November 19, 2018

Fighting Anti-Semitism Should Be Bipartisan

This week, The Jewish world mourned the brutal slaughter of 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue — the deadliest anti-Semitic shooting attack in American history. Americans of good heart universally grieved and condemned the evil. And then politics broke out. As always, it broke out thanks to our nation’s obsession with President Trump and his mouth.

The media immediately leaped to the conclusion that the shooter at the Tree of Life Synagogue — a virulently anti-Semitic white supremacist with a particular dislike for President Trump and his “globalist” policies, a man who decried the “kike infestation” supposedly forwarded by Trump — was somehow brought about by Trump.

Two pieces of evidence have been presented to support this contention. The first is Trump’s untoward rhetoric concerning the migrant caravan headed north from Honduras toward the United States border. Trump believes the caravan is directed for political purposes. The shooter in Pittsburgh specifically decried the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), stating on the social media website Gab: “HIAS likes to bring in invaders that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

Suffice it to say that millions of Americans agree with President Trump regarding the caravan, and that none of them but one felt it necessary to go shoot Jews. Attempts to link opposition to George Soros to anti-Semitism lack evidence at best. Those who despise the Jews don’t need an excuse to kill us. The long history of anti-Semitism shows it to be a uniquely chameleonic conspiracy theory, crediting the Jews for communist uprisings and capitalist machinations, secularizing tendencies and religious separatism, ethnic solidarity and ethnic diffusion.

“If we wish to be accurate, we shouldn’t link normal but heated political rhetoric with anti-Semitic violence.”

The only common strain: the Jews must be eradicated. To credit President Trump’s feelings about a migrant caravan with this shooting would be to grant him Rasputin-like powers far beyond the evidence.

Then there’s the second piece of evidence: Trump’s horrifying blitheness about alt-right groups in 2016 and 2017. There’s no question that Trump’s treatment of the alt-right during the 2016 campaign and in Charlottesville was despicable. I wrote about it repeatedly and incessantly. But it’s worth noting here that the alt-right has been wildly disappointed with President Trump, who has turned out to be the most pro-Israel president in the history of the United States.

Trump’s words on the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting themselves are far stronger than any words we’ve ever heard from a president before: “If you seek the destruction of Jews, we will seek your destruction.” Furthermore, we must distinguish between the alt-right, a relatively new phenomenon, and the persistent white supremacist movement, which has routinely attacked Jews; Trump wasn’t a gleam in the political eye when a white supremacist shot up the West Valley Jewish Community Center in Woodland Hills in 1999.

All of this suggests a certain gross partisanship on the part of people who, without sufficient evidence, blame Trump for the Tree of Life Synagogue murders. That’s particularly true of people who seem fully complacent with the Democratic Party’s open embrace of Keith Ellison, Linda Sarsour and Louis Farrakhan; people who brushed off President Obama labeling an anti-Semitic terror attack in France as “random”; people who shrugged away Obama’s statements about Iranian anti-Semitism (he said that they would only act in anti-Semitic fashion “at the margins”); people who pooh-pooh the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement and Hamas.

Here’s the reality: If we wish to be accurate, we shouldn’t link normal but heated political rhetoric with anti-Semitic violence. If we wish to fight anti-Semitism, we should label all anti-Semitic rhetoric and anti-Semitism-enabling rhetoric for what it is, regardless of partisan persuasion. And if we wish to have a country, we ought to stop conflating politics we dislike with incitement to violence. 


 Ben Shapiro is a best-selling author, editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire and host of the conservative podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show.”