America is rapidly becoming a more and more dangerous place for Jews. With recent attacks, rallies, and complacency from the White House, it’s more clear than ever just how extreme the hatred towards Jewish people has become.
White and Christian supremacy hate groups function on the belief that Christians and whites are above all others. According to the KKK website, “Non-whites who reside in America should be expected to conduct themselves according to Christian principles and must recognize that race mixing is definitely wrong and out of the question. It will be a privilege to live under the authority of a compassionate White Christian government.” Within the US there are 953 official hate groups functioning. That’s more groups than there are Jewish people in both North and South Dakota. Hateful activities also occur outside of these groups, as domestic terrorists often function outside of the guidings of hate groups, while expressing said group’s principles. Hate crime is actively increasing, as the FBI reported a sharp spike in hate crimes in 2017, with hate crimes against Jews rising by 37% alone. There is a clear increase of attacks on the Jewish community.
Antisemitism finds its home with the right, but it also spans across the political spectrum. Antisemitism has been incredibly normalized across the aisle, as portions of both the right and left associate Jews with the untrue and hurtful stereotype of “controlling the money and media”. Some see antisemitism as one of the few topics that brings both the right and left together.
The director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jonathan Greenblatt went on Meet The Press in November of 2018 and stated, “We are seeing an environment in which anti-Semitism has moved from the margins to the mainstream as political candidates and people in public life literally repeat the rhetoric of white supremacists.”
Neo-Nazis are emboldened by President Trump, and he undeniably thrives off of their attention. Hate crimes are committed in broad daylight, record numbers of white nationalists run for office, and Neo-Nazis work for him. Richard Spencer, a prominent alt-right leader can often be seen flashing the Nazi salute whilst shouting “Hail Trump!”, thanking Trump for “defending the truth”, and pointing out that, “Trump has never denounced the Alt-Right”. Scarily enough, Spencer is correct about Trump’s alignment with the alt-right. After the riots in Charlottesville Virginia where Neo-Nazis marched, chanted, and killed a woman; Trump never denounced the Neo-Nazis but instead stated that there is “blame on both sides”. Trump often claims that he is not antisemitic, and points to his daughter Ivanka and his ties with Netanyahu. Ivanka, who Trump has pointed out to be his ideal woman, converted to Orthodox Judaism for her husband Jared Kushner. Ivanka is comfortable for Trump, and it makes it easy for him to see her as Jewish when it is beneficial for him, strategically. Ivanka does not excuse Trump’s antisemitism. Ties with Israel do not mean a president is not antisemitic. Firstly, many American Jews do not associate with Israel’s actions. Furthermore, Nixon, for example, was deeply antisemitic but fostered a very economically successful and close relationship with Israel, similar to Trump’s today. Convenient acceptance of Jews does not cancel out hatred.
On October 27, 2018, in Pittsburgh, the members of the Tree Of Life Synagogue were peacefully worshipping when a gunmen barged in, fatally shooting 11 people and critically wounding two worshipers. The shooter told officers that he “wanted all Jews to die”. This attack is the largest attack on Jews in American history, and the Jewish community around the world mourned together. The gunmen was later charged with a 44-count hate crime. President Donald Trump arrived to Pittsburgh, facing a harsh backlash from the community. Many Jewish leaders declared that Trump shouldn’t come to Pittsburgh until he denounced white nationalism. As Trump made no motion to denounce such groups, Pittsburgh’s mayor and Pennsylvania’s governor chose not to attend Trump’s visit. Vice President Mike Pence invited a Jew For Jesus “rabbi” to offer a prayer to the victims, while he was at a rally in Michigan. The religious leader mentioned the “saving power” of the Lord and concluded his prayer with, “In the name of Jesus, amen.” Many found Pence’s selection of what is essentially a Christian leader, from a sector of religion that the Jewish community doesn’t consider a true branch of Judaism and that many consider antisemitic, a poor choice of a speaker during the Jewish community’s time of mourning.
Such stories of antisemitsm are only a small fraction of the hate that American Jews face. Whether it’s a man standing up in the middle of a Fiddler On The Roof performance to scream “Heil Hitler” or waves of Neo-Nazis chanting “Jew will not replace us!”, major and minor attacks impact the lives of Jewish Americans with very little question from authorities. The Jewish community is that of a strong one and a resilient one. American Jews refuse to be deterred by such putrescence.
Featured image via Israel Policy Forum