MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

VOLOKH CONSPIRACY

Mostly law professors, blogging on whatever we please since 2002 · Hosted by The Washington Post, 2014-2017 · Hosted by Reason 2017 · Sometimes contrarian · Often libertarian · Always independent

Why are American Jews Increasingly Concerned about Domestic Anti-Semitism?

The percentage of Americans with anti-Semitic attitudes has been stable, but anti-Semites are more active, more visible, and more willing to express their views than in the past.

I've been hearing from Jewish friends I respect, even before the Pittsburgh shooting, that they perceive that anti-Semitism is on the rise in the U.S. These friends have disparate ideological views; some are on the left, some on the right politically.

As I've noted before, the data don't (yet?) support a significant increase in American anti-Semitism. The ADL regularly polls American attitudes toward Jews. The most recent survey was conducted in late October 2016, at the heart of a bitter election campaign that some argue was infected with anti-Semitism. The rate of anti-Semitism found was 14%, within the same 12 to 15% bound it's been in ADL studies since 2004. (I've debunked the notion that there has been a 60% rise in anti-Semitic incidents elsewhere, but it's possible that there has been some increase in incidents.)

Let's assume in the absence of contrary data that there has not been a significant, or perhaps any, increase in anti-Semitic attitudes among Americans. Why might Jewish Americans still fell under increased threat from anti-Semitism?

I can't rule out moral panic, but I think there is a better explanation. Let's begin with some background, starting with the fact that many Jews reasonably see themselves as vulnerable population; the Holocaust is always in the back of our minds, and we notice, even if most Americans don't, that Jews are by far the religious group most targeted by hate crimes. The security guards and truck bomb barriers at Jewish institutions are a constant reminder of the threat of anti-Semitic violence.

Let's add that American Jews notice very negative trends in Europe. The Jewish right sees what's going on in places like Sweden, France, and Great Britain (where the formerly mainstream center-left Labour Party has been taken over by leftist anti-Semites) and fears that nascent anti-Semitism on the anti-Israel left will eventually lead to a similar situation in the U.S The Jewish left sees the rise of anti-Semitic neo-fascist parties in Europe and worries about the U.S. heading in that direction. Less ideologically driven Jews are justifiably concerned about both phenomena.

It doesn't help that neither the mainstream American right or left exhibits much sensitivity to Jewish concerns about anti-Semitism. On the right, the common response is that "we're pro-Israel, what do you want from us?" Meanwhile, the Jewish sense of vulnerability is positively disparaged on the left, which considers being Jewish in the U.S. to at best a subset of "white privilege." (Lefist Jews themselves are not immune from the latter; consider this sermon by a Reform rabbi about his white privilege, in which he conclude that being "both Jewish and white puts us in the perfect place be make a positive difference, by being allies with those who experience discrimination." Note that he seems to assume that Jews themselves never experience discrimination.)

That background, while important, doesn't explain Jews' sense of increased anti-Semitism in the U.S. I think the best explanation for that sense is that even if the percentage of anti-Semites in the American public hasn't increased, they are more active, more visible, and more willing to express their views publicly.

  1. More Active

On the right, the internet has given anti-Semites a way of much more easily coordinating than they had in the days of handprinted newsletters and secretive meetings in Days Inn conference rooms. On the left, the rise of hostility to Israel as a major issue for the left has given anti-Semites an opportunity to spread anti-Semitism in the guise of "anti-Zionism".

  1. More Visible

Not too long ago, expression of anti-Semitic sentiments was suppressed by media gatekeepers; mainstream news organizations wouldn't publish anti-Semites, nor would respectable journals of opinion. But now the gatekeepers are in a free-for-all market, and they can't control what is said on blogs, websites, etc., and their own editorial standards have declined. Twitter gives an easy public forum for anti-Semites. And the comments sections of most sites are unmoderated, providing a forum for anti-Semites regardless of the editorial perspective of the site. You won't find a site with more philo-Semitic site than Instapundit, for example, but you will still see some anti-Semitism in the comments. Even this blog, written mostly by Jews, attracts its share of anti-Semitic commentators, more so when it was hosted by the Washington Post.

  1. More Willing to Express their Views Publicly

In our polarized times, the left and right are much less willing to police their "own," focusing instead only on the sins of the other side. The result, for example, is that Harvard and University Chicago professors can publish an entire book that is essentially a long anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, without any damage to their careers or reputation, because the book served the purposes of the political left. Donald Trump can retweet anti-Semitic imagery, not apologize for doing so, and not have any political consequences. Another factor is immigration from the Middle East. Middle Eastern immigrants are arriving from societies in which anti-Semitism is widely accepted, so it's not surprising that Middle Eastern university students who, for example, join Students for Justice in Palestine, are sometimes not embarrassed to engage in openly anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Making matters worse, there is no longer any widely respected anti-Semitism watchdog in the United States. The ADL is disparaged by the right for its drastically increased partisanship since a Democratic operative took over its leadership. The left rejects the ADL because it advocates for Israel, and refuses to adhere to the increasingly common claim that anti-Zionism is essentially never anti-Semitic. The ADL's upstart competitors, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anne Frank Center, are even more relentlessly ideological and partisan.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • NToJ||

    Can you link to the October ADL poll?

