Using The Jews

The sudden concern over anti-Semitism being expressed by far-Right politicians is jarring to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the GOP fringe’s historic hatred. When Christian Nationalists suddenly express a desire to “protect” their Jewish neighbors, it’s not just disconcerting–it’s ominous.

Granted, there has been a sharp and troubling rise in anti-Jewish incidents, and there are good-faith efforts to address that phenomenon. Even those good-faith efforts can be misplaced; as Congressman Jerry Nadler explained in the Washington Post, despite being an observant Jew, a strong supporter of Israel and a member of Congress who has spent a career fighting antisemitism, he voted against the recent Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.

I voted against it, as did several other Jewish members of Congress. While I support the sentiment expressed by its sponsors, this bill does nothing to fight antisemitism in any meaningful way. Instead, it merely tinkers with definitions and could ultimately make investigating antisemitism on campuses more difficult in the future. In addition to trampling the free-speech rights of students and professors, this bill was disingenuously designed to split the Democratic caucus and score cheap political points.

Nadler’s final sentence refers to the fact that the far Right’s sudden, pious concerns over anti-Semitism are anything but good-faith. As the New York Times recently reported, several of the prominent Republicans who have labeled campus protests “Leftist anti-Semitism” have mainstreamed anti-Jewish rhetoric for years.

Debate rages over the extent to which the protests on the political left constitute coded or even direct attacks on Jews. But far less attention has been paid to a trend on the right: For all of their rhetoric of the moment, increasingly through the Trump era many Republicans have helped inject into the mainstream thinly veiled anti-Jewish messages with deep historical roots.

The conspiracy theory taking on fresh currency is one that dates back hundreds of years and has perennially bubbled into view: that a shady cabal of wealthy Jews secretly controls events and institutions contrary to the national interest of whatever country it is operating in.

The current formulation of the trope taps into the populist loathing of an elite “ruling class.” “Globalists” or “globalist elites” are blamed for everything from Black Lives Matter to the influx of migrants across the southern border, often described as a plot to replace native-born Americans with foreigners who will vote for Democrats. The favored personification of the globalist enemy is George Soros, the 93-year-old Hungarian American Jewish financier and Holocaust survivor who has spent billions in support of liberal causes and democratic institutions.

The linked article provided a number of examples, including Trump’s 2023 email to supporters containing “an image that bears striking resemblance to Nazi-era cartoons of hook-nosed puppet masters manipulating world figures.” The Times review found that just in the last year some 790 emails from Trump to his supporters invoked Mr. Soros or “globalists” conspiratorially, a meteoric rise from prior years, and that House and Senate Republicans increasingly used “Soros” and “globalist” to evoke anti-Semitism, “from just a handful of messages in 2013 to more than 300 messages from 79 members in 2023.”

The lengthy Times article provides numerous other examples. An equally in-depth article in The Guardian is titled “Campus protest crackdowns claim to be about antisemitism – but they’re part of a rightwing plan.” The article acknowledged the legitimate discomfort of Jewish students on campus, but noted that it has been used to justify “a powerful attack on academic freedom and First Amendment rights that long predates the student encampments – part of a longstanding rightwing project to curb speech and reshape the public sphere.”

The pro-Palestine movement has also provided cover for the right to expand its attack on protest – a project advanced significantly after the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020….Alongside this effort to tar protest as terrorism, the right is seizing on the emotions inflamed by Israel’s war to make headway in a longstanding offensive on education. Over the past several years, the GOP has sought to meddle in the academic freedom of universities, which they allege are indoctrinating students into “woke”, leftwing ideology. This is perhaps most dramatic in Florida, where, in a bid to control access to history and information, Governor Ron DeSantis has all but remade the public liberal arts college New College in his image, and has introduced the Stop Woke Act, curtailing what teachers can teach on topics of race and gender.

I’d love to believe that Rightwing politicians like Indiana’s Jim Banks have suddenly awakened to the dishonesty and danger of anti-Semitism, but Jews are clearly being used as a convenient tool in their ongoing attack on an open society–and like most Jews, I know that I am only safe in a truly open society.

