American Anti-Semitism Breaks My Heart

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 13.59.23I 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.”

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“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:

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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.”
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As Shapiro wrote in The Daily Wire,

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.”

He described it this way in National Review:

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:

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I know Seth Mandel, who writes for Commentary. His wife, Bethany, writes for the Federalist. She and I are longtime Facebook friends. Her response:

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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,

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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.

 

There are 161 comments.

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  1. Lily Bart Inactive
    Lily Bart
    @LilyBart

    Donald Trump appears to bring out the absolute worst in people.  I think its the bully persona.

    • #1
  2. Lily Bart Inactive
    Lily Bart
    @LilyBart

    Donald Trump also refused to condemn the anti-Semitic supporters. “I don’t have a message to the fans, a woman wrote an article that was inaccurate,” he said, adding that he had not read the profile but had heard it was “nasty.”

    Manifestly unfit for the presidency.

    • #2
  3. Barry Jones Thatcher
    Barry Jones
    @BarryJones

    I will stand with you. I have thought there was more than a whiff of misogyny around the Trump campaign and now this. Not good at all the degree of vehemence that surrounds the man.

    • #3
  4. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    At what point does this matter in an election?

    Maybe this will get more attention now that he is the presumed nominee and it will start to matter.

    Is this something the Democrats can exploit?

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I’m sitting here in shock, Claire. Unlike you, I did experience a couple of anti-Semitic slurs as a kid, as a result of beating each one at a game and at an opportunity. Petty stuff. I’ve taken my husband’s name, so I’m not obviously Jewish. But I claim my heritage proudly. Not relevant to the U.S., maybe, but Netanyahu recently stated that either Iran or ISIS–I’m so rattled at the moment I can’t remember which–wanted to finish off the job that the Nazis started. So now what?

    • #5
  6. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    I believe this is result of social media and the anonymity of it, and identity politics. We all know anti Semitism is the canary in the Coal mine, an indicator for worse things to come. To be honest no matter who wins this upcoming election I think it will get worse before it gets better.

    • #6
  7. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Three notes:

    1. The antisemitism in America has always been there in the rural and blue collar areas.  I went to a high end college prep school and was friends (and neighbors) with lots of Jews during that time.  I was shocked, too, to discover it so prevalent among students of poorer families (who had never met a Jew in all their lives) when I went off to college.  Anti-Jewish jokes and slurs (such as, if asked to borrow money and then to refuse it, to hear, “man, why are you such a Jew?  It’s just a couple of bucks,”, or if one was to refuse to loan out some item, to hear “Why are you Jewing me?”) abounded.  This is not a new phenomenon, it’s just more vocal now.
    2. The internet makes these things cheap.  A vocal minority can harass others out of proportion to actual numbers.
    3. The antisemitism of the Left has prepared the ground for this garbage.  There was a time when they would have counteracted this trash, but the endless anti-Israel rants have made this filth acceptable.
    • #7
  8. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    BrentB67:At what point does this matter in an election?

    Maybe this will get more attention now that he is the presumed nominee and it will start to matter.

    Is this something the Democrats can exploit?

    They would have to pivot away from their own antisemitism first.

    • #8
  9. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    I feel ill seeing that.

    Maybe Bethany Mandel is right.  Maybe it is time to get armed.

    • #9
  10. Eudaimonia Rick Inactive
    Eudaimonia Rick
    @RickPoach

    Whenever I’ve met an actual anti-semite, I’ve always been shocked. It’s like an “uncanny valley” reaction to their thought process.

    That said, Trump definitely has a problem with a segment of his supporters. Mark Levin has seen it. Nick Searcy has seen it.

    If Trump is to remain a viable candidate, he absolutely must address this segment and let them know that they are not welcome. And yes, of course the Left can exploit this, will exploit this, and probably already has exploited this. This is low hanging fruit for an Alinskyite.

    • #10
  11. Lily Bart Inactive
    Lily Bart
    @LilyBart

    Mate De:I believe this is result of social media and the anonymity of it, and identity politics. We all know anti Semitism is the canary in the Coal mine, an indicator for worse things to come. To be honest no matter who wins this upcoming election I think it will get worse before it gets better.

    We have no real ‘leadership’.    What we have are self-interested, ambitious politicians exploiting peoples’ anger and fears, and pitting us against each other for their own benefit.

