December 8, 2019

AG Barr: Anti-Semitism Is ‘Like Different Kinds of Cancer’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Attorney General William Barr said anti-Semitism is analogous to “different kinds of cancer” during his July 15 speech at the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Summit on Combatting Anti-Semitism.

Barr said he is “deeply concerned about the rise in hate crimes and political violence that we have seen over the past decade,” particularly anti-Semitism “because it targets both Jewish ethnic identity and religious practice.” While there is no “state-sponsored violence” against Jews in the United States, Barr highlighted the rise in anti-Semitic violence in the country.

“The entire nation saw the evil fruits of anti-Semitism in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue and in California at the Chabad of Poway,” Barr said. “In both instances, gunmen motivated by hatred against Jews opened fire, killing worshippers and injuring others. We were all horrified by these attacks.”

But there have been other instances of anti-Semitism in the country that haven’t received as much media attention as they should have, Barr argued.

“New York City, this past year, has seen a sharp uptick in attacks on Orthodox Jews, particularly in the Crown Heights neighborhood,” Barr said. “People are attacking Jews in the streets and vandalizing synagogues. In Massachusetts in March, vandals desecrated 59 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery, knocking over headstones and scrawling swastikas and hateful graffiti. While the tragic attacks in Pittsburgh and Poway appropriately drew national attention, these attacks and others like them in communities across the country are, sadly, less well-known outside the Jewish community. But they form the daily background of concerns about security and safety that many in the Jewish community feel.”

He went on to highlight the anti-Semitism on college campuses.

“Jewish students who support Israel are frequently targeted for harassment, Jewish student organizations are marginalized, and progressive Jewish students are told they must denounce their beliefs and their heritage in order be part of ‘intersectional’ causes,” Barr said. “We must ensure – for the future of our country and our society – that college campuses remain open to ideological diversity and respectful of people of all faiths.”

Barr then compared anti-Semitism to “different kinds of cancer. A healthy body with a strong immune system can have success in preventing cancers from emerging and spreading. But if the immune system weakens cancer can emerge. Some might be localized. But others can rapidly metastasize and become systematic. Like a physical body, a body politic must have an immune system that resists anti-Semitism and other forums of hatred.”

He condemned those who use “identity politics” to divide the country.

“We are a pluralistic Nation composed of very distinct groups, each bound together by ethnicity, race, or religion – each group proud of its identity and committed to its faith and traditions,” Barr said. “Yet despite these differences, we can be bound together into a broader community. Not one that seeks to grind away our distinctive identity. Not one that seeks to overbear our religious commitments, which must be paramount. But one that respects, indeed delights in, the freedom of each of us that give meaning to our lives – that help us understand our place and our purpose in this Creation.”

The full speech can be seen below:

Quotes taken from DOJ’s transcript.