On March 7, a unanimous U.S. Senate noted the spate of threats directed at Jewish institutions in the last several weeks, and asked the Trump administration to help them deal with their heightened security needs.
The request conveyed in a letter to two of President Trump’s cabinet secretaries represented a true national consensus about the egregious nature of these incidents. After initially being slow to react, the administration has consistently expressed its condemnation of these attacks. But partisans are still seeking to blame Trump for them, and the resulting attention has created something of a panic among some in the Jewish community.
There is no evidence these incidents represent anything but the actions of isolated individuals. And as former Anti-Defamation League head Abe Foxman pointed out, they don’t constitute a crisis. But it is also true that attacks on Jews have always accounted for the lion’s share of religion-based hate crimes, as documented by FBI statistics. The attention given to that chronic problem, which had been largely ignored in the mainstream media (especially when compared to the disproportionate focus on an alleged post-9/11 anti-Muslim backlash), ought to be welcomed.
The UN Has Never Showed True Support For Israel
But those who care about the issue (independent of the urge to pile on Trump) got a wakeup call the day after the congressional letter was sent. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights decided to weigh in on the issue in an address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, and included a diatribe against Trump. When the UN—one of the world’s leading sources of incitement and hypocrisy about Jew hatred—thinks it safe to join the gang tackle of Trump on this issue, it’s clear that the great anti-Semitism scare of 2017 has officially jumped the shark.
UN High Commissioner Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein gave a broad survey of international human rights problems in his address. But unsurprisingly, he devoted a disproportionate amount of time to attacking Israel and delegitimizing its right of self-defense. Just as egregious was his choice to criticize Trump and the United States alongside the enumeration of outrages committed in genuine tyrannies like Iran.
He demanded that the administration provide “greater and more consistent leadership” to deal with anti-Semitism—but that concern was slipped in alongside denunciations of U.S. immigration law enforcement, and alleged attempts by Trump to “intimidate” the press and the courts.
Using Anti-Semitism As A Weapon Against Trump Is Wrong
Trump’s comments about the media and judges who rule against him do him no credit. But Hussein’s statement failed to note that, unlike virtually every other country he had mentioned apart from democratic Israel, neither the freedom of the press nor the independence of American courts are in any danger.
At the same time, he appeared to argue that anyone who wished to cross into the U.S. had the right to do so—whether they had legal permission or not. It’s a standard no one would apply to any other nation in the world.
But while the UN attacks on Trump’s immigration stands were staggering in their hypocrisy, the fact that the prince felt free to throw in a mention of anti-Semitism is a clear sign that discussion of that issue has now slipped the bonds of rationality.
We All Ought To Condemn Hate, No Matter What
All persons of good will, regardless of their faith, ought to condemn hate and those who practice it. The willingness of some American Muslims to show solidarity with Jews at this time—as Jews have consistently done when Muslims were attacked in this country—should be welcomed.
But when people like Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour—who routinely engages in anti-Semitic attacks on Israel’s right to exist and to self-defense—start using anti-Semitism as a cudgel with which to attack Trump, sensible persons should realize what is going on. The same is true when the UNHRC, of all places, begins expressing concerns about anti-Semitism.
We should not stop caring about bomb threats at JCCs because a UN official mentions them in a forum frequently used for Jew-bashing. But this attention shift suggests the issue is being exploited for other purposes.
We’re Seeing A ‘Rising Tide Of Anti-Semitism’
President Trump has largely brought this on himself because of his willingness to engage in attacks on groups and individuals. But a “rising tide of anti-Semitism” is, as President Obama’s State Department noted, spreading across the globe. The issue is too important to be reduced to the level of a political football for the purpose of Trump-bashing.
When the UNHRC starts addressing the terrorist war on Israel’s existence, as well as attempts to deny the rights of Jews to their ancient homeland and holy places, then it can start lecturing the Jewish state’s only superpower ally about bomb threats at JCCs. The same is true of those who support a BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) movement that is part of a war on the Jewish people.
Those who are genuinely worried about anti-Semitism in the U.S. should regard the UN’s attention as a warning—a warning that the issue has been hijacked for purposes that have nothing to do with the security of their community.