Antisemitism is testing American Values

Recently, I came across the names and ages of four young girls who were murdered in concentration camps during the Holocaust era: Edith Hirsch, 10; Judit Kohn, 7; Judith Ginceberg, 10; and Lyuda Milemevka, 3. These were 4 children of 6 million plus victims condemned to death just for being Jews. At the time, there was no nation willing to protest on their behalf, to demand justice for them, or to offer them safe quarters.

The memory of the Holocaust tragedy is fast fading. Yet, the evil that brought it about appears upon us once again.  Provocative hate speech and violence directed at Jews, may be ‘testing the waters’ to see what perpetrators can get away with before considering upping the level of hostilities; as effective consequences are few and far between.

Enemies of Jews recognize that we no longer stand alone, and will not quietly succumb. In no small part, this is due to the sovereign State of Israel, which has served as our vocal advocate and refuge for Jews under threat since its creation in 1947. Anti-Jewish forces were put on notice that Israel will not sit idly by while the blood of our people is shed; as was the case in its absence, during the 1930’s and 40’s; enabling the Holocaust. Israel is not incidental to Judaism, but rather integral to Jewish survival, and our enemies understand this reality. The protection afforded is so formidable that those who hate us have come to the conclusion that they must first eliminate Israel, by whatever means necessary, in order to challenge our viability.  By trial and error, they came upon an effective diversionary tactic: cloaking their hostility towards Jews under the guise of ‘Anti-Zionism,’ which seemingly has gained traction within the press and left-wing, so-called liberal politicians.

Ignoring the intense antipathy towards Israel only serves to reinforce contempt for Jews, in general. The ugliness manifests itself through acts of targeted property destruction and violence; both, intent on instilling fear. These emanate from a diverse group including white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and radical Islamist elements, among others, local and worldwide. They are each encouraged by the repeated threats of annihilating Israel and Jews emanating from Iran and its proxies, Hizbullah and Hamas; as well as the endless United Nations Anti-Israel condemnations since resolution (3379) passed in 1975,equating ‘Zionism to Racism.’ All of this has set the perfect stage for provocative agitation on campuses across North America from groups such as, Students for Justice in Palestine. S.J.P. relishes publicly challenging Israel’s legitimacy and Jew’s rights to speak, to organize and to defend their faith and heritage. Each element of the above challenges the resolve of the United States, Canada and European nations to take a committed stand against the obscenity of antisemitism.

Over the past decade a virus-like, anti-Israel malady has been securing a foothold on campuses of higher learning here and abroad. At first, groups of angry young people sought to confront pro-Israel students, faculty, and speakers brought on campus to educate others about Jewish issues. Initially, the interactions appeared relatively civil. However, as coverage by press and television crews expanded, the rhetoric intensified. Self-labeled as ‘Anti-Zionist,’ these protestors could still be heard shouting recognizable anti-Semitic epithets, some laced with subtle intimidation and others with threats that need to be taken seriously. With time, the belligerent ones grew bolder and acted as if the First Amendment gave them a right to intimidate Jews. Meanwhile, the prevailing volatile atmosphere appeared effectively ignored.

Jewish students who thought they were shielded by the traditional protections offered to other discriminated groups on campus, under Title VI of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, found they were mistaken. Title VI only prohibited discrimination based on race, color, and national origin; not addressing organized acts of repeated religious discrimination. Yet, this was specifically recognized in Title VII,separately, as regards religious discriminatory employment practices. The omission within education may yet be remedied via individual State focused specific legislation, or by amending the above referenced, Title VI, so as to add discrimination based upon religion as also prohibited. The latter would then offer broader federal protections to all students experiencing hostile religious targeting.

Young politicians who could have made a positive contribution towards ameliorating antisemitism, such as Minnesota, freshman U.S. Representative, Ilhan Omar (D-MN-5thD), instead came on the national scene and morphed into a hostile entity within the America, Israel, Palestine, Jewish equation. She declared herself an advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (B.D.S.) movement, which ultimately serves to challenge Israel’s viability, while adversely affecting the health and well-being of Israel’s existing Palestinian, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish citizenry. This should have tweaked her conscience and that of her fellow B.D.S. supporting legislative associate, Michigan Representative, Rashida Tlaib, but sadly did not.

Instead of cautious mentoring, the Democratic Party rewarded Omar with an appointment to the powerful U.S House Foreign Affairs Committee, which oversees U.S. foreign policy, foreign aid allocations, national security, peacekeeping, and per Omar, “…war powers.” Although she denies being anti-Semitic; her rhetoric is hard for me and others to distinguish from that of garden variety anti-Jewish haters, and as such is despicable.

On the positive side, the U.N. recently released a heretofore ‘unprecedented’ report linking “antisemitism” to the B.D.S. movement targeting Israel; and in a separate U.N. vote; 13 countries each changed their typical voting pattern; thereby lessening numerical support for a pro-Palestine UN resolution, traditionally critical of Israel. Lastly, President Trump issued an Executive Order (E.O.) extending protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to targeted Jewish students on campuses across the United States, on the basis of race or nationality. Exactly how effective this will be is yet to be determined.

America recently observed the anniversary of the “Tree of Life” Synagogue tragedy in which 11 Jewish individuals were murdered, just for being Jews, reminiscent of the Holocaust era. The subsequent national outrage was short-lived, and acts of antisemitism; local, national and international continue to rise, seemingly unobstructed.

The war against antisemitism is proving complicated and therefore must occur on many fronts and simultaneously. At the bare minimum, religious discrimination awareness courses need to be incorporated within middle school, high school, and college class curriculums across the United States and Canada. This may then motivate others to take a stand and together raise their voices in opposition to this travesty.

About the Author
Bruce Portnoy, is a published op-ed contributor to the "Miami Herald," "Washington Examiner," and "The American Thinker"; as well as the author of the Geo-political thriller, "First, the 'Saturday People', and then the..."