The Danger of Polarizing Anti-Semitism: Don't let this old-new prejudice become a weapon in partisan politics.

Author:Forman, Ira N.
Position:OPINION
 
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Anti-Semitism is back. In the United States alone, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) study on anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 showed a 57 percent increase over the 2016 numbers. In France in March, an elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor was murdered and set afire in her own home, apparently by an acquaintance with anti-Semitic motives. The issue cannot be ignored, but there is an added danger that makes dealing with it more difficult: Today, politicians and ideologues on opposite sides of the political spectrum who might normally come together to fight anti-Semitism are instead using the issue to bash their opponents. Instead of denouncing anti-Semitic incidents, too many simply use them to further their agendas. This trend is dangerous. It must stop.

Until now, fighting anti-Semitism has been one of those rare issues largely devoid of partisanship and ideological combat. The Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 was passed with strong bipartisan support. Even today the Congressional Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, co-chaired by four Republican and four Democratic representatives, operates in a commendably bipartisan manner. But there are signs that this island of bipartisanship is threatened.

In a New School panel on anti-Semitism last November in New York, Jewish Voice for Peace activist Lina Morales argued that the anti-Semitism of Louis Farrakhan is of little consequence to Jews because Farrakhan has no power outside the black community. Recently the "anti-occupation" group If Not Now criticized the ADL and other Jewish organizations for focusing on Farrakhan because "[w]hile Farrakhan's influence is relatively small, [the] white nationalist movement has the ear of the president of the United States."

As leftist ideologues claimed that only right-wing anti-Semitism is a problem, conservatives used the flimsiest of evidence to charge Democrats with being "soft" on anti-Semitism. In a January 2018 blog post on the Commentary website, Jonathan Marks cited Senate Democratic votes against confirming Assistant Secretary of Education nominee Kenneth Marcus as evidence that Democrats do not care about hatred toward Jews. Marks suggested that Democrats opposed Marcus because, in weighing in on several campus debates to denounce calls for divestment from Israel, he had advocated using the State Department's definition of when certain types of anti-Israel speech can be anti-Semitic. Yet as JTA's Ron Kampeas pointed out, Democrats cited...

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