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December 5, 2022 8:05 am
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Antisemitism Is on the March

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avatar by Micah Q. Jones

Opinion

Farrukh Afzal, 41, was convicted of second-degree attempted assault, third-degree assault and third-degree menacing in a jury trial before a court in Brooklyn, N.Y., Aug. 31, 2022. Photo: Screenshot.

Over the past few weeks, Jews around the world have been subjected to a significant amount of antisemitism in the form of violence and vitriol. On November 23, in Jerusalem, innocent Jews were attacked, and 16-year old Aryeh Schupak was murdered, when terrorists detonated bombs during peak commuting hours.

Two days earlier, across the world in Brooklyn, New York, members of Israel United in Christ, one of the largest factions of the virulently antisemitic Black Hebrew Israelites, held a rally outside the Barclays Center before the NBA game in which Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was returning after a suspension for promoting Jew hatred. The Black Hebrew Israelites chanted “we are the real Jews” and “time to wake up” as they marched through Brooklyn in support of Irving’s reinstatement following his suspension after sharing an antisemitic documentary.

And in my adopted state of Massachusetts, fallout continues from the “Mapping Project” — a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) affiliated effort that provided the names, addresses, and contact information for all Jewish and pro-Israel organizations within Massachusetts and specifically the greater Boston area. In particular, the Mapping Project declares that Zionism — the belief that Jews have a right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland — is a “harm.” The goal of the Mapping Project is to “dismantle” and “disrupt” these Jewish and pro-Israel organizations. The Mapping Project is silent, however, on how those goals can be achieved.

These three recent examples of Jew hatred should serve as a reminder to Jews that antisemitism, although always present, is very much undergoing a resurgence. And Jews must understand how each movement is interconnected, and how we can combat each one. As such, I believe Jews need to focus on three areas to effectively understand and counter the current rise in antisemitism: (1) influence; (2) intersectionality; and (3) anti-Israel and anti-Zionist ideology.

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The sheer scope of Kanye West’s and Kyrie Irving’s influence is what makes their antisemitism so dangerous. West and Irving have a combined total of approximately 37 million followers on Twitter. That’s more than double the amount of Jews alive on the planet.

Each man wields significant influence and can use his respective stardom as a bully pulpit for hate. Furthermore, many of Irving’s and West’s followers are younger individuals who may not have any connection to the World War II generation that lived through the Holocaust, and may not have any historical context regarding the unspeakable tragedies that Jews endured during that time.

By contrast, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, has approximately 350,000 Twitter followers. Simply put, at any moment West and Irving can connect with over 100 times more people than the Holocaust Museum can.

Intersectionality is the idea that the world can be divided along lines of “oppressors” and “oppressed” and that there is a “hierarchy of victimhood.” In this twisted world view, the color of one’s skin is a predominate factor in determining where a person falls on the hierarchy. Generally speaking, individuals who are darker skinned are deemed to be “victims” and “oppressed” by those individuals with lighter skin.

Intersectionality, however, lacks depth and historical context as Jews are deemed to be “oppressors” because of the fact that many Ashkenazi Jews historically hail from Europe. Intersectionality, however, ignores the fact that many Jews are from North Africa and the Middle East and have no connection to Europe. Furthermore, intersectionality does not believe that Jews have historically been victims because, especially in certain parts of the United States, Jews have been disproportionately successful despite their small population. This combination of professional success and perceived “whiteness” makes Jews an easy target for groups that are deemed to be “victims.”

Intersectionality connects with the above-mentioned influence factor because, for example, both Irving and West can claim to their followers that they, as “black victims,” are being financially injured by “white, Jewish, oppressors.” As heard during their demonstration, the Black Hebrew Israelites, who have engaged in violence against Jews on multiple occasions, including a violent attack in December 2019 against a kosher market in Jersey City, NJ, genuinely believe that Irving and West have been harmed by Jews. Irving’s and West’s millions of followers may also have reason to believe this slander as well, which only further entrenches this ruthless antisemitism.

Anti-Israel and anti-Zionist ideology, both home and abroad, is the third factor that Jews must be cognizant of and work to counter. The Mapping Project shares a similar mindset with the terrorists who murdered Aryeh Schupak — that Jews have no right to live in their ancestral homeland, Eretz Israel. Although the Mapping Project has not yet called for actual violence against Jews, per say, the fact that it is a BDS affiliate demonstrates that it is sympathetic to those terrorists who do commit violence against Jews.

Jews, and friends of Jews, can counter the influence of figures like West and Irving by donating to organizations that engage with young leaders in substantive conversations about Israel and countering antisemitism. In addition, Jews and allies must pressure legacy and social media outlets and business organizations to reconsider their partnerships with these individuals. Although West and Irving are entitled to say whatever they want via free speech protections, they should not be rewarded for doing so. Their sponsorships should be cut, their Tweets down-voted, and their ideas consistently called out and debunked in the public square.

Regarding intersectionality, Jews must realize that this left-wing ideology is fundamentally dangerous to the Jewish people. Jews must reject this world view in academic and social circles. School board members that embrace such beliefs should be voted out during elections, and Jews should not financially support organizations that agree that intersectionality should be taught in schools.

Jews must also realize that anti-Israel and anti-Zionist ideology is inherently antisemitic and can lead to actual violence against Jews both at home and abroad. Jews can counter this ideology by treating anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rhetoric the same as they would when they hear antisemitic bile. In addition, Jews must take these threats and ideologies seriously. This means hiring security for temple services and day-school classes. It means being vigilant for active threats and internalizing a mindset of action to actively counter and subdue any physical attack.

In understanding that antisemitism is once again on the march, Jews will be better prepared to meet it in the breach and ensure that it does not metastasize into a larger threat.

Micah Jones is a publishing Adjunct at The MirYam Institute. He is a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service. The MirYam Institute is the leading international forum for Israel focused discussion, dialogue, and debate, focused on campus presentations, engagement with international legislators, and gold-standard trips to the State of Israel. Follow their work at www.MirYamInstitute.org.

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