Anti-Semitism—The Bigotry Whose Form Changes, but Whose Essence Doesn’t

March 9, 2021 Updated: March 9, 2021


Our divided political environment has generated many charges of bigotry. One of the most important tasks is to define anti-Semitism. To accomplish this, I concentrate on both the group definition and the causes.

Who Is Jewish?

Jews are generally regarded as an ethnoreligious group or a spiritual version of an extended family in which members are related by blood and/or religion. Occasionally outsiders join, in which case the “adoption” is accomplished by conversion.

Traditional Judaism recognizes the mother as the prime determinant of Jewishness, even if the individual adopts another faith or no faith. Liberal (“Reform”) Jews generally accept someone as Jewish if either parent is Jewish, but in the case of a Jewish father, the child must identify as Jewish.

All traditions within Judaism allow conversion. Once converted, the convert remains Jewish even if the faith is abandoned later.

The Bases of Anti-Semitism

Overview. Every group, whether defined by ethnicity, religion, or sexual preference is going to have some number of people who behave badly. Bigotry occurs when there’s an extreme exaggeration of this normal phenomenon, combined with a belief that this behavior is a direct consequence of membership in the group.

Over many centuries, Jews have been expelled from about 80 countries and have been subjected to countless “pogroms,” that is organized violent attacks initiated, encouraged, or tolerated by the government. They have faced the hostility of major religions and nations, culminating in the Holocaust.

Theological. First, they have been attacked for failing to adopt the theology of the Christian and Muslim faiths. In fact, most Jews throughout history have seen merit in the theology of these faiths—they just didn’t want to convert. As one example of this tolerance, Jews have always held that non-Jews who live moral lives can share in the blessings of the afterlife.

Separateness. Jews have been a relatively closed group for thousands of years. There have been three Jewish states: ancient Judah, ancient Israel, and modern Israel. Jews have not made significant efforts to seek converts. Accordingly, DNA evidence indicates that most are descended from common ancestors in ancient Palestine.

Left of Center Voting. Jews are perceived as left of center, because the most visible ones are secular. But if Judaism is integral to their lives, they’re generally right of center: citizens of Israel, whose physical lives are on the line, religious Jews, and, increasingly, European Jews.

Education and success. Jews were isolated in ghettos for much of their existence. Accordingly, they made their own arrangements for education, and since the religious authorities (“rabbis”) were the most educated and had the largest families, the culture was passed on to succeeding generations. The result was significant economic success that, human nature being what is, caused resentment. Emphasis on strong families, necessary for survival in a hostile environment, may have helped also.

What Part of the Political Spectrum Poses the Greatest Danger?

I should note that anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry such as that directed against gay people and African Americans do not necessarily correspond to either end of the political spectrum; they are simply character flaws. But I will concentrate on elements of the political spectrum, “right” versus “left.”

The right. Donald Trump moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem; other U.S. presidents had promised to do so but didn’t. By gutting the unenforceable Obama/Biden Iran deal, he strengthened Israeli security—local Arab states realized they had more to fear from Iran than Israel. Trump expanded the definition of anti-Semitism to provide much needed protection for Jewish students subject to increasing harassment on college campuses.

Evangelical Christians are generally politically conservative and pro-Jewish (“philo-Semitic”). This is not because they believe that the creation of modern Israel will accelerate the return of Christ; they simply see it as an extension of their belief in the Bible, which assumes a role for Jews in human history.

Charlottesville events were falsely presented to the public. Transcripts (and video) completely verify that Trump “condemned totally” neo-Nazis: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists—because they should be condemned totally.” The reference to “many fine people” reflected his belief that good people could disagree as to whether Confederate statues should be torn down. Sadly, the left piled on, and Joe Biden made this the centerpiece of his campaign. He also at least twice compared Trump to Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s chief propagandist.

