Talk about bad timing. On Wednesday, the White House announced a “National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia,” the necessity of which, according to awkwardly scripted remarks by Vice President Kamala Harris, is that Muslims endure a disproportionate number of “hate-fueled attacks and other discriminatory incidents.”
Leave it to the Biden White House to pick a moment when a wave of antisemitism is surging across America to announce this. Set aside the dearth of evidence that Muslims face persecution or discrimination in mainstream American society. Last year set a record for anti-Jewish hate crimes, breaking the previous record that was set the year before. Since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, antisemitism has erupted in our cities and on campuses, this time with the imprimatur and cooperation of the identitarian left. The idea that now is the time to address Islamophobia is so out of touch with the reality of the moment, only the Biden-Harris administration could possibly have come up with it.
But the announcement inadvertently serves to highlight a rather disturbing development in our civic life. At this point, some three weeks removed from the Hamas slaughter of 1,400 Israelis, it’s hard to deny that we have a domestic constituency for Hamas in this country. Generally speaking, it’s comprised of a broad swath of the woke left together with a broad swath of Muslim-Americans, united in what amounts to an unstable Red-Green alliance.
It’s also easy to see that this Hamas constituency is warming up for a season of real violence.
We’ve all seen the recent videos of self-righteous Hamas sympathizers tearing down posters of missing or kidnapped Israeli children. In almost every case, their actions are accompanied by either a defiant callousness or a dead-eyed nonchalance. Pleading with them or interrogating them is pointless, as every person who has tried to do so on camera has quickly discovered. These people are antisemites, and it’s not possible to shame them out of their antisemitism. They own it gladly.
But this week, a different sort of video appeared on social media. A group of Jews in Manhattan’s Upper East Side physically protected a bunch of posters of Israeli child hostages from an antisemite who was trying to tear them down. The man, who of course covered his face with a keffiyeh, tried to force his way through and a scuffle ensued. Eventually, a cop pulled up and appeared to arrest the man as a crowd gathered.
The incident illustrates the violence lurking just beneath the surface of the antisemitic, pro-Hamas sentiment now manifesting all across the country. The kind of people who are willing to casually rip down posters of children taken hostage by terrorists are not those who have any kind of principled commitment to nonviolence. They might or might not individually be cowards, but they clearly have no problem with violence as such — see, for example, the BLM posters celebrating Hamas paragliders who slaughtered more than 250 Israeli concertgoers on Oct. 7.
This is especially true on our nation’s college campuses. This week at Harvard, whose students have staged some of the most blatant and vile pro-Hamas demonstrations, including straightforward calls for the ethnic cleansing of Jews, a group of keffiyeh-waving students surrounded and then assaulted a Jewish student who was simply trying to get away from them.
Some of these assailants have been identified, like Ibrahim Bharmal, a student at Harvard Law School and an editor at the Harvard Law Review, as well as Elom Tettey-Tamaklo, a student of Harvard Divinity School. That a Harvard law student feels free to harass and assault Jews on campus — the opposite of what we should expect from a student of the law — suggests not only that antisemitism on campus is a real threat to Jewish students but that the pro-Hamas woke left is growing in boldness, and is reasonably confident it can target individual Jews on campus with impunity.
Jon Levine called the Harvard assault a LARP pogrom, which is exactly what it was. And as we know from 2020, left-wing riot and assault LARPers eventually get around to the real thing. Indeed, all the elements are falling into place for a season of civic violence of the kind we saw during the summer of 2020. The White House’s ham-fisted campaign against Islamophobia is all the confirmation you need that Jewish Americans, not Muslims, are the ones in real danger right now.
This is something of a pattern on the left. When a dangerous or unstable element in its coalition is revealed as such, the official narrative is to pretend that element is under unique threat from the American mainstream. Look at the media and Democrat reaction to the mass shooting at a Christian school in Nashville back in March. The shooter was Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old woman who identified as a man. She killed three children and three adults before police took her out. Hale was mentally unwell and left behind a kind of trans shooter manifesto, which was suspiciously never released to the public.
In the wake of the shooting, all we heard from the corporate press and Democratic leaders was that transgender Americans were under threat. Not a word about how transgender ideology attracts mentally unstable, unwell people who need help, not affirmation. That was not the conversation they wanted to have, even after the slaughter of six innocent people.
Likewise, we’re going to hear a lot more about how Muslims and left-wing Hamas apologists are the real victims, even as Jewish students suffer escalating attacks, harassment, and threats. Make no mistake, the violent rhetoric you hear at these pro-Hamas rallies, the revolting practice of tearing down posters of Israeli children taken hostage, the targeting of individual Jewish students on campus — it’s all leading somewhere very bad.