The spike in antisemitic incidents in the United States over the past few years is alarming. Jews are being physically attacked, killed and verbally assaulted, while their properties are being vandalized.
With the onset of the coronavirus and fighting in the Middle East, things have gotten even worse.
As the first known patient with COVID-19 came from the Orthodox Jewish community of New Rochelle, antisemitic slurs have become more common for Jews walking the streets and shopping in stores. When fighting broke out among Arabs and Jews in Israel, a mob brutally beat a Jew walking the streets of Manhattan.
Westchester County, sitting in the intersection of the tri-state region and home to one of the largest concentrations of Jews in the United States, must take action.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) developed a working definiton of antisemitism in 2016 to help countries and municipalities develop policies to help fight the scourge. The IHRA definition of antisemitism is endorsed by major Jewish organizations including the ADL and the AJC. Major counties and cities in New York have begun endorsing the definition including Nassau County and the Village of Great Neck.
As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States approaches, various news outlets are discussing the animosity towards Muslims that became a reality in America after the terrorist attacks by nineteen Muslim men, directly killed nearly 3,000 people and many times that number indirectly in the years that followed. Other than giving a platform for American Muslims to talk about their experiences with prejudice, little analysis into the hate crime statistics has been shared.
So here it is.
Before the September 11th attacks, almost every religious-based hate crime reported by the FBI was against Jews. From 1998 to 2000, a total of 89 anti-Muslim hate crimes were reported, or about 30 per year. In comparison, over that time period, over 3,500 anti-Jewish attacks were reported by the FBI, or 39 times as many. That dynamic changed with the jihadist terrorism against the USA in 2001.
The spike was immediate and significant.
In 2001, a total of 546 anti-Muslim hate crimes were reported, a 16.5 times jump from the prior year. White people committed 200 of those offenses, a high number relative to the 29 attacks committed by Black people. The numbers declined rapidly in 2002, but the number of anti-Muslim attacks has remained significantly above the pre-9/11 days.
Anti-Muslim attacks increased again with the influx of Muslim refugees from Syria and elsewhere in 2015 and 2016, reaching a high of 381 in 2016. The number of incidents declined significantly since then, with 219 attacks reported in 2019, a 43 percent decline in three years.
In regards to the perpetrators of the offenses, from 2000 to 2009, Whites committed an average of 69.9 attacks per year, compared to 16.8 for Blacks. The numbers increased for both groups in the 2010-2019 decade, with Whites and Blacks committing an average of 97.3 and 25.2 attacks, respectively, representing a jump of 39% for Whites and 50% for Blacks.
By way of comparison, Jews suffer many more hate crimes than Muslims but the trend line is quite different.
Attacks against Jews was consistently above 1,100 attacks per year through the year 2001. It was only in 2002 that anti-Semitic attacks began to decline, reaching a low of 635 attacks in 2014. This was a period marked by the War on Terror around the world, and in Israel, it included the Second Intifada/Two Percent War (2000-2005), the election of a Holocaust denier to the Palestinian presidency and a jihadist terrorist group to a majority of the Palestinian parliament (2005 and 2006) and wars from Gaza after the Hamas takeover of the Strip (2008, 2012 and 2014). Perhaps Americans sympathized with Jews and the Jewish State in the global war on Islamic extremism, as attacks on Jews declined significantly over those thirteen years.
But the trend reversed as anti-Semitism began to spike at the same time as anti-Muslim attacks picked up in 2015. Most recently, crimes against Muslims have been declining while anti-Semitism has been rising.
A review of the offenders perhaps reveals some clues.
From 2000 to 2009, Whites committed an average of 181.0 attacks against Jews while Blacks committed an average of 17.8 attacks per year. But from 2010 to 2019, Whites committed an annual average of 137.3 attacks while Blacks committed 28.5. So while anti-Semitic attacks among Whites declined by 24% over the past decade, it increased 60% among Blacks.