  • NToJ||

    Can you elaborate on what you meant by "the rise of Israel as a major issue"? Like, time frame (relative to when?), how "major", etc.?

  • David Bernstein||

    Hostility to Israel was always present on the far left, but the issue has much more prominence than it used to, and has become something of a litmus test of one's left-wing bona fides, to the extent, for example, you have left-wing gay groups that are advocating for gay-unfriendly "Palestine" over gay-friendly Israel.

  • NToJ||

    Could you help me with details re: left-wing gay group advocating for Palestine over Israel? American hostility to Israeli interests over Palestinian interests may be anti-semitic, it may be youth protest zeitgeist, or it may be that Israel receives special scrutiny due to its special relationship with the USA. But I need to see to know.

  • David Bernstein||

    Google "LGBT Jews say it's increasingly difficult to be pro-Israel and queer"

  • William_Zanzinger||

    Just did that. Had heard about the Chicago Dyke March. I would caution against using just that one case to claim that being anti-Israel "has become something of a litmus test of one's left-wing bona fides."

    It seems like you are making a broad assertion about the LGBT community based on the actions of one group in one city that didn't want a particular symbol displayed in the parade that they organized.

    Do you know of other LGBT groups doing the same thing?

  • DiegoF||

    It seems like you are making a broad assertion about the LGBT community

    No, he's not. Not even remotely. He not only wasn't making a "broad assertion about the LGBT community," or even about their activist groups (most of which are almost cartoonishly establishmentarian); he wasn't really discussing them at all. He was discussing the far left, and making assertions about them. From the context I'd venture--because it'd certainly be what I'd have done--that the reason he even brought up far-left LGBT groups as an example within the far left is that it seems especially absurd that even that segment would be anti-Israel. We are talking about a country that is a LGBT mecca even by European standards (and certainly a dream destination for gays from the Muslim world), surrounded by enemies that are the world's most violently homophobic peoples; and these are LGBTs who sympathize with the enemy. So yes he was singling out the far-left fringe of LGBT activist groups--and I've just told you the obvious context. Where you'd get "making a broad assertion about the LGBT community" is beyond me.

  • William_Zanzinger||

    Bernstein claimed that hostility to Israel "has become something of a litmus test of one's left-wing bona fides," and then, to support his claim, he asserted "for example, you have left-wing gay groups that are advocating for gay-unfriendly "Palestine" over gay-friendly Israel."

    When asked to back up his claim, Bernstein responded with a search term that leads to various articles about a specific decision by the Chicago Dyke March. Bernstein's argument implies that the stance of the Chicago Dyke March is somehow representative of the broader LGBT community (he referred to "gay groups," plural), and also of the broader left-wing culture. If he's NOT making a broad generalization and the Chicago Dyke March is just an isolated fringe group, then we are back to questioning whether there is any real basis for his assertion that hostility to Israel "has become something of a litmus test of one's left-wing bona fides."

  • DiegoF||

    He explicitly said that hatred of Israel was becoming representative of the broader left-wing culture; that is how you know that is what he "implied." He never said that it was "representative of the broader LGBT community," because that is just some shit you made up out of thin air.

    The Dyke March is of course going to be "an isolated fringe group" because the portion of the LGBT community, and indeed the LGBT activist community, that is far-left is a miniscule fringe. The LGBT movement is extremely mainstream, establishmentarian, and centrist as a whole. It has nothing more to do with the far left than the rural, white working class pro-gun community does, just because there are small fringe groups like "Redneck Revolt" that lie within their intersection. It would never occur to a normal person that someone engaging in a larger discussion of the far left, who brings up in that context a group that is very prominent within the LGBT far left, would be "implying" anything at all about the LGBT community--a community which as a whole has nothing in particular to do with the far left--as a whole. Rather, it would be more reasonable to think he was saying, "Look, even the LGBTs on the far left, some of the people you'd think had the most reason to support Israel due to their identity, have a group that bans the Jewish star. This goes to show you how big a problem with hate the far left has, that even their LGBTs act this way."

  • DiegoF||

    ...In fact according to your own narrative, before you pull this accusation that Bernstein is trying to "imply" something about "the broader LGBT community" out of thin air, Bernstein's mention of the existence of anti-Israel gay activism on the far left was "asserted...to support his claim" that "hostility to Israel has become a test of one's left-wing bonafides," not the bonafides of anything to do with LGBT, which is not a particularly left-wing cause or community. I can't believe I have to spell this out a second time. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here.

  • William_Zanzinger||

    You are bending over backwards to put words in Bernstein's mouth, claiming that he was only referring to the "far left" when in fact he referred to "left-wing" without limiting his claim to extremists only.

    He's painting the entire left with a broad brush based on one incident in Chicago. You're trying to move the goalposts by pretending that he was only talking about the far-left fringe.

