Terra Incognita: Growing anti-Jewish rhetoric in the U.S.

This is quite convenient: to take a tiny minority group like Jews and accuse them constantly and systematically of being white supremacists.

Activist Linda Sarsour addresses attendees at a vigil for Nabra Hassanen, a 17 year old teenage Muslim girl killed by a bat-wielding motorist near a Virginia mosque, Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 20, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMR ALFIKY)
Activist Linda Sarsour addresses attendees at a vigil for Nabra Hassanen, a 17 year old teenage Muslim girl killed by a bat-wielding motorist near a Virginia mosque, Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 20, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMR ALFIKY)
They say: Antisemitism is not systemic. Jews are white supremacists. Jews have dual loyalty and pledge allegiance to Israel. That is the new nexus of anti-Jewish rhetoric percolating up in the US among activists and even in Congress.
It began innocently enough with criticism of Israel and attempts to connect that criticism to other social justice priorities. But over time, the whispering campaign has grown to a crescendo that legitimizes a worldview that is rapidly becoming more toxic.
We need to understand this growing discussion as part of a puzzle. Each piece forms its part, and together the parts become a milieu that fosters hatred against Jews in the US.
Let’s start with a video put out by Jewish Voice for Peace two years ago in which activist Linda Sarsour speaks “on antisemitism.” She claims that “the same people that hate Jews hate Muslims, they hate LGBTQ people, I mean they’re usually pretty anti-black and unconditionally pro-law enforcement, so there’s a connection among these groups of people.”
Ok, great. Good point. But she doesn’t stop there. “I want to make a distinction that while antisemitism is something that impacts Jewish Americans, it’s different than anti-black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic.”
So Sarsour makes a point of first noting that Jews suffer discrimination, but then hiving them off and claiming hatred of Jews is different; it’s not even systemic.
“As a Jewish American, particularly a white Jewish American, you can still get services at a government agency.”
So she seeks to turn Jewish Americans into a separate category and also to label them “white.” Notice, in her discussions of Muslims, she doesn’t differentiate between white Muslims and black Muslims. Only Jews get the additional label “white.”
In the activism spaces that led to the rise of the Women’s March and other movements, there was an attempt to differentiate between Jews and all other American minorities, labeling Jews white.
Then we began to hear not only constituent and systemic references to Jews as “white” but accusations that Jews were responsible for the slave trade. This is a racist view that has dominated rhetoric around Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
When confronted with these accusations, Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory responded with a new twist. “Since that conversation, we’ve all learned a lot about how, while white Jews as white people uphold white supremacy, all Jews are targeted by it.”
Much as Sarsour had sought to differentiate between Jews and other minorities and the “nonsystemic” aspect of antisemitism, Mallory was noting that not only are Jews “white” but they uphold white supremacy.
With Bernie Sanders once again running for president, we now see tweets attacking him for white supremacy. “Bernie isn’t absolved of his whiteness because of his Jewishness. He, like all white Jews, are complicit in white supremacy,” writes one woman. “Say it with me: White Jews are white, white Jews are white, white Jews are white.”
The goal now among the far-Left in America is to first label antisemitism as not systemic and to downplay it. Then it is to label Jews “white,” and then to not only accept the whispering campaign that Jews ran the slave trade but that they are responsible for upholding “white supremacy.”
This is quite convenient: to take a tiny minority group like Jews and accuse them constantly and systematically of being white supremacists. No other group gets tarred with this hatred. No one attacks Armenian candidates and accuses them of upholding white supremacy, or Beto O’Rourke, or Joe Biden. Actual white people don’t get attacked as consistently as Jews in America are attacked and labeled “white.”
Now, the third piece of the puzzle is Ilhan Omar’s recent tirades accusing Jews of disliking her because she is Muslim and attacking other members of Congress for “allegiance” to a foreign country, often alongside statements about Israel.
The trend in Omar’s tweets has been to argue that Israel “hypnotizes” America, then to claim that support for it is “all about the Benjamins” and finally to argue against the “political influence in this country that says it’s okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
The campaign now against Jews in America is an incremental process. 1. Claim antisemitism isn’t racism; 2. Claim Jews are upholding white supremacy; and 3. Accuse Jews of allegiance to a foreign country. And this is a process that isn’t hidden away in some conspiracy chat room somewhere, but is being pushed by the rising stars of a new young and vibrant activist community that has taken hold.
It is difficult to confront this, because many parts of the agenda have been embraced by some left-leaning Jewish activists. Some of them think that the discussion of white supremacy is a good model to challenge Jews who embrace right-wing views. Others appear to come at this from a paternalistic standpoint and think these views are not so threatening, and want to partner with these voices to be involved with other causes.
The general trend is not a good one. There is no other minority group in America today being systematically told that they are white and have allegiance to a foreign country, and that racism against them is not systemic. No one uses this rhetoric against Hindu Americans and no one so frequently attacks Chinese Americans with this rhetoric. And that’s how we know it’s an anti-Jewish agenda. Only Jewish candidates for office today are attacked for being “white”; not even white candidates are constantly berated for “whiteness.”
It is almost like the rhetoric is designed to turn Jews into a caricature as the highest example of “white supremacy” – as if saying “white Jews, white supremacy” enough will eventually get Americans to think “Jews are white supremacists.”
In case you were wondering if that’s exaggeration, The Boston Globe this week ran an op-ed titled “A shocking number of Jews have become willing collaborators in white supremacy.” Are Irish complicit? Catholics? Protestants? Nope. Just Jews. The narrative is: Jews and the slave trade. Jews and white supremacy. Antisemitism isn’t systemic. Jews have foreign allegiance.
The campaign is designed to attack other Jewish Americans and make them responsible for all of America’s problems.
If you don’t think this resonates across the political spectrum in the US, you need only look at the 2017 scandal in which former CIA agent Valerie Plame tweeted an article titled “America’s Jews are driving America’s wars.” She then claimed that it wasn’t an endorsement, but “Yes, very provocative, but thoughtful. Many neocon hawks ARE Jewish.” So she called an article “thoughtful” that was titled “America’s Jews are driving America’s wars.” That’s what they are calling “thoughtful” today in America. It’s only one step from there to “foreign allegiance.”
What’s important to point out is that no other group in America is blamed for “driving America’s wars.” Not white Protestants. Not Catholics. No one else. Only Jews. And that’s antisemitism – and it is systemic. To systematically always blame Jews and always find “the Jew” behind every problem in America, from foreign wars to white supremacy and slavery, is antisemitism. And it is systemic. And it is growing.