By Steven Windmueller, Ph.D.
As extremists on the political right seek to discredit American Jews, the BDS Movement and its allies on the left are committed to undermining Israel. For the first time in American history, Jews are contending with actual threats from both political extremes.
There is a new wave of anti-Semitism in America driven by a number of factors as referenced in an earlier piece (February 28, 2017) found on this site.
Beyond the headlines in the media over bomb threats, cemetery desecrations, and acts of individual harassment, all directed against Jewish Americans and their institutions, the latest report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center spells out an even more disturbing picture of “Hate and Extremism: The Radical Right Enters the Mainstream” (Intelligence Report: Spring 2017, Issue 162). Similarly, on the political left the BDS Movement is being described as an effort to dismantle the Jewish State. In the history of this nation, anti-Semitic actions were either directed from the right or the left, today there are challenges emerging from both political factions.
In 2016, according to the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center), there are more than 900 hate groups operating in the United States, making this one of the most significant periods of hate expression in the history of this nation.
|Themes||Radical Right||Extreme Left|
|Primary Case||Jews as non-patriots||Israel as a criminal state|
|Organizing Strategies||Conspiracies advanced charging Jewish control of government, financial institutions and the media||Equate Israel with Nazi-like behaviors|
|Message(s)||Create doubt about America’s Jews as true patriots; depict Jews and their organizations as disloyal to this nation||Promote the BDS Movement, seeking to isolate and marginalize Israel|
|Tools||Social Media, Right-Wing Publications and Public Events||Rallies, Demonstrations, Sit-Ins|
|Target(s)||Media-Public Opinion-Grass Roots Groups||Campus-Corporations-Churches-Community/Civic Organizations|
|Goal(s)||Undermining the image of American Jewry; questioning Jewish loyalty to America||Seeking to weaken the image of the Jewish State; undermine support of Israel with target audiences|
|Bottom-line||Jews described as disloyal, non-white, and not legitimate citizens.||Israel depicted as a violator of human rights, disregarding UN resolutions.|
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In a disruptive and divided political climate of deep partisanship and rancor, where there is minimal sanctioning of abusive rhetoric and anti-social behavior, the spawning ground for hate is more easily introduced. Where public messaging today readily dismisses “politically correct” ideas in the name of national security and patriotism, an unsettling social climate emerges.
Social media has increasingly served as a platform for hate messaging in the form of conspiracy theories and the promulgation of “false facts.” The presence of hundreds of extremist websites joined together by links has produced an interlocking system of hate speech. With the marginalization of factual information, it becomes easier to market messages of political hate, creating an environment not only conducive to hate rhetoric but also to physical abuse. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that such practices as immigrant bashing, assaults on Muslims, and racial profiling would likewise generate attacks on the Jewish community and the State of Israel.
Unpacking the Assault on Jews, Judaism and the State of Israel:
This current wave of anti-Semitism/anti-Israelism incorporates a specific set of targets and strategies:
- Portraying the policies of the United States and the West as serving “Zionist” interests, benefiting the State of Israel and supporting Jewish “international goals.”
- Identifying Jews as undermining Western concepts, universal values, and American interests.
- Attacking Judaism as a false and corrupt religious tradition.
- Accusing Israel of “Nazi-like” practices and ideas while associating Israeli leaders with Hitler, employing terms such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes to describe and document Israel’s behavior.
- Introducing conspiracy theories as a way of linking Jews to more sinister behaviors, i.e. control of international business and banking, “Zionist” domination of U.S. foreign policy.
To achieve their basic goals of isolating and stigmatizing Israel, the Jewish people, and Judaism, today’s actors and critics are employing specific tactics:
- Advancing boycotts, sanctions and disinvestment (BDS) campaigns directed at Israel and designed as well to isolate and delegitimize those who are identified as part of the “pro-Israel” community. Here one ought to be reminded that of laws and regulations invoked by the Nazis contained many of the same characteristics designed to intimate and isolate Jews.
- Introducing one-sided resolutions that are designed to single out Israel and its policies.
- Framing hate messages against Israel, Jews, and Judaism in the name of promoting international order and bringing forth “truth.”
- Employing social media, creating written and verbal threats, and harassing Jewish/Israeli spokespersons.
- Justifying and even sanctioning physical attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions.
- Introducing in the international media and cyberspace misleading headlines, defamatory cartoons, and stories inaccurately portraying Jews, Judaism and Israel.
- Promoting conspiracy theories about Jews and the State of Israel, while maintaining the mantra of Holocaust denial.
Beyond the American experience, traditional anti-Semitic institutions and extremist groups worldwide have begun to adopt many of the current themes being orchestrated in the United States by hate organizations.
In the End:
Contemporary anti-Semitism remains rooted in its traditional assault on the status of Jews. Today, it also represents a widening battleground, in part created by the contemporary environment within this nation, encompassing the case against the very existence of a Jewish State, the Jew as citizen, and by extension an assault on particular aspects of Western civilization which are seen as “Jewishly” inspired or controlled.
Steven Windmueller Ph.D., on behalf of the Wind Group, Consulting for the Jewish Future.