Antisemitism is anti-American

Now is the time to go on the offense against hate.

By
January 27, 2019 20:51
4 minute read.
‘IN EUROPE, Jews increasingly experience hate and violence from radical Islamists and their allies

‘IN EUROPE, Jews increasingly experience hate and violence from radical Islamists and their allies.’ French police stand guard as investigators inspect damage to a synagogue after an arsonist set it ablaze overnight in the southern city of Marseille in 2002. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Antisemitism is the world’s oldest hatred, cultivated across cultures, continents and centuries by people with many different agendas. It led to enslavement of Jews in Egypt, forced expulsion during the Spanish Inquisition, pogroms in Poland and Russia, genocide in Nazi Germany, and near extinction in the Muslim world.

This history raises the question: Why do so many people over so many centuries hate Jews? What makes Jewish communities such vulnerable targets?

Many books, documentaries, articles and encyclopedias have been written about the origins of, and reasons for, antisemitism. But the real questions that we must ask today are whether this hatred is exclusively a problem for Jews, and what can the Jewish people do to fight back against and stop this evil.

The answers begin with understanding who antisemites are and what they ultimately want.

Today, antisemitism manifests globally like a monster with three faces, coming from the radical Right, the radical Left and radical Islamists. But a closer look reveals that Jews are not the only, or even the main, target of these extremists. Each one of these radical movements has a bigger vision for our civilization, and their hatred doesn’t discriminate just against the Jews.

In Europe, Jews increasingly experience hate and violence from radical Islamists and their allies – from the French-Syrian jihadist who shot and killed four Jews at a Brussels Jewish museum, to the random zealot, who happened to be a French ISIS member, who murdered Jews in a kosher Paris supermarket in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting by his two close friends, which itself was lethal violence against a European satirical newspaper – a literal attack on freedom of speech.

In Alexandria, Virginia, James Hodgkinson, a radical leftist, attacked a group of congressmen during a baseball practice, seriously wounding US Rep. Steve Scalise, several police officers and bystanders.

At the same time, extremism on the radical Right in America has led to Nazi posters targeting Jewish students, and drove Robert Bowers, a white supremacist terrorist, to gun down 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Pursuant to the just released 2018 ADL Center on Extremism report, domestic right-wing extremists murdered 50 Americans, more people than in any year since 1995. Only one-third of these Americans were Jews.

ANTISEMITES, WHETHER on the far Right, on the far Left or among the radical Muslims, hate Jews for different reasons. However, and most importantly, their hatred is a threat to the core values of American society: democracy, free speech and freedom of religion.

We cannot sit idly by in the face of this imminent threat to not only the well-being of the Jewish people but the values at the heart of Western society.

Understanding, researching and documenting these radical movements are not enough to alert the American people and to motivate them to combat the threat. To stop the growing movements of hate, we need to switch from defense to offense.

In the past, Jews were not able to fight back. This time around, we Jews are better equipped to join our American brothers and sisters and go on the offensive to defeat these radical movements.

From a historical perspective, Jews today have three comparative advantages in the fight against those radical movements: the existence of a Jewish homeland – the State of Israel; the unique strength and resources of the Jewish community in America; and the opportunity to establish a large coalition of many communities that share American values and recognize common enemies.

First, the Start-Up Nation is the most dynamic and powerful shield that the Jewish people has ever known, dedicated to safeguard the Jewish people around the world. Israel is a strong American ally and shares American common values, at the same time that it faces common enemies. The US can draw on Israel’s knowledge and strength to combat radical movements at home.

Second, the Jewish-American community is the most successful immigrant community in the history of the US. Yet we are hesitant to utilize our resources and influence to fight against antisemitism. Jewish leaders must transform our mind-set from risk-averse to going on the offensive. We can use our leadership and resources to become a real game changer to put antisemites on the defensive.

Third, we must educate Jewish-Americans about our personal responsibility to seriously fight hate. The Jews in America need to become active members of the coalitions to fight hate. The Jewish people, better than any other, understands the horrific repercussions of hate, and as a result American Jews have the opportunity to build partnerships and fight shoulder to shoulder with others facing racism, discrimination and bigotry in America.

To combat these radical movements, we must use all legal resources at our disposal to research, analyze, document and act against extremist individuals and organizations that pose serious dangers to our community. We need to be familiar with their agenda, goals and objectives. We need to expose their illegal activities, learn about their plans, and alert the appropriate authorities, organizations and the media. We must create real-time tools to prevent and stop extremist attacks.

The Center for Combating Hate in America (C4CHA.org), a newly founded watchdog group and action center, is bringing these strategies together, leading the charge against violent radical movements in America. It will diminish the influence of hate groups and bigots by researching their members, networks and activities, exposing their work to the public, and alerting authorities to imminent threats stemming from radicals and extremists.

It’s about time we stop being passive and risk-averse. We must respond to all violent hate attacks with strength and unity. We should go on offense and join forces with other allies to combat this evil at all costs.

The writer is an Israeli-American philanthropist. adam@milsteinff.org


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