Lessons from 2019’s Top 10 Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Incidents
[Los Angeles] The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s newly released 2019 Top 10 Worst Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Incidents  confirms that history’s oldest hate continues its pernicious and deadly metastasis into the mainstream of Western democracies.
Gone are the days when we would wag an accusing finger at the other side of the Atlantic. The 2019 list is evenly divided between North America and Europe. It is not just Paris, London, Berlin, or Stockholm any more, the targeting of Jews has manifest coast-to-coast from San Diego County, to Jersey City, to the bowels of the New York City Subway system, and just days after the release of our Top 10—the horrific machete attack at a Chanukah celebration at Rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York.
Social media emerges as the key marketing platform for anti-Semitic incitement, empowerment and recruitment of so-called lone wolf domestic terrorists who violently target Jews and prayer and at work. Social media giants have a spotty record at best in interdicting anti-Jewish incitement which continues unabated 24/7.
Until the recent wave of violent attacks in the New York area, most of the mainstream media has shown little interest in the roots and manifestations of today’s anti-Semitism—unless and until Jewish blood is spilt and unless it can be linked to White Supremacists. Many of the recent attacks in the New York area did not fit that narrative, as the alleged perpetrators were black. Much of the media and political leadership were slow to acknowledge that tragic fact.
Too many leaders–from the US to France, the UK, Germany to Scandinavia — give lip service to the problem of anti-Semitism but have failed to come up with a comprehensive approach that includes increased funding for law enforcement, tougher sentences for anti-Semitic hate crimes and education for a generation born in the 21st century which has little or no understanding of anti-Semitism or the Nazi Holocaust.
While “Sieg Heil”-ing neo-Nazis and other extreme far-right Jew-haters remain headline-grabbers and generate media analysis, interfaith protests and the of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (see #10), there is scant acknowledgment or action when anti-Semitism is inspired and promoted by extremists—including Imams cursing Jews from their pulpits– in the name of Islam or the Palestinian cause.
For example, in Sweden, over the last decade, authorities in Malmo still have not arrested or prosecuted a single Muslim for anti-Semitic hate crimes or ongoing intimidation of the leading Rabbi.
In France, authorities have shown yet again that they view anti-Jewish hate crimes committed in the name of Islam through a different prism. Shockingly, a French Court (see#4) recently released a convicted murderer of a Jewish woman whom he beat to death and threw off a balcony while chanting Koranic texts. (The recent institution of so-called “bail reform” in the US, saw the release of an anti-Semitic hate crime perpetrator without bail, released the same day she violently attacked three Jewish women. Only on her third offense was a $10,000 bail set).
In Germany, politicians wonder why an Israeli student is beaten on the streets of Berlin for speaking Hebrew, even as the same politicians, wine and dine Iranian delegations dispatched by the Ayatollah armed with sweetheart economic deals and permit terrorist Hezbollah to operate openly and directly in among Muslims in major cities, including Berlin.
In the United Kingdom, Jeremy Corbyn (See #1) allowed-some say encouraged “progressive” elements of the Labour Party he led—to purge Jewish Labourites, to openly express anti-Semitic and extreme anti-Israel sentiments and even deny the Nazi Holocaust. It also earned him first place on our 2019 list. Only the overwhelming defeat handed to Corbyn by British voters on election day in December put an end-at least temporarily- to the injection of vile Jew-hatred into the mainstream of the political and social fabric of the United Kingdom’s culture. To date, though, anti-Semitic crimes in the UK continue…
The situation for Jewish students on leading American and Canadian universities remains dire (see #8). We could have created a Top 10 or even a Top 100 incidents just focusing on elite campuses from NYU, Columbia, to York and McGill Universities and University of Toronto, to UCLA to UC Berkeley and scores of campuses in America’s heartland. Israel is cast by BDS campaigns as an Apartheid regime, Israelis are slandered as latter-day Nazis. Woe to the pro-Israel speaker slated to speak on campus, or to a Jewish student leader who travels to the Jewish state.
Universities pride themselves on nurturing safe zones for students who are upset about issues of the day; that is, everyone that is against Zionists.
As Jewish students seek ways to fight back, there are increasing calls for Jewish alumni to protest the pernicious double standards by closing their checkbooks to their alma maters until Jewish students receive equal treatment afforded to every other minority.
The only real game-changer and one of the few rays of light piercing the politically correct darkness enveloping academia was President Trump’s surprise signing of an Executive Order at a White House Chanukah party. With a stroke of a pen, Jewish students are at last afforded the same protections and redress guaranteed to other minorities in the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VI of the US Department of Education: Students who were victimized by hate and rebuffed by non-responsive administrators of their universities can now turn to the US Department of Education to investigate charges of anti-Semitism and if verified, can withhold Federal funds from schools that fail to act. Finally, the Executive Order erased one other key excuse deployed by diffident bureaucrats. President Trump adopted the so-called IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, adopted by over 20 nations that list among its examples the labeling of Israel as Nazis, thus robbing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activists of a favorite insidious big-lie.
To avoid a repetition of this calamitous year here in the US, we Jews will have to spend more in order to better secure the safety of our communities, synagogues and schools; and provide additional moral and financial support along with training for disrespected law enforcement whose brave members are the first and last line of defense. We will also have to rally support and empathy from our non-Jewish neighbors; demand accountability from university administrators and media; and we will have to strive to recast the struggle against anti-Semitism as a non-partisan campaign and not just another political football in the unending toxic Left-Right wars.
Moving forward, our greatest collective challenge is for Jews to overcome the growing internal debates and differences and to unite to fight this 21st century old/new war against our people – together.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean and director of global social action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights NGO.