On January 9 the Anti-Defamation League responded to a wave of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers by noting that “none of these threats appear to be credible.” We now know that to be accurate after a teenager was detained in Israel, accused of making almost all the bomb threats. Yet for the past two months mass hysteria swept America and Jewish communities abroad that are tuned into the happenings in the US, with claims of a wave of “antisemitism.”If you were active on social media and had Jewish friends, you were constantly told about the fears people had.“One of the constituencies Trump mobilized was the KKK-style antisemitic extreme Right,” academic Lawrence Rosenthal was quoted as saying by NewAmericamedia.org. In a report compiled by ProPublica news analysts A.C. Thompson and Ken Schwencke on March 10, they claimed to have recorded 330 antisemitic incidents over three months. “In an angry and fearful nation, an outbreak of antisemitism.” While they mentioned swastika graffiti, they noted that “other [incidents] have been more serious, such as the 65 bomb threats targeting Jewish organizations.”France24 noted that Jewish communities were “rallying” against antisemitism. “Since the beginnings of 2017 there has been a wave of bomb threats.” Rabbi Yosef Goldman in Philadelphia told the program, “this is probably the greatest level of antisemitism this community has seen, certainly in my lifetime.” Rosenthal has said something similar about the rise of the extreme Right which “had been absolutely on the fringe of American politics for at least my lifetime – and I am getting old.”
France24 noted on March 3 that the five waves of bomb threats, which began on January 4, often consisted of “robo-calls” in which “the speaker’s voice is disguised using pitch-changing software.”Most of the hysteria about antisemitism pointed to President Donald Trump as the culprit. “In a time of Trump, Millenial Jews awaken to antisemitism,” claimed Politico. The Blaze asked what was behind the “wave of antisemitic violence.”Vox reminded us that the White House didn’t seem to care about the “wave” of antisemitism. “After a new wave of antisemitic attacks, White House appears skeptical about antisemitism.” Vox noted that “amid rising antisemitism, Trump’s lackluster response has Jewish groups concerned.”Rising antisemitism. A wave of attacks. Violent attacks.The worst in our lifetime. A radical KKK/right wing on the loose. That was the hysteria gripping America through mid-March. Now all those voices are silent. First, an African- American former journalist named Juan Thompson was charged with cyberstalking and accused of a half-dozen bomb threats. Then a Jewish American-Israeli was apprehended and accused of making almost all the bomb threats.In Arizona a well-publicized case of a menorah vandalized and turned into a swastika ended up being an African- American teen and his friendsA 65-year-old Hispanic man named Pasquale Vargas from Brooklyn was accused of drawing swastikas in Penn Station in New York. No KKK. No Trump supporters.So far the main culprits behind the “wave” of antisemitism in America have been a Jew, black teens, a black journalist and an old Hispanic man.This doesn’t fit the hysterical narrative we were fed for months. For those who say that for the first time in their life they are experiencing antisemitism, they should preface that now by saying “for the first time in my life I’m experience antisemitism from a Jewish teenager in Israel.”Media hype, especially on social media, helped spread fear and hysteria over a nonexistent bogeyman. This was fed by an intentional attempt by many to ignore caution and facts. If the ADL said in January that the bomb threats were not credible, why were they reported as credible through March? If France24 noted that they were robo-calls likely from the same source, why were they considered part of a “wave” of antisemitism? One of the major narratives during the “scare” was that the US president was ignoring the seriousness of the threats.The crux of this story occurred in late February when the president reportedly claimed the antisemitism could be “false flags.” If you read the articles behind this story, something interesting is revealed. Trump met with attorney-generals, and Pennsylvania Attorney-General Josh Shapiro told journalists that the president said, “sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people – or make others – look bad.” This cryptic statement launched a tidal wave of media hysteria claiming Trump was claiming the attacks were “false flags.”Our newspaper reported that “Jewish groups disturbed by Trump’s false flag suggestion.”David Schraube, a lecturer and senior research fellow at the California Constitutional Center, wrote