The sharp increase in Black anti-Semitism came most recently in 2018 and 2019, with all-time record levels of attacks by Blacks on Jews. This coincides with the election of the “Squad” to Congress – and two Muslim women, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, in particular – who pushed anti-Semitic tropes that Jews control the military, the press, the government and do it all as a means to profit from the poor. The ridiculous shouts of “from Ferguson to Palestine” shouted by the likes of CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill and “from Detroit to Gaza” shirts sold on Rashida Tlaib’s website, were malicious attempts to portray Jews as militant exploiters of Blacks and Muslims all around the world. Shockingly, Democratic leaders protected their anti-Semitic minority members and advanced anti-Islamophobia measures rather than protecting Jews.
Not surprisingly, attacks against Jews increased and those against Muslims decreased.
In 2019, an average American Jew was roughly three times more likely to suffer a hate crime than an average Muslim (1,032 Jewish victims in a population of 5.7 million versus 227 Muslim victims in a population of 3.3 million). Jews always suffered more than Muslims and the gap is growing.
In summary, there were almost no anti-Muslim attacks in the United States until the Islamic extremist attacks of September 11, 2001. The spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes went on for a year, and the situation then dramatically improved. That turnaround enabled American Muslims to assume positions of power in the United States, which they have used to further protect Muslims and fuel minority attacks against Jews.
Twenty years ago, foreign jihadists hijacked a small part of the U.S. transportation system to viciously attack America’s financial, military and political centers. Today’s jihadists are aggressively weaponizing the U.S. educational system, the government and the media, to attack Jews around the world.
The Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem is the oldest and largest Jewish cemetery in the world. Existing east of the Green Line (EGL) in eastern Jerusalem, it is considered “Arab land” by the New York Times, illegal by the United Nations, and against the desires of the acting President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who craves a country with eastern Jerusalem as his capital, devoid of any Jews.
There are somewhere between 70,000 and 150,000 Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives and include famous people such as Rabbi Obadiah of Bertinoro (Bartenura 1445-1515), Rabbi Yehuda Hehasid (1660-1700), Holy Land scholar Rabbi Yehosef Schwartz (1804-1865), leading Zionist Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai (1798-1878), the champion of revitalizing the Hebrew language Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922), Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), and poet SY Agnon (1887-1970). The vast majority of the graves date from the 15th and 16th century, when the Ottoman Turks rebuilt the city walls of Jerusalem. While some older graves dating back 3,000 years are also found there, many of the older tombs are found east and west of the City of David which stretches south of today’s Old City walls, in and around Siloam/Silwan. Thousands of years ago, Jews placed their dead in the chalky caves in the area, and gathered the bones a year later to place them in ossuaries.
When the Jordanian army invaded Israel in 1948 and seized the eastern portion of Jerusalem the following year and illegally annexed it in 1950, they desecrated and damaged the cemetery. Some tombstones were used to construct the Arab Legion camp as far away as Jericho.
The cemetery is frequently vandalized. In 1990, Arabs broke over ten tombstones, including that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s grandfather. In 2015, during the Palestinian Arab stabbing rampages, vandals smashed numerous tombstones at the site.
The Palestinian Authority has not clearly articulated whether its demands for “East Jerusalem” requires uprooting over 70,000 dead Jews on the Mount of Olives, but it is likely that Hamas does not mind coexisting with dead Jews, as the political-terrorist group continues to hold the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed over seven years ago in Gaza.
Anti-Semitism wears many masks, the most prominent these days is anti-Zionism. The malicious malady has related hats, including denying Jewish history, distorting Judaism and opposing the rights of Jews to live in certain places.
The British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, has locked arms with alt-left Jews in some of these sinister proclamations, especially concerning Jews living over the 1949 Armistice Lines struck between Jordan and Israel. That “Green Line” was specifically defined as never to be regarded as a border, and the 1950 Jordanian annexation of the “West Bank” was deemed illegal by the international community, marking that invisible line as a footnote in history penned in disappearing ink. No matter, anti-Semites have a long history of dictating where Jews can and cannot live, whether the Pale of Settlement in Russia or ghettoes throughout Europe.
