New York, Nov 5 (SocialNews.XYZ) Antisemitism was ever a cancer in the body politic of sections of Europe and the Americas but was thought to have been controlled in the aftermath of the Holocaust.
After the October 7 Hamas terrorist strike on Israel, it has emerged again, this time in new forms and among different groups, morphing from support for Palestine to outright hatred of Jews and threats against them.
Conflating Jewish people and religious organisations with political developments in the Middle East has led to disparate groups resorting to anti-Semitism through words and deeds, reigniting fears of pogroms that over millenniums targeted the Jewish people.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray warned at a Congressional hearing that the wave of antisemitism “is reaching in some way sort of historic levels”.
“The Jewish community is targeted by terrorists really across the spectrum -- homegrown violent extremists; foreign terrorist organisations, both Sunni and Shia; domestic violent extremists,” he said.
Organisations that track antisemitism on both sides of the Atlantic report a surge in antisemitism incidents, from Austria to the US, covering countries a varied as Venezuela and South Africa.
“We are witnessing a disturbing rise in antisemitic activity here while the war rages overseas,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, the main Jewish civil rights group in the US.
“When conflict erupts in Israel, antisemitic incidents soon follow in the US and globally,” he said.
The ADL recorded in the US 312 antisemitic incidents between October 7 and 23 this year, 190 of which were directly linked to the raging Hamas-Israel conflict, it said.
In Britain, the Community Security Trust said that at least 893 antisemitic incidents were reported across the country from October 7 to 31.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tallied 819 anti-Semitic incidents.
In Germany, from where the Nazis orchestrated the Holocaust killed about 6 million Jews, 202 incidents were recorded in just the first week after the Hamas attack, prompting Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to declare with dismay, "it is intolerable that Jewish people are today once again living in fear – in our country, of all places”.
Violence against Jews in European countries like France and Belgium has come from Islamist immigrants from Arab countries in recent years, but in the US the worst of them were the work of White nationalists, like the 2018 attack on a temple that killed 11 people and wounded six, including Holocaust survivors.
The new development is that anti-Semitism is now taking root in schools and universities.
The so-called social justice movement, an outgrowth of the Black Lives Movement that rose after the killing of African American George Floyd by police in 2020, received broad support among the Democrats and progressives, overwhelming institutions and corporations.
Egged on by academics and politicians, it took on a life of its own with a broader agenda, that includes incoherent themes like “anti-colonialism” and “decolonisation”.
On campuses and elsewhere, Israel is viewed through this prism, and where it gave rise to the anti-Israel economic agenda of the “Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanction” (BDS) movement it was a short step to turning on Jews.
And Muslims are seen as the universally oppressed who deserve unconditional support, even wehn heinous acts like the Hamas assault are done in their name.
These are behind the gleeful endorsement by students – as at Harvard – and faculty in dozens of institutions of the Hamas massacre and kidnapping of people.
And on campuses and off campuses it has given rise to virulent anti-Semitism.
The House of Representatives passed a resolution on Thursday condemning antisemitism on college campuses and the support there for terrorist organisations like the Hamas and Hezbollah.
The irony is that many progressive Jews, like the members of the Jewish Voice for Peace, who have supported Palestinian rights and held a sit-in at a major New York train station in support of Palestine last month, are as individual followers of the religion not exempt from this wave of antisemitism.
Jews, too, were at the forefront of the US civil rights movement that empowered some of those who have turned against them.
At Ivy League Cornell University in New York State, threats to kill – and do worse to – Jewish students on the campus sent tremors of fear among them and those elsewhere.
At Cooper Union, an elite New York college, Jewish students had to lock themselves up in the library as pro-Palestine protesters pounded on the doors threateningly, and a Jewish student was attacked at Columbia.
The antisemitism has even seeped into middle schools with Jewish students in California reporting harassment.
The situation has gotten so out of hand that more than a score of top law firms sent letters to law schools, including many from the Ivy League, warning them that they would stop hiring graduates involved in such activities.
“Over the last several weeks, we have been alarmed at reports of antisemitic harassment, vandalism and assaults on college campuses, including rallies calling for the death of Jews and the elimination of the State of Israel,” they wrote.
Beyond the campuses slogans against Jews -- with warnings against their lives and safety -- have also appeared across the US.
Caught between the left in the party and the need to contain antisemitism, the administration of President Joe Biden finds itself on unsure footing.
Asked about antisemitism threats, his spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said they have not seen “any credible threats” and then condemned “hate-fueled attacks” against Muslim and Arab Americans.
Later she said that she misheard the question.
The White House dispatched Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish, to assuage the Jewish community.
Old school White supremacists with a long history of antisemitism have also joined the fray.
White Lives Matter California held a rally sporting signs in support of Palestine and against Israel.
But Muslims and Arabs also face threats from others on the extreme right who invokethe Hamas attack.
In the most heinous of the attacks, a six-year-old boy of Palestinian descent was stabbed to death in Plainfield near Chicago in a hate crime and his mother wounded.
On Wednesday, Harris called it “a senseless act of violence that the Department of Justice is investigating as a hate crime”, and announced plans to develop “our nation's first national strategy to counter Islamophobia”.
It will be “a comprehensive and detailed plan to protect Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim from hate, bigotry and violence”, she said.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com and followed at @arulouis)