ON OCTOBER 27TH, we marked one year since the worst antisemitic attack in our country’s history, when a white nationalist walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 individuals and injured six others. The killer acted upon a twisted belief that Jews became part of a dubious plot to weaken white America– a plot to assist in the “intrusion” of the United States by a caravan of migrants from Latin America. This vicious lie about an “intrusion” had been duplicated endlessly in conservative media, on Fox News, across the web, and, many disgracefully, by the president of the United States.
Yes, President Donald Trump’s own words assisted influence the worst act of antisemitic violence in American history.
The risk of antisemitism is not some abstract idea to me. It is very personal. It damaged a big part of my family. I am not somebody who invests a lot of time discussing my individual background because I think political leaders should focus their attention on a vision and agenda for others, instead of themselves. I also appreciate that it’s essential to talk about how our backgrounds have actually informed our concepts, our principles, and our values.
I am a proud Jewish American. My daddy emigrated from Poland to the United States in 1921 at the age of 17 to get away the hardship and prevalent antisemitism of his home country. Those in his family who remained in Poland after Hitler pertained to power were killed by the Nazis. I understand extremely well where white supremacist politics leads, and what can occur when individuals do not speak out against it.
Antisemitism is rising in this nation. According to the FBI, hate crimes against Jews rose by more than a 3rd in 2017 and represented 58% of all religion-based hate criminal offenses in America. A total of 938 hate crimes were dedicated against Jews in 2017, up from 684 in 2016. The New York City Authorities Department reported in September that antisemitic hate crimes in New York City have risen by more than 63% in 2019 and comprise over half of all reported hate crimes. Simply last week, on November 4th, we discovered that federal authorities had actually apprehended a man in Colorado they think was associated with a plot to bomb one of the state’s earliest synagogues.
This wave of violence is the outcome of a harmful political ideology that targets Jews and anybody who does not fit a narrow vision of a whites-only America. We need to be clear that while antisemitism is a threat to Jews everywhere, it is likewise a threat to democratic governance itself. The antisemites who marched in Charlottesville don’t just dislike Jews. They dislike the idea of multiracial democracy. They hate the concept of political equality. They hate immigrants, individuals of color, LGBTQ people, ladies, and anybody else who stands in the way of a whites-only America. They implicate Jews of coordinating a massive attack on white people worldwide, using individuals of color and other marginalized groups to do their grunt work.
This is the conspiracy theory that drove the Pittsburgh killer– that Jews are conspiring to bring immigrants into the country to “change” Americans. And it is important to understand that is what antisemitism is: a conspiracy theory that a secretly effective minority exercises manage over society. Like other types of bigotry– bigotry, sexism, homophobia– antisemitism is used by the right to divide people from one another and avoid us from combating together for a shared future of equality, peace, prosperity, and environmental justice. So I want to state as clearly as I perhaps can: We will confront this hatred, do exactly the reverse of what Trump is doing and embrace our distinctions to bring people together.
Opposing antisemitism is a core value of progressivism. So it’s extremely unpleasant to me that we are likewise seeing allegations of antisemitism utilized as a negative political weapon versus progressives. Among the most harmful things Trump has done is to divide Americans by using incorrect claims of antisemitism, mainly regarding the US– Israel relationship. We need to be very clear that it is not antisemitic to criticize the policies of the Israeli federal government.
I have a connection to Israel going back numerous years. In 1963, I lived on a kibbutz near Haifa. It existed that I saw and experienced for myself much of the progressive worths upon which Israel was established. I believe it is very important for everybody, but particularly for progressives, to acknowledge the enormous accomplishment of establishing a democratic homeland for the Jewish individuals after centuries of displacement and persecution.
We need to also be sincere about this: The founding of Israel is understood by another people in the land of Palestine as the reason for their unpleasant displacement. And just as Palestinians need to recognize the simply claims of Israeli Jews, supporters of Israel need to understand why Palestinians see Israel’s development as they do. Acknowledging these realities does not “delegitimize” Israel any more than acknowledging the sober truths of America’s own founding delegitimizes the United States. It is a necessary step of reality and reconciliation in order to resolve the inequalities that continue to exist in our particular societies.
It holds true that some criticism of Israel can cross the line into antisemitism, particularly when it rejects the right of self-determination to Jews, or when it plays into conspiracy theories about outsized Jewish power. I will constantly call out antisemitism when I see it. My ancestors would anticipate no less of me. As president, I will enhance both domestic and worldwide efforts to combat this hatred. I will direct the Justice Department to focus on the fight against white nationalist violence. I will not wait two years to appoint an Unique Envoy to Display and Combat Anti-Semitism, as Trump did; I will designate one immediately. I will likewise rejoin the United Nations Human Being Rights Council, which Trump withdrew from. The United States ought to not be sitting on the sidelines on these essential concerns at the UN; we ought to be at the table assisting to shape an international human rights program that fights all forms of bigotry and discrimination.
When I take a look at the Middle East, I see Israel as having the capacity to add to peace and prosperity for the entire region, yet not able to achieve this in part because of its unsolved dispute with the Palestinians. And I see a Palestinian people yearning to make their contribution– and with a lot to offer– yet crushed underneath a military occupation now over a half-century old, producing an everyday reality of pain, embarrassment, and bitterness.
Ending that profession and allowing the Palestinians to have self-determination in an independent, democratic, financially feasible state of their own remains in the best interests of the United States, Israel, the Palestinians, and the region. My pride and admiration for Israel lives alongside my assistance for Palestinian liberty and independence. I turn down the notion that there is any contradiction there. The forces fomenting antisemitism are the forces arrayed versus oppressed individuals worldwide, consisting of Palestinians; the struggle versus antisemitism is likewise the battle for Palestinian flexibility. I stand in solidarity with my buddies in Israel, in Palestine, and around the globe who are trying to deal with conflict, decrease hatred, and promote dialogue, cooperation, and understanding.
We require this solidarity frantically now. All over the world– in Russia, in India, in Brazil, in Hungary, in Israel, and in other places– we see the rise of a divisive and destructive type of politics. We see intolerant, authoritarian politicians attacking the extremely foundations of democratic societies. These leaders exploit people’s fears by magnifying animosities, stiring intolerance and prompting hatred against ethnic and religious minorities, fanning hostility towards democratic standards and a free press, and promoting consistent fear about foreign plots. We see this extremely clearly in our own nation. It is originating from the highest level of our federal government. It is originating from Donald Trump’s tweets, and from his own mouth.
As a people who have actually experienced oppression and persecution for hundreds of years, we comprehend the risk. We likewise have a custom that points the method forward. I am a proud member of the tradition of Jewish social justice. And I am so inspired when I see a lot of Jewish individuals selecting up this banner, specifically the younger generation of Jews, who are assisting to lead a revival of progressive values in our country. They see the battle versus antisemitism and for Jewish freedom as linked to the battle for the freedom of oppressed people all over the world. They belong to a broad coalition of activists from several backgrounds who think very deeply, as I always have, that we are all in this together.
Bernie Sanders is a United States senator from Vermont and a candidate in the 2020 Democratic governmental main.
The post How to combat Antisemitism appeared initially on Jewish Currents.