Perhaps it’s because I’m a Jewish writer who has been the target of a great deal of anti-Semitism this year, but I’ve watched the following phenomenon with great interest: Suddenly, the year 2016 became the year the media and a good number of liberals discovered the continued existence of anti-Semitism and began to decry it, loudly.
For the rest of us Jews, especially on the conservative side of the aisle, it’s been somewhat amusing to see dozens of journalists file breathless stories about anti-Semitism they, rightly or wrongly, perceived out of the Trump campaign and supporter base over the last year.
The increased focus on anti-Semitism has, of course, only been borne out of the fact that the supposed offender and his supporters have a capital R after their names. Would the media have been so concerned about an outbreak of hatred against a religious group had it originated out of a Democratic campaign? Given the water-carrying the media has been willing to do for Democrats who on one hand breathlessly warned about a “War on Women” in 2012 while still eulogizing Ted Kennedy, a beloved Democrat who killed an actual woman in 1969, it would be a good bet to wager that maniac supporters and a few campaign dog whistles would’ve been hastily ignored from a different party.
Now that the election is over and Donald Trump has prevailed, it’s anyone’s guess if his alt-right anti-Semitic supporters will disappear back down the Russian troll army rabbit hole from which they came or if his son Donald Trump Jr. will stop tweeting white supremacist memes. Even if these elements don’t disappear with Trump’s continued silence about their presence, the danger of Trump’s brand of passive acceptance of anti-Semitism cannot be ignored.
Reminder: Anti-Semitism Well Predated Trump
So now what? Does that mean anti-Semitism will now only exist in a tiny bubble, within a Trump White House? Already in the days following Trump’s election, the media is hysterically reporting on graffiti in South Philadelphia (not exactly Trump country) on a storefront. Had the national media paid attention to these incidents prior to this week, they may have known that defacement with anti-Semitic messages is nothing new in this country.
Had a Jewish cemetery in Westchester, New York been defaced just a month later, it might have made national news and not just local broadcasts. In response to this observation on Twitter, a rabbi friend living in Brooklyn remarked, “This is very true. Swastikas happen literally all the time. I speak to rabbis who’ve had their property defaced pretty regularly for years.”
Despite the media’s focus since 9/11 on Islamophobic incidents and fear of them, the biggest target by a mile for hate crimes in the United States in 2014 was Jews—long before Trump and the alt-right came into the picture. The FBI report on hate crimes confirms: “A significant number of the anti-Jewish hate crimes – 451 – consisted of vandalism or some other type of property damage.” That’s not to say that anti-Semitic defacement isn’t worrisome now, but it’s important to note it existed before Trump and should have been taken seriously prior to his nomination and election.
Liberal reporters and columnists may not have been aware of anti-Semitism before Trump, but if they have any hope at regaining legitimacy post-election, they had better wise up.
To See More Anti-Semitism, Visit a Campus
For those reporters who are just now awakened to the phenomenon of modern anti-Semitism: try taking up the American college campus beat, where anti-Semitism is not only rife, but also quickly spreading. The week of the election, The Tower reported on its origins:
Reports of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses have gone up, and are correlated to the presence of groups advocating boycotts of Israel, a study by researchers at Brandeis University has found.
The report, conducted by the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, found that the presence of a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign on a campus was an indicator of anti-Semitic activity, and that the presence of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) was one of the strongest predictors of a hostile environment for Jewish and pro-Israel students.
When Sen. Bernie Sanders was choosing his team, he included a supporter of the BDS movement to write the Democratic platform and another BDS activist to head his “Jewish outreach” team. This far-left wing of the Democratic Party has been emboldened by Hillary Clinton’s defeat. While many are warning of a sharp ideological turn in the Republican Party post-Trump, similar dire warnings can and should be made also about the defeat of the wing of centrist Democrats.
If reporters are more interested in covering international news instead of domestic, they too have their hands full of potential leads for new stories on anti-Semitism. The non-profit Honest Reporting takes on the behemoth task of documenting media bias against Israel. Europe and the Middle East outside of Israel are so dangerous for Jews it’s not even safe to walk down the street while wearing a yarmulke.
Paris, formerly thought of as a shining light in the Western world, saw the torture and murder of a young Jewish man ten years ago, and the situation has only devolved further, with synagogues the sites of riots and kosher groceries the target of terrorists. On the latter incident, President Obama had the audacity to label the Jewish target of terror as “random” while talking to Vox, a liberal site that has now suddenly jumped on the anti-Semitism beat.
Many postmortems will be written about Trump’s upset, but the Obama White House’s insistence on ignoring the terror right in front of our eyes, anti-Semitic in origin or not, plays a large role. It was the media’s job to critically report on these remarks and Americans’ horrified reactions to them, and instead of doing so, they balked.
Trump’s win wasn’t only a repudiation of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Democrats, but of the media who propped them up for the last eight years. If the latter cares to win back any of its vanished legitimacy, it had best learn that anti-Semitism isn’t a recent phenomenon.