The Shabbat massacre of Jews in their synagogue in Pittsburgh is heartbreaking.
To our great sorrow, we have grown accustomed to violence against Jews on Israel’s borders and in its streets. We are no longer surprised by violence against Jews in Europe, or by the increasing threats in the U.K. But in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave? Say it isn’t so!
It is so. The rising expression of anti-Semitism from both the political right and the political left have been noted in the past few years, especially online, and particularly targeting journalists, as described by the New York Times writer, Jonathan Wiseman, in his book, (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the age of Trump. According to ADL, those online attacks against Jewish journalists and political candidates have been increasing as next week’s U.S. elections grows closer.
But contemporary American anti-Semitism is not just an election-related phenomenon: ADL reported a 57% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 over the previous year. Most of them took the form of vandalism; Swastikas painted on Jewish community center walls, or in a student’s dorm room, Jewish cemeteries desecrated, their tombstones overturned. For many years now Jewish students have experienced harassment on campus, some of it from anti-Semites wearing the thin cloak of anti-Zionism.
The progressive left has it’s own approach to Jew hatred, with words and actions. Less than two weeks ago, Louis Farrakhan sent a tweet to his 375,000 followers comparing Jews to insects, and suffered no consequences. Last spring, leadership of the Women’s March in Washington, DC made feminist Jews unwelcome.
Right-wing anti-Semitism is more nakedly aggressive. Last year’s neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville was a watershed, with marchers chanting “Jews will not replace us.” The intimidation went even further, as some of the marchers stood outside the city’s Beth Israel synagogue holding semi-automatic weapons during Friday night services, foreshadowing the Pittsburgh Shabbat massacre.
Jews have historically been canaries in the mine. Just days ago the canaries perished in Pittsburgh.
America is boiling over with toxic hate.
Let’s hope all the goodness that we know resides in America comes to the fore before it’s too late.