Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
I was born in California, and I grew up in Manhattan and Seattle. In Manhattan, I was surrounded by other Jewish kids. I went to a Jewish preschool and kindergarten, and to Jewish summer camps. In Seattle, I was the only Jewish kid in our neighborhood. There were maybe two or three other Jews in my elementary school. My family was a member of the Jewish Community Club, where I learned to swim. I never heard an anti-Semitic comment as a child or a teenager. Not one.
When my grandparents described growing up in Weimar and Nazi Germany, they were describing another universe. America had defeated the Nazis and had everything the Third Reich stood for.
The first time I heard an American express a hostile attitude toward Jews, I was in my late twenties. I don’t believe I experienced such a charmed childhood because people were afraid of expressing their real feelings about Jews. I believe it was because America was not an anti-Semitic country.
Even recently, I thought American anti-Semitism was a phenomenon confined to the far-left. But there’s been an eruption of anti-Semitism in America lately, and it isn’t coming from the left at all.
James Kirchick has written about it at Commentary:
When the journalist Julia Ioffe published a profile of Melania Trump for GQ, she had reason to expect that supporters of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee would be disappointed by its portrayal of Donald Trump’s third wife. “Her journey to marrying The Donald is like a fairy tale, or a too-crazy-to-believe rom-com,” Ioffe revealed. “It’s a story full of naked ambition, stunning beauty, a shockingly Trump-like dad, and even some family secrets.” What Ioffe, who is Jewish, did not expect was a torrent of anti-Semitic abuse and death threats.
On Twitter, the candidate’s anonymous backers superimposed images of Ioffe’s face over those of concentration camp inmates. On her voicemail, they left recordings of Hitler speeches. “This is not a heavily critical article. There is nothing in it that is untrue,” Ioffe told the Guardian. “If this is how Trump supporters swing into action, what happens when the press looks into corrupt dealings, for example, or is critical of his policies?”
Ioffe received calls from people telling her she “should be burned in an oven,” and “be shot in the head.”
“The irony of this,” wrote Ioffe,
“is that today, when I was getting all of this horrible antisemitic [redacted] that I’ve only ever seen in Russia, I was reminded that 26 years ago today my family came to the US from Russia. We left Russia because we were fleeing antisemitism. It’s been a rude shock for everyone.”
Melania Trump, when asked about this, said Ioffe had “provoked” her fans.
But this is the sort of thing everyone on the Internet with a “Jewish name” now sees regularly:
It “has been clear for some time,”wrote Eric Wemple at The Washington Post, “that criticizing Trump while being Jewish is a hazardous online activity.”
It’s not just me, of course. Jake Tapper of CNN now says he’s received anti-Semitic tweets “all day.” My friend Bethany Mandel, another orthodox Jew who opposes Trump, just bought herself a gun out of fear of unhinged Trump supporters. John Podhoretz of Commentary says he receives tweets consistently from “literally neo-Nazi White supremacists, all anonymous … I don’t think I can attribute being a supporter of Trump to being a validator or an expresser of these opinions, but something was let loose by him.” Noah Rothman of Commentary tweets, “It never ends. Blocking doesn’t help either. They have lists, on which I seem to find myself.”
I was wrong.
I’ve spent most of my career arguing that anti-Semitism in the United States is almost entirely a product of the political Left. I’ve traveled across the country from Iowa to Texas; I’ve rarely seen an iota of true anti-Semitism. I’ve sensed far more anti-Jewish animus from leftist college students at the University of California, Los Angeles, than from churches in Valencia. As an observer of President Obama’s thoroughgoing anti-Israel administration, I could easily link the anti-Semitism of the Left to its disdain for both Biblical morality and Israeli success over its primary Islamist adversaries. The anti-Semitism I’d heard about from my grandparents — the country-club anti-Semitism, the alleged white-supremacist leanings of rednecks from the backwoods — was a figment of the imagination, I figured.
I figured wrong. Donald Trump’s nomination has drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork. I’ve experienced more pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism since coming out against Trump’s candidacy than at any other time in my political career. Trump supporters have threatened me and other Jews who hold my viewpoint. They’ve blown up my e-mail inbox with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. They greeted the birth of my second child by calling for me, my wife, and two children to be thrown into a gas chamber. Yes, seriously. This isn’t a majority of Trump supporters, obviously. It’s not even a large minority. But there is a significant core of Trump support that not only traffics in anti-Semitism but celebrates it — and god-worships Trump as the leader of an anti-Jewish movement.
Yesterday, Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times’ deputy editor, spent eight hours re-tweeting the anti-Semitic abuse he’s been receiving:
I know Seth Mandel, who writes for Commentary. His wife, Bethany, writes for the Federalist. She and I are longtime Facebook friends. Her response:
Bethany has filed police reports in response to the death threats. So has Julia Ioffe. Last October, Bethany asked in The Forward why Trump wouldn’t stand up to his anti-Semitic fans. She thereafter received so many threats that she purchased a firearm.
As my friend Jason said a few hours ago,
So am I, boychick. In fact, I’m old enough to remember when neither side was.
Bethany’s column for Ha’aretz yesterday carried a headline I never in my life imagined I’d see: Jews Face a Precarious Future in a Trump America:
[William] Kristol was deemed by Breitbart as a “renegade Jew” for opposing Trump. What Kristol and other Jewish conservatives (myself included) are doing by taking on Trump, even if it means a GOP loss in November, is to try to protect the very fabric of the American experiment. And as is increasingly clear, our loss would mean the ascendency of hate, and an America as unpalatable for Jews as much of Europe already is.
To judge from what I’m seeing, America is already there. And it didn’t take much, either, which really breaks my heart.