Tag Archives: Anti-Semitism

AFTER PITTSBURGH, TIME TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT ANTISEMITISM TODAY

{Previously published in The Jerusalem Post}

After Pittsburgh, it seems that the pendulum has swung and Jews fear that America has changed.

For years I have given talks at universities, professional organizations, churches, and synagogues, and would recite FBI statistics of American hate crimes. Almost all audiences were shocked to learn that in regard to religiously motivated hate crimes, including the most recent 2016 statistics, Jews were targeted more than twice as often as Muslims, and three times as often as blacks. My aim was not to frighten, but rather to educate Americans who seem to believe that due to the lack of reporting on antisemitism – Islamophobia is the predominant threat.

After Pittsburgh, it seems that the pendulum has swung and Jews fear that America has changed. Jewish communal institutions are wondering if they will now have to be armed to the teeth as they are in Europe. But is this simply an overreaction?

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh massacre, the media has focused on a report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which cite a 57% increase in antisemitic incidents which news organizations have blamed on US President Donald Trump. But are we dealing with fact or fiction?

According to Adam Kirsch in The Wall Street Journal and Jonathan Tobin in the New York Post, this figure is misleading, as the 57% rise was due to threats from a single mentally disturbed Israeli teenager who threatened countless Jewish institutions. Until he was identified as the culprit, the media overwhelmingly blamed white supremacists.

When one removes this disproportionate factor, “antisemitic assaults actually decreased by almost half” in 2017. One act of hate is one too many, but it seems the statistic has been used to advance an agenda that sees right wing hatred of Jews as the only form of antisemitism in America. Far too many use the tragic events to score political points even before the dead were buried. We should fight Nazi right wing antisemitism with all our strength, but it isn’t the most dangerous form of antisemitism in the US, and certainly not in the world.

Despite the fact that around 10-14% of Americans harbor antisemitic views, my impression of my fellow Americans hasn’t changed; they are overwhelmingly tolerant and accepting of Jews of all walks of life.

It is wonderful that so many Jews and gentiles came together for the AJC’s #ShowUpShabbat to show solidarity against antisemitism and hatred against anyone, but America even after the Pittsburgh massacre is still the safest place for a Jew living in the Diaspora anytime in the last 2000 years. Assimilation and intermarriage are far greater threats to Jews in the US than antisemitism.

We first need to understand contemporary antisemitism in all its forms, and not allow Pittsburgh to completely define today’s antisemitic challenges. We need to ask; does everyone stand against all forms of antisemitism, or only against the sickness from the neo-Nazi radical right?

WHAT IS antisemitism in 2018?

Antisemitism is hatred of Jews. Despite the tragedy of Pittsburgh, the worst incident of antisemitic violence in America to date, it is dwarfed in magnitude by hatred of Jews throughout the world, which is found in almost every Islamic society. Classic European antisemitism as well as anti-Zionism are alive and well in almost every Muslim capital in the world, yet Jews in America choose to ignore it.

In the 21st Century, antisemitism’s most virulent form is the hatred of the Jew among nations, Israel. It is a pandemic that infects European elites, the majority of Muslim nations, the racist Louis Farrakhan who is supported by the leaders of the Women’s March on Washington, and even by some fringe Jews like Jewish Voice for Peace, which acts as a cover for antisemites who are accused of antisemitism.

In the US it is most evident on colleges campuses where Jewish students are intimidated for supporting Israel and receive little support from university administrations. There are no safe spaces for Jewish students, and they seem to be treated differently than other targets of hateful speech and acts because they are Zionists.

According to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, contemporary antisemitism began at the UN 2001 Durban Conference that united “radical Islamists with human rights NGO’s, the right wing and the left wing against a common enemy, the State of Israel.”

As the Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents, Malcolm Hoenlein said, “I hate Israel instead of I hate Jews does not cover up the fact that both mean the same thing.”