  • damikesc||

    Would you prefer he discuss the growing BDS movement, which is certainly not a right-wing phenomenon?

    How about the Women's March being led by anti-Semites?

    How about progressive support for Farrakhan, as odious an anti-Semite as is out there currently?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Sensible, educated, informed people distinguish between 'hostility toward Israel' and 'hostility toward right-wing Israeli belligerence.'

    Conservatives generally do not.

    Carry on, clingers. Be sure to make support for Israel's objectionable right-wing policies and conduct a left-right divider in American politics if you want to give Israel a chance to see how it would get along without American political, military, and economic skirts to hide behind.

  • damikesc||

    Well, FDR sent Jews back to the camps in Europe, so Democrats already have a track record...

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    One of my pet peeves with "anti-Semitism" is the willing conflation with not liking the Israeli government or the idea of a theocracy. I think Muslim countries suck for being theocracies; I'm not going to give Israel a free pass. Yes, there are different levels of theocracy involved, but that's like the difference between Gorbachev and Stalin.

    Too many people scream anti-Semitism just for not liking the current Israeli government, let alone calling Israel a theocracy. I have my doubts about any measures of anit-Semitism as long as that is the case.

  • David Bernstein||

    Thank you for your illustration of my point that when people point at that sometimes anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic, a common response is to suggest it's *never* anti-Semitic.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    I'm not really clear on what you mean. Zionism is another word with too many different meanings for me to know what any individual person means. I take it as generally meaning Jews need their own nation-state in the Mideast, but I have seen it used both positively (for their safety and freedom) and negatively (as a means of getting them away from "civilized" people). I doubt the latter is your intent :-O

    Then there are people who say they hate Jews as a race, not as a religion, but exclude non-practicing Jews. I don't understand those fine details either. I've never asked if they have their own version of the one drop rule, or how they treat converts (either into or out of), or adoptees. Far as I'm concerned, they are all bigots, and I've never understood bigotry about people I've never met.

    I do not know what the intersection is between anti-Zionists and anti-Semites.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    I realized I may have been unclear by saying I don't like theocracies. I don't have much use for government, period; adding religion into the mix just makes it so much worse. I'd almost trust a robber king more than a representative government, because kings would be more jealous of their power and more reluctant to share it with lesser thugs.

  • David Bernstein||

    You will be happy to know, then, that Israel is not a theocracy.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Not even theocracy light? I have read, for instance, of El Al not being allowed to fly on the sabbath, although that was many years ago. Religious students used to be paid enough to live on, and were exempt from the draft. Don't know if that is still the case, there was some kerfuffle in the last few years over that; but when it did exist, was it for Jewish theologians only?

    Those are the trappings of at least theocracy light, to me. While it's obviously not anywhere close to Iran or Saudi Arabia, it is more theocratic than Russia, I believe, which pays lip service to the Russian Orthodox church.

  • DiegoF||

    Israel's "theocratic" elements are overwhelmingly characterizable--both in theory and in practice--as "establishment" matters rather than "free exercise." Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Samaritans--none are impeded from worship in theory or in practice--in fact, the Jews have by far the worst of state interference. The idea of comparing them to Muslim countries, even in degree, seems absurd. (And the "official" relationship between the modern Russian state and church doesn't even come close to reflecting their relathionship in practice.) Political freedom to insult religion is about par with other "liberal" countries these days. The overwhelming majority of the country is secular, and the place is a gay mecca even for Europeans. Not much of a "theocracy" in the sense relative to this discussion, which is about whether there is a tendency to use that reason or others as a grossly inapplicable excuse to treat Israel incongruously with respect to its actual reality.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Maybe that's not theocracy to you. Maybe I am wrong about the airline's sabbath, the religious subsidy, or some of the other stories I have heard over the years. But I doubt all those stories are false, and it is still more theocratic than the US. My blood boils every time I hear of some judge blathering about Christian ideals in defense of a ten commandments plaque, legislators suddenly dropping the meeting prayers because some non-Christian won the legal right to participate, or other US actions favoring religion. A biased government is wrong, whether it's for a religion, a party, a person, or anything.

  • DiegoF||

    You opened this subthread with:

    One of my pet peeves with "anti-Semitism" is the willing conflation with not liking the Israeli government or the idea of a theocracy.

    If that is what you mean by "theocracy"--that you go around saying, "It makes my blood boil, not only when religious practice is persecuted [assuming you do dislike this; you never really have mentioned government policies disfavoring religion], as with so many countries in the world to this day, but even when I see the slightest sign of state establishment or favoritism to religion--such as we have in the United States with courtroom Ten Commandments plaques, legislative chaplains, and so forth. And Israel is even worse, with its draft deferments, El Al schedules..."--I do not think that anyone will point at you and scream, "anti-Semite"! After all this is no criticism that you'll have trouble finding among fiercely patriotic Jewish Israelis themselves, even on the Right.

  • DiegoF||

    You opened this subthread with:

    One of my pet peeves with "anti-Semitism" is the willing conflation with not liking the Israeli government or the idea of a theocracy.

