Anti-Semitism is Anti-Semitism, Period

Written by Josh Van De Riet on . Posted in Op-Ed

Seven months ago, as the sun set across the United States and the Sabbath came to a close, American Jews read the news that 11 of their brethren in Pittsburgh had been murdered for no other reason than the fact that they were Jews. In late April, as the Sabbath ebbed away, American Jews once again bore witness to the horrifying reality of anti-Semitism. A gunman opened fire at a synagogue in California, killing one and injuring three. Lori Kaye, who died in the shooting, jumped between the shooter and the community’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, sacrificing herself.

Politicians were quick to condemn the act. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden decried the “bigotry and violence.” Bernie Sanders condemned “all forms of hatred and bigotry.” And Kamala Harris reminded Americans that “anti-Semitism is real.” That’s not all; politicians condemn anti-Semitic attacks on foreign soil as well. After five individuals were brutally murdered at a kosher supermarket in Paris in 2016, President Barak Obama, who was loathe to call out anti-Semitism by name, denounced the “horrific terrorist attack.” However, there is one category of anti-Semitic attacks that does not garner the attention it deserves: attacks against Israelis.

Astonishingly, since the Oslo Accords were entered into, nearly 2,000 Israelis have lost their lives in anti-Semitic terrorist attacks. Since the horrific shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue seven months ago, eight Israelis have been killed (one of them a 4-day-old infant) and 15 wounded in savage attacks. Yet, the response from the American political establishment has been at best muted and at worst hypocritical. There are three main reasons why this is the case.

First, American politicians are unsure as to what exactly Zionism is in the first place. And for good reason, too. From Ze’ev Jabotinsky to the Satmar Rebbe to David Ben Gurion, there are as many visions of Zionism as there are Jews. However, one idea binds them all. Fundamentally, Zionism stands for the re-indigenization of global Jewry to their ancestral homeland for the purpose of exercising their right to self-determination. Without a clear concept of Zionism, American politicians flounder for an explanation of violence against Israelis.

Second, American politicians don’t have a nuanced understanding of the intersection between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Thus, we should clear the air, once and for all: If you are anti-Zionist, then you are anti-Semitic. (Furthermore, if you self-identify as anti-Zionist, then you should take responsibility for your beliefs and stop taking terminological cover.)

Why is anti-Zionism anti-Semitic? Simply put, because anti-Zionism denies the right of Jews around the globe to govern themselves. As we celebrate the 52nd anniversary of the famous Loving v. Virginia decision, in which the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation statutes, imagine someone that opposes interracial marriage arguing that their position isn’t fundamentally racist. There are rights that are part and parcel of a marriage and denying those rights to certain individuals amounts to denying them full membership in our society. Similarly, denying the right of Jews to self-determination denies them full membership in the society of nations. We should plant one more flag here: Anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism are, de facto, indistinguishable, but for the fact that anti-Zionism is anti-Israelism’s philosophical precursor.

The final reason attacks against Israelis don’t get the attention they deserve is that this type of violence is, shockingly, perceived as legitimate political resistance. Many assume Palestinian attacks against Israelis are political in nature by reference to the geopolitical world in which they occur, or by historical reference to Ireland’s troubles. However, make no mistake, political movements that see the elimination of the State of Israel as their raison d’etre are (surprise!) not fond of Jews.

In the wake of yet another attack on a Jewish institution, our message should be clear: Politicians should not only condemn anti-Semitism when it is politically expedient. Anti-Semitism, whether entertained by the mind of a neo-Nazi in Charlottesville, an ISIS cell in France, or a suicide bomber in Jerusalem, is anti-Semitism, period.

Josh Van De Riet is an attorney and father of three currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland.

 

Anti-Semitism is Anti-Semitism, Period

By Josh Van De Riet

Seven months ago, as the sun set across the United States and the Sabbath came to a close, American Jews read the news that 11 of their brethren in Pittsburgh had been murdered for no other reason than the fact that they were Jews. In late April, as the Sabbath ebbed away, American Jews once again bore witness to the horrifying reality of anti-Semitism. A gunman opened fire at a synagogue in California, killing one and injuring three. Lori Kaye, who died in the shooting, jumped between the shooter and the community’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, sacrificing herself.

Politicians were quick to condemn the act. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden decried the “bigotry and violence.” Bernie Sanders condemned “all forms of hatred and bigotry.” And Kamala Harris reminded Americans that “anti-Semitism is real.” That’s not all; politicians condemn anti-Semitic attacks on foreign soil as well. After five individuals were brutally murdered at a kosher supermarket in Paris in 2016, President Barak Obama, who was loathe to call out anti-Semitism by name, denounced the “horrific terrorist attack.” However, there is one category of anti-Semitic attacks that does not garner the attention it deserves: attacks against Israelis.

Astonishingly, since the Oslo Accords were entered into, nearly 2,000 Israelis have lost their lives in anti-Semitic terrorist attacks. Since the horrific shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue seven months ago, eight Israelis have been killed (one of them a 4-day-old infant) and 15 wounded in savage attacks. Yet, the response from the American political establishment has been at best muted and at worst hypocritical. There are three main reasons why this is the case.

First, American politicians are unsure as to what exactly Zionism is in the first place. And for good reason, too. From Ze’ev Jabotinsky to the Satmar Rebbe to David Ben Gurion, there are as many visions of Zionism as there are Jews. However, one idea binds them all. Fundamentally, Zionism stands for the re-indigenization of global Jewry to their ancestral homeland for the purpose of exercising their right to self-determination. Without a clear concept of Zionism, American politicians flounder for an explanation of violence against Israelis.

Second, American politicians don’t have a nuanced understanding of the intersection between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Thus, we should clear the air, once and for all: If you are anti-Zionist, then you are anti-Semitic. (Furthermore, if you self-identify as anti-Zionist, then you should take responsibility for your beliefs and stop taking terminological cover.)

Why is anti-Zionism anti-Semitic? Simply put, because anti-Zionism denies the right of Jews around the globe to govern themselves. As we celebrate the 52nd anniversary of the famous Loving v. Virginia decision, in which the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation statutes, imagine someone that opposes interracial marriage arguing that their position isn’t fundamentally racist. There are rights that are part and parcel of a marriage and denying those rights to certain individuals amounts to denying them full membership in our society. Similarly, denying the right of Jews to self-determination denies them full membership in the society of nations. We should plant one more flag here: Anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism are, de facto, indistinguishable, but for the fact that anti-Zionism is anti-Israelism’s philosophical precursor.

The final reason attacks against Israelis don’t get the attention they deserve is that this type of violence is, shockingly, perceived as legitimate political resistance. Many assume Palestinian attacks against Israelis are political in nature by reference to the geopolitical world in which they occur, or by historical reference to Ireland’s troubles. However, make no mistake, political movements that see the elimination of the State of Israel as their raison d’etre are (surprise!) not fond of Jews.

In the wake of yet another attack on a Jewish institution, our message should be clear: Politicians should not only condemn anti-Semitism when it is politically expedient. Anti-Semitism, whether entertained by the mind of a neo-Nazi in Charlottesville, an ISIS cell in France, or a suicide bomber in Jerusalem, is anti-Semitism, period.

By Josh Van De Riet


 

Josh Van De Riet is an attorney and father of three currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland.