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How to Spot a Jew-Hater

April 18, 2019

Two Orthodox Jews in Belgium parade

A leading right-wing national weekly newspaper in Poland recently published an article on its front page, “How to recognize a Jew.” (‘How to Spot a Jew’: Polish Newspaper Front Page Gives Readers Anti-Semitic Advice,” David Brennan, Newsweek, 3/14/19).  The Tylko Polska ran the story that recognizing a Jew involves “names, anthropological features, expressions, appearances, character traits, methods of operation” and “disinformation activities” that might mark a Jewish person. “How to defeat them?” the headline added. “This cannot go on.”

Nowadays, Jews all over the world have a much more urgent task: How to spot Jew-Haters. Every day, there is evidence of anti-Israel/anti-Semitic words and actions in Europe and in the United States. There are so many examples, including a photo shared over the Internet of a Ruth Bader Ginsburg poster in Brooklyn, with a swastika covering her face and the words, “Die, Jew bitch!”  On the same day, Norway’s Attorney General ruled that Norwegian rapper Kaveh’s exclamation, “F*** Jews,” in front of families with children at a food festival, “could be understood as criticism of Israel, targeting the state of Israel and showing dissatisfaction with its policies.” Ten days earlier, a float in a Belgium carnival paraded two caricatures of Orthodox Jews with large crooked noses and suitcases of money, as if this were just some funny innocent cartoon.

The New York Times, often guilty of reports and essays blatantly critical of Israel, just published “Anti-Semitism is Back, From the Left, Right and Islamist Extremes,” (Patrick Kingsley, April 4, 2019). “Anti-Semitism has become a section of today’s political Venn diagram,” Kingsley writes, “where the far right can intersect with parts of the far left, Europe’s radical Islamist fringe, and even politicians from American’s two main parties.” One of those politicians, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, questioned American Jews’ allegiance to the United States and said that Jewish organizations like AIPAC were buying Jewish support, tweeting, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”

The Democratic Party offering mild criticism/enabling of Omar is similar to the Republican Party quietly criticizing President Trump’s defense of some white Nationalists as “very fine people,” many of whom chanted “Jews will not replace us.” As Kingsley writes, “bigots have seemingly become more brazen, creating a climate that has made anti-Semitism far more permissible and dangerous.” France reported a 74 percent spike in anti-Semitic incidents, Germany a 60 percent increase in violent anti-Semitic attacks, and the US reported a 57% increase of anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, including 11 Jews murdered in a Pittsburgh synagogue during prayer. Pittsburgh just fades into the distance, now seeming like just another forgotten American mass murder. Oh well…

I have never seen so much blatant anti-Semitism in my 62 years of life. Yet, it often seems so ordinary and common that I begin to wonder, what can I do about it? What can we all do about the insidious spread of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish hatred?

We need to keep our eyes and ears open to Jew-haters everywhere, whether it’s in the guise of poisonous BDS supporters, politicians questioning the legitimacy of Israel, or universities enabling blatant prejudice against Israel. It’s easy to forget that extreme criticism of Israel is more than just politics…it can turn into swearing against Jews or essays about how to spot Jews and defeat us.

We cannot stay quiet, naïve, or apathetic. Accepting Jew-hatred as normal and the way it’s always been is the first step toward accepting a terrible fate that should never be tolerated.

We used to proudly say, “Never Again!”

We should never accept anything that could lead to the tragic words of “well, here we go again.”

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