    If that is what you mean by "theocracy"--that you go around saying, "It makes my blood boil, not only when religious practice is persecuted [assuming you do dislike this; you never really have mentioned government policies disfavoring religion], as with so many countries in the world to this day, but even when I see the slightest sign of state establishment or favoritism to religion--such as we have in the United States with courtroom Ten Commandments plaques, legislative chaplains, and so forth. And Israel is even worse, with its draft deferments, El Al schedules..."--I do not think that anyone will point at you and scream, "anti-Semite"! After all this is no criticism that you'll have trouble finding among fiercely patriotic Jewish Israelis themselves, even on the Right.

  • DiegoF||

    ...That is essentially the point we've been making. You attacked a strawman, and it made the whole thing look bizarre. For instance, I am hardline pro-life. (Not an evangelical Christian; that's just my belief on that issue.) Now if I went around saying, "One of my pet peeves with 'anti-Semitism' is the willing conflation with objections to Israel's rampant, daily innumerable human rights violations." And then asked to elaborate, I say, "Oh, by that I am referring to the fact that abortion is legal there." People will say, "You are crazy! No one would ever call you an anti-Semite because you consider it a human rights violation for Israel and all those other countries to permit abortion--even if they did find your usage of the term a bit odd. What we do find objectionable and unsettling is your baffling belief that defenders of Israel would and do make such a conflation. When we allege anti-Semitism of people who speak of Israel's 'rampant, daily innumerable human rights violations,' we are talking about people who use that term in a very different way, and who lie about Israel's record, single it out among nations for differential treatment, or both."

  • DiegoF||

    I think in retrospect this was a bit rude and harsh in its tone in places. I apologize.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    You weren't rude enough to need an apology! I usually expect more clarity from language than is possible. That is partly what I mean by not liking the topic or phrase "anti-Semitism" -- it means too many things to too many people, and when someone says anti-Semitism is on the rise, it is such a loaded and flexible term that I wonder if people say that just to get a rise out of others. Any survey which purports to measure that also makes me wonder, not only how they measured it, but who sponsored the survey and why.

    Part of my suspicion is also that the primary motive of most political outrage is influencing the government simply to flex political muscle. Whether it's plastic straws or BDS, there's far more virtue signalling than virtue. I'd bet that most straw banners don't know squat about trash or recycling or what prices tell markets; I bet most BDS backers haven't got a clue about any Mid-East politics. As ignorant as I am, I at least recognize that Israel is the only democracy in that area. I think most BDS backers do not know that, or even care; it's just a faddish way to signal some (unknown to me) virtue.

    Maybe I should just shut up :-O

  • MiloMinderbinder||

    Is Bergen County, NJ a theocracy because they still have Blue Laws?

  • ||

    I've never seen anyone genuinly oppose Israel for reasons other than hatred of Jews.

  • ||

    I've never seen anyone genuinely oppose Israel for reasons other than hatred of Jews.

  • William_Zanzinger||

    Of course if you surround yourself with klanfederates, you should expect that they hate Jews. In other circles people tend to have more nuanced views.

  • ||

    They can claim whatever nuance they want. It doesn't line up with reality.

  • Mesoman||

    I have seen such opposition where I really didn't see an anti-Semitic etiology. Anti-colonialism has a long history on the left and that was not anti-Semitic. It makes sense that anti-colonialists today would pick on Israel, even if they are not anti-Semitic.

    I consider anti-colonialism these days to be a misguided ideology, as it largely was even in the '60s. It was largely a weapon wielded by the communist powers against the west and allies of the west. And I am very supportive of Israel. But it makes sense that those who become enamored of the vapors of anti-colonialism would apply it to Israel, irrespective of their views on Jews.

    That said, one would expect some or many of those people to become anti-Semitisc as a result of their anti-colonial bent and as a result of the demonization of Jews that is likely to follow the demonization of Israel. In other words, a sort of ideological bleed-over.

  • fyodor32768||

    I live in a liberal enclave and I'm pretty liberal, so I'll offer that as a caveat, but I think that what I'm saying is representative of what a lot of liberal Jews think. I see the erosion of norms about racism and religious prejudice as being harbingers of danger for Jews, even if many of the proponents are themselves not expressly anti-semetic and may be supportive of Israel. If the US will elect someone who runs on banning muslims, they'll elect someone who bans Jews. If we get rid of birthright citizenship if we move to a system where your heredity determines citizenship, Jews will not be safe.

    In early 2016 Jamie Kirchick wrote something to the effect of "Trump is the candidate of the mob and the mob always comes for the Jews." I wouldn't put it that strongly, but to use that analogy, many Jews hear the mob even if it hasn't started coming for Jews.

  • dwshelf||

    One of the world's great religions has never civilized.

    The rest largely have, fringe nonsense notwithstanding.

  • David Bernstein||

    Putting aside whether this concern is justified or not, it only explains worries about future antiSemitism, not a perception that antiSemitsm has already increased.

  • fyodor32768||

    I think that when individual incidents happen in the context of an overall threatening environment they seem to be a trend even if the data doesn't bear it out. So when people hear of anti-semetic attacks in the context of what they perceive to be an environment where white supremacy is ascendant they see it as part of a larger pattern.