The founder of Human Rights Watch, Robert Bernstein said that antisemitism is “deeply ingrained and institutionalized” in Arab nations in modern times,” while Harvard professor Ruth Wisse said, “antisemitism  and anti- Zionism has been the cornerstone of pan-Arab politics since the Second World War.” According to Josef Joffe of Newsweek, antisemitism in the Arab world is “as much part of the Arab life today as the hijab or the hookah…in the Arab world, Jew hatred remains culturally endemic.”

SO THE QUESTION we must ask is, who is in more danger from 21st century antisemitism, American or Israeli Jews?

To an objective observer, the Jews of Israel are in far more danger, due to a combination of diplomatic antisemitism of the UN that is singlehandedly trying to destroy the state of Israel by demonization and delegitimization, to the physical threats of annihilation from Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

The claim that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism doesn’t hold water. This is the antisemitism which Jewish students face on college campuses from pro-Palestinian organizations. The US State Department’s definition of antisemitism makes it clear that if you claim the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavor, apply a double standard requiring certain Israeli behavior which is not demanded of other nations, use symbols like Jews drinking the blood of Palestinian children, or draw comparisons of Israel to Nazis – that is antisemitism.

Both the far right and left give succor to dehumanizing Jews. The progressive media darling Linda Sarsour, one of the leaders of the Women’s March said, we must “dehumanize the oppressor (Israel).” Yet too many mainstream politicians and organizations have no qualms about being associated with her. She says feminists cannot be Zionists, yet few question why she is silent about misogyny in the Muslim world. Political correctness regarding antisemitism must end in the US.

We need to fight antisemitism everywhere, in America, in Europe, at the UN and South America. But there are seven million Jews living in Israel that are truly in the crosshairs of antisemites. They are Iranians, Syrians, and Palestinians, whose words and actions have been the very definition of hatred of Jews.

You cannot be against antisemitism if you are only against right wing antisemitism, or if you only care about it if it occurs in the US. Let’s stand together and fight all forms of antisemitism and stop using it for a political advantage.

The writer is the director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political Information Network. Dr. Mandel regularly briefs members of the Senate, House, and their foreign policy advisors. He is a regular columnist for The Jerusalem Post, and a contributor to i24TV, The Hill, and The Forward.

To Combat BDS, You Need to Understand Intersectionality

(Previously published in Forward)

Over the last few years I have been asked countless times to explain why supporters of women’s and gay rights ally with an intolerant Palestinian Arab society in which misogyny and honor killings are commonplace. A place where homosexuality is still illegal, LGBT individuals are routinely abused, and hundreds of Palestinian Arabs risk their lives in order to flee to the relative sanctuary of Tel Aviv.

The answer is intersectionality, an ideology at the core of the BDS movement to destroy the Jewish State. To fight the anti-Semitic BDS movement, you must understand what it is.

Far left progressive and BDS groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) march to the drumbeat of intersectionality— a unity of all victimized and oppressed peoples. In this revolutionary worldview, Palestinians have become the most victimized and oppressed people on earth.

According to intersectionality, every victim in the world must ally with the Palestinians, no matter what the Palestinians and Israel’s other neighbors themselves do, no matter how their regimes treat women, gays, and sects not in power, because they are fellow victims. To somehow square this circle, they employ rationalizations, selective facts, or no facts at all for the myriad of contradictions and bias that are incorporated in their worldview.

Palestinian gay hatred? No problem. Just change the subject to pinkwashing; claim that Israel protects homosexuals only to deflect attention from their egregious crime of genocide against the Palestinians.

Hamas targets Israeli civilians? No problem. Claim that all Israelis were or will one day be in the IDF, so they are all legitimate targets.

Ziva Dahl wrote in the Observer, “Anti-Israel BDS campaigns have successfully injected the Palestinians into this intersectional mix…victims of colonialist oppression by pro-Western Israel. The marriage of intersectionality with the Arab-Israeli conflict allows any victim group to make common cause with the Palestinian.”

