A man prays at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 31, 2018.
(photo credit: CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS)
In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, two things are irrefutable: There are 11 dead innocent Jews and there is one hateful murderer. All else, as they say, is commentary.
The murderer is a classic antisemite of the most despicable sort. Regardless of the political contours of his warped mind, he believes one thing is certain: Jews have no right to live.
Sadly, this horror has brought forth a spate of finger pointing where people are looking to score political points by somehow attributing the deed to those they politically oppose.
This is harmful and wrong. If you want to look behind the curtain, beyond just the actions of the murderer, then you must conclude that the perpetrator here is antisemitism itself – a hatred that enables its adherents to blame anything and everything on Jews, attributing to them all the paranoid delusions that the irrationally hateful suffer from.
I have spent the last two years immersed in American college campuses helping to make the existential case for Israel. I have encountered not just rejection of Israel’s legitimacy, but the most vile Jew-hatred, over and over again, with little pushback from decent people.
There is a big distinction between free speech and moral conduct. I understand and support the right to voice your opinion, no matter how much I might disagree with it. But I also know that free speech cannot be the rationale for not calling out vile and hateful accusations.
What I have learned from my campus experience is that words have power. When antisemitism is excused because the speaker is someone whose political agenda I support, or is part of an ethnic or racial group that I don’t want to offend, then I have given my tacit support to that same antisemitism.
In the increasingly identity-centric world I encounter on campuses, where the world is conveniently divided between the privileged and the oppressed, the real loser is human dignity.
In the current calculus, Israel – and by extension and increasingly explicitly Jews – are privileged oppressors. Unworthy. Not deserving of common decency and respect.
Antisemitism thrives in this very conditional landscape.
The dastardly genius of antisemitism is that it provides fodder for all irrationally hateful people, regardless of their worldview. What unites the far Left and the far Right is antisemitism. Every purveyor of paranoid extremism provides a place of honor for the singularly nefarious role of the Jew.
How are we vermin, yet somehow rule the world? How are we both arrogant Chosen People of God, and also termites of Satan? Communist agitators who also own all the banks?
All of this madness ultimately leads to the same conclusion: Jews have no right to live; all Jews should die.
So to all those of good will who are shocked by this massacre, I implore and challenge you to call out and reject antisemitism wherever you find it. Antisemitism cannot be allowed to be a necessary product of a larger political agenda, or an unfortunate bi-product of a larger political platform.
Antisemitism is ultimately civilization’s acid test of decency. When it is tolerated, the floodgates of hatred and inhumanity will open in truly horrific fashion. This is history’s clear and irrefutable message.
Those who are rightfully appalled by the massacre in Pittsburgh should see this as an important shot across the bow, an important wake-up call – not the opportunity for partisan and petty finger pointing, but to see this as the warning to look at how we as a society can let antisemitism once again raise its hateful head.
Antisemitism is never excusable, it is never something to be put into a larger context. Doing so is an invitation to a civilizational meltdown.
We can, we must do better.
The writer is founder and CEO of Reservists on Duty.
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