In America, It’s Orthodox Jews Who Are Most Vulnerable to Anti-Semitism

September 4, 2019 | Jonathan Tobin
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In the past week, there were three separate violent attacks on Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn during which the perpetrators shouted anti-Semitic epithets. Such incidents, almost always committed by African Americans, have become almost commonplace—and make up the overwhelming majority of the 150 anti-Semitic incidents recorded by the New York City police department in 2019. Meanwhile, the Republican party of Rockland County, NY released an appallingly anti-Semitic advertisement appealing to those who want to keep ḥasidic Jews out of their towns. Jonathan Tobin comments on the scant attention paid to these issues by either the national media or major Jewish organizations:

Those who are being insulted, threatened, and assaulted don’t look like most American Jews. Even worse, those responsible for these crimes don’t fit into the narrative about anti-Semitism that has been established by groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the media. Instead of white supremacists who can be loosely, if inaccurately, linked to President Donald Trump, the perpetrators are African Americans.

You don’t have to be a Jewish community-relations professional or a sociologist to understand that a replay of the tensions that tore New York City apart in the 1960s and 1970s . . . is not the topic that the organized Jewish world wishes to discuss in 2019. [But] there is a conspicuous source of anti-Semitic incitement and influence among African Americans that many political liberals have struggled to ignore: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.

Though the members of Nation of Islam mosques are estimated to number only around 50,000 nationally, Farrakhan’s sympathizers and admirers are more likely to be counted in the hundreds of thousands. Moreover, it is a fact that African American leaders don’t treat the hatemonger as an extremist to be shunned. The same is true of the heads of leading anti-Trump “resistance” groups like the Women’s March, who are open admirers of this purveyor of crude anti-Semitism. . . . And while there is, as of yet, no evidence that those attacking Orthodox Jews are linked to Farrakhan, it’s far easier to connect the dots between him and those crimes than it is to try to blame Trump for acts of far-right extremism that the president has repeatedly condemned.

What is needed now is for the American Jewish world to come together to embrace the Orthodox community the way it did after the Pittsburgh and Poway [synagogue] attacks. If that doesn’t happen, the clear lack of interest on the part of the mainstream Jewish community—and the likelihood that this stems from both politics and hostility toward the Orthodox—will worsen the dangerous divisions along denominational lines that already exist.

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