  • ||

    I'm not sure the FBI's hate-crime statistics can be read so literally. Reporting rates may be lowest among those most targeted because they are also marginalized by the law enforcement arms charged with collecting those statistics.

    That is not meant to diminish the severity of what one group has experienced, but to say that all crimes are under-reported and they vary in the degree to which they are under-reported, correlated with the demographics of the victims.

  • ||

    Apologies for leaving out context, that was in response to this specific statement: "Jews are by far the religious group most targeted by hate crimes"

  • Eddy||

    "Another factor is immigration from the Middle East."

    Would this justify any restrictions on immigration, at least of immigration by potential citizens? Eg, by keeping out those hostile to the Constitution's guarantees of religious freedom and equal rights?

    Before anyone freaks out, at such censorship, bear in mind that to become a naturalized citizen, you have to be attached to the principles of the Constitution, which would presumably include the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause. While we may imagine someone who respects these provisions until they can succeed in amending them, in general the opponents of equal rights will rip through constitutional obstacles without observing any formalities. So can such persons be kept out?

  • Armchair Lawyer||

    This sensed "increased antisemitism", is unfortunately media bias and the need to accuse Trump. And is a false comparison between the "right" and "left".

    Trump literally had Jews marry into the family. Somehow, he's still somehow antisemitic?

    In the meantime you have luminaries of the Democratic party, including Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton and Bill Clinton at seats of honor with....Louis Farrakhan. In 2018. Louis Farrakhan. A man who literally said " Satanic Jews have infected the whole world with poison and deceit". How....why....is he still next to people of power in the Democratic party?

    Wake. Up. The left's only real use for antisemitism is a political tool to bash over people's heads when convenient. And when it's more convenient to let it slide, accept those antisemitic allies, and ignore things....they will.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Quit whining and stop appeasing bigotry, you half-educated rube.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Your arguments are guilt by association, and innocence by association. Not really that probative.

  • damikesc||

    Sarcastro, Trump not condemning Duke to people's satisfaction was "proof" he was a racist. As was condemning white nationalists AND antifa as both being bad and that all people involved in Charlottesville were not in those two groups alone.

    But Clinton sharing a stage with Farrakhan or Obama posing for pictures with him are not? How?

    Al Sharpton championed fucking pogroms of Jewish shops in NY and was given his own TV show on MSNBC.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Weird change of scope. We're not focused on Trump's failure to distance himself from Duke, but a whole panopoly of crap he and his people have said and done.

    Are you agreeing with the above that the Democratic Party is antisemitic because it doesn't affirmatively avoid Farrakhan enough, and further that Al Sharpton is a Democratic leader these days?
    But also that you can't make the same argument about who Trump associates with because of his daughter?

    Because that's not consistent. And even if it were, it's still guilt by association. Look which party all the weird marginal out-and-proud Nazi antisemites are a part of today. Including, BTW, Farrakhan.

    Yell about deep cuts like Sharpton all you want. Maybe throw in Byrd. And hey, Chappaquiddick while you're at it. That you find such weak arguments appealing says more about where you feel vulnerable than it does about where the Dems are vulnerable.

  • fyodor32768||

    This is a solid username choice.

  • damikesc||

    Are you agreeing with the above that the Democratic Party is antisemitic because it doesn't affirmatively avoid Farrakhan enough

    There is a difference --- a significant one --- from not avoiding Farrakhan enough and actively engaging him. There are, for example, no photos of Trump with David Duke. I can say that with some certainty because, if there were some, we'd have seen them long ago.

    There are plenty of photos of Democratic heavyweights posing or sitting with Farrakhan and Sharpton. The media even covers them up because they KNOW it looks bad for Dems who do it anyway.

    Al Sharpton is a Democratic leader these days?

    Democrats flock to him to kiss his ring and get his blessing. They have for years. They still do. Obama was rather close to him.

    Look which party all the weird marginal out-and-proud Nazi antisemites are a part of today. Including, BTW, Farrakhan.

    The Democrats. Heavily. Always have.

    Yell about deep cuts like Sharpton all you want. Maybe throw in Byrd. And hey, Chappaquiddick while you're at it. That you find such weak arguments appealing says more about where you feel vulnerable than it does about where the Dems are vulnerable.

    The GOP has, literally, zero racial history to be ashamed of. ALL of "America's" problematic racial history were solely caused by Democrats.

  • Sarcastr0||

    By your standard, Trump's refusal to condemn David Duke makes the entire GOP also antisemitic. Your double standards are pretty evident.

    Your Al Sharpton data is at least a decade out of date.

    Check out Gab. Check out who they support, and what they say about Jews. Also look up antisemetic slurs on twitter. Then come back to me and eat your crow.

    The GOP has, literally, zero racial history to be ashamed of.
    Hahaha. This is both wrong and dumb at the same time. Racial history has zero to do with current positions. And, of course, the GOP's racial history is pretty bad starting in about 1960. Nixon, Goldwater, Strom Thurmond...