Intersectionality is being taught in our universities and is having a chilling affect on free speech. The far-left has aligned itself against Israel, so it’s no surprise defending Israel is taboo on campus.

Jewish students are told support for Israel is incompatible with social justice. Many of these Jewish Americans’ only association to Judaism is through tikkun olam, a universal social justice. If a student wants to show support for injustices committed against black Americans, Black Lives Matter insists they drop support of Israel. As its platform states, “The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.”

NYU’s chapter of SJP, in alignment with BLM, said, “The same forces behind the genocide of black people in America are behind the genocide of Palestinians.” Progressive orthodoxy demands that you must embrace the boycott and demonization of Israel as an apartheid state. No wonder idealistic Jewish kids without the facts are confused.

Meanwhile, Professors have politicized academic study, resulting in today’s illiberal race and identify politics, transforming education into activism.

Fortunately, organizations like StandWithUs have been fighting for the legal rights of pro-Israel students and arming them with facts to defend themselves from anti-Semitism while remaining true to their liberal values while still defending the US-Israel relationship.

Many State Legislators and members of Congress on a bipartisan basis have come together to fight against the BDS movement, which they correctly see as a form of anti-Semitism.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York deserves great credit for taking on the BDS movement. He said, “If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you…New York will not tolerate this new brand of warfare (BDS)…New York stands with Israel because we are Israel. Political opponents claim we are punishing both activism and freedom of expression…They are wrong…As a matter of law, there is a fundamental difference between a state suppressing free speech and a state simply choosing how to spend its dollars.”

So, what are some actions to combat BDS and its use of intersectionality to destroy the Jewish State?

  • Pro Israel philanthropists should endow university chairs mandating balance and protection of free speech.
    • Donors shouldn’t support universities that don’t protect Jewish students from anti-Semitism.
    • Support organizations that protect Jewish students on campus.
    • Start educating your children about Israel from an early age.
    • Tell them about all the great humanitarian work and social justice projects Israelis perform throughout the world, totally compatible with social justice.
    • Get your kids to go on Birthright. Cheryl Aronson of CJP’s said, “entice them with the beauty, meaning, pleasure and joy of being part of a 3,500-year-old civilization – the Jewish people.”

Anti-Semitic, anti-Israel groups such as SJP see in “intersectionality” an opportunity to make siding with the enemies of Israel part of a package deal for right-thinking people of the left.

Now that you understand why intersectionality has become a weapon against Israel, step two is to begin to combat it.

Dr. Eric R. Mandel is the director of MEPIN™.  He regularly briefs Congress on issues related to the Middle East and is a columnist for the Jerusalem Post.

The State of Anti-Semitism on Campus

A disturbing report was published this week on the rise of anti-Semitic activity at American universities  in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. The report was the first time a quantitative account of the prevalence of anti-Semitism on college campuses was produced. It correlated the presence of anti-Israel groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activity, as strong predictors of hostility to Jewish students.

Learn more in Dr. Mandel’s latest vlog:

 

Is there a Role for Holocaust Education in Fighting BDS?

(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post)

The BDS movement’s contemporary anti-Semitism and boycotts of businesses doing business with Israel are sadly reminiscent of yesterday’s Nazis.

The question of what if any role Holocaust education could play in countering the boycott movement against Israel has challenged me time and time again.

It was reawakened after I heard of the remarkable work of Father Patrick Desbois, exposing the little-known story of the nearly two million Jews massacred by the Nazis and their local collaborators in the unmarked killing fields of the former Soviet Union, while local populations watched or sometimes helped.

More on this story a little later.

It is a sad fact that when I speak to students on American college campuses about Israel’s rights based on international law, about the Jewish people’s connection to the land and about the centuries of persecution of the Jewish people there and elsewhere, I must be careful not to bring up the Shoah.

