Charlottesville: The Jewish Perspective

At some point we must ask ourselves, when does it end? The “it” is the egregious anti-Semitism spouting from every corner of world. Recently, we have seen prejudice against the Jewish People comes from many different mediums. Last week the source was Imam Ammar Shahin of Davis, California’s Islamic Center of Davis whom had called for Allah to “annihilate” Jews “down to the very last one” as well as other deeply anti-Semitic proclamations in regard to the Temple Mount complications. Though, this week the anti-Semitic focus was on white supremacist rally and the countering far-left protests in Charlottesville, Virginia which attracted the attention of world media.

While the Charlottesville rally was centered around the city council’s decision to change the names of two city parks named after Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the event quickly became a platform for praising the actions and ideology of Nazi as well as scapegoating World Jewry. Though, the rally gained more than just national attention for the protest itself, but for the attack that transpired there by a white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. We should all feel rage for the victim of this horrific act of domestic terrorism, Heather Heyer, a 32 year-old woman counter-protesting against the white supremacists. She was ran over and at least 19 others were injured.

While this attack was unwarranted and inspired solely by racist intentions, the other unwarranted attack was verbally by Alex Jones. At the protest, the majority of the protestors were holding anti-Semitic posters and chanting anti-Semitic slogans like “Jews will not replace us” as well as some from 1930s Nazi Germany. After the rally, Jones claimed that the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi protestors “were Jewish actors.” This claim has no factual basis and is incredibly anti-Semitic. Not to mention that he describes the accused “Jewish actors” as looking like the cast of Seinfeld as well as Howard Stern.

These claims as well as actions can not go without international recognition and condemnation. Not only of the murder that took place or of the fact that the protest was for the cause of white supremacy, but of the increasing phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the United States. This trend has been increasing for decades, from the left and right. In this case, the spotlight has been shining on the far-right. Many would say this has also been able to expand due to the rise of empowered white supremacy.

Though, on the opposite side of the equation, we have seen much increased anti-Semitism from the far-left and their supporters, such as Antifa. Antifa and many other organizations like them reject the notion of Zionism, the belief in the right of the Jewish people to have a state of our own. While these far-left groups have been adamant in denying anyone they consider conservative, Pro-Israel, or anyone else that they disagree with from speaking at public universities.

The extreme ideologies of these far-left groups has even led to left-wing Jews being excluded, even when they are associated with the group, they are still looked at as Jewish outsiders. This can be seen by the “Chicago Dyke March” and their banning of the Pride flag over the Israeli flag as well as the “Chicago SlutWalk” whom took upon a completely different cause when they started chanting “Free Palestine.” When the State of Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East known as a safe haven to people of all races, ethnicities, and religion, is being attacked in forums that have nothing to do with the issue at hand, the real anti-Semitism is exposed. The increased anti-Semitism making its way into the mainstream is what should be frightening the Jewish community at large. In Nazi Germany, while the causes at hand were economic depression and a divided country, they scapegoated us.

Charlottesville has been shown as the epicenter of a divided nation. From the Jewish perspective, our community must unite as a whole and reject all kinds of prejudice and recognize that these anti-Jewish sentiments coming from both sides of the political spectrum. While the obvious choice is to condemn the Neo-Nazis due to our past with German fascism in the 1930s and 1940s, we must see all anti-Semitism. Charlottesville will not go unremembered, will the in-your-face anti-Semitism be remembered as well?

About the Author
Since 1982, Jeff Seidel has introduced thousands of Jewish college students to their first Shabbat experience as well as offered free tours and classes through his Jewish Student Centers at Hebrew U in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, and IDC in Herzliya. He has lived in Jerusalem’s Old City for over thirty years and connected tens of thousands to the Land of Israel. He has also authored “The Jewish Traveler's Resource Guide,” which lists Shabbat placement programs around the world.
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