  • Sarcastr0||

    even if the percentage of anti-Semites in the American public hasn't increased, they are more active, more visible, and more willing to express their views publicly.

    ''Don't worry, our position is fine, never mind our momentum!'

  • jdgalt1||

    With all due respect, people such as myself who follow Pamela Geller see the ADL, like the SPLC, as so biased that it's really anti-Semitic itself. It mainly represents American leftist "Jews" who are ethnically and sometimes culturally Jewish, but are mostly not Jewish in the religious sense, at least in the view of Israeli Jews.

  • DiegoF||

    Putting "Jews" in sarcastic quotation marks when speaking of those who are "not Jewish in the religious sense," and speaking of "ethnic Jews" as though these were not more properly known as simply Jews, does not strike me as particularly halakhically observant. Let alone reflective of the predominant opinion of secularism in a majority-secular country.

  • Leo Marvin||

    "With all due respect, people such as myself who follow Pamela Geller see the ADL, like the SPLC, as so biased that it's really anti-Semitic itself."

    LOL. I'm embarrassed to share a species with Pam Geller, much less a religion.

  • damikesc||

    She only had an attempted assassination of her due to a contest drawing Mohammad. She, truly, is the worst person on Earth.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Attempted assassination victims can still be bigoted pieces of crap.

  • damikesc||

    You mean she isn't fond of a cult that tried to kill her? Cannot figure out why that would be the case.

    And is her "Racism" daring to use free speech in a way you don't like?

  • Sarcastr0||

    If someone became a racist because a black guy mugged them, saying that's cool and good would be about as dumb as your logic.

    And is her "Racism" daring to use free speech in a way you don't like?

    Umm, yeah? What do you think free speech is; do you think it means judgment free?

  • Sarcastr0||

    daring to use free speech in a way you don't like

    Just amazed to find this argument in the wild on this website.

  • Leo Marvin||

  • Eddy||

    Counteract anti-Semitism with Jewish-friendly material.

  • Eddy||

    (But not necessarily SFW)

  • Martinned||

    Yes, why on earth would people be worried about anti-semitism in America...

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    But seriously, this post takes David Bernstein's customary pro-Trump/pro-Republican trolling to Stewart Baker levels. The only person who would be surprised by American Jews' concerns about anti-semitism is someone who spent the last two years on a steady diet of Fox News and the Trump twitter feed.

    (I guess following Pamela Geller, abovementioned, would also do the trick.)

  • gormadoc||

    As usual, your reading comprehension blows ass. Nobody is surprised; the problem is that it's commonly assumed that real instances of anti-Semitism are on the rise, when in actuality they aren't. The question is why concern is on the rise when occurrence is not.

  • Ghost on the Highway||

    Not to support Pam Geller, but she stands against a culture that would be content to kill Jews and Christians. And in part Israel thrives because Jews with a strong traditional presence in various Mideast countries have been displaced in the last half century. As an example, I don't think there are any Jews left in Egypt and Coptic Christians are continuously under pressure. The Afghani mobs are demanding Asia Bibi be publicly hanged for blasphemy. You can expect a big rise in anti-Semitism in Europe

  • damikesc||

    I'll note the lack of a demand of right of return for all of the Christians and Jews that Arab states kicked out over the last few decades or, well, slaughtered.

    I get "Palestine" has been treated badly and all --- but it's not like Christians and Jews in every other country have been treated well.

  • Eddy||

    "Not to support Pam Geller"

    Remind me of her sins? I know she sponsored a draw-Mohammed contest which a couple terrorists tried to disrupt (they were stopped before they could do much damage IIRC, hut they acted like their intent was to kill a bunch of people). Which tended to reinforce her argument about the existence of a taboo enforced by violence.

  • damikesc||

    She thinks Islam has a major cultural problem that progressives think is racist to notice. Because expecting dark skinned folks to act like the superior elite whites is just something Democrats have never done in their party's history.

  • Sarcastr0||

    It's not racist, just bigoted. She's making a massive overgeneralization in order to advocate for targeting a subgroup. She can go to Hell.

  • damikesc||

    Again, noting that a culture is rather toxic to the world is just recognizing reality.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Islam is a lot more than a single culture. Which you would know if you weren't working so hard to hate them.

  • DWB||

    She dissed Islam the way leftists treat Christianity

  • Sarcastr0||

    As a liberal Christian, I don't think you quite have the nuance of it.

  • DWB||

    Oh I definitely see:

    1. Muslims are brown people! (not really, but let's keep with the stereotype)

    2. The radicals, like progressives, hate America

    3. Christians don't get all explodey when you criticize them.

    I only "support" things like "Draw Muhammad" to prove a point -- liberalism and freedom > murder.

    They wrote a whole play about a Christian-ish sect and then laugh and take out an advert.

  • Eddy||

    So, leftists should shun her like they shunned Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins?

  • rsteinmetz||

    Perhaps the reason Jews feel more concerned is that some on the left and in the media have increasingly raised fears of increased anti-semitism often as partisan political tactic, just as charges of fascism and racism are casually tossed around.

