In a very important sense, the slaughter in Pittsburgh last Saturday was a special call to arms to leading elected Jewish Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Jerry Nadler, to make sure that the irrationality of anti-Semitism and its profound and systemic presence in this country is not obscured by any thought of cheap political gain – that is, to suggest that it was somehow the result of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. Although it got little traction, we still recall those troubling claims from the Democratic Left in the course of the 2016 presidential campaign that candidate Trump was trying to dog-whistle his way into office with “members only” appeals to anti-Semitic prejudice.
But the notion that the president’s rhetoric somehow continues to transform our society into a breeding ground for anti-Semites – the alleged killer, Robert Bowers was said to have yelled “All Jews must die” – persists as a Democratic Left mantra, despite the fact that Mr. Trump has Jewish children and grandchildren in his immediate family, and is regarded as the most pro-Israel occupant of the White House ever.
And, in any event, the fact is, the rampant anti-Semitism in England, France and Germany certainly developed prior to the Trump phenomenon or anything like it. Weren’t Jews unable to walk safely in many European cities well before Donald Trump began his quest for the presidency?
However, it is not enough for Democrats to merely decline to make political hay out of what President Trump may have said in this regard. It is the duty of the likes of Messrs. Schumer and Nadler, as leading Democrat elected officials of the Jewish faith and widely regarded for their seniority and their intelligence, to take the lead and affirmatively address the growing anti-Semitism at its source. To their credit Messrs. Schumer and Nadler have not taken to overtly trying to blame the Pittsburgh murders on President Trump. Yet they have also not called out those who have, and thus are complicit in the blurring of what really drives anti-Semites. And that speaks volumes about what they really would like to advocate if they weren’t fearful of the consequences.
So we also wonder where they were when Louis Farrakhan recently compared Jews to insects? Where were they last year when, under the direction of the notorious Linda Sarsour, Jewish women were delegitimized as feminists in the Women’s March on Washington only because they were Jewish?
Where have they been when Jewish students and speakers were routinely being harassed on college campuses? Where were they when Jewish cemeteries were desecrated? Where were they when Jews were recently attacked in Crown Heights and Borough Park?
The answer is that they were Missing In Action and silence is acquiescence. In the final analysis, it is not the loud, hateful chants of anti-Semites that concern us the most. It is the deafening silence of those who could make a difference were they to step up before the chants morph into deeds. Not to put too fine a point on it, we must always be mindful of pre-War Germany.
Tragedies like the one in Pittsburgh perpetrated by mindless and possessed people will only be stopped when those in the position to do so, like Messrs Schumer and Nadler go public in delegitimizing it. That they have yet to do so is to their continuing shame and our peril.