Column: ‘Complicity’ With Antisemites Is Bipartisan

The Three Stooges of Mar-a-Lago launched a hate-fest that is hardly the first that is directed at Jews. Nor are Republicans alone in enabling antisemitism in America. Democrats have been restrained in responding to antisemites in their own ranks and advocacy groups have failed to deter antisemites and other bigots.

Kanye West in particular is creating news almost daily, perhaps in fear that he has not peaked yet. It is certainly worrisome that a former president, Donald Trump, would dine with two antisemites like West and Nick Fuentes, who compares the murders at Auschwitz with baking cookies.

Blame for facilitating the rise in antisemitism can be shared with many sources. Hypocrisy over it is even shared with Trump’s successor, who tweeted on Friday: “The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides. Silence is complicity.”

An obscure Democratic state representative from the Pittsburgh area last year tweeted, “When I hear American pols use the refrain ‘Israel has the right to defend itself’, in response to undeniable atrocities on a marginalized pop(ulation), I can’t help but think of how the west has always justified indiscriminate and disproportionate force and power on weakened and marginalized (people).”

She compared Israel to George Zimmerman, the Florida security guard who in 2012 shot and killed a Black teenager, Trayvon Martin, during a scuffle, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports. She subsequently told Pittsburgh’s Jewish community that she would defend Israel’s status as a Jewish state and that her comparison was not out of line, according to JTA.

Summer Lee will be sworn in as a freshman member of the U.S. House of Representatives early next month, representing the address of 5898 Wilkins Avenue where Wilkins intersects with Shady Avenue, blocks from sites such as Linden Elementary School, the Food Shoppe, the Jewish Community Center and Carnegie Mellon University.

The Wilkins address is the location where a right-winger, allegedly, shot 11 Jews to death when they gathered to pray at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

No doubt that the vast majority of Jews in that neighborhood, known as Squirrel Hill, had a difficult and absurd choice to make. They wanted to elect a Democrat who will vote to enact social policies that will benefit them as well as all Americans, and they did not want Lee representing them, no matter whether she was from the right or left. A Jewish Democrat lost to her by a single percentage point in the primary earlier in the year.

Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made recent remarks offensive to American Jews. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi contributed $14,000 to Israel-basher Rep. Ilhan Omar’s re-election campaign in 2020. She later spoke up about an Omar remark the following year and subsequently denied that it was “a rebuke” after Omar’s allies complained.

President Biden and Pelosi’s “complicity” – isn’t silence complicity? – is understandable. Democrats need to retain votes of Americans who fervently believe that Israel oppresses those poor Palestinians who can do no wrong, especially since their majority in the House was jeopardized on Nov. 8. While the Republicans recaptured the majority, Lee, Omar, Tlaib and their anti-Israel allies contributed to preventing a political catastrophe. The GOP majority will be narrowed to a handful of votes.

The Omar/Tlaib crowd has been pampered by their saner Democratic colleagues for the past four years. If Biden and Pelosi are antisemitic, they have hidden it well. Pelosi may well have set a record for attending bar mitzvahs while growing up in Baltimore and frequently spent her Friday nights in San Francisco joining her Jewish neighbors for Shabbat dinner. Biden’s three children all married Jews and son Hunter’s second wife is also Jewish, and our president danced the hora at his daughter’s wedding.

None of this excuses Trump and most other Republicans, who are worse when it comes to tolerating bigotry among their voters. The New York Daily News published a story last week which could have been headlined: “Repubs: Donald who?”

“Nick Fuentes and his views are repulsive,” tweeted Rep.-elect Mike Lawler, who defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in New York’s Hudson Valley. “The scourges of white supremacy and antisemitism have no place in our society – let alone a seat at the table.”

Whose table? Where? Could he have been referring to the host of Fuentes’s dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach? As the News story tells it, few Republicans mention Trump’s name when condemning West and Fuentes, a continuation of much of the GOP’s refusal to oppose The Donald’s discriminatory actions.

Besides the political parties, others have not done enough to lessen this country’s level of antisemitism. Jewish advocacy organizations have a mixed record in fighting antisemitism in recent years. They can take credit for some accomplishments, but they have missed opportunities to achieve greater changes.

In the wider community, segments of movements and organizations have fed antisemitism. Organizers of lesbian marches in Washington, D.C. and Chicago banned rainbow flags with the Star of David because they resembled official Israeli flags, though they permitted the presence of Palestinian flags.

Jewish women who support Israel were even barred from attending self-help group discussions for sex-abuse victims at universities in Vermont and upstate New York.

The Black Lives Matter organization incorporated anti-Israel positions in its charter, which could inspire violence against Jews. Black lives certainly matter, but the group that goes by that name damaged the movement’s credibility.

Antisemitism has always haunted America, and it skyrocketed in recent years because they managed to recruit many useful idiots. In the latest shocking incident, the modern-day versions of Larry and Curly were able to recruit a third stooge with influence. His name is not Moe.

Author’s note: Some readers might resent comparison to The Three Stooges, who were portrayed by Jewish actors. I had mixed feelings about using it, but I was convinced that it was suitable since they presented an image of violent idiots. I still love those guys – Moe, Larry, Curly and other stooges who were part of the act, that is.

About Bruce Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker, who writes from Philadelphia, also blogs for The San Diego Jewish World and Smirking Chimp and previously for the suspended Philadelphia Jewish Voice. He was previously a reporter and copy editor for daily newspapers in eastern Pennsylvania.

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