    • #11
  12. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    As a WASP married to a Jew, I have given this a lot of thought over the past 45 years.

    Yes,  there is a lot of anti-semitism in the US.

    I have been following the hate crimes statistics 2011-2015, and Jews always lead the list of targets–4-5 times as many as Muslims.  (Though the entire total of all such crimes is a negligible given the size of our population.).

    As an aside, since the stats I mention are prior to 2016, I’m not so sure we can blame Trump.  “Would you let your daughter marry one?”  is a cliché of the old “country-club anti-semitism; in Trump’s case the answer was, sure, no problem!

    i think you were on the right track with blaming the International and domestic Left.  The so-tolerant Europeans are benignly deaf while the crowds chant, “Hamas! Hamas! All Jews to the gas!”

    I’ll bet Sanders is getting his share of anti Semitic tweets from .HillBilly supporters.Is there a substrate in our country of dangerous anti-semitism, given the tweets you quote?

    Yes, just like there’s a substrate of misogyny. I know you’re thinking , “Trump again!” But let’s review:  Misogyny the reason the MSM dropped Clinton like a dirty sock in 2008, and the reason they were so lukewarm about her in 2016 as long as Uncle Joe had his toe in the water.

    As your guy Romney said in ’12, “I’m not responsible for everything my supporters believe”.

    But here’s what I would really like to know, and I would value your perspective:  why do so many American Jews not take their own side?  They call for boycott and divestment of Israel.  In academe, where there are many, they collude in, or at least don’t protest, the kind of institutionalized anti-semitism we’ve read so much about lately.

    I agree with a Jewish commentator who exhorted her co- religionists, or co-culturalists:  Pull out your money!!

    Is this an Irène Nemirovsky sort of reaction?

    Because trying to distance yourself from the interests and fate of other Jews won’t help you.  It never has.

    Dear Ms Berlinsky, thank you for this post.  I acknowledge and respect your point of view and I would value your insight into the point I’ve tried to elucidate.

    • #12
  13. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    But we have to unify behind the new leader of the party! He’s bringing in so many new voters and making the tent bigger!

    Every person, including Peter Robinson, who makes excuses for why we have to get behind Trump needs to know with eyes wide open who they are joining arms with. Sadly, most of them will fall in line anyway. I cannot believe what is happening to this country, to my former party, to this world.

    • #13
  14. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    You folk have got to stop thinking that what is happening on twitter and facebook is reality.  It is an artificial virtual universe ran by computer.  We live in a country of 330 million people on a planet that is populated by 7 billion.  Out of that a very small number on the left and maybe the right do not like jews for whatever reason.  If it was not for twitter or facebook the rest of the world would not even know this small number of haters existed.

    • #14
  15. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Barry Jones:I will stand with you. I have thought there was more than a whiff of misogyny around the Trump campaign and now this. Not good at all the degree of vehemence that surrounds the man.

    Surrounds the man? Is he enmeshed in anti-Semites?

    We all know that Marxists and fans of Communists have taken over the Democratic Party. Obama is the president, you know.

    Trump will have to deal with a lot of unpleasant people in this cycle. Some are voting for him, some are voting for Hillary.

    This strain of anti-Semitism that supports Trump is real, there are probably a bunch who don’t support Trump (and probably won’t vote for him) but will say and do these horrible things.

    Claire, if you are concerned about anti-Semitism in America — please don’t ignore those who are to the left of center and who will not ever vote for a Republican, not even Trump. Anti-Semitism and bigotry of all kinds will flourish in every society. It’s been here all along.

    Growing up in Seattle is not representative of the rest of America — it’s a little boutique center at the edge of the country — especially during the years of your childhood.

    • #15
  16. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I am surprised at your experiences growing up, Claire. I was raised in New York and moved to Seattle in the late 1960s. My father had been born a Jew, but converted to Christianity when quite young. My mother was an Irish Catholic. My brothers and I were raised as Christians. However, one never forgets where one comes from, nor do certain others. Throughout my youth I saw antisemitism, such acts as my older brother being denied entry in to the Westside Tennis Club based on my father’s background. I heard stupid, insensitive comments from otherwise very decent people, things like “Jewing someone down” or some similar remark. When I moved to Seattle in the late 60s a good friend of mine who came out at the same time was rejected for membership at the Washington Athletic Club until other members of his law firm threatened to quit if he were not admitted to membership. He became the first Jewish memberof the WAC.

