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.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Washington Post

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

The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power

Nov. 20 2018

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:

[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.

Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .

Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .

The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Jager File

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics