The worms are coming out of the woodwork with ever-increasing frequency.
Antisemitism is and has always been a staple of the far-right in the United States, a nation where Jews have found an unprecedented degree of safety and acceptance. But in the past two years, American antisemites have grown increasingly confident, bold and assertive.
In the summer of 2017, they gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to attend a Unite the Right rally to protest the planned removal of a Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee. “Jews will not replace us,” they chanted in unison as they staged a noisy march on the campus of a local university.
On October 27, 2018, Robert Bowers, a white supremacist, killed 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, in the worst violent antisemitic incident in U.S. history.
And now, exactly six months later, on the last day of Passover, a heavily-armed racist thug named John Earnest, 19, invaded the Altman Family Chabad Community Center in Poway, north of San Diego, California, and reportedly shouted that Jews were “ruining the world.” Leaving a trail of blood in his wake, he fatally shot a 60-year-old congregant, Lori Gilbert Kaye, and wounded Rabbi Yisrael Goldstein and two congregants originally from Israel, Noya Dahan, 8, and Almog Peres, 34.
Previously unknown to police, Earnest was a nursing student at California State University-San Marcos who had made the dean’s list, as well as a musician who plays the piano.
In a manifesto posted on the 8Chan conspiracy theory message board, he said he had been inspired by the Tree of Life murderer and by Brenton Tarrant, the Australian who killed 50 Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, recently.
Earnest, who has been charged with homicide, claimed he was responsible for an arson attack against a mosque in nearby Escondito, California, a little more than a month ago.
Although generally liberal in its political orientation, California has the largest number of hate groups in the United States.
In his virulently antisemitic manifesto, a catalog of simple-minded cliches, Earnest claims he was not indoctrinated by his parents to hate Jews. Having been exposed to a profusion of anti-Jewish screeds on the internet, he was a self-radicalized bigot. These posts most certainly poisoned his mind and converted him into a criminal.
One of the most disconcerting aspects of this tragedy is that Earnest comes from a respectable middle class family. Yesterday, his parents issued a statement saying that he and his five siblings were raised in a household that “rejected hate and taught that love must be the motive for everything we do.”
“To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,” they added. “Our son’s actions were informed by people we do not know, and ideas we do not hold.”
Earnest’s manifesto, echoes of which can be found on numerous antisemitic website, could have been composed by any poorly educated person in search of scapegoats to explain the complexity of the modern world — the economic uncertainty, the political instability, and the changing demographics that are altering the racial and religious face of Western societies.
“I did not want to have to kill Jews,” writes Earnest, who describes himself was a Christian. “But they have given us no other option. I’m just a normal dude who wanted to have a family, help and heal people, and play piano. But the Jew — with his genocidal instincts — is insistent on poking the bear until it tears his head off. The Jew has forced our hand, and our response is completely justified. My God does not take kindly to the destruction of His creation. Especially one of the most beautiful, intelligent, and innovative races that He has created. Least of all at the hands of one of the most ugly, sinful, deceitful, cursed, and corrupt. My God understands why I did what I did.”
Claiming that the Jewish worshippers he targeted are not innocents, he writes, “Every Jew is responsible for the meticulously planned genocide of the European race. They act as a unit, and every Jew plays his part to enslave the other races around him — whether consciously or subconsciously. Their crimes are endless. For lying and deceiving the public through their exorbitant role in news media; for using usury and banks to enslave nations in debt and control all finances for the purpose of funding evil; for their role in starting wars on a foundation of lies which have costed millions of lives throughout history.”
He goes on to say: “I do not care about the debt-based currency that Jews like to pretend is money. I do not care for the bread and circus that Jewry has used to attempt to pacify my people. I willingly sacrifice my future — the future of having a fulfilling job, a loving wife, and amazing kids. I sacrifice this for the sake of my people. OUR people. I would die a thousand times over to prevent the doomed fate that the Jews have planned for my race.”
Earnest condemns U.S. President Donald Trump, whom some white supremacists admire despite the marriage of his daughter, Ivanka, to a Jew, Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor. After the clashes between white supremacists and leftists in Charlottesville, he infamously said that “very fine people” could be found on both sides of the barricades. Earnest, however, despises Trump, denouncing him as a “Zionist, Jew-loving, anti-White, traitorous cocksucker.”
(Joe Biden, who recently announced he would run for the presidency, said he had thrown his hat into the ring due to Trump’s controversial comment. Biden accused Trump of assigning “a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.”)
Earnest’s murderous rampage confirms that most racially-based crimes in the United States are committed by right-wing extremists, be they white supremacists or neo-Nazis.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, 49 out of 50 extremist murders in 2018 were committed by extreme rightists, including the massacre in Pittsburgh. In the past decade, they have been the perpetrators of 73 percent of all extremist murders.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League, believes that antisemitism is “a clear and present danger right now in this country.” He urges the Trump administration to direct the Department of Homeland Security to devote more resources to monitoring and analyzing domestic threats from the extreme right and Islamic jihadists.
As American Jews reflected on the terrible events in Poway, they were stunned by the news that The New York Times, one of the world’s finest newspapers, had published a cartoon deemed to be antisemitic. Printed in the opinion pages of its international edition, and reportedly drawn by Portuguese artist Antonio Antunes Moreira, it portrays a blind Trump, wearing a yarmulke and sunglasses, being led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is depicted as a dog on a leash with a Star of David collar. Apologizing for “an error of judgment,” The New York Timesacknowledged that the cartoon was “offensive.”
That it was published around the time that Earnest launched his killing spree is distressing