an op-ed at Haaretz: “Trump’s antisemitic ‘false flag’ allegation is dangerous.”Sam Kestenbaum wrote something similar at The Forward: “Why Trump’s ‘false flag’ comment about Jews and antisemitism is so dangerous.” He noted that “in farright, conspiracy-fixated circles, many believe these antisemitic threats are in fact ‘false flags,’ nefariously carried out by Jews in order to tear down Trump.”Aaron Blake at The Washington Post claimed “Trump is flirting with the idea that antisemitic incidents are false flags.”Trump never used the term “false flag,” but he did provide a correct analysis, apparently informed by what law enforcement told him, about the perpetrators. One perpetrator, charged days after Trump’s comments to the attorney- generals, did carry out the threats to make someone look bad, and the rest were carried out as a hoax.Kestenbaum was shocked at the suggestion Jews might be responsible for the bomb threats. Well, shockingly, it turns out a Jewish teenager was. The narrative today of those who pushed the hysteria and invented the “false flag” quote is that the teenager accused of the attacks is just “a very disturbed young man.”Gone is the hysteria about the “wave of antisemitism,” the supposed “worst in our lifetime.” So if a “disturbed young man” was responsible for most of this why didn’t the major media and community leaders ever attempt to present a more nuanced narrative? Jerry Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, noted on March 23 that “10 days ago and again this morning Jewish leaders were briefed by top officials from the FBI.”Unprecedented resources were put into finding the source of the calls – which, since January, were suspected to be the work of a single person. It was known for weeks, perhaps months, that the source was not in the US. Yet from all the reports you wouldn’t know that. The nuanced and accurate reports in January about the nature of the calls was purposely hidden in February and early March to encourage hysteria.In early March the JTA reported that US senators were seeking to renew grants of $20 million a year in funds for security assistance, much of which has gone to Jewish institutions. Representative Lou Barletta mentioned the bomb threats: “This is domestic terrorism, and the full force of the law needs to be brought against the perpetrators.”Why were people still using the bomb threats as an excuse for funding in March, when law enforcement knew that they were almost all not credible and that this was not a case of terrorism, but a disgusting hoax? For how long have law enforcement known the source of the calls was Israel, not the US? Yet we were misled again and again and again by mass media and organizations that drove hysteria and led many Jews in America to believe they were experiencing a wave of hatred. Why weren’t they told that their children being evacuated from schools were likely under no threat and that the source of the calls was abroad? Today, when the source is known, why have we not heard one person come forward who exaggerated the “false flag” story, admitting they were wrong? Isn’t it time for some soul searching? The truth is that we don’t want to discuss real acts of antisemitism because it might reveal something troubling.Antisemitism in America is mostly not carried out by KKK bogeymen, it is carried out by teenagers in Arizona and middle-aged men in New York, and they don’t fit the pro- Trump profile.No one wants to talk about antisemitism among the Hispanic and black communities in the US, because that requires tough questions about minority groups that are supposed to be part of a “people of color alliance” against racism.The rise of Trump has led to alliances between Jewish and Muslim activists, and that alliance would be harmed if people started to ask tough questions about antisemitism among some Muslims.In Canada several imams and mosques have recently been implicated for hosting preachers who called to murder Jews. Isn’t that a more dangerous strain of antisemitism than someone making a hoax call? A man preaching to hundreds to “kill them one by one,” as was done in Canada – real, scary, fascist right-wing Islamist antisemitism, visible to all? The past few months have illustrated that not only were we lied to again and again in a systematic campaign to foster mass hysteria, but that when actual antisemitic culprits were arrested there were attempts to not hold them responsible or highlight who they are. Why have people been shouting “antisemitism” and then when teenagers are arrested and the police say “disorderly conduct,” the community falls silent? Because it doesn’t fit the desired narrative.
Wave of bomb threats called to Jewish commmunity centers across the US , possible antisemitism(credit: REUTERS)