A Racism Hardly Mentioned

Why is anti-Semitism, the racism leveled at Jews, hardly mentioned?  We hear and read all the time about racism against African-Americans or Latinos, but racism against Jews is hardly ever exposed by the media or castigated as it should be.

It was hardly mentioned -- only once in my experience at a breakout session -- at the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Conference convened in early March in Washington, D.C.  There were many politically powerful and noteworthy speakers at the conference: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and all of the executives of AIPAC.  And in their speeches to all conference attendees, not once did they talk extensively about anti-Semitism in the world being an insidious plague that must be eradicated.  It's a pity it wasn't unanimously and vociferously condemned at the plenary gatherings at the conference.

A pity, because it was a missed opportunity to expose anti-Semitism as a rampant evil in the world that must be challenged, disparaged, and ended.  To provide examples of its prevalence, here are a few recent hideous events from the Simon Wiesenthal Center website:

Horrific murders at a Jewish day school in Toulouse, France: This awful crime against Jews happened on March 19.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center released the following:

"All the House of Israel mourns the anti-Semitic murders of a Jewish teacher, his two small children, and another ten-year old child who were gunned down outside of a Jewish day school in Toulouse, France, this morning," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

"Dr. Shimon Samuels, Simon Wiesenthal Center Director for International Relations, who is based in Paris, is closely monitoring developments in France as authorities strive to identify the perpetrator and apprehend all those involved in this heinous crime," Rabbi Hier said, adding, "In light of the incessant anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric worldwide, we urge that all Jewish institutions review their security procedures in conjunction with local law enforcement."

Sweden welcomes a notorious Palestinian terrorist: Leilah Khaled, a member of the Central Committee of the notorious Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), responsible for terrorist hijackings and Jewish assassinations, participated in a taxpayer-funded lecture tour of Sweden in 2011.  As Abraham Cooper and Daniel Schatz wrote in their article "Something rotten in Sweden" on ynetnews.com in June 2011, "[s]o far, Sweden's decision to grant entry to Khaled - a leading representative of an organization deemed a terrorist group by more than 30 countries, including Sweden, all EU Member States and the United States - hasn't spurred protest from the US or other European countries."

A Dutch anti-Semitic game: The game called "Settlers of the West Bank," based on a popular board game called "Settlers of Catan," was recently removed from the Dutch public TV station VPRO's website due to a protest by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and an exposé by the Jerusalem Post.  The game contained classic anti-Semitic stereotypes and anti-Israeli elements.

Casablanca book fair promoting anti-Semitic materials: At the 18 SIEL Book Fair that just ended in Casablanca, there were numerous anti-Semitic books promoted by booksellers.  This prompted a letter to the fair organizers and the head of the Frankfurt Book Fair by Dr. Shimon Samuels, director for international relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  In that letter, Samuels appealed to the Frankfurt Book Fair Director to "blacklist these publishers from participating in the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair as they violate European Union and Council of Europe provisions against racism, German policy towards the Arab world, these exhibitor's contractual terms with the Fair and your own commitment to prevent such incitement. Year after year, our Centre protests the behaviour of the same recidivist publishing houses, without any effective action taken to prevent recurrence. Should they be present, once again this October, we can only conclude that the Fair remains indifferent, and thus can be rendered complicit in the consequences."

Banning circumcision in San Francisco: In 2011, a proposed city ordinance in the City by the Bay scheduled for the November ballot would have banned circumcision in that city.  Not only that, but one of its supporters, a guy by the name of Matthew Hess, created a comic book that included vile anti-Semitic caricatures he labeled "monster Mohels," who were confronted by an Aryan blonde-haired, blue-eyed hero called "Foreskin Man."  Fortunately, the proposal was thrown out in July 2011 by a San Francisco Superior Court judge who said that state law prevents local jurisdictions from regulating health care professionals.

These are deplorable events that when taken together represent an evil that has permeated the world and is being nurtured by the hate-filled attitudes of racists toward the Jews.  Those racists and that hatred are not new; they are centuries old.  But their re-emergence and proliferation in the last few decades are appalling.

There have been world leaders who have condemned anti-Semitism and have done everything in their power to oppose its growing influence and strength.  Most notably recently is the Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, who spoke eloquently about his commitment to fight this form of racism at a Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism he hosted in Ottawa in November 2010:

But of course we must also combat anti-Semitism beyond our borders, an evolving, global phenomenon. And we must recognize that while its substance is as crude as ever, its method is now more sophisticated.

Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so.

We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism Demonization, double standards, delegitimization, the three D's; it is the responsibility of us all to stand up to them. ...

As the spectre of anti-Semitism spreads, our responsibility becomes increasingly clear. We are citizens of free countries. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act. We are free citizens, but also the elected representatives of free peoples. We have a solemn duty to defend the vulnerable, to challenge the aggressor, to protect and promote human rights, human dignity, at home and abroad. None of us really knows whether we would choose to do good, in the extreme circumstances of the Righteous. But we do know there are those today who would choose to do evil, if they are so permitted. Thus, we must use our freedom now, and confront them and their anti-Semitism at every turn.

Thank God for leaders like Stephen Harper, not afraid to stand up for what is right.  We need many more like him.