Antisemitism is dramatically on the rise in America. On the streets of our cities, Jewish citizens are assaulted and severely beaten. On college campuses, Jewish students are so badly bullied by professors and classmates that 50% of them are now hiding their Jewish identity. Sadly, even a number of our sitting members of Congress have made overtly antisemitic statements. This surge in Jew-hatred is a threatening omen not just for Jewish Americans, but for all Americans—and, to be sure, the very idea of America itself.
Antisemitism is frequently called “the oldest hatred” because of its millennia-long history. While its tenacity is disturbing, its lengthy record also gives us the ability to study the way it operates within a civilization. A student of history can clearly see that societies that oppress Jews soon decline, disintegrate and, ultimately, disappear.
Civilizations such as pharaoh’s Egypt, Babylon, and the Roman Empire dominated the ancient world. But when each enslaved, exploited, and exiled the Children of Israel, they fell to ruin and their greatness was lost to time.
In the modern era, the Arab states that historically kept Jews in second-class dhimmi status, plagued them with periodic bloody pogroms, and finally ethnically cleansed them from their countries, suffer to this day as perpetual underdeveloped and violent societies. The quintessential Jew-hating nations of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union seemed, at one point, to be invincible powers. But they plunged Europe into such utter devastation that tens of millions perished—and neither evil regime, of course, exists today.
In the Torah, God famously tells Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” That could certainly explain this phenomenon. But it’s possible there is another—more temporal—explanation.
Between the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. and the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, Jews were a tiny minority in larger societies. (Indeed, that is still the case for the Diaspora today.) They have been the stranger—the perennial other—yet they have flourished at times, and helped their adopted homes grow and thrive. A tolerant society that respects individual rights and freedoms is a healthy, successful society. When nations have turned on Jews, therefore, they have ultimately turned on themselves. Antisemitism is the first symptom of the cancer.
In 2010, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren was giving a speech at the University of California at Irvine. He was shouted down and disrupted 10 times. Since then, the disease has spread. Today, those who express any ideas outside of woke orthodoxy can rarely speak on campuses. When they try, they are sometimes even physically attacked. Indeed, far too many universities have come to resemble communist re-education camps controlled by student and faculty thought police. This is not the arena of ideas that fostered American greatness.
In another example, the public schools of Boston suburb Newton were long considered by many to be the finest in Massachusetts, if not in the entire country. But in 2011, Newton’s schools were discovered to be using anti-Israel and antisemitic materials in their classes, despite the town’s large Jewish community. When parents complained, faculty, school officials, and the school committee concealed the truth. Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits followed. This was one early warning sign of the broader illness metastasizing across American society.
Today, parents across the country worry about what their children are being taught in grades K-12. Ethnic studies classes, which are now increasingly required, are laced with not only antisemitism and anti-Zionism, but also with all manner of critical race theory and queer theory. These themes have permeated elementary school curricula, even in the lower grades. Recall this all started with the targeting of Jews.
But it never ends with the Jews. Take Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), famous for casting Jews in her tweets as greedy demons who control the world: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby”; and “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” When her Jew-hatred was met with little more than a shrug by the Democratic Party, it soon became clear that it was just the beginning of her vitriol.
Omar went on to equate both Israel and the U.S. with terrorist organizations—Hamas and the Taliban—by tweeting, “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S.” She was recently elected deputy chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), the largest ideological caucus in the Democratic Party, with over 100 members. The CPC asserts on its website that our country is “racist, misogynist, xenophobic, and ableist.”
The neo-Marxists who seek to destroy America are on the march. But like every cancer, the poisonous ideology starts with something that is easily overlooked. In the case of today’s America, that is antisemitism. We must treat this disease immediately before it metastasizes even further throughout our great nation and consigns America to ruin.
Jeffrey Berk is the founder and CEO of TruthTells.org. Follow on Twitter: @TruthTellsOrg.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.
The post It Starts With the Jews, but It Never Ends With the Jews appeared first on Newsweek.