    Antisemitism has always been there in this country. I heard an enormous amount of it expressed by Blacks when I taught in Bedford-Stuyvesant and even in Seattle when very few Jews were even known to the Blacks expressing those views. It has died down over the years, but a spark always seems to remain ready to flare into full flame, remarkably, in people who likely have never met a Jew.

    • #16
  17. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    There are a lot of [CoC violations] on the internet, many of whom are “internet brave” – underachievers who wouldn’t do anything in real life but are fearless anonymously thanks to the perception of the lack of consequences.

    There are also a lot of conspiracy theorists and the longest lasting conspiracy I can think of is the secret Jewish conspiracy.

    Combine those two facts with a man who pitches himself as an avatar against the manifestly crazy Democratic agenda, which just happens to explicitly pin the blame for all problems on whites and men (and especially white men), and it is manifestly unsurprising that crazed anti-Semite whackjobs dislike it when the avatar of their hopes is attacked by reporters who are Jewish or could be Jewish or maybe are controlled by the secret Jewish conspiracy.

    These people are mostly concerned with turning the largesse of government in their favor, or against their enemies, so I wouldn’t consider them “right” in the sense of the American left/right divide. If Donald Trump was somehow running the same campaign in the Democratic primary on the idea of seizing power back to blue-collar workers and against the liberal elite they’d be just as enthusiastic.

    • #17
  18. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    skipsul:

    BrentB67:At what point does this matter in an election?

    Maybe this will get more attention now that he is the presumed nominee and it will start to matter.

    Is this something the Democrats can exploit?

    They would have to pivot away from their own antisemitism first.

    Nope. Jews on the left are in denial about it, and are convinced that anti-Semitism exists only on the right. This phenomenon only reinforces their delusions.

    • #18
  19. Lily Bart Inactive
    Lily Bart
    @LilyBart

    Lily Bart: We have no real ‘leadership’. What we have are self-interested, ambitious politicians exploiting peoples’ anger and fears, and pitting us against each other for their own benefit.

    And the more I think about it, the more I realize this is the nature of man.   And this is the reason that limited government is to be preferred.

    • #19
  20. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    This sudden turn to overt antisemitism shocks me. I have known it was on the rise in Europe, but I suppose I was naive enough to believe that the Jews and Israel still had a friend in the principled Americans here. As noted, Antisemitism was never really gone. However, for most of my life the social pressure against antisemitism was very strong. It seems that social pressure has drastically changed.

    Progressives carry some blame here. They’ve resorted to an underhanded Antisemitism in their pursuit of the Middle East peace policy. But Conservatives can’t claim the moral high ground any more. It’s infuriating for me to see evil plain as day and watch people flock to it. Don’t they see what they are doing? Don’t they see what they are praising? What’s worse, that they don’t know, or that they do know and don’t care?

    This will not end well for our nation.

    • #20
  21. Frank Monaldo Member
    Frank Monaldo
    @FrankMonaldo

    Claire,

    Anti-Semitism is ugly and dangerous, and we all need to denounce it and struggle against it whenever and where ever is appears. My only observation is that when we have slow growth and economic uncertainty, there are many who will look for someone — anyone — to blame. Unfortunately, Jewish people are unjustly a traditional target.

    While we must denounce Anti-Semitism, we should recognize that if we can re-store robust economic growth and consequently hope, people will not so easily succumb to these devils in their nature.

    Frank

    • #21
  22. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    Eugene Kriegsmann:I am surprised at your experiences growing up, Claire. I was raised in New York and moved to Seattle in the late 1960s. My father had been born a Jew, but converted to Christianity when quite young. My mother was an Irish Catholic. My brothers and I were raised as Christians. However, one never forgets where one comes from, nor do certain others. Throughout my youth I saw antisemitism, such acts as my older brother being denied entry in to the Westside Tennis Club based on my father’s background. I heard stupid, insensitive comments from otherwise very decent people, things like “Jewing someone down” or some similar remark. When I moved to Seattle in the late 60s a good friend of mine who came out at the same time was rejected for membership at the Washington Athletic Club until other members of his law firm threatened to quit if he were not admitted to membership. He became the first Jewish memberof the WAC.

