I watched this weekend’s CNN documentary, “Rising Hate: Anti-Semitism in America” with much interest. Like many observers whose reactions I have read, I have mixed reactions.
On the one hand, just the fact that a liberal outlet like CNN would highlight the problem of resurgent antisemitism in America is encouraging. It was positive that CNN featured the ordeal of a Jewish student at the State University of New York (SUNY ) at New Paltz, who was kicked out of a sexual assault survivors group because she was a Zionist. However, it would have been better if more examples of campus antisemitism arising out of the Israel-Palestinian conflict were featured. This is a nationwide problem. I maintain that the recent resurgence in antisemitism was largely bred on our college campuses thanks to the pro-Palestinian student groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and various Muslim Student Association chapters. Alas, as usual, the precise perpetrators were not pointed out.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the liberal head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), was interviewed. Yes, he did state that antisemitism in America today is coming from both the left and the right, but in his opinion, Jew-hatred from the right far outweighs that from the left. I respectfully disagree. Why was there no discussion of Islamic antisemitism? Nor was there any discussion of the role that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is contributing to antisemitism. According to CRT, Jews are simply privileged whites, in other words, oppressors and not worthy of any protection-in spite of the fact that FBI statistics for the past several years consistently show that Jews are the largest victims of religion-based hate crimes.
Where was there any mention of antisemitic Congresswomen Rashid Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar with their disgraceful history of anti-Jewish utterances?
It is undeniably true that the attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway (San Diego) were carried out by white Jew-haters. But there was also the attack on the Colleyville, Texas synagogue. That was carried out by an Arab Muslim, a fact ignored in the documentary. The rampage through a heavily Jewish populated area of Los Angeles a couple of summers ago was carried out not by white neo-Nazis, but by Black Lives Matter-inspired “protesters” in the wake of the George Floyd death in Minnesota.
And then there was the matter of former president Trump. Granted some people who voted for him may harbor hateful feelings toward Jews. President Biden and former president Obama also received votes from certain people for despicable reasons motivated by hate. To call former president Trump an antisemite is as much a false canard as saying he worked with Putin in 2016 to win the election.
I vividly recall attending an anti-hate event at a Jewish synagogue in Newport Beach in 2017 shortly after Trump came into office. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders in the Orange County community gathered to decry antisemitism and Islamophobia which, according to them, were exploding largely because Trump was president. Not one word about Islamic antisemitism or any form of antisemitism coming from the left. Audience questions to that effect were not even entertained. I know. I sent up a question to the panel as to who was responsible for antisemitism at UC Irvine, located just a few hundred yards away. The person gathering the question cards took one look at my question and told me, “We’re not going there tonight.” I might add that two of the speakers that night were high-ranking administrators from UC Irvine. But the problems that are well documented over the years at UC Irvine were not part of the discussion.
It is undeniably true that, as history illustrates, Jews are victimized by hatred from all different directions. As a conservative gentile, I condemn those attacks that have come from certain fringe individuals from the right. We must condemn them if we are to maintain our own credibility. But I object to CNN’s slant on the problem. I mean no disrespect to Dana Bash, who was the moderator and herself Jewish. Unlike many at CNN, I consider her a reputable journalist. But if antisemitism is to be confronted, it must be exposed who the guilty parties are, both on the left and the right. There must be a full discussion, and all guilty parties must be singled out. As such, the CNN presentation was only half a documentary. Not only were many of the guilty parties not mentioned, but one innocent person was tarred with the label of antisemite. That was former president Trump. He is many things. But he is not an antisemite.