  • damikesc||

    It doesn't help that neither the mainstream American right or left exhibits much sensitivity to Jewish concerns about anti-Semitism. On the right, the common response is that "we're pro-Israel, what do you want from us?"

    I've argued making your vote unobtainable for one party insures nobody gives two shits what you want. Republicans cannot get the vote of a large swath of Jewish voters no matter what --- so concerning what they want is just a waste of resources.

    Democrats, on the other hand, cannot LOSE their votes no matter what. So concerning themselves with what they want is also just a waste of resources.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Electoral politics aren't that simple. Tons of non-Jews care about policies touching on Jews and Israel, both directly and for what it symbolizes.

    Plus, of course, there is no such thing as a rock-solid permanent coalition, especially with get out the vote mattering so much.

  • damikesc||

    Electoral politics aren't that simple.

    If the best you can hope for is 10% of the vote of a group --- than NEITHER party has to care. The minority party cannot win it and the majority one cannot lose it. So, neither has any incentive to do shit.

    Why do you think blacks still lag behind in most economic and education categories? Why do you think Trump has been markedly better for the black community than Obama was? Because Democrats NEED them on the plantation while Republicans have been spending nearly 160 years trying to get them off of it.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Other people care about how you treat that group. Plus the group has cultural capital. Again, politics aren't that simple.

    Trump has been markedly better for the black community than Obama was?
    HIGHLY debatable.

    Don't call blacks slaves, it's not doing much for your outreach.

  • damikesc||

    Other people care about how you treat that group.

    They do not. Never have.

    Trump has been markedly better for the black community than Obama was?
    HIGHLY debatable.

    Don't call blacks slaves, it's not doing much for your outreach.

    Who's calling them slaves? I'm recognizing what the Democrats are working hard to do --- enslave them --- not that they are, in fact, slaves. Not all blacks were slaves in the Democrat South, either. They were just looked on as being less than human by Democrats...you know, like they are right now.

    And Trump has reduced the minority unemployment rate to record levels which will help liberate them from the shackles of the DNC.

    Obama shat all over them for eight years. Perhaps you feel hand outs are better than a job, but that is on you.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Plantation, the shackles of the DNC.

    Good luck with invoking this history of African American bondage in your black outreach.

    Not all blacks were slaves in the Democrat South, either

    Going super well already!

  • Sarcastr0||

    From what I can tell the thesis is that American Jews are worried about antisemitism, but they shouldn't be because there us insufficient evidence that the real numbers are going up, even if the current antisemites are
    acting much more emboldened.

    But even ignoring that pretty bad 'quantity is all that matters' argument, the concern most of my Jewish friends make have more akin to fyodor32768's - how once you condone targeting one religious subgroup, Jews are never far behind. Which Prof. Bernstein brushes off because he interprets concern to be only about the immediate moment, not about the future. Which is also a pretty bad argument.

  • David Bernstein||

    I don't the the text could be more clear that the issue is not why American Jews worry about anti-Semitism, but why they perceive that it's already increased if the data don't show an increase in anti-Semitic attitudes. The answer given is that the same number of anti-Semites can produce a lot more publicly-noticeable anti-Semitism if when they are more active, more visible, and more vocal.

    As to whether I should have noted in the background material that Jews perceive intolerance in general as a threat, I thought pointing out that Jews are afraid that the U.S. is going the way of Europe regarding neofascism covered that.

    As an amateur historian of these things, btw, I'd point out that the undelrying premise as seen from the left is problematic, i.e., that Jews should be worried solely or primarily about Trumpian-type intolerance. The most active "resistance" group has been the Women's March, it managed to organizes several million protesters. The Women's March is run by anti-Semites. So their victory will hardly secure the Jewish future.

  • fyodor32768||

    I don't think that Jews should only be worried about Trumpian style intolerance but Linda Sarsour isn't the president and holds no power. The idea that the attitudes of the elected leadership of our country wouldn't occupy a larger amount mindspace is ridiculous. I can't say what the future would bring, but Trumpian nationalism is ascendant now and it's not unreasonable that it's what people are most concerned about.

  • David Bernstein||

    There is no important faction of the Republican Party led by explicit anti-Semites the way the Women's March and its ideological compatriots have influence in Democratic politics. Regardless, if you're worried about the future, not just the present, surely you should be worried that the leading "resistance" organization is not just led by anti-Semites, but when Tamkia Mallory both openly supported Farrakhan and then defended her support in explicitly anti-Semitic terms, it had no obvious effect on her standing among progressive activists.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I think you are vastly overestimating Tamkia Mallory's heft on the left.

  • damikesc||

    I think you are vastly overestimating Tamkia Mallory's heft on the left.

    When Steve King started becoming openly an asshole bigot, you saw the GOP distancing themselves quickly.

    You don't see Democrats doing that with Mallory. Or Ellison, who is quite close with Farrakhan.

