Mainstreaming Jew-hatred

Rashida Tlaib

Before World War II, anti-Semitism was an everyday part of life in most of the Western world. It was understood to take two forms. There was “vulgar” anti-Semitism and “genteel” anti-Semitism. The kind of people who were afflicted with the latter looked down upon the kind of people who were afflicted with the former. The “genteel” anti-Semites would never use certain “vulgar” anti-Semitic words. They might even have Jewish friends, because they distinguished between the Jews who were – how to put it? – clubbable, and those who weren’t. But they also joined “restricted” social clubs and golf clubs, stayed at hotels that banned Jews, and sent their kids to colleges that had quotas for Jewish students.

Many Jews who made it big kept their Jewish identity to themselves, or at least didn’t make a show of it. Jewish performers ditched their Jewish-sounding names and replaced them with WASPy monickers. In the 1930s, Jewish studio heads, producers, directors, and writers in Hollywood were reluctant to make movies about Nazi anti-Semitism for fear of drawing attention to their own Jewishness. For the same reason, the Jewish publishers of the New York Times downplayed news about the Holocaust.

Gregory Peck in Gentleman’s Agreement

It was, in fact, the Holocaust, when the entire story finally came out, that shone as bright a light on Jew-hatred as one could ever imagine. No, anti-Semitism didn’t vanish, but it was no longer considered respectable, at least not by anybody who wanted to be considered respectable. The Academy Award for Best Picture of 1947 went to Gentleman’s Agreement, a movie about anti-Semitism. In pretty much every country in the Western world, memorials were erected to the six million Jews killed in the Final Soultion and Holocaust museums were established. Some of us grew up in a time when anti-Semitism seemed surely to have become a thing of the past.

Jeremy Corbyn

But we were wrong. In Britain, the head of one of the two major political parties, Jeremy Corbyn, is an undeniable anti-Semite. In the U.S., unapologetic Jew-haters have been elected to Congress. As the Washington Free Beacon reported recently, one of these House members, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, “was the keynote speaker at a conference hosted by a Muslim organization that traffics in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and that counts among its supporters many who seek Israel’s destruction.” The organization in question is the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), and the conference took place in late November in Chicago. Also onstage was Linda Sarsour, the unlikely feminist leader who wears a hijab, hangs with Farrakhan, and fills her speeches with anti-Semitic bile. Yet another speaker was Zahra Billoo, who in a 2014 tweet wrote that “Blaming Hamas for firing rockets at Israel is like blaming a woman for punching her rapist.” Panel discussions at the conference called for the destruction of Israel and for the classification of Zionism as a disease.

Bernie Sanders

In another recent article, this one for the Spectator, Dominic Green took on the curious case of Bernie Sanders, senator and presidential candidate, whose Jewish background – members of his family were murdered in the Holocaust – doesn’t keep him from being more than tolerant of anti-Semitism. For example, he’s a fan of Corbyn, even though the latter “detests the Zionist entity with a near-Soviet passion, and is visibly aroused when he gets to signal his vices by introducing Islamists like Raed Salah, a publicist for the primitive ‘blood libel’ that Jews bake with Christian blood, into the House of Commons.” Sanders, notes Green, has called Corbyn “courageous.” Moreover, Sanders is chummy with Sarsour, who spoke on his behalf at the AMP conference. Addressing the attendees in her role as his designated surrogate, she asked: “How can you be against white supremacy in the United States of America, and the idea of living in a supremacist state based on race and class, but then support a state like Israel that is built on supremacy? That is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everybody else. How do you, then, not support the caging of children on the US-Mexican border, but then you support the detainment and detention of Palestinian children in Palestine? How does that work, sisters and brothers?”

Linda Sarsour

Back in September the New York Post reported that “[p]ressure is mounting on Sen. Bernie Sanders to cut ties with longtime campaign surrogate Linda Sarsour, with critics such as Manhattan billionaire Ronald Lauder citing her long history of anti-Semitic comments.” Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said at the time: “Linda Sarsour is a virulent anti-Semite who has publicly stated that ‘nothing is creepier than Zionism.’ Her views have no place in our political discourse and any candidate who associates with her is guilty of handing a megaphone to anti-Semites around the country.” Indeed, But Sanders shows no sign of cutting her loose. He still, apparently, views her as an asset. Which says something scary indeed about the current resurgence and mainstreaming of Jew-hatred in the West.

New blood – and blood libels – at the Women’s March

Women’s March, 2017

There are two Women’s Marches. Or, rather, many. One – the most important one, and the one that got most of the media attention – was held in Washington, D.C., on January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump, whose unexpected election to the presidency over someone who had been expected to become the nation’s first female president had been regarded by many of the marchers as an outrage. On the same day, over 400 other Women’s Marches took place in cities around the country – and more than 150 marches took place in 81 countries around the world. The number of participants was staggering – perhaps over five million in the U.S. alone.

Linda Sarsour

As it happens, moreover, the group that organized these events also goes by the name of Women’s March. Among its national co-chairs was Linda Sarsour, a previously obscure Palestinian-American activist who gave a high-profile speech at the Washington march that made her internationally famous and whom we’ve written about frequently on this site. Sarsour – a sometime director of the Arab American Association of New York who belongs to the Democratic Socialists of America and helped found Black Lives Matter – proved to be that most paradoxical of creatures: a self-declared feminist who supports jihad and sharia law and wears a hijab, a symbol of female subordination under Islam. She felt sorry for Saddam Hussein when he was captured by the U.S. and she won an “American Muslim of the Year” award from terrorist-linked CAIR. While smearing ex-Muslims and critics of Muslims such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sarsour has been chummy with Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Louis Farrakhan, one of America’s most prominent anti-Semites.

Tamika Mallory

Indeed, after Sarsour rocketed to fame, it became clear she, too, had – shall we say – problematic attitudes toward the Jewish people. She’s big on the BDS movement – the campaign to boycott Israel, divest in its companies, and impose sanctions on Israeli trade. She’s said that “nothing is creepier than Zionism.” And she wasn’t the only leader of the Women’s March whose attitudes toward Jews left something to be desired. Indeed, not to put too fine a point on it, the board was rife with Jew-haters. As this fact became well-known, it caused what the Washington Free Beacon described as a “year of turmoil” for the organization. The Women’s March experienced some bad PR after co-chair Tamika Mallory blamed Jews for the slave trade and said that Jews controlled all the world’s money. Like Sarsour, moreover, Mallory was friends with Farrakhan, whom she described as the “Greatest of All Time.” Another board member, Bob Bland, joined Mallory in defending Farrakhan on TV after one of the Nation of Islam leader’s occasional outbursts of passionate Jew-hatred.

Zahra Billou

In August, in an apparent effort to silence concern about antisemitism in the Women’s March hierarchy, Sarsour, Mallory, and Bland all stepped down from the organization’s board. But it doesn’t look as if this move will necessarily improve the image of the Women’s March. Of the 16 new individuals added to the group’s board, one, Zahra Billoo, who is executive director of the Bay Area chapter of CAIR, has called Israel a “terrorist state” and equated it to ISIS, while another, Palestinian-American activist Samia Assed, has questioned Israel’s right to exist. It seems as if the people who run the Women’s March just can’t keep Jew-haters out of their ranks. Somehow we wouldn’t be surprised if, in the fullness of time, it turns out that at least a few of the other 14 new board members have a distaste for the Hebrew folk as well.