Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Return of Pogroms to Jewish American Life

It's Batya Ungar-Sargon, at the Jewish Daily Forward, "Why No One Can Talk About The Attacks Against Orthodox Jews" (via Memeorandum):
After the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Shabbat that killed 11 people last year, and another fatal shooting at a shul in Poway, California six months later, one often heard that the great threat to Jews – even the only threat – comes from white supremacy. Conventional wisdom said it was the political right, and the right’s avatar in the White House, that was to blame for the rising levels of hate against Jews.

But the majority of the perpetrators of the Brooklyn attacks, and the suspects in Jersey City — who were killed in a shootout with the police — and now Monsey, were not white, leaving many at a loss about how to explain it or even talk about it. There is little evidence that these attacks are ideologically motivated, at least in terms of the ideologies of hate we are most familiar with.

And therein lies the trouble with talking about the violent attacks against Orthodox Jews: At a time when ideology seems to rein supreme in the chattering and political classes, the return of pogroms to Jewish life on American soil transcends ideology. In the fight against anti-Semitism, you don’t get to easily blame your traditional enemies — which, in the age of Trump, is a non-starter for most people.

Of course, the rise in anti-Semitism is not incidental to the times we live in. While the Brooklyn attackers are, at least according to demographic trends, extremely unlikely to be Trump supporters, our president, who has a penchant for anti-Semitic tropes, is a conspiracy theorist, and anti-Semitism often manifests as a conspiracy theory about secretive Jewish power.

But conspiracy theories flourish on the left as well in today’s day and age. They twist and torque those rigid ideologies to which so many are enslaved, reshaping the extremes from polar opposites into a horseshoe whose ends meet — again and again — to justify, excuse, or muzzle criticism of anti-Semitism.

It has resulted in a staggering, shameful silence when it comes to speaking out on behalf of the wave of pogroms against the Orthodox. For many people, it seems when they can’t blame the other side of the political aisle, they would rather say nothing at all.

This is not acceptable. The Jewish community’s most visible, vulnerable members need Americans to stand up and say “no more.” They need us to climb out of our trenches and find common ground to fight this ugly resurgence of anti-Jewish hatred.

We can only fight this fight together, because it is a pox on all of our houses. It is only by remembering what unites us as Americans that we can help our fellow Jews and, as “Maoz Tzur” suggests, hasten the time of salvation.

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