Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
When Robert Bowers walked through the door of the Tree of Life synagogue with murder on his mind, he was propelled by identity politics. As a white supremacist, his brand of identity politics is more politically incorrect than the ones that led Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour of the Women’s March to support Louis Farrakhan, but it’s no more violent, racist or evil.
Before the massacre, the most recent high profile anti-Semitic attack had been carried out by a Muslim who was caught on video beating a Jewish man while shouting about, “Allah” and his hatred for Jews.
Another hate crime, also caught on video, was a violent assault with a baseball bat by a black man.
Such assaults are less devastating than the mass murder of eleven people, but also much more commonplace. They repeat from month to month and year to year. They make up much of the toll of anti-Semitic hate crimes so that they top the list of hate crime statistics every single year.
The Tree of Life massacre has been greeted with editorials mourning a “loss of innocence” by American Jews. Such editorials come from a bubble of privilege that is cut off from the way many Jews live.
In 1991, New York City’s first black mayor stood and watched while a violent mob whipped up, by among others, Al Sharpton, went on a violent anti-Semitic rampage in Crown Heights. The Crown Heights Pogrom, as it would become known, took three lives and terrorized a neighborhood.
Sharpton, the black supremacist linked to the anti-Semitic violence, went on to speak at the Democratic National Convention, host a show on MSNBC and become a regular visitor to the Obama White House.
The distance between Crown Heights and Squirrel Hill is more than mere geography, it’s social and cultural. Anti-Semitic violence by black supremacists and Muslim terrorists tends to happen in poorer, urban neighborhoods and is directed against a poorer and more religious class of Jews. White supremacist attacks tend to target more suburban, prosperous and less diverse Jewish areas.
Those are home to the same Jewish populations who are much more likely to write editorials about a loss of innocence. But innocence is a privilege that Jews in poorer urban neighborhoods never had.
There are Jews who live in proximity to neo-Nazis and those who live closer to admirers of Farrakhan and Hamas. (Though Farrakhan and Hamas both admire Hitler for killing millions of Jews.) The Jewish communities that endured a generation of race riots, and another generation of muggings, knockout games, rapes and murders, before often having to pack up and move out, from their American Anatevkas in major cities, have never had any innocence of anti-Semitism, only bitter experience.
It is no coincidence that the privileged are also more likely to be progressive. The hysteria over Trump is not born of experience of anti-Semitism, but inexperience. To believe that President Trump is anti-Semitic is a confession of privilege. It’s an admission that your experience of anti-Semitism is an abstraction, a series of theories and history lessons, rather than the awareness of an everyday reality.
It takes a great deal of inexperience of anti-Semitism to believe that it exists only on the side of the political spectrum furthest from you. Anti-Semitism is tribal. Those who hate Jews tend to be losers who are convinced of their own natural superiority and blame the Jews for their failure to achieve it.
You can find such people on the right side of the spectrum, but it is the left side of the spectrum that has been built for them. Hitler’s genius lay in taking the fundamental appeal of socialism, its state controls, welfare state security blankets, suspicion of meritocracy and appeal to mediocrity, and reframe them in racial and nationalistic terms. But he only emphasized the anti-Semitism in socialism, he didn’t invent it.
Identity politics does the same thing as National Socialism, combining the welfare state and anti-capitalist rhetoric with naked racial appeals, tapping into the supremacist convictions of failed groups, offering them special racial privileges, while blaming their failures on meritocracy and capitalism.
The biggest beneficiaries of the social mobility provided by both have often been the Jews.
There is very little difference between white supremacism and black nationalism. Indeed there was so little difference that Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam collaborated with the KKK and the American Nazi Party. There’s a much closer route between Obama and Hitler, than there is between Trump and Hitler. Just follow Obama’s photo with Farrakhan, the affinity of his mentor, Jeremiah Wright, for Farrakhan, Farrakhan’s admiration for Hitler, and Hitler’s admiration for Islamic anti-Semitism and his role in inspiring the Muslim Brotherhood. But that’s a route that the progressives choose not to follow.
While progressive Jews may deny that black nationalism and white supremacism are the same thing, the mutual admiration society between them makes a mockery of their denials. Anti-Semitism is a tribal problem. Multiculturalism evolved into intersectionality, spawning more tribalism, more resentment, and an alliance of the resentful in which Jews are not full participants, but growing targets.
As a society becomes more racially and ethnically tribal, it grows more anti-Semitic. The white supremacist attack on a synagogue in Squirrel Hill is one symptom of a much larger problem.
The progressive Jews worry about the rare outbursts of white tribal anti-Semitism because that is the not particularly diverse population that these proponents of diversity live among. The working-class Jews of the inner cities worry far more about the daily diverse tribal anti-Semitism that surrounds them.
That is a ubiquitous anti-Semitism that their progressive brethren neither understand nor care about because it is inconvenient to their politics and alien to their experiences.
While Jewish communities around the world, from Crown Heights to Jerusalem, mourn for the massacre in Squirrel Hill, it often feels as if such outpourings of empathy are not reciprocated. When Jews were being stoned in Crown Heights by anti-Semitic mobs, the progressive Jews told them to stop embarrassing New York City’s first black mayor. When Rabbis were axed to death in a Jerusalem synagogue, the “innocent” progressives blamed Netanyahu and Israel’s imaginary ‘rightward’ drift.
They did not care that their tax dollars were being used to pay the terrorists murdering Jews. Nor do they care that the MSNBC news network that they were watching was paying a pogromist.
This “innocence” of theirs has a high price and for now, Jews in Brooklyn and Jerusalem are paying it. While progressive Jews live in the fading golden summer of the suburbs, working class Jews have lived through generations of looted stores, ransacked apartments, and random violent assaults. The dream of the former, their political policies and ideals, have been the waking nightmares of the latter.
But the age of innocence is coming to an end.
America is changing. The same forces that made Obama have also made Farrakhan relevant once again. Muslim migration will transform America the way that it did Europe. The cities will feel it first. But they won’t be the last. The combination of political radicalism and tribalism that is driving out the Jews of France, Sweden and now the United Kingdoms will not pass by the suburban shtetls of America.
White supremacism is one vector for anti-Semitism. Identity politics has created a dozen more.
The shootings at Squirrel Hill were not the worst of it. Unfortunately, tragically, and horrifyingly, the worst is yet to come. And when it comes, the old innocence will vanish as if it had never been.
A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
Oct 25, 2019 0People arrive at a polling station to vote in the federal election in Beauce, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 21, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mathieu Belanger. A top Jewish advocacy group said on Friday it...
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“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.