On the Front Lines of Anti-Semitism: Let's spend less time arguing about Israel and more time fighting bigotry in our own backyard.

Author:Isman, Jonathan We
Position:AUTHOR INTERVIEW - Interview

New York Times deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman says he mainly "experienced being Jewish through guilt" for most of his life. That changed in the spring of 2016 when members of the emerging "alt-right" responded to a tweet of his by placing a triple set of parentheses around Weisman's name. He quickly learned that the "alt-right" uses the ((())) symbol to identify Jewish journalists, so others will then know to harass them. Within hours, Weisman was bombarded with hundreds of anti-Semitic images and slurs. For the first time, he began to ponder what it meant to him to be Jewish.

As more Jewish journalists faced similar attacks and other minority groups experienced a growth in hate crimes, Weisman researched the ways in which expressions of hate were becoming more acceptable in U.S. society and contemplated the Jewish responsibility toward other targeted groups. After Donald Trump was elected and the number of anti-Semitic incidents rose, Weisman began to wonder: Has the American Jewish experience fundamentally changed? These inquiries resulted in Weisman's powerful new book, (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump.

Weisman's book comes on the heels of a series of Anti-Defamation League reports documenting the escalating number of anti-Semitic incidents in America. After years of steady decline, the number of such incidents began to increase in 2014 and 2015, reaching 1,267 incidents in 2016. In 2017 the number surged 57 percent to a total of 1,986 incidents. Similarly, in the current academic year, there has already been a 250 percent increase in white supremacist activity on college campuses. Moment speaks with Weisman about the rise of bigotry and racism in the United States and what American Jews should do about it.--Marilyn Cooper

What do you say to Jews and non-Jews alike who don't think there has been a rise in anti-Semitism?

People who insist that there's not a rise in anti-Semitism are simply willfully blind. You can say that the new anti-Semitism that we saw in Charlottesville, that we've seen in various marches and that we see online everywhere is harmless. I think that's a defensible position. But you cannot say that the phenomenon doesn't exist. It may be weak for now, but you should not hide your head in the sand at the time when those who want you gone are weak, because you never know when they will become strong.

Is there something different about anti-Semitism compared to other forms of bigotry...

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