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Why Antisemitism Is About a Lot More Than the Jews

In many ways it has very little to do with the Jews and very much to do with the antisemites.
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May 9, 2024
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Antisemitism is not simply a Jewish problem. In fact, in many ways it has very little to do with the Jews and very much to do with the antisemites. Moreover, its aim is not solely the Jew, but the host civilization that is the carrier of this age-old virus. 

One need not look far to apprehend this. Look at our universities and see how the virus of antisemitism has entirely disarmed institutions whose mandates are to educate and conduct research. “They’ve decided to close the university today,” a professor from Portland State University writes on Facebook. “They are canceling all classes as the anti-Israel protesters have broken into the university library and occupied it, trashing and vandalizing what is visible of the library through barricaded windows.”  

At Columbia University, patient zero of the most recent spread of antisemitism on college campuses, pro-Hamas protesters broke into Hamilton Hall and unfurled a banner reading “INTIFADA.” At Harvard Square, students draped a Palestinian flag on John Harvard; at George Washington University, a keffiyeh was wrapped around the neck of a George Washington statue, and a Palestinian flag placed in his hand. At the University of Southern California, graduation has been canceled at the demands, allegedly, of pro-Hamas student groups. 

Why are these things happening? Because society did not heed the warnings of the canary — Jews. Leaders did not listen to Jews who begged them to understand that chanting “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free” is a call to annihilate the only Jewish country, Israel. Because they ignored Jews who reported being excluded from communities for supporting Israel and Zionism. Because when Jews implored them to reconsider dividing the world between oppressor and oppressed, they blamed them for “making it about the Jews.”

Like a virus, antisemitism travels along the surface of civilizational pillars until it enters the receptors of institutions, where the virus and the pillars fuse, allowing the virus to infect and completely take over the civilization.

Indeed, like a virus, antisemitism travels along the surface of civilizational pillars until it enters the receptors of institutions, where the virus and the pillars fuse, allowing the virus to infect and completely take over the civilization. This latest variant, anti-Zionism, has been tenaciously traveling through our most important institutions, schools, universities and media, infecting hearts and minds.

If antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem, then treating it as such is ineffective. In-deed, as antisemites have captured univer-sities across America, our remedy has been to go out with massive pro-Israel rallies. I doubt, however, that this will work. 

If antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem, then treating it as such is ineffective. Indeed, as antisemites have captured universities across America, our remedy has been to go out with massive pro-Israel rallies and fliers replete with “Never again is now,” “Stand up against antisemitism,” and “United against antisemitism” slogans. I doubt, however, that this will work. Moreover, I doubt that the recent efforts at UCLA to play raw footage of the Oct. 7 massacre on a massive screen facing the Hamas encampments will work. 

The body has been infected. The receptor cells can no longer detect and disarm the hostile ideology. When you have raised an entire generation to look at the world through a binary lens of oppressor and oppressed, the oppressed can, quite literally, get away with murder — if the murder is of someone deemed an “oppressor.” 

Remember the above poster, which emerged on Nov. 15, just one month after the Oct. 7 massacre of Jews in Israel? 

A student recently asked me, “But doesn’t the U.N. realize that if the Palestinians get their own state, it will be run by Hamas, and women will be mistreated and what about all the minorities …?” To this I say “By any means necessary” will provide any Palestinian state an imprimatur to conduct their state however they want. Moreover, the professors, students, and international bodies ostensibly fighting for human rights will applaud this future state, for it will have been created by dismantling the oppressor. 

The disease has spread outside of universities. About 800 miles northwest of Columbia University, in Chicago, a roomful of masked, keffiyeh-clad activists enthusiastically repeated “Marg bar Israel” at the prompting of Shabbir Rizvi, a Chicago-based “activist” who frequently appears on Iran’s state-run Press TV. When one of the participants finally asked what it meant, Rivzi explained that in Farsi, “It can either mean ‘death to,’ or ‘down with.’” The crowd cheered, then started chanting “Marg bar America”: Death to America. 

The “Free Palestine” movement has hypnotized an entire generation of students, academics, social workers, psychologists, teachers, administrators, doctors and nurses to want to destroy America and the West. 

But there is hope. If the Jew is the proverbial canary in the coal mine who signals danger, this canary can also save the miner. We can save the miner by understanding that because antisemitism does not just victimize the Jews, we must confront the jihadists not just as a pro-Israel movement, but as a pro-peace, pro-truth, pro-freedom, and pro-life movement. Because that is who we are.


Naya Lekht received her Ph.D. in Russian Literature and wrote her dissertation on Holocaust literature in the Soviet Union. Naya is currently the Education Editor for White Rose Magazine and a Research Fellow for the Institute for Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy. 

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