How they see us: Rise in anti-Semitism alarms Israel
Anti-Jewish bigotry has become acceptable in America, said Carol Nuriel in Yedioth Ahronoth. The “fiery presidential election campaign” that propelled Donald Trump to the White House “served as a catalyst for the rise of new and renewed anti-Semitic phenomena.” The U.S. Anti-Defamation League counted some 2.6 million anti-Semitic tweets during the election campaign, many aimed at Jewish reporters. After the November vote, so-called alt-right groups felt so empowered by Trump’s victory that they held a Washington summit where white nationalists performed Nazi salutes and chanted “Hail Trump.” Since then, headstones have been toppled and smashed in Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia, while scores of Jewish community centers across the country have received bomb threats.
It’s easy “to blame anti-Semitism on one’s political opponents,” said Rafael Medoff in Arutz Sheva. But the reality is that thugs who target Jews aren’t usually motivated by politics. They threaten Jews “because they hate Jews, or because of deep personal problems, or some combination thereof.” Only one person has been arrested so far for allegedly making threats to Jewish community centers: Juan Thompson, a left-leaning African-American journalist, who apparently perpetrated the crimes so he could pin them on his ex-girlfriend. He wasn’t inspired by Trump. “Reckless blaming of those with whom one disagrees, instead of blaming the anti-Semites themselves, does a disservice to public discourse.”
Still, the surge in U.S. anti-Semitism has led Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog to predict the mass emigration of American Jews, said David Rosenberg in Ha’aretz. In an “alarmist” speech, the head of the Zionist Union Party called on the Israeli government to prepare an emergency plan to welcome fleeing Americans. Herzog is getting ahead of himself: American Jews don’t face job, education, or housing discrimination, and the incidents that have occurred, while despicable, are “a far cry from the organized anti-Semitism of Nazi Germany or czarist Russia.” In any case, while Israel always welcomes Jewish immigrants from the U.S., we need a critical mass of American Jews to stay there. Israel “relies on the political power of American Jewry to cultivate a friendly Washington.”
President Trump’s response to this anti-Semitic surge has been deeply muddled, said The Jerusalem Post in an editorial. He rightly denounced the crimes as “horrible” last month. But last week, he reportedly suggested that threats against the Jewish community might have been staged “to make others look bad.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is eager to stay on Trump’s good side—because of the president’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and his support for Jewish settlements in the West Bank—and so hasn’t rebutted Trump’s absurd claim of a smear. Our leaders should quit being “sycophants and apologists” for Trump and demand he take real action against this wave of hate. ■