The dotted lines (at least they are dotted!) represent the 1949 Armistice Lines between Israel and Jordan, which disappeared in 1967 when Jordan attacked Israel again and lost the entirety of eastern Jerusalem and the “West Bank.” Note that the map’s legend refers to the dotted line as “pre-1967 ceasefire line,” which implies that there was a ceasefire between Israel and Palestine, as Jordan is not mentioned (this is deliberately misleading). The map’s purple areas are marked as “Israeli settlements.” Are they?
In the lower portion of the map is the Old City of Jerusalem. Marked in purple is the Jewish Quarter, a place with over 750 years of continuous Jewish presence except for the window of Arab rule when the Jordanians ethnically-cleansed all of the Jews from 1949 to 1967. According to this map, any JEW – not Israeli – living east of the Green Line (EGL) is a “settler.”
There are thousands of Israeli Arabs living in EGL including the eastern part of Jerusalem. Israel gave all the Arabs in the city permanent resident status in 1967 and has afforded them the right to apply for Israeli citizenship. Thousands have already taken such citizenship and thousands more have applied. Yet the B’Tselem/ BBC map doesn’t mark the homes of Israeli Arabs in purple but only the locations where Israeli Jews live.
Adolf Hitler accused the Jews of being sly manipulators who steal, as he roused Germany to rout the Jews. He painted their stores with the word “Jude” and made them wear yellow Jewish stars with the word in the center, so they could be easily identifiable for insult and attack by passers-by, and interrogated and ultimately expelled for annihilation by government officials.
So it is today with the term “settler,” even in the Jewish people’s holiest city.
The Hebrew month of Elul is the last month of the year and traditionally marks the beginning period of repentance in the Jewish calendar. It is on the first day of the month that the prophet Moses ascended Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago, and forty days later, on Yom Kippur, when he descended and broke the tablets when he saw the Children of Israel worshipping beside a statue of a golden calf.
To mark the period of repentance, rabbis instituted a tradition of reciting Psalm 27 at the end of morning and evening prayers. It is a call for God to protect Jews from their enemies.
As we approach the twentieth anniversary of UN Durban Conference and the attacks of 9/11 which both occurred during Elul, and how governments and people choose to commemorate those events, two sentences in the psalm deserve deeper exploration. Sentences 11 & 12:
ה֤וֹרֵ֥נִי יְהֹוָ֗ה דַּ֫רְכֶּ֥ךָ וּ֭נְחֵנִי בְּאֹ֣רַח מִישׁ֑וֹר לְ֝מַ֗עַן שֽׁוֹרְרָֽי׃ Show me Your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my watchful foes.
אַֽל־תִּ֭תְּנֵנִי בְּנֶ֣פֶשׁ צָרָ֑י כִּ֥י קָמוּ־בִ֥י עֵדֵי־שֶׁ֝֗קֶר וִיפֵ֥חַ חָמָֽס׃ Do not subject me to the will of my foes, for false witnesses and unjust accusers have appeared against me.
While the Psalm is set up to seek God’s protection from armies (verse 3), the lines above highlight that enemies include those who wish to undermine Jews with slander. The “watchful foes” scrutinize every action and then bear “false witness” with accusations that seek to seriously harm Jews as they enter the high holidays.
