The everlasting prejudice

Like most American synagogues,” an article in The Economist explains, “the Kehilath Jeshurun congregation in Manhattan flaunts its Jewishness. The Hebrew letters of 76a023d82e77c16218664b50d91e95cdits name are cut in the stone façade, under stained-glass windows bearing six-pointed Stars of David. On the Sabbath, when Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump prayed there (before moving to the White House last year), they would walk past the local Jewish day-school through streets filled with Orthodox families. More progressive Jews might go to the even more ostentatious Park Avenue Synagogue, or one of New York’s hundreds of other temples … [but] … In contrast, the Jewish Cultural Centre in Amsterdam is almost out of sight. No religious symbols or Hebrew script identify its exterior. Visitors must be buzzed by a receptionist into a vestibule through double doors. The city’s main Jewish day-school is equally nondescript, surrounded by fences and cameras. Security was tightened after a terrorist attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels in 2014. Some Jews who wear skullcaps no longer visit areas with large Muslim populations.

The article goes on tot say that “Such snapshots say much about Jewish life in the West: thriving and exuberant in America; nervous and under attack in western Europe. The new continent has been a promised land; the old one a museum or graveyard. Some American Jews have warned their European brethren to leave. Thousands have gone to Israel, notably from France, where, along with murders and other outrages, graveyards have been desecrated.” But recent events in Pittsburg suggest that Jews are targets everywhere ~ just because they are Jews. That is, of course, why so many countries want to wipe out Israel: Jews have the effrontery to want to live in the lands of the Muslim ummah.

The Economist article goes on to say that “defining anti-Semitism is harder because it is so protean. Historically, notes Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s former chief rabbi, “Jews were hated because they were poor and because they were rich; because they were communists and because they were capitalists; because they kept to themselves and because they infiltrated everywhere; because they clung to ancient religious beliefs and because they were rootless cosmopolitans who believed nothing.” These days, overt Jew-hatred is comparatively rare in the West, largely because of its association with the Nazi Holocaust. Often it is disguised. Rants about “globalists” on the far-right and “Zionists” on the far-left can be euphemisms for “Jews”. Yet both words have straightforward meanings, too, and not all who use them are bigots.

The article explains three kinds of anti-Semitism:

  • Traditional, based on the notions that Jews killed Jesus and on the medieval blood libels;
  • Modern, based on the the belief that Jews are behind a monstrous, global conspiracy to Lloyd-Blankfeinrule the world ~ President Trumps end of campaign message seems to incorporate this notion because it repeatedly uses images of Lloyd Blankfein, George Soros and Janet Yellen, three prominent Jews, who it suggests are conspiring to ruin America; and
  • A new sort of “secondary’ form that says that Jews twist the facts of the Holocaust to enrich themselves.

But, it says, “Many see a “new anti-Semitism” that developed after Israel’s victory in the six-day war of 1967. The Soviet Union and its vassals purged Jews on the grounds that they were Zionists and thus agents of America. This overlaps with Muslim Jew-hatred, which not only denounces Israel but also presents Jews as the enemies of Muslims since the time of the Prophet Muhammad. This form has proven the most murderous in recent decades. Global jihadists say they are fighting against “Jews and Crusaders”. In the West anti-Semitic acts by Muslim migrants tend to spike with rises in Israeli-Palestinian violence. Speaking at a protest against the war in Gaza in 2014, Appa, a Dutch-Moroccan rapper, blurred the line between politics and religion: “Fuck the Zionists! Fuck the Talmud!”” Even the New York Times admits that anti-Semitism in America is a difficult problem because it “refuses to conform to an easy narrative with a single ideological enemy … [and] … During the past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in Untitled-12an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group,” according to police officials, Thus the progressive left cannot quite figure out who is to blame, since, very often, rabid anti-Semitism is, too often, in America and Britain and, one suspects, Canada, associated with the political left.

The Economist says that “it is odd that right-wing anti-Semitism, obsessed with Jews at home, and the left-wing variety, focused on Jews in Israel, survive at all. The number of Jews in the world is quite small—about 6m apiece in Israel and America, and another 2.5m scattered elsewhere. Indeed, some talk of “anti-Semitism without Jews” … [but] … The Pittsburgh murders were a stark reminder of the threat lurking on the far right, particularly among white supremacists who lump Jews in with blacks, Muslims and other minorities as objects of hatred. American far-right groups benefit from a greater degree of free speech than do European ones—and easy access to guns … [and] … Binding the disparate dislikes is a belief in conspiracies—that Jews control society, the economy, the media or the world. “Once you start down the path of interpreting the world in terms of conspiracies, sooner or later you stumble into anti-Semitism,” says Dave Rich of the Community Security Trust, a British charity that helps protect Jewish institutions.

In conclusion, The Economist, says that “Freed from restrictions on where they could live, study and work, Jews are well integrated among the elites of Western countries. But Jew-hatred, however latent, has never been wholly vanquished. And, as Rabbi Sacks argues, “anti-Semitism is the world’s most reliable early warning sign of a major threat to freedom, humanity and the dignity of difference.” It is sometimes said that violence against the Jews does not stop with the Jews. In Pittsburgh, the trail of bloodshed has run the other way. Murderous hatred, which had already killed black worshippers elsewhere, has now reached the Jews. Who will be next?

The short answer is: no one … the Jews are the everlasting victims of unreasoned hatred. Why? Well, some still call them Christ killers; some people of my age will likely remember hearing that when they were children, even in public schools. Why? Well, anti-semitism is deeply ingrained in a few cultures, it was a mainstay of Eastern European culture for centuries. The very fact that, as The Economist says, they “are well integrated among the elites of Western countries,” means that they are automatic targets for those who blame people like billionaire investor George Soros, former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein for whatever ails society. Finally, of course, there is the state of Israel, the very existence of which offends tens of millions of people around the globe.

This ancient, seemingly everlasting hatred of one people is especially troubling now that 614454822.0Justin Trudeauit seems to have been taken up by both the right wing followers of Donald Trump and the left wing followers of Justin Trudeau  and Jeremy Corbyn, too. An apology, earlier today, for Canada’s refusal to land the passengers of the ship St Louis in 1939 is long overdue, but neither it nor the fact that Bill Clinton shared a platform with Louis Farrakhan, a notorious American black anti-Semite, alter the fact that too many people in the Trudeau and Trump circles seem, to me, to have an anti-Jewish bias. It, anti-Semitism, seems to cross all political boundaries.

 

 

4 thoughts on “The everlasting prejudice”

  1. Funny at 79 I’ve run into hatred for Jews all my life in the military and out, from grade school to university, from assembly line to the flight line strange that they are not the masters of the universe by now, isn’t it.

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