A 2014 study found that 25 percent of the world’s population—1.1 billion people—holds anti-Semitic views, even though 70 percent of them had never met a Jew. Thirty-five percent of them had never heard of the Holocaust, and of those who had, one-third thought it was either a myth or greatly exaggerated. The highest percentage of populations holding anti-Semitic views are found in the Middle East.
Anti-Semitism is seeping into the United States via college campuses, where Palestinian groups are mobilizing students to their cause by using anti-Israel vitriol. A frightening alliance of these anti-Israel groups with progressives and Far-Right activists has made campuses dangerous for anyone Jewish or pro-Israel.
Another frontier for the spread of anti-Semitism is the internet, where hate-filled people spew a relentless stream of paranoia and lies inciting some to acts of violence. That is how Robert Bowers was incited to take a semi-automatic weapon into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 to kill as many Jews as possible.
Anti-Semitic incidences rose 57 percent in the United States in 2018 and were mainly in high schools and on college campuses. Such incidents hit an all-time high in 2019 and also included increasing attacks on synagogues, Jewish individuals, and cemeteries.
Since a Jewish nation-state is antithetical to the ruling philosophies of our day—globalism and secularism—this modern form of political anti-Semitism is finding large-scale acceptance. It is directed not at individual Jews but against the collective Jew—the Jewish State—and is called anti-Zionism.
Natan Sharansky, an Israeli politician and human rights activist who spent nine years in a USSR gulag for being a Zionist, developed the 3D test to determine when discussion of Israel is anti-Semitic. If any of the following are true—delegitimization of Israel, demonization of Israel, or subjecting Israel to double standard—criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism also includes examples of anti-Semitic anti- Zionism”:
- “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.”
The BDS—short for “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions”—movement unfairly places blame on Israel, then calls for others to boycott, divest from, or sanction the Jewish State. A central premise of the BDS movement is that modern Israel is a racist reincarnation of apartheid South Africa. Ignoring Palestinian demands for a Jew-free state, BDS activists paint Israel as an “apartheid state” that employs “Nazi-like” policies against the Palestinian people. They boycott corporations operating in Israel, stores selling Israeli products, entertainers who plan performances in Israel, and Israeli academic institutions.
The BDS National Committee (BNC) was established in 2007 in Ramallah from where the Palestinian coordinating body manages the international campaign. Their aim has nothing to do with creating conditions on the ground where Israelis and Palestinians can finally live side by side in peace and prosperity. On the contrary, it opposes any peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. The final solution the BDS movement ultimately seeks is the complete dismantling of the Jewish State to be replaced with a Palestinian state.
Hostility toward Israel’s supporters on campus has reached near-historic levels. According to a 2019 report, the AMCHA Initiative, a campus organization that monitors anti-Semitism on more than 400 college campuses, has recorded some 3,000 anti-Semitic incidents across the United States since 2015.
The AMCHA Initiative states that attempts to exclude Jewish and pro-Israel students from campus activities more than doubled, “with expression calling for the total boycott or exclusion of pro-Israel students from campus life nearly tripling.”
Another 2019 report by the Institute for the Global Study of Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) describes one of the most active anti-Semitic forces on campuses is a group named National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) whose goal is the elimination of the State of Israel.
Far Left and Far Right
Whereas the BDS movement is largely a progressive liberal movement of staunch activists involved in numerous causes such as human rights, gender equality, and abortion, these liberal activists are finding common cause with white supremacists, fascists, and the remnants of the neo-Nazi movement. That common goal is the demonization of Jews.
The growing number of young progressives taking leadership in the Democratic Party has brought anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracies to main-stream political discourse. On the other extreme, white supremacists are now adopting and promoting the BDS campaign’s anti-Semitic propaganda and imagery.
The problem of anti-Semitism in the United States is a problem of the Far-Left and Far-Right fringes and not one of mainstream society. However, social media and communication technologies that bypass conventional media controls have allowed the fringe to have inordinate influence and to network with each other in unprecedented and alarming ways. Rumors and conspiracy theories can now spread around the globe in seconds on the internet.
Conspiracy Theories and Pandemics
Pandemics are dangerous times for Jewish communities due to the conspiracy theories they spawn. One of the greatest catastrophes to afflict the human race was the fourteenth-century bubonic plague—known as the “Black Death”—that swept through Europe. Historians estimate that up to 50 percent of Europe’s population died in the pandemic, with rates of death as high as 75 percent in Italy, Spain, and France.
Church and state had already demonized the Jewish minority, so they were an easy scapegoat. They also fared better than the general population, possibly due to their dietary and religious practices or the fact many were confined in walled ghettos. Their lower death rates, however, fueled suspicions they were behind the pandemic, and many Jews who survived the plague were then massacred in pogroms.
During the coronavirus crisis of 2020, anti-Semites spread lies that Jews developed the virus to kill a large number of people and gain power. They were also accused of using it to make money selling the antidote. The fact that the Orthodox Jewish community in New York had higher rates of infection than the general population was used as proof. The lies were propagated on all social media platforms.
We should not dismiss conspiracy theories as mere craziness. Conspiracy theories produce anger, and anger moves quickly from words into actions; verbal insults often result in physical attacks.
Holocaust denial is any attempt to diminish or deny the established facts of the Nazi genocide of European Jews. This is a form of anti-Semitism because it perpetuates the anti-Semitic trope that Jews are dishonest and manipulative and accuses them of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust as a plot to advance “Jewish interests.”
Some common Holocaust denials include: reducing the number of Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust; denying the existence of Nazi facilities that used gas chambers to systematically murder Jews; and denying the widespread killing of Jews in all of the camps and not just in ones equipped with a means of mass extermination.
Many Americans have fathers or grandfathers who fought in WWII and may have personally witnessed the carnage the Nazis left behind in the camps. Holocaust denial is not only an affront to the Jewish people but to all those who fought to bring down the evil Nazi regime.
A 2019 poll by the American Jewish Committee revealed that over 80 per-cent of Jews feel that anti-Semitism is increasing in America. While there is a combination of reasons for the increase, there is one thing that can stop it.
One of the largest demographics in America—Evangelical Christians— must be educated to recognize anti-Semitism in all its forms and stand against its spread into society. If the Holocaust taught us anything, it is that a silent majority is an enabling majority. Christians in the United States must learn to speak out while they can.