The United Nations, a body conceived of to promote peace and reduce bloodshed, has become a platform for “false witnesses and unjust accusers” which lambast Israel. UN Watch noted that in 2020, the UN General Assembly passed 17 resolutions condemning Israel, while passing a total of six against the rest of the world.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said that the “farce at the General Assembly underscores a simple fact: the UN’s automatic majority has no interest in truly helping Palestinians, nor in protecting anyone’s human rights; the goal of these ritual, one-sided condemnations is to scapegoat Israel.“
United States Secretary of State Colin Powell said much the same as he withdrew from the World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa on September 3, 2001:
“Today I have instructed our representatives at the World Conference Against Racism to return home. I have taken this decision with regret, because of the importance of the international fight against racism and the contribution that the Conference could have made to it. But, following discussions today by our team in Durban and others who are working for a successful conference, I am convinced that will not be possible. I know that you do not combat racism by conferences that produce declarations containing hateful language, some of which is a throwback to the days of “Zionism equals racism;” or supports the idea that we have made too much of the Holocaust; or suggests that apartheid exists in Israel; or that singles out only one country in the world–Israel–for censure and abuse.“
The United Nations has promoted and given legitimacy to the “watchful foes” of Jews – both around the world and in the United States, at governmental levels, among lay leaders and ordinary citizens – to promote vicious slander against Israel and the Jewish people. As those lies are becoming mainstreamed, it is time to stop reciting Psalm 27 quietly but “with shouts of joy, singing and chanting,” (verse 6), for God to cause these evil people and organizations to “stumble and fall” (verse 2).
I had always been told that my paternal grandmother’s family came from Sighet, a decent sized town in Romania along the Ukrainian border. It was considered a small source of familial pride as it was the same home town for Eli Wiesel, the Nobel laureate who wrote about the Holocaust.
Some years ago, upon speaking to my grandmother’s brother about the place where the family grew up as my grandmother died before I was born, I learned that history takes a bit of time, both to happen and to explain.
My great uncle informed me that his family grew up in a small shtetl, a small Jewish village, some miles away from Sighet. One evening, when he was about eight years old, a fire broke out in a corner of the shtetl. All of the people in the town, including himself, rapidly lined up to pass buckets of water one to the other to help put out the flames. He recalled that while he was passing buckets he heard someone shouting that another fire had broken out on the other side of the village. The villagers started to shout how to break the line into two to deal with the second blaze, when they looked up to see a third blaze in another corner of the town. And then a fourth.
The local anti-Semites had come to incinerate their town.
He recalled how the following morning the family grabbed what belongings they could manage, and walked to Sighet as the smoke from his village filled the air. He told me the name of that former village, and as I quickly forgot the foreign sounding name, I internalized how history had forgotten it too.
So, yes, the family did live in Sighet, but it wasn’t really the town of his birth. Our family had already been routed by local anti-Semites a couple of decades before the Nazis came for the Jews of Sighet.
The alt-right relentlessly pursued the Jews of Europe and Russia for hundreds of years, sometimes as part of the ruling class and other times by the hands of a band of locals. In each circumstance, they knew how to rout the small collection of Jews.
The Four Corners of Anti-Semitism Today
In many parts of the world, the ruling class is being taken over by extremists. The alt-left made inroads in America’s Democratic Party with the Democratic Socialists of America getting seats in Congress with members including Bernie Sanders, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman. The DSA was following the playbook of the Labour Party of the United Kingdom, where Jeremy Corbyn pushed anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism and extremist ideas to take over the party.
The alt-right still exists around the world and in America but shunned and sidelined by civilized society. Not so the alt-left, which has bonded with Islamic extremists to gain power, and with the alt-right in the cause of setting fire to Jewish homes.
American Jews are surrounded on all sides by anti-Semitic extremists, and there are neither sufficient volunteers to pass buckets to extinguish the flames of hatred nor to expel the sinister arsonists.
Successful race baiters become famous and powerful. They first attract attention which brings in followers, and then money and ultimately true power.
Adolf Hitler produced his manifesto called ‘Mein Kampf” meaning ‘My Struggle” which sought to air his grievances about the state of German society and the struggles of the common man. He used the Jew as his scapegoat, at times attacking the Hebrew Pinata for being poor, dirty and smelly, and at other times for being a rich banker who profited off the work of others. He portrayed the Jews as leeches which sucked the blood and labor of poor workers and profited in a sneaky plan for world domination.