It’s certainly not that I don’t believe in the importance of teaching the lessons of Western civilization’s darkest moment, or explaining how different the world would be if Israel had existed for the desperate Jews of 1939.

Yet I hesitate to mention to university students how I felt looking at photos of elderly Holocaust survivors living in Israel with their Israeli grandchildren in IDF uniforms, the pride and sorrow in the eyes of the survivors saying “never again” when Jews are in charge of their own destiny.

The reason is that when you speak to today’s college students, who have heard over and over that Israel’s existence is a criminal displacement of an indigenous people, they have been conditioned to see any association of Israel and the Holocaust as a cheap trick to excuse Israel’s supposed abuses of the Arab people. A similar situation is “pinkwashing,” whereby Israel is claimed to be LGBT-friendly only to deflect attention from its egregious treatment of Palestinian innocents.

On today’s college campuses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) advocates claim that Arabs are the new Jews and Israelis are the new Nazis. A recent Pew survey showed the gap narrowing between millennials’ sympathy for Israel and the Palestinians, where support for the Jewish state is stagnant while those sympathizing with the Palestinians have increased 50 percent in the past 10 years. Jason Riley of The Wall Street Journal found that polls show twice as many professors on the American college campus identify themselves as Marxists than as conservatives.

The far-left has aligned itself against Israel, so it’s no surprise that being in favor of Israel’s actions is taboo on campus.

Which brings me to Remembrance Day 2016. My 23-year-old son, who is a strong supporter of Israel, joined with me to hear one of the greatest righteous Gentiles of our time, Father Patrick Desbois, speaking at New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue’s Remembrance Day commemoration.

Father Desbois is a Roman Catholic priest, the head of the Commission for Relations with Judaism of the French Bishops’ Conference and the founder of the Yahad-In Unum, an organization dedicated to locating the sites of the unmarked mass graves of Jewish victims of the Nazi mobile killing units in the former Soviet Union.

Father Desbois’ story needs to be heard by today’s college students, who live in a generation where Holocaust denial is on the rise.

It was Patrick Desbois’ search for his grandfather’s past (his grandfather had been deported to a Nazi prison camp in Rava-Ruska) that lead to the 21st century’s most important Holocaust revelation. Up to two million Jews and Roma were killed in a three-year period by the Nazis in the Soviet Union, almost all in unmarked killing fields.

Mobile execution units, Einsatzgruppen, killed men, women and children, one bullet at a time, buried their bodies, alive or dead, and moved on to the next town. Nazis with Hitler’s willing executioners, collaborating Ukrainians, Moldavians, Russians, etc., enthusiastically killed their Jewish neighbors as the towns’ children and adults watched, sometimes in horror, sometimes with enthusiasm.

After listening to Father Desbois and watching his story featured on 60 Minutes, I realized that I was doing a disservice by not teaching the lessons of the Holocaust and how they relate to the only Jewish state in the past 2,000 years. This is not to imply, as US President Barack Obama seemed to in 2009, that Israel was created only because of the Holocaust.

In truth, despite the Jewish people’s desire to have a modern Jewish state, reignited with the Dreyfus trial and the pogroms of Eastern Europe in the 19th century, it is unlikely that there would have been an Israel in 1948 if not for a ship called the Exodus and the slaughter of European Jewry. Yet the struggle for Jews to continue, secure and increase their long presence in the Levant predated World War II and continued through the Palestinian Arab grand mufti’s alliance with Hitler.

It is important to begin to consider reintroducing Holocaust education as part of the fight against the BDS movement, whose contemporary anti-Semitism and boycotts of businesses doing business with Israel are sadly reminiscent of yesterday’s Nazis, and the parallels should make us take Islamist threats of extermination seriously.

The author is the director of MEPIN™ and a regular contributor to “The Jerusalem Post.” MEPIN™ (mepinanalysis.org) is read by members of Congress, their foreign policy advisers, members of the Knesset and journalists. He regularly briefs Congress on issues related to the Middle East.