With May designated as Jewish American Heritage Month, and with anti-Semitic incidents on the rise around the country, it is worth recognizing that anti-Semitism has been a consistent presence throughout American Jewish history. The Anti-Defamation League recently reported that anti-Semitic incidents hit a record high in 2021;an October 2021 report by the American Jewish Committee found that nearly one out of every four Jews in the U.S. has been the subject of antisemitism over the past year; the GOP’s culture warriors are trying to convince Jews that it is in their interest to vote with their QAnon cohorts; Lara Logan, a Fox Nation host spewed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on a QAnon-adjacent online show; anti-Semitic flyers are popping up in neighborhoods across the country, including in such progressive bastions as the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area.
The Anti-Defamation League counted 2,717 antisemitic incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism in 2021, a 34% increase over the previous year and the highest number since the New York City-based group began tracking such incidents in 1979.
According to CNN’s Nicole Chavez, “Most of the incidents included in the report -- 1,776 -- were described as harassment, meaning one or more Jews or those perceived to be Jewish were the target of anti-Semitic slurs, stereotypes or conspiracy theories, the report states. A total of 853 incidents were acts of vandalism, and 88 were assaults. There were no deaths linked to anti-Semitic violence, the report said.”
CNN reported that, “Among the places where incidents were reported were Jewish institutions, including community centers, synagogues, grade schools and college campuses. There were 525 incidents at Jewish institutions; 331 were reported at non-Jewish K-12 schools and 155 at colleges and universities, the report found.”
The American Jewish Committee’s report last year found that “Seventeen percent of respondents … said they had been the subject of an antisemitic remark in person, while 12% said they were the victim of an antisemitic remark online. Three percent of Jews who responded to the poll said they were the target of an antisemitic physical attack.”
In March, after an eight-month delay, Deborah Lipstadt, the author of five books on antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and American responses to the Holocaust, and President Joe Biden’s nominee to the post of US State Department special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, was confirmed by the Senate (https://jewishcurrents.org/deborah-lipstadt-vs-the-oldest-hatred).
Jewish Currents’ Mari Cohen recently reported that, “Lipstadt assumes the role at a moment when most American Jews believe [and the ADL report confirmed] antisemitism is on the rise. In the last five years, they have witnessed unprecedented violent attacks on synagogues: the 2018 massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh; the 2019 shooting at the Chabad of Poway in California; and, of course, the recent attack in Colleyville, Texas in January.
“When you talk about antisemitism, depending on what you’re talking about and who you’re talking about, it can be used for totally different political agendas—in fact, opposite political agendas,” Omer Bartov, a leading Holocaust scholar at Brown University, told Cohen, who noted that, “The left tends to raise the alarm about white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and antisemitic Q-anon conspiracists emboldened by the Trump administration, calling for solidarity among marginalized groups and measures like community safety patrols. The right insists that the primary danger comes from pro-Palestine activists, and therefore that Israel-advocacy efforts—such as crackdowns on Palestinian campus activism and legislation preventing boycotts of Israel—constitute a righteous anti-antisemitism crusade. The center prides itself on opposing what it sees as threats from all sides.”
The New York Times’ Michelle Goldberg pointed out that, “The radicalization of the Republican Party has helped white nationalism flourish. Antisemitism started increasing in 2015, when Donald Trump came on the political scene and electrified the far right, then spiked during his administration. Trump is now gone, but the Republican Party has grown more hospitable than ever to cranks and zealots. Two Republican members of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, spoke at a white nationalist conference this year.”
According to Gale.com’s short “History of Anti-Semitism in America” -- included in its Political Extremism and Radicalism series -- “Today, complex social change, including anxiety about globalization, economic inequality, the COVID-19 pandemic, and changing demographics, has inspired a resurgence of bigotry, scapegoating, and mistrust. For some, including prominent conservative leaders surrounding former President Donald Trump, the Jewish community once again became the ‘globalists’ responsible for complex social change. As Trump rallied behind the slogan ‘America First,’ echoing prominent anti-Semites during World War II, his words found power in the alt-right and hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, QAnon, and the Proud Boys.”