We Must Vigilant in the Fight against Antisemitism

In a recent speech, Pope Francis said:

At present, however, a source of great concern to me is the spread, in many places, of a climate of wickedness and fury, in which an excessive and depraved hatred is taking root. I think especially of the outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks in various countries. Today I also wish to reiterate that it is necessary to be vigilant about such a phenomenon: “History teaches us where even the slightest perceptible forms of anti-Semitism can lead: the human tragedy of the Shoah in which two-thirds of European Jewry were annihilated” (Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable, 47). I stress that for a Christian any form of antisemitism is a rejection of one’s own origins, a complete contradiction….

In the fight against hatred and antisemitism, an important tool is interreligious dialogue, aimed at promoting a commitment to peace, mutual respect, the protection of life, religious freedom, and the care of creation. Jews and Christians, moreover, share a rich spiritual heritage, which allows us to do much good together. At a time when the West is exposed to a depersonalizing secularism, it falls to believers to seek out each other and to cooperate in making divine love more visible for humanity; and to carry out concrete gestures of closeness to counter the growth of indifference….

In a world where the distance between the many who have little and the few who have much grows every day, we are called to take care of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, the weak, the sick, children, and the elderly.

In serving humanity, as in our dialogue, young people are waiting to be involved more fully; they want to dream and are open to discovering new ideals. I want to emphasize, therefore, the importance of the formation of future generations in Jewish-Christian dialogue. The shared commitment in the area of educating the young is also an effective means of countering violence and opening new paths of peace with all.

EJ Dionne writes:

Bigotry is bigotry. It must always be opposed.

This is why the dangerously careless use of language by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) about Jews and Israel — she spoke of people who “push for allegiance to a foreign country” — has been cause for both heartbreak and anger.

I get that some readers will see my use of the word “careless” as too soft because the dual-loyalty charge has historically been so poisonous. But in refraining from stronger language I’m putting my bet on hope….

Anti-Semitism is utterly antithetical to anything that deserves to be called liberal or progressive. Surely Omar doesn’t want the Democrats ensnared in the sort of left-wing anti-Semitism now haunting the British Labour Party.

Opposing anti-Semitism should be axiomatic for everyone….

Thus, my sympathies have always been with the beleaguered peace camps on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. This has led to deep frustration with Palestinian rejectionists, but also with the politics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu….

So, yes, I know full well that you can love Israel, be critical of its current government and truly despise anti-Semitism, all at the same time. What you cannot do is play fast and loose with language that cannot help but be seen as anti-Semitic. I pray Omar now realizes this. At this moment, opponents of bigotry must be able to rely on each other.

MSW on why “The cancer of anti-Semitism must be excised from the Left”:

There was a time in the not so distant past when trafficking in one of the classic memes of anti-Semitism was considered beneath contempt, the kind of thing that garnered universal condemnation. Apparently, the House Democratic caucus is no longer such a place. They watered down a resolution against anti-Semitism rather than take a forceful stand against this most malignant of cultural cancers.

The fracas within the Democratic caucus was ignited by a comment made by Rep. Ilhan Omar: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” The allegation is twofold: that American Jews exhibit a dual loyalty, “political allegiance” to Israel, and that their influence is a sinister one.

Perhaps some people are not aware of the long history of the charge of dual loyalty. Before the founding of the state of Israel, the idea was that Jews were not loyal to the country where they lived, that they were indelibly “other,” that they lacked the pristine blood of, say, a full-blooded Spaniard. That last iteration of the charge dates back to the Inquisition in Spain. Jews were portrayed at different times and in different ways as selfish, caring only about themselves, or about money.

Whatever the differences of the portrayals, anti-Semitism manifested itself in virtually every European country and, indeed, it is older than most countries….

I can understand people’s frustration with having to call out Congresswoman Omar when we have a racist bigot in the White House. As ugly as her comment was, it was no worse than Trump’s post-Charlottesville comments about “both sides” having “good people” when one side had marched through the streets chanting “The Jews will not replace us.” Good people do not do that. Let us stipulate that the Republicans and Fox News are hypocrites. Is anyone surprised?…

Last week, I wrote about the fact that President Trump and the Republicans who enable him are defining deviancy down. All those Democrats who insisted that the original resolution denouncing anti-Semitism be watered down did the same last week. When someone burglarizes your house, it is all well and good to denounce burglary, but you want the man who did it caught. The cancer of anti-Semitism will continue to grow on the Left unless it is excised. The sooner the surgery, the more likely the Left will achieve a full recovery. If history is any judge, the cancer will spread. It is too horrible to contemplate.