    Antisemitism has always been there in this country. I heard an enormous amount of it expressed by Blacks when I taught in Bedford-Stuyvesant and even in Seattle when very few Jews were even known to the Blacks expressing those views. It has died down over the years, but a spark always seems to remain ready to flare into full flame, remarkably, in people who likely have never met a Jew.

    Yes! American Jews fought tirelessly for black civil rights–and what do they get?  Jesse Jackson with his “Hymie Town” comment.  Al Sharpton inciting a murderous anti-Semitic riot.  Omega’s pal Farrakhan, a virulent anti-Semite.  As we say in church, “Are there others you would name?”

    I blame what is oxymoronically called “Liberation Theology–a historically ignorant attempt to displace the Children of Israel in favor of people of African descent.

    But nobody, on either side, ever calls black leaders on their–you  couldn’t call them micro-aggressions; more properly macro-aggressions–against the Jews.

    • #22
  23. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    I have never encountered anti-Semitism except for anti-Israel sentiment. So I’m inclined to think it’s just the way online anonymity empowers trolls. But perhaps something has changed.

    We should be careful not to leap to assumptions of bad faith in some cases. Skipsul mentions someone equating Jews with being cheap, but Jack Benny (a popular Jewish comedian) often made that joke himself. That’s not to say it could only be a joke.

    I agree with Matede, though. Historically, rising anti-Semitism warns of severe troubles for all.

    • #23
  24. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Austin Murrey: There are a lot of [CoC violations] on the internet, many of whom are “internet brave” – underachievers who wouldn’t do anything in real life but are fearless anonymously thanks to the perception of the lack of consequences.

    I call them “keyboard cowards”.

    • #24
  25. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Aaron Miller: Skipsul mentions someone equating Jews with being cheap, but Jack Benny (a popular Jewish comedian) often made that joke himself. That’s not to say it could only be a joke.

    Indeed.  In the context where I heard it often used, it meant far more than merely being frugal, and was the least offensive of their metaphors.  As said by others above, this was always from people who had never even met a Jew.

    • #25
  26. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Concretevol:

    Austin Murrey: There are a lot of [CoC violations] on the internet, many of whom are “internet brave” – underachievers who wouldn’t do anything in real life but are fearless anonymously thanks to the perception of the lack of consequences.

    I call them “keyboard cowards”.

    no lifeExample 1.

    • #26
  27. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Aaron Miller:

     I agree with Matede, though. Historically, anti-Semitism warns of severe troubles for all.

    I consider anti-Semitism a bellweather for the rise of familism in a society.

    The higher the anti-Semitism in a society the more likely things go off the rails fast because of a lack of societal trust.

    • #27
  28. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    The larger issue isn’t that there are anti-Semites on the internet harassing Jews. There will always be jerks and idiots. The problem is that they are harassing them for being critical of a Presidential candidate. A candidate – despite having a daughter and grandchildren that are Jewish – has not condemned these anti-Semites.

    • #28
  29. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    The problem with the anonymous bigots is that the more they sound out, the more it can appear that societal pressure is appearing on their side. The internet certainly facilitates their anonymity, but it also facilitates an air of false legitimacy about their claims.

    The concern that presumed nominee Trump hasn’t denounced such things is real. Instead, remaining silent, he fosters this false legitimacy. It doesn’t speak well to the man, or to our nation as a whole.

    • #29
  30. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Disturbing? Perhaps.

    Worrisome? Not so much.

    In a nation of 330 Million, a few nut jobs with a dozen anonymous Twitter accounts can stir up a lot of trouble. And as we have seen time and time again the left is very adept at creating “hate crimes.” They defined this Orwellian thought crime, they wrote the laws on them, and they perpetrate them with great regularity as a means of political warfare.

    I’m not saying anti-Semitism doesn’t exist. It exists as surely as hatred is a part of the human condition. But there are no massive marches of white sheets or brown shirts in the streets.

    There are people who are getting a rise out you and other members of the media. What I am not seeing from these journalists is journalism. You know, working with Twitter and others to find out who these people are and confronting them with the antiseptic sunshine of exposure.

    I’m no fan of Donald Trump. But before we start the call to arms on this, where’s the proof that these aren’t being generated by a bunch of people laughing their rear ends off in the basement of the DNC?

    Either way, less heat and more light, more thought and less fear.

    • #30

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