By Eli Glickman
Antisemitism in our schools is on the rise. Between 2015 and 2017, antisemitic incidents in K-12 schools jumped 400% according to PBS. In 2017, school property had the highest number of antisemitic incidents. This has been reflected in our own community, with swastikas drawn at B-CC and its two feeder middle schools, Westland and Silver Creek.
Where’s the outcry? Where’s the backlash? Unfortunately, It is nowhere to be found. I fear that antisemitism has become normalized in our society.
The Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, BDS, has become the far left’s newest smokescreen for antisemitic tropes in the name of standing up to Israel. BDS rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and spews misinformation, seeking to delegitimize Israel and Judaism across the globe. Calling it out for antisemitism, however, makes you the victim of the far left’s callout culture.
The Democratic party has danced around condemning antisemitism within its ranks. This trend is best exemplified by Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, who questioned American Jews’ loyalty to Israel, echoing the antisemitic claim that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their home countries. After a stream of virulent antisemitic remarks that lacked a meaningful apology, House Representatives rallied to pass a resolution condemning her antisemitism until intense backlash stopped them from ratifying the original version. Instead of calling her, and her antisemitism, out by name, the resolution was remarkably inadequate for American Jews; Democratic lawmakers claimed that Omar was being singled out unfairly in the original resolution. Meanwhile, others were quick to rally behind Omar. Notably, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, publicly praised Omar saying, “By defiance to Z.O.G. [Zionist Occupation Government] Ilhan Omar is NOW the most important Member of the US Congress!” The Democrats’ remarkable inability to address this speaks volumes.
Right-wing antisemitism is growing too. In 2017, President Trump claimed that there were “very fine people, on both sides,” referring to a group of mostly peaceful counter-protesters and a group of neo-nazis and white supremacists; in saying this, he helped legitimize Nazism and antisemitism. Mr. Trump has also questioned how Jews could vote Democrat while simultaneously claiming to support Israel; in echoing the claim that American Jews share allegiance between Israel and the U.S, he legitimized the ideas that Jews should not be trusted. The Republican party was--in large part--silent in condemning these remarks.
But it’s the deafening silence of the media that speaks the loudest about the normalization of antisemitism. Even this publication failed to adequately address antisemitism it published last year. The opinion piece echoed antisemitic tropes, claiming that Israel had control of important media platforms, specifically, Facebook. It echoed the centuries-old claim that Jews control the media, even though Facebook always had the ultimate discretion in the matter. Its author also referenced the firing of Marc Lamont Hill for “condemning Israeli human rights violations;” he was actually fired for repeating terrorist rhetoric calling for the destruction of Israel. The response of The Tattler as a publication was muted. They said that it was an opinion article. They covered the outrage in a watered-down article while neglecting to publish the more serious complaints they had received for the article. Instead of apologizing to those who took offense, they said the article received “significant attention from the B-CC community.” Instead of apologizing, the author admitted: “that he probably should have included the entire story [about Marc Lamont Hill].”
How can anyone be surprised when swastikas appear in our schools, Jews are attacked on the streets and in their homes, and our community is in denial about true antisemitism? The media has played a large part in this normalization. Their unwillingness to cover blatant antisemitism with scrutiny has effectively apologized for antisemitism on both the right and the left.
This, of course, brings me to fear: the topic for this month’s edition. Many Jews like me fear antisemitism becoming popularized again. People across the country tweet “never again” on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), but a diminishing number of people actually know what happened in the Holocaust. Many of us fear discrimination and assault as the number of violent antisemitic crimes rises.
Maintaining a religiously tolerant society is not just about condemning the synagogue shooter but also calling out those who advance or neglect antisemitic rhetoric. I fear that, once again, Jews will be marginalized and massacred and that the world will stand by silently. In the chilling words of Martin Niemöller in 1946, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The Republicans and the Democrats need to single out their radical wings of their parties that advance antisemitism. As a society, we cannot normalize antisemitism. Our society has a duty to fight against injustice and intolerance, not to normalize it.