    That her anti-Semitism was a non-issue for Dems should be concerning. When a small time pol can express such hatred and the "tolerant" progs do not seem to give two shits, why should a Jewish person feel that their concerns are of any matter?

  • Sarcastr0||

    The GOP is still dumping money on his campaign (though his governor IIRC), but I take your point.

    But you're playing with your degrees of separation there. A Congressman, versus a guy who occasionally talks to Congressmen.
    --------------
    Your argument that BECAUSE she's such a small deal her antisemitism is a problem makes no sense - a national party won't police everyone pulling for them.
    Certainly that's some bad news if applied at that level to the right. Farrakhan suddenly becomes your problem. Hell, How many antisemites are running for office on the GOP ticket without the party's express distancing?

    Nice of you to go in on behalf of Jews for how they should feel. And yet the sins of leader of Womens' March 2 hasn't changed which party they're worried about. Maybe your logic about this one example proving the whole pot isn't as clear as you think.

  • damikesc||

    Your argument that BECAUSE she's such a small deal her antisemitism is a problem makes no sense - a national party won't police everyone pulling for them.

    Funny, because Republicans are routinely expected to do precisely that. I know Democrats aren't, but Republicans are COMMONLY asked to comment on something some rando Republican said.

    Certainly that's some bad news if applied at that level to the right. Farrakhan suddenly becomes your problem. Hell, How many antisemites are running for office on the GOP ticket without the party's express distancing?

    All of them.

    While progressives applaud anti-Semites like Sarsour, Farrakhan, Sharpton, etc and the DNC puts Farrakhan acolytes like Ellison as the second in command of the party.

    Funny, huh?

  • Sarcastr0||

    How in the world do you think you get to complain it's unfair when a standard is used against Republicans and then sincerely and fervently argue for it's use against Democrats??

  • OtisAH||

    "When Steve King started becoming openly an asshole bigot, you saw the GOP distancing themselves quickly."

    That tube of Turd Polish only works on folks who are somehow unaware that Steve King's entire 15 year career in Congress is one of bigotry and assholishness.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Your title may need to be changed then.

    And your thesis becomes a scope that seems very carefully chosen, and not very useful. Jewish concerns about antisemitism are not limited to this exact moment, and if their perceptions about this exact moment follow their concerns more than reality, that doesn't invalidate their concerns.

    Though I do agree with your last paragraph - and I will note that from what I see, the liberal Jews I know are not blind to the fact that there is intolerance on both sides; having more concerns about one side than the other is not the same as being willfully blind.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Bet you said the same thing after the Pulse shooting, Professor Bernstein. Interestingly enough, the "don't worry, it's not statistically significant" angle there wasn't very reassuring there either.

  • damikesc||

    Well, it was "Racist" to notice what was behind the Pulse nightclub shooting.

  • David Bernstein||

    No, I was worried about anti-Semitic violence, and the possibility of someone shooting up a synagogue, before Pittsburgh and well before Trump. The question is not whether to worry, but whether there is more reason to be more worried.

  • Leo Marvin||

    David, are the 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets since 2016, most overtly or implicitly supporting Trump not significant? Relatedly, you didn't reply to the link I posted to a study showing increasing Twitter and Instagram attacks on Jews.

    Also, the President and his sons following and retweeting anti-Semites aren't acts that would reasonably instill fear in Jews? How about when the President refuses to condemn the vile anti-Semitic attacks and threats on Julia Ioffe, or when the First Lady explicitly blames the victim?

    And then there's the overt anti-Semitism in the Trump GOP.

    All coincidence?

  • David Bernstein||

    The ADL did a study of the anti-Semitic tweets, and found that they emanated from a few hundred Twitter accounts, some of which may be owned by the same person, some of which were Russian bots. Even in the worst case scenario, you think there weren't a few hundred active anti-Semites in the U.S. pre-Trump? They just didn't have a forum like Twitter available in the past.

  • Leo Marvin||

    You're moving the goalposts. Your question was whether the perception of rising anti-semitism is backed by actual acts of anti-Semism, not how many people committed them.

    And you said nothing about the behavior I mentioned of Trump and his family. Also the "greedy Jew" trope contained in a number of GOP ads, coincidentally similar to images and messages disseminated by Trump.

  • ReaderY||

    Mass shootings don't tend to be done by average people, they tend to be done by the most motivated, agitated, and unstable people.The extreme people.

    So the fact that the average hasn't changed doesn't say anything. In fact the average isn't helpful at all. It's the extremes, the tails, that count.

    If you're swamped by a tsunami, the fact that the average sea level hardly changed isn't going to help you.

  • OtisAH||

    This article is buried in the archive now, but I'm still going to note that the following occurred on November 14, 2018, during intermission of a performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" at the Hippodrome in Baltimore, MD, USA:

    Witnesses said a man shouted 'Heil Hitler, Heil Trump' during the intermission of 'Fiddler on the Roof' at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre creating panic Wednesday night.

    Rich Scherr was in the audience at the time and recorded part of the disturbance.

    "People started running," Scherr, a Baltimore Sun contributor, told the newspaper. "I'll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, 'Here we go.'"

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online