There’s a line of thought that the anti-Semitism of the ultra-right, of the white supremacist/Ku Klux Klan ilk, is more pernicious than from the far left. After all, they killed and wounded Jews in the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh and other violent attacks.
This binary differentiation rings hollow in the aftermath of the Jersey City attacks and the Gaza war of last spring, when Jews were attacked by Palestinian sympathizers in the diamond districts in New York City and Los Angeles. Some even explain these attacks in Jersey City by what they call the objectionable behavior of Jewish outsiders while celebrating the diversity of Black Lives Matter.
Meanwhile, on the college campus, the pervasive evisceration of Israel has so morphed into anti-Semitism that a recent poll surveying predominantly Jewish fraternity and sorority members found that more than 65 percent of respondents felt unsafe on campus due to anti-Semitic attacks. As a result, 50 percent said they hid their Jewish identities, and more than half avoided expressing their views of Israel on campus. This is of historic concern, and the Jewish establishment must address it, galvanizing all the leverage it can muster to address this issue with university administrations. The latter certainly have been most responsive to addressing the “insidious white oppression” promulgated by critical race theory.
And now we have the hatred spewed by the Squad against Israel by forcing the House of Representatives to delete from a funding bill one billion dollars that would replenish the Iron Dome anti-missile system. This occurred on the same day when President Biden reiterated his “commitment of the US to Israel’s security …without question.” He also reinforced working together with all our allies when our credibility is at low ebb because of the Afghan withdrawal debacle.
Although funding was restored by overwhelming numbers through a separate bill, the disproportionate influence of the Squad, whose members have spewed anti-Semitic tropes, is quite troubling. Their bandleader, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the darling of the media, chased Amazon and its offer of 25,000 well-paying jobs out of her congressional district. Then Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio, in rare unison, failed to convince Amazon to return. And most recently, the self- described socialist may have violated ethics rules by accepting a $35,000 seat at the table of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fundraising gala to showcase her gown to “tax the rich.” She is certainly among the vanguard of the proletariat.
With this celebrity in hand, she and her colleagues, including the anti-Semitic Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omer, attempted to insure that Jews would not be protected from a future onslaught of missiles fired by terrorist groups. If they succeeded, the hundreds if not thousands of people protected by the Iron Dome might be killed or injured. The missiles launched by Hamas did not have a guiding system directed only against Jews. They were fired indiscriminately, so that both Jewish and Arab lives were saved. If not for the Iron Dome, the IDF would have launched a ground offensive to remove Hamas’ rocket batteries, resulting in many more casualties on both sides .So the Squad’s action would have resulted in the deaths of more Jews and Palestinians. Moreover, why didn’t they seek to delete the tens of billions we spend for the tens of thousands of troops based in Western Europe, South Korea and Japan, when Israel never requested American boots on the ground?
The Iron Dome was developed jointly by the IDF and US military, with the latter deploying it to protect U.S. bases. This is also of great interest to our allies, including India, which face threats from hostile neighbors. It’s an important deterrent and part of our geopolitical tools for our allies at a time we need to strengthen ties with them. Funding the Iron Dome was part of the 10-year security funding approved by the Obama administration and reconfirmed in the aftermath of the Gaza War by Defense Secretary Austin and President Biden.
The Squad’s action was not only unseemly but an embarrassment for the U.S. The Democratic Party’s leadership is undoubtedly pro-Israel. But where’s the punishment to be exacted on these junior member renegades? It failed miserably in disciplining Ilhan Omar after her anti-Semitic rant several years ago. We have the tail wagging the dog, unless some discipline can be exacted. Otherwise, the image of the Democratic party controlled by the far left fringe will be reinforced.
And what about the most powerful Jewish legislator in history, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer? As of this writing, we have not heard anything from him on this betrayal of Israel. When he voted against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, joining Senator Bob Menendez in opposition to their president, Schumer invoked the translation of his last name — shomer — as a protector of Israel. Unless he comes out with a statement condemning the actions of the Squad, will we consider him a “shomer” only of his own political interest against a potential senatorial run by AOC? I certainly hope not. The fact that AOC voted “present” rather than in opposition to the subsequent standalone bill funding the Iron Dome only fuels the speculation of a future run for the Senate against Schumer.
So the enduring and unbounded hatred of the Jews, whether emanating from the right or left, must be confronted head on with politicians, friends, and allies who believe, paraphrasing Lincoln, in “our better angels.”
Max Kleinman of Fairfield was the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest from 1995 to 2014 and he is the president of the Fifth Commandment Foundation.