Most people have witnessed the sharp rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, beginning in 2020 and continuing well into this year. The FBI hasn’t released its hate-crime data yet for 2020, but we know from the NYPD’s reports that there were 27 anti-Asian attacks compared with just one in 2019. Even if you were previously unaware of these statistics, you were most likely alerted to the terribly hateful and violent trend thanks to the trendy hashtag #StopAsianHate. Members of Congress were quick not only to condemn anti-Asian hate but to write and pass highly particularized legislation, too.
That’s how it ought to be. If you see hate skyrocketing, take action, call it out exclusively and unequivocally, identify the source, and take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of every single American regardless of race or religion. Yet that’s not always the case. In fact, it’s specifically not the case when it comes to anti-Jewish hate crimes.
Case in point: Over the past two weeks, anyone with access to social media would have come across an endless stream of posts relating to Israel and Gaza, and would have seen examples of wanton attacks by pro-Palestinian mobs against Jews in major cities all across the globe. You would think that the sight of Jewish men being pummeled and beaten on the streets of Manhattan would have not only yielded immediate outrage from every decent human being, but would also surely be followed with a #StopJewHate campaign. You might think such a campaign would be promoted, at the very least, by every “woke” elected official, especially those from New York City.
But what we got instead were curiously “balanced” denunciations, such as the following:
Freshmen Representative Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) had this to say: “We’ve seen an increase in antisemitic and Islamophobic hate, in NYC and nationwide — hateful words, hate crimes, and other forms of violence. We must stand together to condemn hate.”
Another newcomer, Representative Cori Bush (D., Mo.), responded similarly to the outbreak of anti-Jewish violence: “The work of dismantling antisemitism, anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism, and every other form of hate is OUR work. We will ONLY achieve collective liberation by leading with radical love. There is no room for hate of any kind in our movements for justice.”
Second-term Representative Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), shared a similar sentiment: “I strongly condemn the rise in antisemitism and islamophobia we’re seeing across the country. Let me say it again: our freedom and our destinies are tied. The struggle for liberation and justice requires all of us to reject hate and division in any form.”
Senator Bernie Sanders got in on the action too: “We’ve recently seen disturbing antisemitic attacks and a troubling rise in Islamophobia. If you are committed to a future of equality and peaceful coexistence, please stand united against anyone who promotes hatred of any kind.”
Though Representatives Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) have both in the past offered similarly “balanced” denunciations of antisemitism, because they were among the most vocal in demonizing Israel throughout the latest conflict, they’ve remained curiously silent on antisemitism this time around.
Beyond the robotic nature of the issued “condemnations,” what shouldn’t be missed is the fact that those messages were posted late on Friday or on Saturday. Anyone who understands how the news cycle works knows that posting then ensures a limited reach. They buried the lede. Adding to the oddity, by the time these members of Congress tweeted, more than a dozen Jews had been seriously harmed over the course of two weeks in totally unwarranted attacks, mostly caught on video for all to see. What took so long?
What’s really going on here is obvious to any keen observer: These members of Congress equate the documented rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes with a rise in Islamophobia because the criminals behind the recent pogroms were almost all non-white pro-Palestinians. An unequivocal condemnation of the violence would force these members to wrestle with the existence of a particularly pernicious strain of antisemitism that cannot be attributed to white supremacy. And it would therefore surely put a dent in the perceived righteousness of the Palestinian cause. For if it’s so righteous and all about “Free[ing] Palestine” from “oppression,” then why would pro-Palestinian mobs proudly spew anti-Jewish vitriol in public and seek American Jews out for violent attacks?
A quick search of these same folks’ Twitter history drives this point home. Whenever there was an attack on Jews and the culprits were white supremacists, they condemned antisemitism while calling out white supremacy, too. Clearly, they understand the need to name the source of hatred — except when it isn’t white supremacists to blame, but “people of color.”
This conflation of antisemitism with Islamophobia is more malevolent than it appears. For not only do those attempting this rhetorical trick wish to avoid pointing fingers at anyone who can’t be called a white supremacist. Their goal is also to deny outright that there is a particularly hateful strain of anti-Jewish ideology in pro-Palestinian advocacy. This is the movement whose charters — those of the PLO and of Hamas — originally called for the destruction of Israel. That demands companies and institutions boycott, divest, and sanction entities affiliated with Israel. That wants to erase the Jewish state “from the river to the sea.” And that constantly reminds the “Yahud” of being massacred at “Khaybar.” What more proof do you need that this movement is fundamentally anti-Jewish? Yet these members of Congress couldn’t bring themselves to condemn antisemitism exclusively without All Lives Matter-ing it. The cognitive dissonance required to call Israel “an apartheid state” while condemning pro-Palestinian anti-Jewish violence would be all too revealing and self-defeating.
Some have said that there has been a rise in Islamophobia too, so why not call out both forms of hatred? But there are actually no data to indicate any noticeable rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes, whereas anti-Jewish hate crimes have skyrocketed (according to the NYPD, there has been one anti-Muslim attack in Q1 of this year compared with 27 anti-Jewish attacks). And even if anti-Muslim hate crimes had risen, these same members of Congress showed they understood the need to focus on a particular hatred especially when it rises meteorically. We got #StopAsianHate from the same crowd that gave us #NoMuslimBan and #NoToTransphobia. But no #StopJewHate was offered, not even a measly tweet dedicated to condemning brutal anti-Jewish violence.
Was it always so hard for Democrats in Congress to voice an unequivocal condemnation of such obviously virulent and violent anti-Jewish hatred? No. But there was a turning point. Remember in 2019, when Representative Omar tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” and she was going to be censured by House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) with a resolution focused squarely on condemning her antisemitism? If you do, then you probably recall what happened next. After Omar’s defenders claimed that the very calling out of her anti-Semitic indulgences was, of all things, racist, Pelosi watered down the resolution so that not only was Omar, the one who necessitated such action, not singled out, but it was All Lives Matter-ed, too. Thus, the resolution condemned all forms of racism at once. A marvelous achievement!
Alas, we’re now reaping the fruits of such feckless leadership. The same representatives who get angry when they hear “but All Lives Matter” in response to Black Lives Matter are essentially telling us all that Jewish lives don’t.