The Dangers of Universalizing Anti-Semitism

In the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre, the presidential adviser Kelyanne Conway spoke in an interview about “anti-religiosity,” while Columbia University sent a statement to its students that lamented “violence in our nation’s houses of worship” without using the word “Jews” or “anti-Semitism.” Such reactions to the murder of Jews, writes Yair Rosenberg, are all too common on both ends of the political spectrum and ought to be resisted:

The instinct to universalize anti-Semitic acts has many motives—some quite understandable, others more [sinister]. Well-meaning non-Jews often seek to draw universal lessons against intolerance from acts of anti-Semitic violence. Others want to make [these] incidents accessible and relevant for a broader, non-Jewish audience in an attempt to evoke empathy for the victims, and do so by trying to equate the persecution of Jews with forms of oppression faced by non-Jews.

Often, however, there are darker impulses at work. On the far right, attempts to deny that Jews were the primary target of the Holocaust are typically part of an effort to evade responsibility for the Holocaust itself. Thus, in 2014, over the livid protests of Jews there and around the world, Hungary erected a Holocaust monument that cast all Hungarians as “the victims of the German occupation,” even though Hungary’s leaders and population assisted the Nazis in deporting the country’s nearly 500,000 Jews. . . . In this way, the Holocaust is recast as an ecumenical crime, with Jews as its incidental victims.

On the far left, meanwhile, dropping Jews from discussions of anti-Semitism frequently results from an inability or unwillingness to recognize the reality and seriousness of the anti-Jewish threat. . . . After Pittsburgh, one local [British] Labor-party organization even deliberately removed a commitment to combat anti-Semitism from its condolence statement. In this progressive conception, Jews are dismissed as a group of privileged whites whose oppression need not be prioritized or “centered,” if it even exists anymore. When anti-Semites declare that “all Jews must die,” such people declare that we must change the subject.

Whether the motives are pure or impure, the result is the same: after deadly anti-Semitism strikes, Jews are expunged as inconvenient accessories to their own execution.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Hungary, Labor Party (UK), Politics & Current Affairs

Palestinian Leaders Fight Economic Growth

Jan. 15 2019

This month, a new shopping mall opened in northeastern Jerusalem, easily accessible to most of the city’s Arab residents. Rami Levy, the supermarket magnate who owns the mall, already employs some 2,000 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians at his other stores, and the mall will no doubt bring more jobs to Arab Jerusalemites. But the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are railing against it, and one newspaper calls its opening “an economic catastrophe [nakba].” Bassam Tawil writes:

For [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah officials . . . the image of Palestinians and Jews working in harmony is loathsome. . . . Instead of welcoming the inauguration of the shopping mall for providing job opportunities to dozens of Palestinians and lower prices [to consumers], Fatah officials are taking about an Israeli plan to “undermine” the Palestinian economy. . . . The hundreds of Palestinians who flooded the new mall on its first day, however, seem to disagree with the grim picture painted by [these officials]. . . .

The campaign of incitement against Levy’s shopping mall began several months ago, as it was being built, and has continued until today. Now that the campaign has failed to prevent the opening of the mall, Fatah and its followers have turned to outright threats and violence. The threats are being directed toward Palestinian shoppers and Palestinian merchants who rented space in the new mall. On the day the mall was opened, Palestinians threw a number of firebombs at the compound, [which] could have injured or killed Palestinians. The [bomb-throwers], who are believed to be affiliated with Fatah, would rather see their own people dead than having fun or buying attractively-priced products at an Israeli mall.

By spearheading this campaign of incitement and intimidation, Abbas’s Fatah is again showing its true colors. How is it possible to imagine that Abbas or any of his Fatah lieutenants would ever make peace with Israel when they cannot even tolerate the idea of Palestinians and Jews working together for a simple common good? If a Palestinian who buys Israeli milk is a traitor in the eyes of Fatah, it is not difficult to imagine the fate of any Palestinian who would dare to discuss compromise with Israel.

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More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy