It is often said that anti-Semitism is the “world’s oldest hatred,” emerging in antiquity when the two-thousand-year Jewish exile began.
On the far-left, it targets the modern representation of Jews as a collective, Israel. Hiding behind the few anti-Zionist Jews who fail to realize their own fate, the radical left exploits the memory of the Holocaust to distort history and portray Jews as the oppressor. Israel is seen not as a safe-haven for an oppressed people, but rather as the last relic of European colonialism in the Middle East. Left-wing anti-Semitism is not surprising, for it was modern leftism’s ideological founder, Karl Marx, that wrote in On the Jewish Question: “What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly G-d? Money…the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.” In this vein, the left demands that Jews prove that they are “good Jews” by assimilating into secular society and leaving behind their long-mocked “particularism.” Orthodox Jews and Zionists, who reject these attempts at cultural genocide, are thereby designated as racists, colonialists, and even Nazis themselves. This deadly logic enables Jews, such as Bernie Sanders, to associate with Louis Farrakhan acolytes while claiming to fight anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, anti-Semitism on the right rages on as well. Neo-Nazism and white supremacy are widely condemned, yet more subtle forms of Jew-hatred endure. For instance, in Delaware, Sussex County GOP vice chairwoman posted despicable comments on Facebook about the impeachment of President Trump, writing: “Many Jews ‘In Name Only’ lend themselves to be in the hoaks (sic) of the pure made-up story of impeachment that the Democrats have woven… some of the Jewish people are doing today as it was in the times of the Old Testament, go against G-d’s will even after He had mercy on them.” It is no one’s place, let alone a non-Jewish woman, to question anyone’s Jewishness.
The left and the right are both far too quick to weaponize anti-Semitism to suit their political agendas, yet the recent attacks on Orthodox Jews do not fit the paradigm of political anti-Semitism. In post-war America, all forms of Jew-hatred have generally been relegated to the margins of society. However, the persecution of Orthodox Jews in this country exposes a far deeper illness in American society. For centuries in Europe, Jews were viewed as loathsome outsiders, a superstitious, parochial people who poisoned wells, murdered Christian children, and spread the Black Plague. Christian anti-Semitism defined Europe’s perception of Jews well into the nineteenth century. Given the centuries of marginalization of the Jews, it is no surprise that countless Poles, Ukrainians, and others enthusiastically collaborated with the Nazis
Today, assimilated Jews are still slandered as a powerful elite, yet it is the hatred of Hasidim that has become socially acceptable. Hasidic Jews are looked upon with scorn by neighbors and are seen as a foreign element within society. Last year, the Rockland County GOP concocted a vicious ad campaign demonizing the Hasidic Jewish community. The GOP’s “A Storm is Brewing” accuses Orthodox Jews of “plotting a takeover” of Rockland County and portrays the community as a threat to gentile families. The violent attacks against Jews in New York and New Jersey have primarily been carried out by minorities, yet they are not “left-wing” in nature. The ideology motivating these heinous attacks is deeply rooted in our society and is reinventing the most destructive forms of Christian and Islamic anti-Semitism.
In early December, black nationalists attacked a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, murdering three civilians. One of the shooters expressed support for the antisemitic Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a belief that people of color are the true descendants of the Israelites. He wrote in 2015 that “Brooklyn is full of NAZIS–ASKENAZIS (KHAZARS).” The suspect who stabbed Jews at a Chanukah party late last month in Monsey also expressed an affinity for the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. The suspect kept anti-Semitic journals and searched up “Zionist Temples” prior to the attack.
Although these attacks on Jews in New York and New Jersey borrow from modern Islamic and left-wing anti-Zionist anti-Semitism, it would be foolish to suggest that the assailants are attacking Hasidim out of hatred of Israel. Hatred of Orthodox Jews is socially acceptable in American society, even within the Jewish community. The same medieval stereotypes that murdered thousands of martyrs during the Crusades and pogroms, and later morphed into racial antisemitism, threaten the existence of Orthodox Judaism in America today. The pious of Israel are always singled out first, yet both Orthodox and secular Jews were sent to the gas. Ultimately, the time will come when Americans, and Jews worldwide, will be forced to answer the eternal question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.