July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

To beat the antisemites back, the mainstream — the vast majority — needs to stand up and squelch the Jew-haters, the instigators, the inciters.

A new trend is taking over America called “hating Jews.” Jew-hatred is now so acceptable in the United States that to be a Jew-hater is hip, cool and trending.

A new Gallup poll indicates that while a large swath of Americans are proud Jew-haters, even more people, a majority of Americans, view hatred of Jews as “a problem.” For some, it is even a “very serious problem.”

Gallup conducted a telephone survey between May 30 and June 1. They spoke to 1,019 adults over the age of 18. And this is what their poll revealed:

For 9% of the people, Jew-hatred is “a very serious problem.”

For 48% it is “somewhat of a problem.”

For 30% it is “not much of a problem.”

And 9% saw Jew-hatred in America as “not a problem at all.”

The exact wording of the Gallup poll question was: “Do you think that antisemitism, or prejudice against Jewish people, is currently a very serious problem, somewhat of a problem, not much of a problem, or not a problem at all — in the United States?”

In broad strokes, their results put the number of people who see Jew-hatred as a problem at 60%. More importantly, 40% of people do not.

The 40% number is way too high given the Malthusian increase of anti-Jewish incidents being perpetrated across the United States. I struggle to understand how so many Americans — 40% — do not interpret these attacks against Jews as harmful to the very fabric of American democracy and an ominous threat to our once peaceful and safe society.

How do they not connect the dots and realize that this many attacks on American soil of fellow Americans are not simply attacks against Jewish Americans — they are attacks on the United States as a whole?

These attacks allow all who watch TV, read newspapers or follow news sites or social media, to bear witness as anti-Jewish hooligans invade Jewish neighborhoods, attacking synagogues, Jewish schools and Jews themselves.

This is not political free speech or protected rights to protest. These are acts of violence and hate crimes as defined by federal and state laws.

In 1919, US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, writing in Schenck v. United States, used a phrase borrowed from the closing arguments of the prosecutor in the lower court case against Schenck. Holmes wrote of “falsely shouting fire in a theater.” This was Holmes’ way of explaining to the nation that there are limits to free speech. That all speech is not free speech. Especially speech that can endanger others, cause a riot or get people trampled.

 

Speech, Like Actions, Can Kill

There are, of course, times when it is permitted to shout fire in a theater. That is, if there truly was a fire in the theater or if you sincerely believed that a theater was on fire.

While Justice Holmes’ often-quoted line has become almost cliché, that is because, as is the case with many cliches, it rings true. Interestingly, over time the cliché has changed to include the word “crowded,” as in “a crowded theater.” The word “falsely” is almost always missing.

Going to a Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles wearing keffiyehs and waving Palestinian and Hamas flags is incitement, and incitement is illegal.

Battering a Jewish-looking man or boy on the streets of Brooklyn is illegal.

Given the drastic rise in Jew-hatred unfolding before our eyes, I was both surprised and very pleased by the response to another Gallup polling question.

When asked about voting for a Jewish candidate for president of the United States, 89% of those polled would vote for a Jew. That is almost nine out of every 10 people answering that they would vote for a Jew for president if the person was nominated by the party. As astounding as that 89% figure is, there is no reason to believe that the number is inflated, unfounded or untrue.

These numbers give tremendous hope in the battle against Jew-hatred. They ultimately mean that the people involved in attacks against Jews are a statistical anomaly. They mean that all the hatred spewed and all the attacks perpetrated are the work of a marginal, irrelevant group of people operating far outside mainstream America.

To beat them back the mainstream — the vast majority — needs to stand up and squelch the Jew-haters, the instigators, the inciters. The majority must set the tone. There are essential red lines to political and social behavior that can never be crossed. The mainstream knows this.

Instigators of Jew-hatred must be told by their friends, family, politicians, police, educators, and society at large, that instigating or acting upon Jew-hatred is unacceptable. Mass social media campaigns must organize a social movement to ostracize haters of Jews and instigators of hatred against Jews. They must be made to feel unwelcome in our mainstream society.

A united front of decent and good people — Jews and non-Jews, people who understand the danger and vulgarity of the world’s oldest hatred — can eliminate this evil from our society.

It is not just the best way, it is the only way!


The writer is a social and political commentator. Watch his TV show “Thinking Out Loud” on Jewish Broadcasting Service.

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