That’s not a MAGA hat.
Has President Trump contributed toward the mainstreaming of antisemitism and bigotry? Put it this way: a GOP candidate in Connecticut had no qualms about sending out a mailer showing his Jewish opponent grasping for money.
I don’t know if Trump is himself antisemitic – as his defenders point out, his daughter is a convert to Judaism – but he’s certainly indifferent to it among his supporters. And as we saw in Pittsburgh this past weekend, it’s a short journey from antisemitic hatred to the mass murder of Jews.
But it’s called “the oldest hatred” for a reason. As Philip Klein points out, antisemitism was prevalent long before Trump ran for President, and unfortunately it likely won’t go away even after he’s perp-walked out of the White House.
The reality is that anti-Semitism is an evil that has been with us for thousands of years and, despite the great blessings of freedom and religious liberty enjoyed by Jews here, it existed in America long before Trump entered the political scene. If we only talk about anti-Semitism within the limited context of Trump, we will fail to understand and combat it.
Since the FBI started keeping data in 1996 and through 2016 (the most recent year for which statistics were available and the year prior to Trump’s presidency), there were 19,023 anti-Jewish hate crimes recorded. That represented about two-thirds of all religious hate crimes in the U.S. — a shocking statistic considering that Jews only make up about 2 percent of the population. Those crimes occurred under both Democratic and Republican presidents.
It’s common for Jews to navigate armed guards, police, and metal detectors when going to worship at synagogues, drop their children off at Jewish daycare centers, or attend activities at local Jewish community centers.
The Pittsburgh shooting was the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history, but for many of us, something like it has felt inevitable for a long time. There were were shootings at a JCC in Los Angeles in 1999; at the Seattle Jewish Federation in 2006; at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009; and the Overland Park, Kan., JCC in 2014. Bomb plots have also been thwarted. Those were fortunately less successful for various reasons, including heroic efforts of security and law enforcement personnel.
As somebody who has spent a long time raising alarms about anti-Semitism, it’s frustrating to see that people who have ignored the festering problem for so long only care about it when they can weaponize it against Trump.
Anti-Semitism comes in many shapes and is not confined to Right or Left, either in the U.S. or throughout the world. It thrives among those who are completely ignorant and among educated elites. In recent decades, it’s often been cloaked as opposition to Israel.
Even as the bodies of Jews murdered at prayer were being removed from the Tree of Life Synagogue, serial plagiarist C.J. Werleman was ensuring his Twitter followers that Hamas, whose Charter cites The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to justify a war against the Jews, isn’t really antisemitic because something something Israel:
It is remarkable, how antisemitism ceases to be antisemitism when you substitute the word “Zionist” for “Jew.” And also how people who insist Israel doesn’t really represent the Jews are quick to bring up Israel whenever Jews anywhere else in the world are attacked.
Meanwhile, here in Halifax, James Petras is still listed as a faculty member at St. Mary’s University.