Police have arrested a 38-year-old black man from Orange Country, New York, for stabbing five Jews in the home of a Hasidic rabbi in Monsey, New York, on the 7th night of Hanukah. If you’re a New Yorker or a Jew or both, you’re asking why. Why has yet another African American attacked Jews? Why has black-on-Jewish assault become a continuous feature of life in and around New York? Why now?
Because the country is seized by the politics of victimhood and there’s nothing that self-pitying “victims” find easier than blaming Jews for their misery.
The names given to the bogeymen of today’s populism are all historical code words for Jews. On the populist right, this means the elite, the globalists, and the media. On the populist left, it’s Wall Street, the wealthy, and the 1 percent. If that’s not enough, the left has also decided that Jews—a minority who make up 2.2 percent of the American population—are “hyper white” and, in Marxist terms, actually part of the power structure that keeps minorities down.
It’s no secret that right-wing populism has facilitated a violent, sometimes deadly, rise in Jew-hatred, but it’s forbidden to draw similar conclusions about the populist left. At least in public. There are two reasons for this: First, pointing out the problem on the right is a means of attacking Donald Trump. Second, addressing the problem on the left would mean facing the outsize role that black Americans have played in recent attacks on Jews.
On the first point, it is not only wrong to blame Trump for right-wing anti-Semitism; it’s perverse. How anyone gets away with claiming that the president doesn’t condemn Jew-hatred is beyond me. He condemns it at every turn. He devoted an unprecedentedly large chunk of his last State of the Union address to denouncing anti-Semitism and vowing to fight it wherever it may arise. He recently moved to crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses (and was denounced as a racist by the left). For his commitment to fighting Jew-hatred and his unfaltering support of Israel he has earned the enmity of far-right anti-Semites.
On the second point, the facts speak for themselves. Throughout 2019, African Americans attacked Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn on a more-or-less weekly basis and it barely ever made the mainstream news. It wasn’t until two members of the Black Hebrew Israelites shot up a kosher market in Jersey City in early December that the media was forced into acknowledging reality.
The left’s leading populists have fetishized the victim status of certain minorities, including African Americans. They’ve made slavery and its legacy the focal points of American life. They’ve determined, without evidence, that police are on a campaign to kill unarmed blacks. And they speak generally as if we’ve suddenly been transported to a pre-civil-rights-movement America.
What’s more, unlike Donald Trump, some of the left’s leading populists have gone out of their way to steer their followers toward blaming the Jews. The stand-out figures here are Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. Their public record of blaming Jewish money for corrupting American politics is so well known that it needs no rehearsing here. And it’s either been ignored or defended by the larger left. If you called either of them out on their anti-Semitism, you were charged with racism and misogyny. Democratic leaders were so petrified of Omar that they couldn’t even pass a House resolution condemning her blatant anti-Semitic remarks.
But the problem on the left goes beyond Omar and Tlaib. And it goes beyond the rest of the Squad, who engage in constant anti-Israel theatrics. It stretches to the identitarian populism of most of the 2020 Democratic candidates for president, to the liberal garment-rending over the defeat of the anti-Semitic Jeremy Corbyn, to the intersectional gobbledygook that divides college campuses by ethnicity, to the Women’s March activists who embrace Louis Farrakhan, and down to the community level, where, for example, the NAACP, Passaic branch posts Facebook rants blaming tainted water supplies on the Jews.
Historically, indulged victims have needed no encouragement in pointing their finger at Jews. Telling them that others are responsible for their woes has usually been enough to get them headed in that direction. But some on today’s left have given Jew-hatred an extra nudge. Their winks, dog-whistles, and outright calumnies have served as a noxious propaganda campaign and led to a surge of minority anti-Semitism. With the attempted murders in Monsey, this can no longer be kept a secret, and maybe those who have facilitated it will begin to know a little shame.