Contempt towards Israel and Jews sadly continues unabated. This includes violence from white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and radical Islamists; relentless agitation from Students for Justice in Palestine, American Muslims for Palestine and other groups that without shame, challenge Israel and by extension, Jews right to exist. Add to this; endless and baseless condemnations since the United Nations 1975 General Assembly resolution (3379) ‘Zionism Is Racism;’ and we have a brewing perfect storm of hate targeting Israel and anything Jewish. Instead of a unified condemnation of such gross evil, we find it somewhat abetted by politicians without scruples.
Even our president may bear some responsibility for inadvertently putting Israel’s welfare in jeopardy after issuing the order to remove an already reduced U.S. military presence in Syria. This will create a vacuum in an already dangerous region that views Israel and Jews with distain. Russian President Putin and his side-kick nation, Iran, appear most eager to fill the upcoming void; further escalating the risks enumerated. The end result may be a progressive disinterest regarding the existential dangers Israel and Jews will likely face in the not too distant future, unless immediate remediating action is instituted.
A virus-like, anti-Israel malady has been gaining a foot hold within college and university campuses across the United States. At first it targeted pro-Israel, students, faculty members and speakers brought on campus to educate groups about Israel and Jewish issues. Initially, the confrontations appeared relatively civil. However, as coverage by press and television crews expanded, the rhetoric intensified. Characterized as “mere” anti-Israel policy actions, so as to shift attention towards something less odious than antisemitism; angry protestors could still be heard spouting anti-Semitic characterizations, some laced with intimidation and others with violent threats. Demonstrators shouted down any perceived challenges to their so-called “anti-Zionist” platform. This stifled any opportunities for rational discussion. In time, the perpetrators grew bolder and acted as if the First Amendment gave them an entitlement to intimidate Jews on campus and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the escalating risks for violence appeared largely ignored by authorities, and others who should know better.
In reality, Jewish students appear to have been denied access to the traditional protections offered to other discriminated groups, under Title VI of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation only prohibited discrimination based on race, color, and national origin; never specifically addressing organized repressive acts of religious discrimination. This oversight continues unabated to this day, and will continue into the future, unless recognized and effectively dealt with either by new legislation, or by amending Title VI.
After the 2018 election, Minnesota freshman Representative, Ilhan Omar(D-MN-5thD), appeared on the national scene and morphed into a seemingly hostile force within the American/Israel/Jewish equation. Without any filters, she unleashed a series of demeaning Jewish characterizations which fed the flames of prejudice against Jews. This caused anguish to the Jewish constituency that helped elect her; as well as to others, expecting better from a person with her background and elevated to a position of national prominence.
Instead, she declared herself a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (B.D.S.) movement. This discriminating, anti-peace tactic currently appears reserved for promoters of hate whose ultimate aim is to demean Israel and challenge her viability. None of this tweaks the conscience of Omar, or her fellow B.D.S. sympathetic comrade, Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib.
Instead of reprimands from the Democratic Party, Omar was rewarded 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 her, “…war powers.” As such, there remains an open-ended concern as to what her agenda and that of the anti-Israel organizations that contributed money to her political war chest may have in store for Israel and ultimately for Jews. Although Omar denies she is anti-Semitic, her anti-Israel/Jewish sentiments are hard to distinguish from garden variety antisemitism, and therefore remain despicable.
I wonder if, she, like other Middle Eastern Arab and Palestinian children was exposed to UNRWA sponsored schooling and spoon-fed textbook propaganda painting ‘the Jews’ as evil and possessing a disdain for Islam. Without education to the contrary, that image could taint anyone’s outlook.
Meanwhile, sympathies have been gradually shifting from Israel and Jews towards the perceived ‘have not’ Arab and Palestinian populations. Frequently labeled as the ‘new’ underdog, many appear indoctrinated with the belief that they will never prosper as long as Israel and Jews are in power. Feeling frustration and anger; many fall prey to violence as the means to achieve parity.
With the demise of the former Soviet Union, came opportunities for Islam to assert itself within these territories and later via gradual population shifts to other sovereign nations, within Europe. Perhaps coincidentally, a growing consensus against Israel and Jews seemed to follow, especially as the latter held firm to their religious teachings and resisted Islam. By making them the common enemy, radical Islam may flourish within their adopted homelands; adding to the perfect storm.
Perfected by prior Nazi leaders; Goebbels, Himmler and Goering, the philosophy of “Tell a lie big enough and repeat it often enough and people will start to believe and rely on it,” seems to have found a new audience. Adding, the tactic to “suppress the truth as it is the mortal enemy of the lie, and (to) construct a visible enemy upon which to focus resentment,” appears to hold current appeal for those who seek to harm Israel and Jews.
On the positive side, the UN recently released a heretofore ‘unprecedented’ report linking antisemitism to the B.D.S. movement. Yet, this, in itself, may be too little, too late to stem the rising tide of entrenched, international antisemitism. We observed the 1st anniversary of the 2018 “Tree of Life” Synagogue tragedy in which 11 Jewish individuals were viciously murdered, while at their Sabbath prayers, just for being Jews. Yet, the nationwide counts of subsequent acts of antisemitism, during the first 6 months of 2019, remains at near record levels.
While the memory of the Holocaust and what led up to it appears to be fading, the evil that brought it about so many years ago may well be upon us again. If we choose to ignore or trivialize it; we may further desensitize ourselves and those about us towards its risks and we will have additional reasons to fear for the future of Israel, Jews, and our long standing American values.