Benjamin Folkinshteyn

The Antisemitism Epidemic: 100 Days to Slow the Spread

I have to admit I did not have the antisemitism outbreak post-October 7 on my bingo card for 2023.  To be sure, I have long ago surrendered myself to a certain latent level of Jew hatred, but the virulence of the 2023 strain surprised me.  Even before the bodies of the terror victims began to cool, there was an explosion of joy and glorification of the atrocities that probably would gave made Goebbles blush.  A coordinated wave of contagious antisemitic propaganda swept through city streets and college campuses, praising the terrorist attacks, the rapes and the murders as brave acts of Palestinian resistance and brazenly calling for a ceasefire when there was as yet no response from the IDF.  And, lest we forget, there was a ceasefire in effect on October 6.

As the extent of terrorist inhumanity became apparent in the days, weeks, and now months following the assaults, a few public voices spoke out and remained steadfastly outraged by the actions and the excuses of the perpetrators of the attacks. Yet, a very large vocal minority has succumbed to the virus. Spilling out into roadways, public and virtual fora, these voices ignore all facts, history, and pretense and spew anti-Zionist antisemitic justifications for the terror.

The virus causes blindness, deafness and cognitive dysfunction to all the afflicted, causing them not only to blame the Jewish victims for defending themselves, but also to deny that the terrorist acts even occurred.  When the October 7 perpetrators and their supporters expressly and repeatedly vow to conduct multiple October 7s against their victims and destroy Israel, instead of questioning their original reasoning, the afflicted just pretend that never happened, relying on magic incantations like “from the river to the sea” and “by any means necessary” to avoid argument. When asked to identify the river and the sea, many appear confused about their geography.

Whole countries have fallen prey to this virus. Take South Africa for example. It was nowhere to be found when Bashar al-Assad was gassing Syrian civilians (in fact, South Africa voted against a UN resolution to condemn Assad), when Pakistan was expelling a million Afghani refugees, when Turkey was murdering the Kurds, or when Russia invaded Ukraine, just to name a few. Yet, it popped out like a Jack-in-a-Box when the Jews had the temerity to defend themselves. Brazenly, South Africa’s contemptible petition to the International Court of Justice, in which it accused Israel of perpetrating a genocide against the inhabitants of Gaza, lacked any references to the October 7 terror attacks. And even more brazenly and cowardly, the ICJ refused to accept Israel’s submission of video evidence of Hamas’s barbarity, the video evidence recorded by the terrorists themselves.

Peak virus transmission was reached this past weekend in the wake of a long-awaited US-British military response to Iran-facilitated Houthi attacks on the international shipping channels in the Red Sea.

(And, to give credit where its due, the Houthi-led regime in North Yemen does not equivocate and dither about with “politically correct” anti-Zionism obfuscations unlike some of its more “refined” Western counterparts.  The Houthis subscribe to the truth in advertising approach in their fanaticism – it is right there on their flag – God is Greater, Death to America, Death to Israel, A Curse Upon the Jews!  If only all other Jew haters could be so forthright, and, for example, instead of chanting the catchy from the river to the sea rhyme in English, they chanted the Arabic original — min il-ṃayye li-l-ṃayye / Falasṭīn ʿarabiyye.)

Anyhow, right on cue, immediately following the air strikes on Houthi military installations in Yemen, “spontaneous” and “mostly peaceful” protests erupted across the globe, including right outside the White House. The protesters were heard chanting “Yemen, Yemen, make us proud – turn another ship around” as well as a variety of colorful pro-Hamas slogans.  As if the Houthis’ own loudly proclaimed genocidal goals do not exist, just like Hamas’s and fellow adherents’ expressions of genocidal intentions against the Jews do not exist.

Unfortunately, a silent portion of the population closes its eyes to the antisemitism virus. Indoctrinated by the social justice rhetoric for many years and out of fear of offending or not being inclusive enough, these individuals refuse to acknowledge the egregious double standards and do not see (or refuse to see) antisemitism around them in the words and actions of those blocking the streets and their kindred spirits in the US and abroad, and the absolute antisemitic rot coursing through the veins of many international organizations.

To many of them, antisemitism has always been largely a monopoly of those wearing white hoods and burning crosses, both literally and metaphorically, and was otherwise part and parcel of the belief systems of those who were not like them.  And they are now unable to handle the cognitive dissonance of seeing the explosion of anti-Semitism arising from the institutions they have held in high regard and to which they have donated for decades, e.g., universities, non-profit and international institutions, social justice and women’s rights oriented organizations, &c. So they minimize or refuse to acknowledge the scope of the current virulence of this millenia-old disease within their own ranks. Even in the face of skyrocketing levels of incidents of antisemitic hate, loud and unrepentant attacks on Jewish (not Israeli) institutions, like synagogues and schools (which are now armed to the teeth), the refrain of “did you check your sources” or “yes, but” is often the response to expressions of frustration over the situation. The disease has no medical cure.

There is no magical distance between individuals that prevents transmission.  It has equal virulence in physical proximity as well as in the virtual realm (perhaps even more virulent in the latter context).  Indeed to the afflicted, Jews themselves are a cancer upon the world. It takes courage and strength of character to fight this illness. A constant vigilance to speak the truth to the diseased masses without equivocation and with a steadfast conviction and moral clarity.  Unfortunately, with some notable exceptions, our political class, the press and the academia lack the will and the fortitude to do so.  Unable to stand up to the chattering masses, they either attempt to walk the tightest of ropes (without much success) or have thrown in the towel altogether. Thus, it is left to us, the rabble, the hoi polloi, to shout into the void for 100 days straight.  And to keep shouting until . . . who knows. . .

This is not a sprint, but a millenia-old marathon with no end in sight.

About the Author
Benjamin Folkinshteyn is an attorney in private practice in the Greater New York area. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
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