14 Comments

  1. One group wants us to be afraid of everyone that is not exactly they are. Another group believes we are intertwined and should help each other. This is the only binary choice I can discern in our universe.

  2. Thank you for pulling these analyses together and stating their import plainly, Sheila. This dissonance of the rabid right suddenly upset about antisemitism has been bothering me, but I haven’t been able to flesh out why until now.

  3. Nadler may have voted against it, but most of the Democrats voted for the Anti-Semitism Act because 75% of Washington politicians receive substantial contributions from AIPAC (Israeli lobby). The most vocal Democrats are Ritchie Torres of NY and John Fetterman of PA. The POTUS gets $11 million from the Israeli lobby.

    During the campus protests, all the AIPAC-controlled politicians were loud and proud against the “pro-terrorist” or “pro-Hamas” university students. All the students were “violent toward Jewish students” on campus, etc. The propaganda floating around Washington, from Democrats and Republicans, would make your stomach ache.

    The billionaire Bill Ackman and Jerry Seinfeld’s wife gave money to the counter-protesters who at UCLA violently attacked the students while the police did nothing. It was coordinated, and none of the counter-protesters have been arrested – just the students and faculty. The counter-protesters (pro-Israel) were mostly right-wing bigots who were caught on video screaming bigoted remarks. Imagine that!

    https://thegrayzone.com/2024/05/13/ucla-attackers-exposed/

    Washington isn’t done. They have more bills circulating that violate free speech and free press—even bills associated with federal funding. The legacy media they don’t have to worry about because they are on board, but independent journalists not controlled by a corporate editor are becoming marked men and women. As Sheila says, they have been closing down society for decades, but they are using the “perceived anti-semitism” to close it down even further.

  4. Last week the “Borowitz Report” had an item about MTG, saying she was shocked to learn that Jesus was a Jew. I love satire.

  5. I hope no thinking person buys the sudden concern the right has for Jewish people. It’s just convenient, political jiujitsu (Jewjitsu?). The people saying “please stop killing this group” are suddenly termed anti-Semitic for saying anything negative about a behavior. It’s a long favored trope – remove the nuance and find a way to frame the argument in a way that helps your side – reality be damned.

    As long as you think scruples are a breakfast cereal, you’ll do just fine.

  6. Again, historically, Jews have always been a canary in the coal mine. It doesn’t matter how integrated or connected Jews were in business and politics, the faux concern, for whatever reason, was always a portend of things to come, especially from Christian nationalists.

    And as you all know, one of the main things that has been stuck in the nationalists craw, is the resistance of Jews to convert to Christianity.

    And if you are a reader of the Bible, you can see the difference in dogmas between the Jews and Christianity. The Jews were authorized to fight for themselves, Christians were told to turn the other cheek and be pacifists. So the right wing nationalists feel threatened, and, eventually the attacks start to increase against Jewish society. It happened in Germany, Hitler and Nazism was actually considered right wing. But when you write about that particular issue, the blowback from the Christian nationalists is astounding. So, you can actually see how hypocritical this whole deal is and the fawning support for the Jewish people.

    Come into my parlor set the spider to the fly!

  7. OK … so when will we have safe space to have an informed civil discussion, if not now, about the merits of a country without a constitution remains in violent conflict with a constitution without a country?

