Antisemitism is a serious and deadly disease in the United States. And in many ways, it is getting worse.
Antisemitic attacks neared a new record last year as assaults against Jews more than doubled, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Just last year alone, there were 1,879 recorded attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, the most notable being a deadly mass shooting by a white supremacist at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 people dead and more injured.
There is a sickness in this country that our leaders must work to heal. Some have risen to the occasion. Others, sadly, have fallen far short of the mark.
One of the worst responses to the crisis so far has come from New York City mayor and 2020 Democratic primary candidate Bill de Blasio. Confronted this week with the sharp increase in antisemitic attacks in his own city, which is not exactly a hotbed of far-right activity, de Blasio responded that the “ideological movement that is antisemitic is the right-wing movement.”
“I want to be very, very clear, the violent threat, the threat that is ideological is very much from the Right,” he said, bragging also that the Left does not suffer from any antisemitic tendencies.
Politics is a dirty game, but one never need to stoop so low as to attempt to harness the cancer of antisemitism for political gain. Unfortunately, de Blasio is not the first to try to appropriate the problem for his own benefit. He certainly won’t be the last.
It is true that the far-right, especially in Europe but also in the U.S., is home to aggressively antisemitic elements. Most people are familiar by now with the name of David Duke and the rise of the “alt-right.” But the Left is not so innocent itself, even if its most liberal members would claim otherwise.
Antisemitism is rampant among ardent left-wing activists, including those involved in the D.C. Dyke March, the Chicago Dyke March, and the Women’s March. The Left continues to elevate and seek approval from noted antisemites such as Al Sharpton. The Democratic Party itself also launched a fierce defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., after she claimed, among other things, that wealthy Jews secretly use their money to pull the strings of Republicans in Congress.
In fact, it was Omar’s multiple antisemitic outbursts that won her rave reviews from Duke himself. That alone should prove that anti-Jewish bigotry transcends political boundaries.
Antisemitism is a cancer that plagues both the American Left and the Right. It must be addressed and excised from our culture, but we are not going to accomplish that if certain leaders pretend that the issue is only a problem for the “other team.” De Blasio, who is pointing to the other team as an excuse for his own failure to address the problem adequately in New York, makes things worse still by actually trying to take advantage of a rise in antisemitism to gain a political advantage for his own team.
Anti-Jewish bigotry in the United States, whether violent or casual, is real. It is deadly. It knows no party loyalty. Until our leaders see this, the problem is not going to go away.