The antisemitism noose is getting tighter - opinion

Antisemitism is getting stronger again in the US and Europe.

Antisemitic graffiti on a Jewish family house in the city center of Lyon in France. (photo credit: TWITTER)
Antisemitic graffiti on a Jewish family house in the city center of Lyon in France.
(photo credit: TWITTER)

The evil that once empowered the Holocaust so many years ago appears to be gaining a foothold once again. Hate speech and violence leveled against Jews is testing the waters again to see what perpetrators can get away with before upping the level of hostilities, especially as consequences have proved to be nonexistent. 

Enemies of Jews recognize that we no longer stand alone and when pushed, will not quietly succumb. In no small part, this is due to the sovereign State of Israel, which has served as our buttress and refuge since its recognition by the United Nations in 1947. Anti-Jewish forces have been put on notice that Israel will not sit idly by while the blood of the Jewish people is shed, as had been the case during the 1930s and 40s which helped enable the Holocaust to happen.

Israel is not incidental to Judaism, but integral to Jewish survival and our enemies, like it or not, understand this reality. The protection afforded is so formidable that those who hate Jews have figured out that they must contend with Israel first, before attempting to challenge the viability of the Jewish people. Trial and error have yielded several diversionary tactics, not the least of which is cloaking their hostility under the guise of anti-Zionism. This appears more tolerated by the press and so-called liberal politicians.

Anyone minimizing antipathy towards Israel only serves to reinforce contempt for Jews in general. It further enables targeted destruction and violence by those intent on instilling fears within the Jewish community.

These may emanate from a diverse group that includes white supremacists, neo-Nazis, radical Islamic factions, Palestinian and Iranian subgroups, and so on. Each is emboldened with every action that challenges Israel and the Jewish people, particularly when directed by Iran or Hamas. 

 A protestor carries a white supremacist and antisemitic sign outside the Kenosha County Courthouse on the second day of jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US, November 17, 2021.  (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN) A protestor carries a white supremacist and antisemitic sign outside the Kenosha County Courthouse on the second day of jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US, November 17, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

The effect is magnified when President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris stand down from issuing strong condemnations. This, combined with the seemingly endless United Nations anti-Israel condemnations, has enabled homegrown agitation on campuses across America from the likes of Students for Justice in Palestine and others.

Each appears to relish challenging Israel’s legitimacy, as well as the constitutional liberty of Jews to speak, organize, and to defend their faith and Middle East heritage. Thus, the obscenity of antisemitism escalates because it can. I am sure such challenges would never be tolerated by other groups, should such discrimination be shifted to them. 

Over the past decade, a virus-like anti-Israel malady has been affixing its foothold on campuses of higher education in the United States and abroad. At first, angry provocateurs sought out pro-Israel students, faculty, and speakers brought on campus to educate others about Jewish issues. The early interactions appeared relatively civil. However, as coverage from press and television crews expanded, rhetoric intensified. Self-labeled as anti-Zionists, protesters can still be heard shouting recognizable antisemitic characterizations, some laced with intimidation and others with outright threats that must be taken seriously - sadly, they are not.

With time, belligerent actors grow bolder and function as if the First Amendment gives them an exclusive right to intimidate Jews. Again, the prevailing hostility appears to be effectively ignored.

Jewish students who thought they were shielded by the traditional protections offered to other discriminated groups on campus under Title VI of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 found they were mistaken. The law only prohibits discrimination based on race, color, and national origin and does not address organized acts of repeated religious discrimination. Even though this has been specifically recognized separately in Title VII regarding religious discriminatory employment practices, the omission limited recourse from the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

This failure may yet be remedied by individual state religious discrimination legislation or by amending Title VI by adding discrimination based upon religious targeting to the other proscribed discriminations. This is a reasonable entitlement that other groups appear to enjoy while their children pursue their education unmolested.

When codified, broader federal protections could then benefit all students of all religious beliefs. This would be more efficient and potentially more durable than former president Donald Trump’s 12/11/2019 Executive Order, which was intended to extend protections against antisemitism by virtue of challengeable ethnic, racial, or national characteristics.

In light of the adopted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, multiple levels of recourse may offset the untethered hatred associated with the economic terrorism tactics of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The war against antisemitism has proven complicated and must be fought simultaneously on a number of fronts.

Antisemitism awareness courses need to be incorporated within middle-school and high-school class curriculums across the United States, to achieve the best results. This may serve to enlighten students to take a stand and raise their voices in opposition to any targeted travesties meant to demean, delegitimize and existentially challenge vulnerable groups in a similar way as how Jews are currently being targeted.

Biden and Harris’ actions will eventually be judged by future generations, not so much for what each did during these difficult times, but for what each should have done and could have done to ensure the constitutionally protected American way of life for American Jews. 

Meanwhile, we await the US Senate vote to confirm Deborah E. Lipstadt, of Georgia, to be Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. The delay sends a particularly disturbing message to the American Jewish community, accompanied by a poor prognosis for Israel. The risks are real and the future of the Jewish people, I fear, may be in the early stages of jeopardy; especially in light of Biden abandoning the citizens of Afghanistan to the Taliban.

The writer is author of the geopolitical thriller First the Saturday People and Then the..., and an op-ed contributor to The Miami Herald, The Washington Examiner, The Jerusalem Post, and other media resources.