  8. As a Jew who has been at many, many – Protests Against the Current Genocide – Israel’s first Nobel Laureate – SY Agnon – was my Great-Uncle (by marriage), I agree with what you’ve said. I’d add in that additionally: 1.) Within the USian Jewish Communities – there is a: “You’re IN” – meaning – ZIONIST 100% – or you are “the enemy” (“turncoat), 2.) Within the – Zionist Jewish USian Community – there is a STRONG pushing of the basic idea – that Opposition to Zionism – e.g. basically the Status Quo – is: “Anti-Semitism”. Related to this – The Israeli Government – pushes its own Narrative – DIVIDE and CONQUER – opposition.. While the current Israeli Government is Horrific – these issues go back 100+ years – to the Balfour Declaration (1917) and even to the 1890’s.- Basically – Jewish People – Western European (white) ones – weren’t “desired” by – Western European (non-Jewish) Elites. The Palestinian-Muslim-Arab People – are “inferior” – and Palestine – had “no Native Population” (sic). The Republicans of today – mesh “perfectly” – with the Fears – of many of us who are Jewish of Another Holocaust. The basic fact – that a Holocaust is going on today – in our news is ignored. US = 330+ million people, Gaza = 2 million people – 165 times as many people. 35,000 Gazans killed (and at least 80-150,000 who will die in the short-term – buried alive bodies not found, starvation etc) 35,000 x 165 = 5,775,000 killed USIAN People. I would note that the total US casualties in US Wars from 1775-2019 is under 1.5 million people – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war – Palestinian, Muslim, Arab People -are in MUCH more danger – today – that the Jews of Israel – however – fears of words like: “From the River to the Sea” – which say: “Kill All Jews” – to those with the Fears and – “A Lasting Just Peace” – to Anti-Zionist People + probably the vast majority of the world’s people (who know/care about Israel at all). I’ve been called a “Nazi”, “Anti-Semitic”, and threatened to be punched out – recently – Every Time – by a Fellow Jew …..

  9. The Reds will do and say anything to swing votes to support anti-Constitutional power. That has been explained in so many different ways by now, but there is only one thing to worry about in November. Speak truth to power. That’s all we have left.

  10. “The past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.” William Faulkner

    “The more things change; the more they remain the same.” I have no idea of the source of this bit of wisdom but as I see it; the drastic changes we are being terrorized with in America today are a repeat of Hitler and the Holocaust platform in WWII.

    “There is nothing new under the sun.”

  11. Divide and conquer by using misinformation (lies), cause confusion and define/control the narrative is Magas Modus Operando. Reminds me of the McCarthyism of the 1950’s. We’re tired of their threats and manipulating fear to further their quest for power. It feels/is undemocratic and un-American. They have no decency.

  12. Did it ever occur to anyone that the founding of the state of Israel was a very anti-semitic act against two semitic peoples? Instead of the Europeans restoring the Jews’ land and properties in Europe with reparations or the Americans welcoming the Jews from Europe into the US, the Americans and Europeans – particularly the UK and France – created the state of Israel to destabilize the Middle East and make it easier to steal the oil. Wasn’t creating a buffer against the Greeks the real reason Cyrus of Persia sent the Jews back to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity? I would not give him credit for sending them back unless there was something in it for him.

  13. My now deceased sister in law who gave me two nephews and a niece was from Tel Aviv. All are college graduates and one is an MD, an anesthesiologist, recently retired. Another is fluent in Russian. Last night we had a young Jewish lady over for pizza and pop and a watch of Caitlan Clark’s first basketball game as a pro. She recently graduated from Indiana University here in Bloomington, finishing four years in three, graduating with honors, and as a liberal Democrat was elected to City Council a few months ago. She watches our dogs when both my daughter and I are away, like the trip we took to Antarctica last winter (summer there but chilly) when she stayed at the house while watching Betsy and Trixie. I told her she should run for mayor but she has no such design at present.

    My daughter and I don’t care whether those with whom we associate go to church, mosque or temple or have no religious affiliation, nor their hue, their gender, or any other such shallow qualification. We are Big Tent liberals who number among our friends and associates White Baptists, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Asians, blacks, agnostics, atheists, conservatives, et al., and are the better for it since there is strength in diversity.

    We may have been conditioned to such views because we spent our lives around professors and lawyers (my now-deceased wife was a university professor and I am a lawyer), and I think most of those two groups share our liberal views.

    I finally need to take a shot at the right wing while I have your attention, so hear this: We are a naton of migrants and will continue to be, though perhaps not at the rate as before if the Magas gain control since that “shining city on the hill” will be graced with concentration camps and gestapo. Some shine!

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