In the decades following the Holocaust, Jew-hatred gradually became a secret bigotry: alive, yes, but increasingly deemed unacceptable and not to be tolerated in polite society. The civilized world had seen its final outcome in the camps the Allies found in Europe. For a time that shock and shame drove what historian Robert Wistrich called “the longest hatred” into the shadows. Like much of the West, mainstream America rejected Antisemitism, as it eventually came to reject other forms of racism.
Today, however, Antisemitism is again on the rise across the West. That much is well known. What’s less understood — and just as chilling — is the increasing openness with which Antisemites engage in it. Hatred of Jews, suspicion of their motives, the belief that they are too powerful, the concept of them as murderers and thieves: these ideas are emerging from cultural backwaters into the light.
Last October, in Long Island, New York, a Rockville Center woman asked her town council to ban the establishment of new synagogues in homes. The measure, she hopes, will prevent Orthodox Jews from moving into her neighborhood and “taking over.” That she made this speech in public, before a gathering of her town council and neighbors, standing at a podium, and speaking into a microphone, should give everyone pause.
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In the UK, the National Union of Students has become increasingly hostile to Britain’s Jewish and Zionist students. As part of its project of “liberation” and “decolonization,” the union invited rapper Lowkey, a controversial figure who has made a series of conspiratorial, viciously anti-Israel, and anti-Jewish statements. When Jewish students and their allies protested, they were advised to self-segregate themselves in a quiet room on campus. The president-elect raises similar concerns. As a teenager, she made social media posts celebrating a 628 massacre in which Muhammad’s army murdered and enslaved a tribe of Jews. “Khaybar Khaybar O Jews … Muhammad’s army will return Gaza.” Twenty-one former presidents have issued a letter urging the organization’s current leaders to change course and “address concerns from Jewish students.” Whether this generation will heed their call remains to be seen.
Rhetoric like this has has real-world consequences. On Friday, April 8, a carjacker embarked on a brutal crime spree that targeted Lakewood’s Orthodox Jews, whose dress makes them visibly Jewish and therefore especially vulnerable to attack. Dion Marsh stabbed a man in the chest and used a stolen car to hit pedestrians in Lakewood and Jackson, New Jersey. He had allegedly told family that Jews are “the real devils” and “it’s going to be a bloodbath.”