America has a Jewish problem. It is a bipartisan problem and the election is exposing the worst of it.
On the right, Donald Trump’s candidacy has emboldened the antisemitic alt-right. Trump isn’t an antisemite—far from it, and those calling him one are discrediting their cause—but there is no doubt his message has empowered Jew-haters, white supremacists, and other racists. Fringe mutants like David Duke (former KKK grand wizard) and Rocky Suhayda (American Nazi Party) are back, resurrected from obscurity, and making news. Antisemitic cartoons, hooked-nosed Shylocks, and oven jokes litter social media in abundance. Barely literate vermin troll tweets critical of Trump with a vengeance—they can be funny in their brazenness and poor grammar, but are ultimately ugly reminders of the dark side of American culture.
That isn’t a revelation. America has always had an undercurrent of subhuman Jew-hatred—just read the comments on YouTube, America’s last frontier of uninhibited speech, or watch clips from Borat, to see it in action.
But Trump’s rise is something new. It’s given the haters a new self-confidence and like worms after a rainstorm, they’re crawling out from under the rocks. “We have a wonderful OPPORTUNITY here folks,” Suhayda was quoted as saying here. “Donald Trump’s campaign statements, if nothing else, have SHOWN that ‘our views’ are NOT so ‘unpopular’ as the Political Correctness crowd have told everyone they are!”
But as vile as Trump’s extremist supporters may be—and call me naïve— they’re not causing me to lose any sleep. True, I wouldn’t want to meet one in a bar or alone in an alley, but aside from a handful of vocal wackos like Suhayda and Duke, most are cowards. They’re anonymous losers hiding behind the safety of an alias on social media. In the old world, before TV, you could corral them into a drunken pitchfork-waving mob, but today they’re too numbed by NASCAR and doughnuts to cause real trouble. They’re lots of talk, not much action, and aside from voting for Trump, won’t do much more.
Left-wing antisemitism is more insidious. Up until the 2014 Gaza War, most left-leaning antisemites would say, “I am not an antisemite, I am just anti-Israel.” And indeed, criticism of Israel is not antisemitic or an indicator of Jew-hatred. On the campaign trail, Bernie Sanders—and now Jill Stein—are both critical of Israeli policy (Stein even supports BDS). That doesn’t make them antisemites, they aren’t, and it is offensive to label them self-hating Jews. For the most part, their positions aren’t much different then those of Israel’s far left.
But with the Gaza War the gloves came off and many—far too many—on the left have crossed that line from anti-Israel to antisemitic. When you accost yarmulka-wearing students on college campuses simply because they are easy to identify as Jewish; or protest Jewish performers at music festivals—not because of their politics or public statements, but because you happen to know they’re Jewish; or attack synagogues at the end of your anti-Israel demonstrations; or slander Israel with gross misstatements and hyperbolic language in your civil rights platform; or burn an Israeli flag outside the Democratic National Convention; or paint a star of David on a pig and fly it over your audience when performing your iconic music catalog from the ‘70s—I’m looking at you Roger Waters—I’m sorry, but you’re no longer just anti-Israel.
You’re a dirty antisemite.
And for my money, modern left-wing antisemitism is more terrifying than its right-wing, pro-Trump counterpart. That’s because unlike the impotent, toothless, inbred rejects and fringe players speaking up in support of Trump, those on the left are people of power and influence. They’re college professors, celebrated artists, popular intellectuals, and cultural heroes—and they are intelligent enough to craft clever justifications to make their Jew-hatred sound reasonable.
If you’re a liberal, it is easy to spot right-wing antisemitism and to connect it to Trump’s rhetoric. If you’re a conservative, seeing through the I-am-just-criticizing-Israel nonsense is simple as well. But it is harder to say something about people you otherwise agree with. Jew-hatred is ugly and something no Jew can tolerate or justify.
You have to speak up.
No social policy, economic plan, border wall, or civil right comes at your expense. If you’re so committed to an ideology that you’re willing tolerate or rationalize antisemitism, you need to rethink your beliefs.
America has a Jewish problem—it is a bipartisan problem—and you cannot be a part of it.