Some selections on his second “powerful parasite theme”:
Jewish parasites: “In the business world things were even worse. Here the Jewish people had really become ‘indispensable.’ The spider began slowly to suck the people’s blood out of its pores. By way of the war societies one had found the instrument with which to put an end, bit by bit, to a national and free economy.“
Jews stealing in secret: “they try to cheat the whole world with their tricks; they are lazy, but with their pretended ‘silent’ work they create the appearance of an enormous and equally laborious activity; in short, they are cheats, characters of political profiteering, who hate the honest work of others. Just as such a folkish moth always appeals to the darkness of the silence, one can bet a thousand to one that under its cover he does not produce, but only steals from the fruits of the labor of others.“
Jewish profiteers and desire for world domination: “Jews are the regents of the stock exchange power of the American Union. Every year they manage to become increasingly the controlling masters of the labor power of a people of 120,000,000 souls; one great man, Ford, to their exasperation still holds out independently there even now. With rapacious cleverness they knead public opinion and form from it the instrument of a struggle for their own future. Already the greatest heads of Jewry envisage the approach of the fulfillment of the hereditary slogan of the great devouring of the nations.“
Hitler was appalled that people would come to the defense of the Jews, knowing that they profit off of the toil and suffering of others:
Don’t defend Jews who profit off your misery:“If the Hungarian government hangs ten Jewish stock exchange profiteers, whose money is sticky with the blood and the sweat of hundreds of thousands of honest people, we protest, we cry about pogroms and we demand the boycott of an entire State.”
Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in July 1925 as a poor man in prison. Within eight years he was the chancellor of Germany.
The Alt-Left’s Modern ‘Mein Kampf’
The National Socialist German Worker’s Party of the 1930’s and 1940’s was commonly called the Nazi Party. It is associated with the far right’s desire for racial purity, demonization of inferior races and elevation of proper Aryan Germans. It drew its inspiration from Hitler’s manifesto.
Today’s Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is a far-left group which shuns much of the ideology of the Nazi Party while embracing other key tenets.
It does not follow Hitler’s screed against the dirty, smelly Jew or other poor people as the party argues that it is fighting for the poor working class. Instead the alt-left goes all-in against the rich “ownership class” which robs from poor people of their work and dignity. Jews just happen to be the mascot of the evil profiteers, whether in Gaza or Detroit.
Randi Weingarten, longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers, a lobbying group with 1.7 million members which pumps millions of dollars into Democratic politicians’ pockets, declared that American Jews are “part of the ownership class…. now want to take that ladder of opportunity [education] away from those who do not have it.” (Weingarten is married to Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, who sits on the Rabbinical Committee of the left-wing group J Street, and was just appointed by President Biden to join the US religious freedom commission. An interesting spectacle of Jews eating their own).
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), a proud member of the DSA made her own declaration about Jews:
“As I think about my family in Palestine, that continue to live under military occupation and how that really interacts with this beautiful Black city I grew up in … you know I always tell people that cutting people off from water is violence, and they do it from Gaza to Detroit, and it’s a way to control people, to oppress people. And it’s those structures that we continue to fight against. I know you all understand the structure we’ve been living under right now is designed by those who exploit the rest of us, for their own profit. I always say to people ‘I don’t care if it’s around the issue of global human rights, and our fight to free Palestine, or to pushing back against those who don’t believe in a minimum wage or those who believe we don’t have a right to healthcare and so much more.’ And I tell those same people, that if you open the curtain andlook behind the curtain, it’s the same people who make money and—yes they do—off of racism, off of these broken policies. There is someone there making money and you saw it, it was so exposed during the pandemic…. They made record profit.”
It’s a wonderful summation of Hitler’s thesis, that Jews operate in the shadows to profit off the suffering of others.
The DSA is remarketing key talking points of the Nazi Party under the banner “From the ashes of the old: socialism for a new tomorrow.” Who would imagine that the heirs to Hitler’s ideology that Jews are puppet masters exploiting the labor and suffering of the masses, would be Jewish and Muslim women?
