leader of BLM, Patrisse Cullors, said in a panel discussion in 2015, “If we don’t step up boldly and courageously to end the imperialist project that’s called Israel, we’re doomed.”
This astonishing comment was made at no less than a Harvard Law School forum. Cullors’s bigoted comments in context were not surprising, as the BLM platform accuses Israel of committing “genocide” against the Palestinian Arabs.
During the recent fighting against Hamas in Gaza, BLM tweeted, “We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation”—with the hashtag “#Free Palestine.”
It should be noted that “Free Palestine” really means a Jew-free Palestine, synonymous with supporting the destruction of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants. BLM’s statements supported the Hamas rockets indiscriminately fired on Israel’s civilian population.
Article 7 of Hamas’s Covenant makes clear that Hamas supports the murder of all Jews. Less than one week after BLM’s antisemitic tweet, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (whose stepfather survived the Holocaust) allowed BLM flags to be flown over American embassies and consulates.
What message does this send to the American Jewish community concerning the Biden administration’s supposed opposition to antisemitism?
Four courageous Jewish Democratic members of Congress have spoken out against the antisemitism of their colleagues in the House. In a May 26 letter to US President Joe Biden, Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Elaine Luria (D-Va.), Kathy Manning (D-NC), and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) wrote, in part, “We … reject comments from members of Congress accusing Israel of being an ‘apartheid state’ and committing act[s] of terrorism.
“These statements are anti-Semitic at their core and contribute to a climate that is hostile towards many Jews. We must never forget that less than 80 years ago, within the lifetime of our parents and grandparents, 6 million people were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust because they were Jews.”
“Israel has long provided the Jewish people with a homeland in which they can be safe after facing centuries of persecution. Sadly, we have learned from our history that when this type of violence and inflammatory rhetoric goes unaddressed, it can fuel increasing hatred and violence, and lead to unspeakable acts against Jews, even in the most civilized, modern societies.”
This letter, which has not received the public attention that it deserves, is the first significant step towards ending the legitimization of antisemitism within Congress. So far, Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer theoretically condemn antisemitism but still defend the antisemitic Democratic members of Congress.
This is outrageous and has led to the spread of antisemitism in America. Several antisemites walked out of jail shortly after being arrested for violently attacking Jews. The Biden administration must announce that anyone involved in physical antisemitic attacks on Jews will be held on federal hate-crime charges and face significant prison time.
This must not only apply to physical violence, however. More than 600 musicians signed a letter calling for Israel’s destruction. Included among the signatories is the Questlove Band, which plays for “The Tonight Show” starring Jimmy Fallon.
Are these musicians facing any repercussions for the letter? Is anyone in Congress speaking out against their antisemitism? Fallon should hear from us that it is unacceptable to employ an antisemitic band.
When more than 500 Amazon and Google employees sign a letter supporting BDS (even though the company employees more than a million people), is there anyone speaking out about their antisemitism? It should be noted that having some self-hating Jewish individuals signing these letters does not make it any less antisemitic.
There is a famous saying that actions speak louder than words. Gottheimer, Luria, Manning and Phillips have taken the first significant action in Congress.
Laws making it clear that those engaging in assaults on Jews, as well as their businesses and religious institutions, will be given significant prison time without bail will further combat the dangers of this rising threat.
Time is of the essence, as the problem is only getting worse. It is critical to extinguish this dangerous fire before it ignites further violence and hatred in the United States and around the world.
Farley Weiss, former president of the National Council of Young Israel, is an intellectual property attorney for the law firm of Weiss & Moy. The views expressed are the author’s, and not necessarily representative of NCYI.