When renowned Jewish-American jurist and attorney Alan Dershowitz published his bestseller ‘Chutzpah’ 25 years ago, he described American Jewry as having reached the all-time zenith of their success. They were making exceptional achievements in American society. They had no reason to fear anti-Semitism, Dershowitz contended.
In accordance with this conclusion, he demanded from American Jews, two generations after the Holocaust, to stop viewing themselves as second-class citizens and to stop being anxious. Make your Judaism stand out, he implored them, and do not be ashamed to promote your success.
Well, now of all times, in light of the increased strength of anti-Semitic streams in the US from both sides of the political spectrum, Dershowitz’s exhortations and conclusions are now being put to the test.
The heyday of American Jewry did not survive for too long. Today, the US is embroiled in an ongoing and dangerous cultural war while those at the center of the political realm are shuffling in their response.
On the periphery, an anarchist spirit blows in the wind, setting the climate for hatred of Jews among progressives and people on the Left, as well as among neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The former camps recoils at words such as "populism" or "white supremacy" and believe President Trump to be their sworn enemy.
Jews are viewed by the Left as people who prop up Trump through their supposed control of Wall Street and through their support for the ‘"chauvinistic" Israel, which is the US’s ally. Jewish Senator Bernie Sanders, who denounced Israel in his bid to snatch the Democratic party leadership from Hillary Clinton, will have to put hard work into cleaning out the weeds that have sprouted up in his camp.
Unlike the Left, the American far-Right, which perceives Trump as the savior against the "hostile control" by his predecessor Barack Obama and his entourage, has been relatively quiet in the last few months. White racism came to undermine the days of "universalism" so eloquently enunciated by the first black president, which was perceived as a hostile takeover of America.
The language adopted for Jew hatred, which was frequently heard at the end of last week during the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia were intended to send a clear signal that the extreme Right will not allow "Jews" to wrap their perceived tentacles around their adored white president, too.
In the riots that led to the terror attack in Virginia, which claimed the life of a left-wing activist, right-wing activists proudly paraded with Swastikas on display for all to see chanting with unbridled enthusiasm as they chanted esoteric language clearly intended to mean: “Kushner and Ivanka will not replace us.”
The internal woes of American fighting seems to be far away from Jerusalem. But in fact, it really isn’t all that distant. The hostility demonstrated by Israel toward Obama, and particularly against his numerous, highly publicized confrontations with Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu, turned the Palestinian issue into a central theme for the radical Left, enabling them to constantly regurgitate new anti-Semitic rhetoric under the guise of human rights.
Netanyahu’s support for Trump is also perceived among left-wing Jewish elements as a betrayal against liberal values. In the wave of anti-Semitism that has swept across the US in the months since Trump entered the White House, Jerusalem has been in no rush to condemn the American president or his senior advisors Steve Bannon, who is strongly affiliated with America’s far-right streams.
Many liberal Jews condemned Israel as a country abandoning its universal values and instead forging an alliance with anti-Semitism. Israel’s policy when it came to Jewish conversions and the exclusion of liberal Jews from the Kotel only lent further credence to the notion that Israel was shaking hands with the devils of the US who are ultimately out to get its people.
The hatred against Jews harbored by American neo-Nazis, just like the hostility directed against Jews by progressives on the Left, must be a cause for concern in Jerusalem. The status of Jews in America is critical for Israel and for the Western world and we absolutely cannot hesitate when Jews and Judaism are attacked, regardless of the side from which the attacks emanate.
Israel must speak out unambiguously, whether it is attacked by the ‘New anti-Semitism’ whose exponents tend to go on the offensive against Israel, or the more traditional type of anti-Semitism propounded by the neo-Nazis.
Make no mistake: for the neo-Nazis in the US, the Jews have crept into the white race and have now managed to infiltrate the White House itself. In such a situation where old-fashioned forms of anti-Semitism are once again rearing their ugly heads, Jerusalem’s voice is more necessary than ever, and explicit condemnations voiced by its leaders are an absolute necessity.
Now is the opportunity to embark on a reconciliation campaign and a broad rapprochement between Israel and American Jewry.