When Donald Trump pushed an executive order (EO) to limit the entry into the United States of people from a few countries who were deemed to have poor border controls and many terrorists, the Democratic Party called it a “Muslim ban,” even though the order still allowed people from over forty Muslim-majority countries to enter the US. The Democratic cheerleaders in the mainstream media picked up the phrase and each used it to advance the narrative of Trump as a racist and “Islamophobe.” It wasn’t hard to do, as Trump frequently attacked various minority groups and Islam in other situations.
But the phrase “Muslim ban” made no sense in regards to the actual EO which continued to allow in people from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim war-torn countries beset by terrorism.
In sharp contrast, the media refuses to call the global effort for a boycott, sanctions and divestment from Israel (BDS) campaign, a “Jewish ban,” even though it is explicitly that on many levels.
The BDS movement is economic warfare against the only Jewish state and does not target any other country involved in a dispute over land, of which there are many. The effort is to refuse selling products or services to Israel and also to refuse buying such from the country. It attempts to block any speakers, professors, exchange students, sporting teams and athletes, as well as to push investment funds to not invest in any Israeli companies. A variant of the BDS movement only seeks to impose those restrictions against the Israeli territory of Area C in the area east of the Green Line (EGL)/ the West Bank.
The rationale behind this effort is not to protect citizens like Trump’s EO, but to punish Israel for not annexing the West Bank, which Israel has held off doing in the hopes of trading some of the land for an enduring peace with Palestinian Arabs. Israel already gave the Palestinians the entirety of the Gaza Strip and land in the West Bank which is home to 86% of the Palestinian population. The Jewish State has offered more land in various initiatives but each proposal was rejected as insufficient by the Palestinian Authority.
BDS supporters are not interested in a negotiation between the parties but full Israeli capitulation to Palestinian demands.
In the interim, BDS supporters want to enforce a number of additional Jewish bans beyond those listed above. They want to ban Jews from living, working or visiting the West Bank and the eastern part of Jerusalem. They want to bar Jews from praying at their holiest site of the Jewish Temple Mount. They want Jews to abandon their second holiest location in Hebron and the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs and Matriarchs to sole Muslim control.
As part of the effort, they will deny Jewish history in the holy land and engage in Holocaust denial. They will attempt to alter Arab history by declaring that Jesus was a Palestinian rather than a Jew and instead of acknowledging that Arabs invaded the holy land in the 7th century, claim that Palestinians are descendants of Canaanites and Jebusites in a comic attempt to pre-date Jews. They will further attempt to smear Jews as “colonialists” engaging in “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” as a core message of their campaign, in sharp contrast to reality.
The so called-“Muslim ban” was solely placed on people coming from a few countries and did not persecute citizens from those lands nor Muslims generally in the US. Not so for the BDS movement, which attacks the Jewish State and Jews globally.
When the United States placed sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, it did so because the leading state sponsor of terrorism was attempting to build nuclear weapons, a matter of global security concern. When the US put limits on the ability of China to own and operate communications infrastructure, it did so because of national security concerns.
But the BDS movement is not about protecting local or global interests. It is not even about being pro-Arabs-thousands-of-miles-away who have a better situation in Israel and Area C than Arabs in all of the surrounding countries. Those Arabs in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and elsewhere get no support from the BDS’ers, because BDS’ers aren’t pro-Arab but anti-Jew. They believe that a Jew controlling Arab land or people offends Muslim sensibilities and denies their dignity.
BDS is a movement against the Jewish State, Jews living in the holy land and Jews around the world. It is a “multipronged Jewish ban and jihad,” and should be clearly labeled as such.
There is a loud chorus of people who don’t simply disagree with some Israeli policies, they are against the entire principle of Zionism. Keith Ellison, the current Attorney General of Minnesota and former Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Council summed up this attitude when he said “Zionism, the ideological undergirding of Israel, is a debatable political philosophy.“
The objection to Zionism stems from a belief that global powers had no right to facilitate the movement of Jews to Palestine as they outlined in the 1920 San Remo Agreement and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine. The fact that Jews always moved to Israel at rates far surpassing non-Jews even during the Ottoman Empire period is actively ignored as besides the point.
