In Germany this week, a regional court ruled that the 2014 firebombing of Bergisch Synagogue in Wuppertal, while a criminal act of arson, was not an anti-Semitic incident. The judge had upheld a lower court ruling deemed that the three Palestinian immigrants who had thrown Molotov cocktails at the synagogue were merely calling “attention to the Gaza conflict.” Because nothing shows concern for the Middle East peace process like trying to burn down a Jewish house of worship with homemade incendiary devices.
The three men, who had admitted to the authorities that they were motivated by hatred of Israel, were ultimately given suspended sentences, since “no anti-Semitic motivation could be identified.” Now, it’s doubtful that many, or any, of the congregants at the Bergisch Synagogue were Israelis. It’s unlikely the would-be arsonists took a poll of the congregants’ views on the Jewish state. It is unknown whether the bomb-throwers were merely critics of Likud’s policies, or whether they subscribed to Hamas’ view that “Jews”—not, “Israelis”—should be chased entirely from the ancestral homeland.
We can be certain, however, that the men targeted this particular house of worship because Israel is the homeland of Jews. We know animosity towards Jews is rampant throughout the Islamic world, and that the same hatred is gaining a foothold in the West under the guise of “anti-Zionism.” The fact that German officials are rationalizing political violence in a city that was home to one of the first concentration camps is just an added reminder of its nefarious nature—not to mention the importance of the existence of a nation where Jews can protect themselves rather than having to beg German officials do it for them.
This week in Norway, the state attorney dismissed a case against a rapper named Kaveh Kholardi. Last summer, Kholardi was hired by the city of Oslo to perform at a family festival to celebrate “diversity and inclusion.” During his performance, Kholardi asked if there were any Jews in the audience, before going on a rant about the “f***ing Jews.” A few days earlier, the rapper had tweeted that the “f***ing Jews are so corrupt.”
There are only 789 Jews left in Norway.
The court found that Kholardi’s “remarks were demeaning, untruthful and offensive, but they are not breaching the law.” A fine outcome if you, like me, believe that hate speech laws undermine an inherent right to free expression. In Norway, however, they do not. It is still illegal to “deliberately or grossly negligently publicly present a discriminatory or hateful expression shall be punished by fines or imprisonment for up to 3 years.”
When this fact was brought up to Tor Aksel Busch, Norway’s director of public prosecutions, he explained that while the comments by the Muslim rapper “seems to be targeting Jews” they can also be looked at as a way to “express dissatisfaction with the policies of the State of Israel.”
If these excuses sound familiar to you, it’s because American progressives have increasingly adopted them in their own efforts to protect—and in some cases, normalize—anti-Semitism.
In the United States this week, leading presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ national deputy press secretary, Belén Sisa, in the midst of defending Rep. Ilhan Omar’s smears against American Jewry, asked: “Do you not think that the American government and American Jewish community has a dual allegiance to the State of Israel?” Although at this point it’s unsurprising that Marxists are making dual loyalty smears, it is perhaps somewhat peculiar that that the person doing it is an illegal immigrant.
Just like Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the Congressional Black Caucus who powwow with the Nation of Islam cult, and all their advocates across the Democratic Party, Sisa was attacking American Jews, not Israeli policy. Yet one of the most repeated falsehoods surrounding these incidents—endlessly regurgitated in the media—is that we are debating the limits of how “critical” one can be about Israeli policy. Sisa aimed her comment at Americans.
But it’s clear that “anti-Zionist” antagonism is fueled by Jew hatred, not the reverse. Israel, of course, is the epitome of Jewish power, so it makes sense. Many liberal Jews (which is to say most Jews) like to pretend Israel has nothing to do with them. The haters emphatically disagree. Even secular Jews who drift away from the tradition and faith, and those who have replaced their Jewish values with the Democratic Party platform, or those progressives who blame Benjamin Netanyahu or scapegoat Republicans, or simply don’t care, will still be blamed whenever Jews in Israel defend themselves. Count on it.
It’s worth remembering that “anti-Zionist” terrorism –whether perpetrated by Palestinians, Iranians, or the Baader-Meinhof Group—have always targeted Jews, not merely Israelis. It was so long before Netanyahu was prime minister, long before Likud ever won a national election in Israel, and even before there were ever “occupied territories.” (Unless, of course, you, like many progressives, believe all of Israel is an occupied territory.)
The most charitable reading of the Democratic Party’s recent actions is that, in this age of identity politics, they believe Muslims in Congress deserve special dispensation regarding bigotry. The less charitable reading is that a large faction of their constituents agree with the bigots. Maybe it’s both.
By passing that pathetic, diluted resolution against bigotry, they rewarded Omar for her attack on American Jews, and normalized similar rhetoric. For example, despite the fact that nearly every media outlet reported that Sisa had apologized for her comments, she did not.
“In a conversation on Facebook, I used some language that I see now was insensitive. Issues of allegiance and loyalty to one’s country come with painful history,” she said. “At a time when so many communities in our country feel under attack by the president and his allies, I absolutely recognize that we need to address these issues with greater care and sensitivity to their historical resonance, and I’m committed to doing that in the future.”
This vapid leftist word salad diligently avoids addressing her initial claim of Jewish mendacity. Pushing the vacuous notion that the problem here is hurt feelings, rather than an odious set of ideas, is bad enough. But nowhere in her “apology” does she concede that her initial comments were substantively wrong.
That’s probably okay, though. Like the officials in Germany and Norway, these days the Democratic Party–including many of its major presidential candidates–can excuse a little Jew hatred if it’s framed just right.