If the past is any way to predict how Jews will respond to this threat, sadly, the vast majority will probably remain indifferent to the ominous political changes now taking place around them.
By Judith Bergman, The Gatestone Institute
Are democracies in trouble?
As someone outside the world’s most powerful democracy, the United States, it is concerning to see how many countries in the West are being transformed. In Europe, free speech continues to be seriously eroded, churches are desecrated, and religious Europeans murdered.
There are signs that the same transformation is beginning in the United States as well.
International observers have begun asking if the U.S. has a problem. Additionally, according to the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, released on January 29:
“Global jihadists in dozens of groups and countries threaten local and regional US interests, despite having experienced some significant setbacks in recent years, and some of these groups will remain intent on striking the US homeland. Prominent jihadist ideologues and media platforms continue to call for and justify efforts to attack the US homeland.”
The report adds:
“Homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) are likely to present the most acute Sunni terrorist threat to the United States, and HVE activity almost certainly will have societal effects disproportionate to the casualties and damage it causes.”
Threats are, of course, directed against Christians as well as Jews.
The American Jewish community seems to be facing a threat that it appears quite content to ignore.
Not since the aviator legend Charles Lindbergh gathered fellow American Nazis together and others condemned American Jews as being a “fifth column” has the American Jewish community faced such a threat as it does today from openly anti-Semitic candidates recently elected to Congress.
Indifference likely to come with cost
If the past is any way to predict how Jews will respond to this threat, sadly, the vast majority will probably remain indifferent to the ominous political changes now taking place around them. Their indifference, however, is likely to come with an eventual cost.
Today’s Congressional freshmen class includes Democrats who clearly seek to upend the belief held by members of the Jewish community that they are a respected minority within the American society. These newly elected members seem to be trying to isolate the Jewish community from their political base by engaging in the traditional canard used by past demagogues, from Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s tweet accusing Jews of dual loyalty to the age-old lies that Jews conspire to control the media and finance.
A new report from the U.K.-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and most likely also applicable in the U.S., has established “a clear link between antisemitism and hostility towards Israel, finding that the strongest holders of antisemitic views tend to support boycotts of Israel or consider it an apartheid state.”
“Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and the report’s co-author, said that people who hold ‘traditional antisemitic views’ about divided Jewish loyalties or the nefarious use of power are more likely to back ideas of boycott or apartheid than those who do not hold them.”
The report was based on a survey of 4,000 people in Britain carried out by Ipsos Mori between late 2016 and early 2017.
The threat emerging from within the Democratic Party is not without irony. The party has been the traditional home of the majority of American Jews since the days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (His studied indifference to chilling evidence of the Holocaust — that was smuggled out to the Allies — is a topic for another day.) However, with the last election cycle putting Islamists, who are openly hostile to Jews, in the House of Representatives, the Democratic Party has jettisoned even the pretense of repudiating their anti-Semites. As of this writing, not one Democratic Congressional leader has called for disciplinary action in the wake of recent anti-Semitic slurs by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Rather, there are Republicans who have called out Tlaib.
A new generation of Democrats
These emerging political threats to the Jewish community come at a time when social media has totally altered how, where and by whom political positions are communicated throughout American society. They also come at a time when radical Islamists, who have assumed seats in Congress, are seeking to stoke the fires of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Further, it comes at a time when a legitimate women’s rights movement has been hijacked by an anti-Semitic leadership. Expect the Democratic Party to be pushed further into the Islamist camp in the months to come.
An entire generation of liberal Democratic leadership that at least recognized Israel’s right to exist is being pushed aside. The leaders that remain (such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) had been “assaulted” daily with online tweets, trolls and bots launched by younger, aggressive and thoroughly committed Democratic socialists who seek to reinvent the party in their own image, sometimes by using sophisticated online tactics that seemed unstoppable, until Pelosi awarded them plum positions on the prestigious House Oversight and Foreign Relations Committees.
The Jewish American experience in standing with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s is in the process of being relegated either to ancient history, or the realm of fiction, or discarded as inconsequential.
As an observer far from the U.S., perhaps it is easier to see, and call attention to, this threat. In Israel, for instance, the Jewish community may quarrel and debate among itself but it always appreciates the precarious nature of its survival. Today’s American Jewish community, however, remains blind to the threat, repeating the mantra of the German Jews of the early 1930s that there has always been anti- Semitism and, aside from some uncomfortable moments, it is not really an existential threat.
A retired attorney, Pete Cohon, noted:
“Democrats were presumed to be for the little guy, and Republicans were assumed to be rich, white men. The Jewish community (other than the Orthodox) and the Democrats became joined at the hip. The majority of Jewish families taught its kids to vote Democrat for justice for the little guy. Voting Democrat became a part of Jewish culture in America…
“These Jews just can’t let anything disturb the comfortable delusion that they inherited from their parents and grandparents that the Democrats are for the little guy, especially the Jews.
“But times have changed, and they are wrong. Today, the big issue is the survival of Israel, and it is the Republicans, not the Democrats, who are on our side.”
From this offshore observation post, however, it is apparent that, over time, American Jews who are Democrats, and most apparently are, will find themselves the voters and donors of a party that will initially seek to marginalize them, then ostracize them, and finally, demonize them. This transformation will be brought about by a group of new leaders, who will have the means effectively to rebrand their emerging power base, either implicitly or explicitly, as the neo-Islamic Democratic Party, thereby asserting a dominance that will make today’s political landscape unrecognizable.
It is more than painful, as anti-Semitic libels are whitewashed by the media or risk becoming part of the Congressional Record, to watch the American Jewish community being played by the political party that many have called “home.”
Judith Bergman, a columnist, lawyer and political analyst, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.