The root of the Arab objection was that it was no longer a fellow Muslim entity (the Ottoman Empire) which ruled them in Palestine but Western powers. Christian nations decided they would enable the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” another non-Muslim group. Even though Jews historically lived in the land, considered the land holy and moved to the land during Ottoman rule, the local Arabs considered the non-Muslim efforts an assault on their way of life.
Consider the statement by President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser in May 1967 as he readied to destroy Israel: “What is Israel? Israel today is the United States. The United States is the chief defender of Israel.” Muslim nations view the Jewish State as a foreign implant of western powers which continues to be supported by such foreigners (jihadists read ‘infidels’). It is an attitude that drives Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to demand an apology from Britain for the Balfour Declaration today.
That position manifests itself in two principal ways: hating the presence of Jews in Palestine, and protesting the sovereignty of the Jewish State of Israel.
The Presence of Jews
While Jews rapidly moved to Palestine under the Ottomans, they did so in even greater numbers under the British and then under the modern State of Israel. The influx of these people offended the Arabs who fought to curtail the immigration of Jews, even during the Holocaust as they were being wiped out in Europe, getting the British to institute the infamous 1939 White Paper. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem met with Adolf Hitler and many other Nazi leaders to make sure European Jews never made it to Palestine. Palestinian Arab efforts caused the deaths of over 100,000 Jews, many more than the total number of Arabs who died fighting Israel since the country’s founding.
When Israel declared itself an independent state in 1948, several Arab countries invaded with the stated goal of destroying it. After the Transjordanian army took over Judea and Samaria, it ethnically cleansed every Jew from the area and gave citizenship to everyone as long as they weren’t Jewish. During the nineteen years that the re-branded Jordan held the Old City of Jerusalem, it destroyed 56 of the 58 synagogues and wouldn’t allow any Jews to enter the city walls to pray at the Western Wall.
That Judenfrei sentiment remains. Those Jordanian Arabs are now called Palestinian Arabs in the renamed “West Bank.” The current head, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he “would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands,” calling to ethnically-cleanse Jews from the region once again. Palestinian law makes it a crime – either with a death sentence or life in prison – for selling land to Jews.
Today, many pro-Palestinians continue to argue that the mere presence of Jews is an affront to Palestinian pride. White House correspondent Helen Thomas said Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Poland, Germany, America and “everywhere else.” In October 2014, President Barack Obama’s spokesperson said the Obama administration condemns Jews who move into “residential buildings in the neighborhood of Silwan” because their “agenda provokes tensions.” This inversion blamed new Jewish neighbors for the anti-Semitism of the local Arabs.
The Sovereignty of a Jewish State
Some anti-Zionists are less triggered by the physical presence of Jews and more by the notion of a Jewish State. They object to a land which had a Muslim majority for a thousand years suddenly having a flag with a Jewish star and an anthem reflecting the yearning of Jews. Many Muslims regard this as a direct insult to Islam.
Shortly after the founding of Israel, the Muslim world routed almost all of its local Jews. Almost all Muslim countries still refuse to recognize the Jewish State over 70 years later. Other Islamic regimes are more aggressive such as Iran, which said that Israel is “cancerous tumor” (a dangerous foreign entity) that “will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed.”
The Palestinians are divided between those who want to see the Jewish State destroyed (HAMAS/Gaza) and those who won’t recognize it (Fatah/West Bank), like PA President Abbas who said “We will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.” The Palestinian objection to Jewish sovereignty is so ingrained that leadership would forgo establishing a new Palestinian Arab State if it also required recognizing Israel as a Jewish State. It begs the question of whether Palestinians truly are “desperate” for independence and sovereignty or to be rid of the Jewish State.
Many non-Muslim anti-Zionists hold common cause decrying Israel. While there may be dozens of Islamic states as well as religious Christian democracies like Denmark and Greece, Palestinian supporters shout absurd smears of “Jewish supremacy” and “apartheid” against the liberal country which has more rights for all of its citizens than any country within 1,000 miles.
Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism
People debate whether anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism in a more politically-acceptable form. As reviewed here, one needs to look at the nuances of anti-Zionism to reach the conclusion.
In the first instance – the people who do not want Jewish neighbors and would go so far as to support the genocide of the Jews in Europe – the answer is clear that they despise Jews. Palestinian Arabs are overwhelming anti-Semitic as further shown in recent ADL polls which show 93% of West Bank and Gaza Arabs hold anti-Jewish views.
Regarding the notion of Jewish sovereignty, it is true that the idea of creating a Jewish State 100 years ago may have been “debatable” to quote Ellison but Israel is a well established reality. The country is more stable, more democratic, more open and thriving compared to all of the countries which surround it. To call for the country’s destruction (as Iran does) or to call for boycotts and divestment only against this country for perceived short-comings is a poor double-standard which reeks of anti-Semitism.
The majority of Palestinians are complete anti-Zionists, objecting to both the presence of Jews and the sovereignty of Jews in the holy land. Most Muslim countries are less extreme and do not object to Jews living in Israel as long as they become a minority living under an Islamic flag. Other Muslim countries have normalized relations with the Jewish State, noting that the country is a wonderful trading partner and not going anywhere.
Outside of the Muslim world, liberal anti-Zionists believe that they are siding with the stateless Arab underdogs as part of their religion of empathy. However, they all-too-often adopt the anti-Semitic language and philosophy of anti-Zionism: seeking to minimize the presence of Jews in their ancestral and holy land, as well as to obliterate the only Jewish State.
Some anti-Zionists might object to these two categories and suggest they do not object to Jews as neighbors, just as invaders. That argument simply means they deny Jewish history which is also anti-Semitic. Others could protest that “Zionism is Racism” is a commonly held belief, as demonstrated at the 2001 Durban Conference to combat Racism. The reality is that there is a lot of systemic hatred, such as the reality that most of the world also considers homosexuality a crime which does not absolve the anti-LGBT sentiment, much as anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist laws do not wash the hateful stain. Anti-Semitism remains a large global problem in its many forms.
Thousands of years ago, it made sense to focus on the narrow strip of land that acted as a bridge between Africa and Europe / Asia, but no longer, in this larger, connected world.
The ongoing critical obsession on a country with 0.1% of the global population which is home to the most persecuted people in history which suffered both a genocide in the European continent and a mass expulsion from the Muslim Middle East / North Africa within the last century should raise immediate alarms. That the goal of much of the criticism of the Jewish State is to weaken it militarily and economically or even to destroy Jewish autonomy in their ancestral home and religious capital is terrifying, and must be combatted aggressively.
A person can be in favor of yet another Arab state to join the dozens of others without being an anti-Zionist. However, one cannot be an anti-Zionist without being an anti-Semite.
Judaism is the only religion which is tied to a specific land, the land of Israel.
Judaism created the very notion of “promised land,” not as an aspirational dream as commonly used today, but as an actual piece of land passed as an inheritance for generations.
Only Jews consider the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem as their holiest location.
Jews are the only people who pray facing Jerusalem, regardless of where they are.
Only Jews are commanded to visit Jerusalem three times per year.
Jerusalem is the most mentioned city in the Hebrew bible.
Jerusalem has been the focal point of Judaism for over 3,000 years.
Israel is the only country whose national anthem is all about its capital city.
Jews have been the largest group of residents in Jerusalem continuously since the 1860’s. There is no other capital where Jews are the majority.
Israel is the only Jewish State.
Israel is also the only country:
which is not recognized by dozens of countries at the United Nations
whose capital city is not recognized by the majority of the members of the UN
which is singled out as a routine part of the UN’s Human Rights Council
where Jewish and non-Jewish residents in the eastern part of the capital are attributed different names of “settler” and “resident” in the non-Jewish world
Jerusalem and Israel are unique and special to Jews. The passion of its lovers and haters regarding the exceptional Jewish connection to both says more about their overall attitudes towards Jews than the locations themselves.