The left. If I were a zookeeper, and a leopard escaped, I would concentrate on capturing it; the fact that lions are more powerful would be irrelevant if they were confined. That is the problem on the left—anti-Semitism is being mainstreamed. Undoubtedly, underlying this is the leftist belief that if a group is successful, it must have become so improperly.

First, the charge that anyone disagreeing with the left is a Nazi or fascist has cheapened these terms enormously. Nazism, which stands for National Socialism, is in fact a phenomenon of the left since it is a totalitarian ideology.

Second, in Congress several Democrats, with no condemnation, have engaged in blatant traditional anti-Semitism, such as the charges that American Jews have a dual allegiance to Israel and pro-Israel members of Congress are being paid off by Jewish donors. One member attempted to rewrite Holocaust history. Mindless analogies are made between people entering the U.S. illegally and the Holocaust. This is false—Jews were kidnapped and killed simply for who they were. If they did manage to migrate, it was to save their lives, and they would have accepted asylum from any willing country, wealthy or poor.

Louis Farrakhan, a well-known anti-Semite who has referred to Jews as “termites,” Hitler as “a very great man,” and Judaism as a “gutter religion,” has been photographed with President Barack Obama. Obama referred to the terrorist murder of Jews in a Paris kosher deli (which specially prepares food for religious Jews) as a “random shooting of a bunch of folks,” thereby denying that the murderers were terrorists who were intentionally killing Jews.

People with no interest in general anti-Semitism in society have suddenly jumped to the defense of activist George Soros, a totally secular Jew.

Books have been written about the slander of Israel, but I will provide a small number of examples. Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism, but the compellingly false statements and double standards propagated by the left are.

The land of Israel comprises just two tenths of one percent (0.2 percent) of the land mass of the Middle East. Jews did not steal this land but had a continuous presence since Roman times; this can be verified by historical records, archeological discoveries, and DNA evidence, without using religious scripture. Indeed, the term “Palestinian” meant Jews for almost 2,000 years, until the term was revised by Soviet disinformation in 1964. By improving the desolate land, Jews provided jobs to local Arabs that increased their numbers substantially.

Israel was one of many countries created in the area after World War I by the League of Nations, which was authorized to do so by the victors when the Ottoman Empire was defeated. If Israel is illegitimate, so are the rest of the Middle Eastern countries.

Encouraged by their Arab neighbors, some local Arabs left during the first war against Israel in 1948. However, the number was smaller than the number of Jews expelled from Arab countries, which themselves were originally controlled by Jews before Islam conquered them. These expelled Jews and their descendants comprise around half of Israel’s population; since they are olive skinned like other Middle Eastern peoples, the charge that Israel is “white” is false.

There is no “occupation.” Occupation requires that a nation attacks another one. Israel did not attack and Palestine is not a nation. Land acquired in defensive actions is in an entirely different category. In any case, over 98 percent of the Palestinians are under self-rule.

As a gesture of peace, in 2005, Israel removed 8,000 Jews from Gaza. This gesture resulted in at least 10,000 rocket attacks; the left provided no condemnation.

A recent example is the libel that Jews are improperly avoiding vaccinating Palestinians. But the Palestinian Authority has the legal obligation to do so, as Palestinians are not Israeli citizens. Israel later provided several thousand doses anyway, and continues to provide routine medical care to both Palestinian leaders and Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel even though both are dedicated to destroying Israel. Israeli Arab citizens have full access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

The great majority of United Nations resolutions condemn Israel even though only one out of a thousand people in the world live in Israel and there are many countries with ghastly human rights abuses who escape criticism.

The “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement (known as “BDS”) is an attempt by the left to destroy Israel economically. It is widely supported at colleges and has some support in Congress.

The left is the source of organized anti-Semitism. If the Jewish people suffer another massacre, it won’t be because a few morons dress up in Nazi uniforms, it will be because of leftists.

Arthur Wiegenfeld is an independent investor in New York. He has training in economics, finance, physics, and computer simulation.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.