The attacks against Jews in New York and London during the past week have left people deeply shocked.
The stabbing rampage against Hanukkah celebrants in Monsey, N.Y., following a deadly attack on a kosher supermarket in New Jersey in which two Chassidic Jews were shot and killed, has produced much anguished discussion among American Jews about the loss of a security they had previously taken for granted.
In London, graffiti promoting an unhinged conspiracy theory linking Jews with the 9/11 attacks materialized on a synagogue wall and storefronts prominently situated in a well-heeled area of London with a sizable Jewish community. This provoked many media expressions of horror and concern.
What’s shocking is that so many are shocked. What planet have they all been living on? Attacks against Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn and New York have become near-daily occurrences. Yet until now, they’ve received next to no attention.
In Britain, insane Jewish conspiracy theories have been commonplace for almost two decades. Attacks on the Jewish community, both verbal and physical, have long been hitting record levels. Yet British Jews only publicly protested when the ultra-left Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn surfaced as a threat.
Even now, Jewish leaders in the United States and Britain seem unable to grasp the true significance of the anti-Semitism epidemic.
When allowed to rage unchecked like this, anti-Jewish hatred is an infallible signal that a society is in deep trouble. But Jews and others who are shocked are themselves a symptom of that trouble. They believe that Jew-hatred is part of a wider animus against all minorities. They don’t grasp that anti-Semitism is uniquely troubling.
In The New York Times, Congresswoman Nita Lowey and David Harris, chief executive of the American Jewish Committee, wrote on Dec. 30 that one reason for the eruption of anti-Semitism was “declining confidence in liberal democracy and its core value of pluralism,” which “poses a threat to those who are bewildered or angered by these social changes and who prefer mutual rancor to mutual respect.”
This is part of the progressives’ assumption that all minorities, including Jews, are equally the victims of uneducated white people who are fundamentally atavistic, xenophobic and bigoted.
But this gets the problem precisely the wrong way round. True, white racists present an increasing threat, but their numbers are tiny and their influence negligible.
The threat to the Jews comes principally not from those who are “bewildered or angered by these social changes,” but from those who have engineered those changes.
The West is in trouble because it has lost its moral compass. And that goes back to the Holocaust.
Unable to deal with cultural guilt over the West’s complicity in the genocide of the Jews, its intellectual and political elites were vulnerable to Marxist thinkers who said that Western society therefore had to be transformed.
This led to the undermining of core cultural values. Biblical moral codes were replaced by secular ideologies. Objective truth was replaced by emotion.
The result was nothing less than a loss of rationality. The university, the erstwhile crucible of reason, became the place where evidence was replaced by propaganda and minds were relentlessly closed.
All challenges to these ideologies were dismissed as “right-wing.” So truth became exiled as a right-wing concept. The most egregious example of ideological lying—the Palestinian onslaught on the Jews’ own history and entitlement to the land of Israel—became the signature cause of the left.
Its core doctrines of victim culture and identity politics held that minorities and the developing world could do no wrong because they were the victims of the West and its indigenous population. And as the world’s principal oppressors, these could do nothing right.
That’s why in the United States there has been virtually no media coverage of the years of attacks on Orthodox Jews in New York—because their attackers are overwhelmingly African-American.
Anti-Semitism in the black community has been a significant problem since the emergence in the 1960s of the Black Power movement, which blamed the Jews for outrages stretching from slavery to gentrification.
Black Power politicians, as Barack Obama noted in his memoir Dreams From My Father, peddled conspiracy theories such as the claim that Jewish doctors were injecting black babies with the AIDS virus.
Demagogues such as Rev. Al Sharpton or Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, have long whipped up black and Muslim communities with their talk of “Hymietown” or “Satanic Jews.”
Yet progressives never talk about black community anti-Semitism. Instead, they smear as a racist anyone who challenges it, just as they try to silence those who call out Muslim anti-Semitism by accusing them of “Islamophobia.”
Tragically, some leading American and British Jews are part of that witch hunt. They ignore or deny Muslim anti-Semitism in the simplistic belief that Jews and Muslims face a common foe in white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Prejudiced attacks on Muslims happen and should be condemned. But Jews also face a mortal threat from the Islamic world, which pumps out virulent anti-Semitism and whose communities are disproportionately involved in attacks on Jews.
There’s a yet deeper reason why progressive ideology and anti-Semitism are joined at the hip, and that’s the core left-wing doctrine of victim culture and identity politics.
Victim culture originated from the West’s pathological reaction to the Holocaust. The realization of its magnitude did not eradicate Western Jew-hatred; it merely drove it underground.
This set up a terrible resentment that people could no longer blame the Jews for the crimes of which the anti-Semitic West believed they were guilty. The claim of anti-Semitism was perceived to give the Jews a free pass for their misdeeds.
A deep jealousy of anti-Semitism therefore set in. Identity politics sprang up to define groups as victims in order to gain similar impunity.
But there was an enormous difference. These “victim groups” wanted a free pass for actual misdeeds. But the Jews’ perceived threat to humanity existed only in the warped imagination of anti-Semites.
Not only has real Jew-hatred accordingly been denied, but the attention currently given to it has bred yet more by multiplying the resentment. So the anti-Semitism prevalent in black, Muslim or Palestinian discourse has been ignored and white people blamed instead.
In Britain’s Independent, Rivkah Brown wrote that Prime Minster Boris Johnson—a social liberal—was the “acceptable face of white supremacy,” and that the anti-Jewish monster “rising from the slime” was not Corbynism but “white nationalism.”
Similarly, New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio previously blamed the upsurge in anti-Semitism on “the forces of white supremacy” and “the right-wing movement.” And U.S. President Donald Trump, arguably history’s most pro-Jewish occupant of the White House, is himself accused of inspiring this explosion of Jew-hatred.
Such preposterous claims are the product of a culture that has abolished objective truth and thus reason itself.
The Jews always get it in the neck during periods of cultural turmoil. But more to the point, the Jews produced the moral compass the West has now lost.
So it’s no surprise that they find themselves the principal targets of this madness. This open season against them will only end if Western society abandons its decadent ideologies and recovers its center of moral gravity.
But liberals are descending ever deeper into the vortex of unreason and moral inversion. Anti-Semitism is the ultimate marker of cultural derangement. And so this threat to the Jews isn’t going to end anytime soon.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy.” Her work can be found at: www.melaniephillips.com.