David Bernstein considers the recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents, and the heated response from the Jewish community—and communal leaders in particular—and calls for greater caution:
I’ve been rather taken aback by the panic in the Jewish community over American anti-Semitism since Donald Trump won the election. . . . [T]he fear is drastically out of proportion to the threat; no bombs have been found, and there are no indications that there is any real physical threat to Jews. By contrast, in the past decade or so there have been actual murders at a Jewish community center (JCC) and a Jewish federation office without precipitating such panic.
It seems that much of the panic is in fact due to President Trump, with the JCC threats seen as a potential first sign of the deteriorating status of American Jews. While Jews are the most-liked religious group in the United Sates [according to a recent survey], some degree of trepidation is not unreasonable. . . . Yet, just looking at my Facebook feed, the origins of the fear bear only a tangential relationship to the actual Trump campaign. . . . There is also a general sense among Jews, at least liberal Jews, that Trump’s supporters are significantly more anti-Semitic than the public at large. I have many times asked for empirical evidence that supports this proposition, and have so far come up empty. I don’t rule out the possibility that it’s true, but there doesn’t seem to be any . . . evidence supporting it. . . .
[One] group that has had a strong incentive to exaggerate the present threat of right-wing anti-Semitism is Jewish progressive activists. For the past decade or so, leftist Jews have increasingly found themselves excluded from progressive coalitions that not only take very harsh anti-Israel lines but also have refused to take seriously anti-Semitism in their midst, suggesting that allegations of such anti-Semitism are mere covers for the “privilege” of “white Zionists.” So long as the problem of American anti-Semitism was largely associated with anti-Zionism and far-left politics more generally, Jews were not permitted to be part of a coalition of the marginalized. Lo and behold, along comes Trump, and left-wing Jewish activists are portraying Jews as one of the many groups threatened by him.
(Bernstein has responded to critics of this argument here.)
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