An Unjustified Panic over Anti-Semitism

March 13 2017

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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More about: American Jewry, American politics, Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump, Jewish World

Hamas’s Deadly Escalation at the Gaza Border

Oct. 16 2018

Hamas’s weekly demonstration at the fence separating Gaza from Israel turned bloody last Friday, as operatives used explosives to blow a hole in the barrier and attempted to pass through. The IDF opened fire, killing three and scaring away the rest. Yoni Ben Menachem notes that the demonstrators’ tactics have been growing more aggressive and violent in recent weeks, and the violence is no longer limited to Fridays but is occurring around the clock:

The number of participants in the demonstrations has risen to 20,000. Extensive use has been made of lethal tactics such as throwing explosive charges and grenades at IDF soldiers, and there has been an increase in the launching of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel. At the same time, Hamas supplemented its burning tires with smoke generators at the border to create heavy smoke screens to shield Gazan rioters and allow them to get closer to the border fence and infiltrate into Israel. . . .

[S]ix months of ineffective demonstrations have not achieved anything connected with easing [Israel’s blockade of the Strip]. Therefore, Hamas has decided to increase military pressure on Israel. [Its] ultimate goal has not changed: the complete removal of the embargo; until this is achieved, the violent demonstrations at the border fence will continue.

Hamas’s overall objective is to take the IDF by surprise by blowing up the fence at several points and infiltrating into Israeli territory to harm IDF soldiers or abduct them and take them into the Gaza Strip. . . . The precedent of the 2011 deal in which one Israeli soldier was traded for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners has strengthened the feeling within Hamas that Israel is prepared to pay a heavy price for bringing back captured soldiers alive. . . . Hamas also believes that the campaign is strengthening its position in Palestinian society and is getting the international community to understand that the Palestinian problem is still alive. . . .

The Hamas leadership is not interested in an all-out military confrontation with Israel. The Gaza street is strongly opposed to this, and the Hamas leadership understands that a new war with Israel will result in substantial damage to the organization. Therefore, the idea is to continue with the “Return March” campaign, which will not cost the organization too much and will maintain its rule without paying too high a price for terror.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security