Antisemitism and anti-Zionism: Blurring of lines – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on January 8, 2020

In 2020, hatred of Jews will continue to manifest itself as the lines blur between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Antisemitism has always been a torment that Jews have been forced to reckon with for centuries. However, its resurgence both in the United States and abroad is alarming for a new reason, and has had a debilitating effect on the sense of security and tranquility so often enjoyed by American Jews.According to the recent American Jewish Committee study, nearly a third of Jews polled avoid publicly wearing, carrying or displaying things that identify them as being Jewish. A quarter report that they avoid certain places, events, or situations at least some of time out of concern for their safety or comfort as Jews. And, one-third say that Jewish institutions which they are affiliated with have been targeted by antisemitic attacks, graffiti or threats. Not a day goes by without the report of antisemitic incidents in communities throughout America: a shooting in a kosher supermarket, people violently assaulted on their way to synagogue, swastikas painted on, and in, school buildings and playgrounds and synagogue windows smashed. The list of horrific examples goes on and on. This is the first type of antisemitism physical attacks and other incidents that leave us fearful for our safety and the security of our children and families.There is a second form of antisemitism, which receives insufficient attention: its more subtle, and allows for seemingly reasonable political debate to blend easily into antisemitic tropes, providing cover to those who peddle vilification and animus in the guise of wholesome and legitimate discourse. It is leading to a world that fails to make those subtle distinctions. Saying that one is opposed to Israels policies is very different than the articulation of raw antisemitic ideology. These lines are frequently blurring though and in the process, many academics, journalists and respected thought leaders have come to tolerate intolerance. Several weeks ago, Columbia University invited the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, to address its Global Leadership Forum. Dr. Mohamad is a notorious, self-proclaimed anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. But despite this history known to all one of the worlds most prestigious universities extended an invitation to an outspoken, vile antisemite to address it. After news of this invitation became public, I wrote to Columbias President, Lee Bollinger to protest this appearance. He responded: You are correct that I find the antisemitic statements of Prime Minister Mahathir to be abhorrent, contrary to what we stand for, and deserving of condemnation. Nevertheless, it is in these instances that we are most strongly resolved to insist that our campus remain an open forum and to protect the freedoms essential to our University community. This is the tolerance of intolerance. Protect the freedoms essential to our University community. But what of the freedom to be sheltered from vilification based on ones religious identity? Must an open forum include the right to slander and abuse?The third type of antisemitism is clogging our social media channels. Unregulated and easily accessible social media has fueled the fires of hatred and bigotry. We applaud the efforts of the Anti-Defamation League and others, working closely with major social media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, to mitigate the organization and recruiting capacity that they offer to extremists of all stripes. This past Yom Kippur, when the Jewish community in Germany was rocked by the Halle attack, the perpetrator livestreamed the event on Amazons Twitch service for 35 minutes as approximately 2,200 tuned in to watch, as though it was a sporting event. The threats from social media are real, and we need to recognize them.Precisely because social media platforms are unregulated, they serve as accelerants that allow for immediate dissemination of antisemitic content to the mainstream public. There is no ability to parse out whats accurate and whats not; whats legitimate and whats not and when that content goes viral, it perpetuates the rhetoric and, in some cases, informs peoples decisions to act. The degree to which the mainstream of civil society has seemingly tolerated the most blatant acts of intolerance is alarming. Civil society has, by its actions or its failures to act, enabled such conduct to slowly work its way beyond the fringes of our society, both Left and Right, and infiltrate the mainstream of our social fabric. We must hold society accountable for this and work with politicians, media, academics, tech companies and corporate leaders to call this hatred by its real name antisemitism.Allen Fagin is the CEO of the Orthodox Union (OU), the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network.

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Antisemitism and anti-Zionism: Blurring of lines - The Jerusalem Post

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