Anti-Semitism: A national wave of bigotry
I used to think that “widescale American anti-Semitism was a thing of the past,” said David Leonhardt in The New York Times. “I was wrong.” After Donald Trump’s presidential campaign emboldened white supremacists to come out of the shadows, a horrifying wave of anti-Semitism has spread throughout the country. In the first few months of 2017, more than 100 synagogues and Jewish community centers and schools have received bomb threats, while at least three Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated and tombstones overturned— including another 100 tombstones vandalized in Philadelphia this week. “That surge of anti- Semitic incidents was ignored by President Donald Trump” until last week, said Sarah Wildman in Vox.com, when he finally called them “horrible.” In the past, Trump has re-tweeted white supremacists, and strangely omitted Jews from his Holocaust Remembrance Day declaration. Trump may not be anti-Semitic himself, but there is definitely a growing sense among Jews “that their vulnerability is, at best, unimportant to the president.”
Tying Trump to anti-Semitism is “absurd,” said Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in TheHill.com. Trump’s own daughter, Ivanka, converted to the religion before she married Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew. Kushner himself is now one of several Jews serving in important roles in Trump’s administration, which is far more committed to Israel than President Obama ever was. Nor is there statistical proof that Trump’s election has ushered in “a new era of heightened anti-Semitism,” said Mark Oppenheimer in WashingtonPost.com. The events of recent weeks are simply “a continuation of a regrettable but enduring legacy.”
Actually, this wave of bigotry is on a whole new level, said Peter Beinart in TheAtlantic.com. The Southern Poverty Law Center recorded 1,094 reports of bias incidents in the first 34 days since Election Day—more than double the rate in 2015, when the FBI logged 5,800 hate incidents over 12 months. And why is there no pressure on Trump to condemn anti-Muslim incidents, which make up an equal proportion of the recent bias attacks? While anti-Semitism remains “an indefensible sin” for both Republicans and Democrats, conservatives insist that Islamophobia is a myth, designed to inhibit frank discussion of “the supposed pathologies of Islam.” In 2017, indifference to anti-Semitism remains politically dangerous— but ignoring attacks on American Muslims carries no political price.