Rabbi: Anti-Semitism On The Right Concerns Me More Than Omar

President Trump and members of the Republican Party have been accusing Rep. Ilhan Omar of anti-Semitism while ignoring anti-Semitism in their base.
Then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s since-deleted tweet in October 2018.

Then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s since-deleted tweet in October 2018.

A neighbor recently expressed her concern for me and her many other Jewish friends. A year ago, I’d have brushed off her concerns. This time, we commiserated. Yes, this is a worry.

For most American Jews, anti-Semitism has long been an afterthought. We know it’s there. But we know that our government protects minorities. Or so we thought. But lurking in the back of our minds is the eternal question: how do Jews recognize the danger signs. How do we know when it’s time to leave? We think about our European coreligionists who didn’t see the signs and were consigned to the flames.

Could it happen here? When will we know?

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Four freshman Democratic congresswomen of color are the current targets of presidential ire. None are Jewish. Two are Muslim. The invective hurled against them? They don’t love America. They hate Israel. They are anti-Semites.

To make this even more head-spinning, these accusations come from the mouths of people long suspected of anti-Semitism. And the Jewish community has come to the defense of these women.

In a presidential rally in North Carolina, after President Trump singled out Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a Somali refugee and naturalized American citizen, and accused her of hating America and Jews. His mob-like crowd broke into a chant: “send her back, send her back!” I watched with a cold chill. In America, we have free speech. In America, there is not one prevailing viewpoint. In America, we know the danger of scapegoating, of demonizing the other.

And to demonize through charges of anti-Semitism brings up my worst fears for our future unless we alter our current trajectory. Because all these people wanting to send Rep. Omar back to Africa are likely to be anti-Semites themselves. It wouldn’t be the first time the
Trump administration has projected their own feelings onto others.

Anti-Semitism is rising to levels not seen here in decades, especially on the right. It’s not an accident that this is happening under a national leader who uses the stature of his office for demagoguery. Trump’s supporters follow his lead and spread false, dangerous conspiracy theories. They often use coded language. They might not even use the word Jew. Republican lawmakers and voters have singled out rich Jews, like George Soros, or well-known European Jewish banking family, the Rothschilds, all of whom are thought to be taking over the world.

Every minority group in America stands in danger of scapegoating and our leaders fomenting a mob mentality. An attack on one group is an attack on all. But to use anti-Semitism as an attack – whether the mob is on the right or on the left – is courting extreme danger for us all.

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Opinion // Donald Trump / Ilhan Omar / Racism