It’s hard to understand the logic of those who continue to link President Trump and his administration with the current spate of anti-Semitic threats and attacks.
Given his repeated and proud public references to his Jewish family members, his unabashed statements of support for Israel, and his employment of large numbers of Jews in key positions in his private businesses, the notion that he would be indifferent to anti-Semitism, let alone anti-Semitic himself, is not only counterintuitive but – there’s no other word to describe it – moronic.
We have long written off the charge that Donald Trump himself is in any way a promoter of anti-Semitic sentiment or action, if only because of his personal history. But even the suggestion that he is, if not anti-Semitic himself, an enabler of anti-Semitism threatens to distract us from the real sources, which may of course be the motive of many of those who are dealing the anti-Semitism card against the president.
A case in point was a press conference called by the Anti-Defamation League last Friday, which included representatives from other Jewish groups and police officials, to discuss the arrest of Juan Thompson, whom police allege had made a number of threats to Jewish institutions in recent weeks.
The groups had met earlier with FBI director James Comey, and in a joint post-press conference statement they “expressed the deep gratitude of the entire community for the extraordinary effort that the FBI is applying to the ongoing investigation. The representatives of the Jewish community…have the highest confidence that the FBI is taking every possible measure to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”
The ADL made additional comments as well. Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said, “We’ve never seen, ever, the volume of bomb threats that we’ve seen. White supremacists in this country feel more emboldened than they ever have before because of the public discourse and divisive rhetoric.”
After that thinly veiled allusion to Mr. Trump, the ADL called on the president to take action against anti-Semitism. This, despite the organization’s fulsome praise for the efforts of the FBI, which is the arm of the Trump Justice Department charged with fighting crime and domestic terrorism.
Moreover, it seemed to pass without notice by the ADL and the other groups that Mr. Thompson has a history of anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian statements and in fact is a radical Muslim.
Given the prominent place the ADL occupies in the Democratic Party’s amen corner, it was not surprising that insinuations about President Trump would come into play without even a passing reference to the virtual hijacking of the party by the Bernie Sanders hard-left – a development widely perceived as contributing to the rising level of anti-Semitic sentiment in the country.
Ironically, the controversy over the candidacy of Congressman Keith Ellison for Democratic National Committee chairman preceded only by days the ADL press conference. It will be recalled that Rep. Ellison (who ended up losing by a narrow margin but was promptly named deputy DNC chair by the victor, Tom Perez) was an assistant to the notorious Louis Farrakhan and one of the few members of Congress to oppose providing the Iron Dome missile system to Israel.
After Mr. Ellison’s loss, Professor Alan Dershowitz, a lifelong Democrat and an ardent defender of Israel, had some particularly illuminating things to say about the state of the Democratic Party. Mr. Dershowitz, who had said he would leave the party if Mr. Ellison won, called Mr. Ellison’s defeat “a good sign that [supporters of Israel] can win, though it will not be easy.” He said he would remain in the party to “fight hard for it to move toward the center and away from the anti-Israel and far-left trends” that have become increasingly popular among party activists in recent years.
To be sure, there are some who will argue that there is a distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and support for Palestinian rights to the land claimed by Israel does not necessarily make one an anti-Semite. But pursuing that line of thinking is a fool’s errand. Current anti-Israel sentiment is largely indistinguishable from classic anti-Semitism.
There is a denial, on the part of BDS activists and others of like mind, of any significant connection between Jews – and the term inevitably used is “Jews,” not “Israelis” or “Zionists” – and the biblical Jewish homeland, despite the clear historical evidence to the contrary. Real atrocities and true horrors committed around the world by nation states are downplayed or ignored, with a single-minded and critical focus reserved solely for democratic Israel and its efforts to protect itself from those committed to its destruction.
If there is a distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, it is surely one without a difference.