(October 29, 2018 / JNS) It was a gray and drizzly day in Pittsburgh, in what is usually a beautiful place, green and fresh, when a synagogue was hit at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, becoming yet another target of that inexhaustible strain that is homicidal anti-Semitism—one of history’s most flourishing plants.
As the alleged gunman Robert Bower opened fire on Jews who were participating in Shabbat-morning services on Saturday morning, he screamed, “All Jews must die.”
He was, it seems, a “lone wolf,” and they are attributing the gesture by this monster that shot upon this Jewish community to the extreme right. So many people right now underline the “radicalization” of the “climate” that characterizes American society and its hatred towards immigrants. And they point to Trump’s era. Many of those interviewed name it openly, while others just allude to it. This is the prevailing narrative, despite the fact that Bower had not only written murderous drivel against Jews and their organizations that assist immigration, but also direct words of disdain against U.S. President Donald Trump.
But it’s nothing more or less than pure anti-Semitism—in this case, Nazi-inspired anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitic hydra has so many heads, and they are showing up everywhere, all over the world.
It’s awful to see the TV images of police armed to the teeth, occupying a quiet neighborhood, but it is neither the first nor the last episode of this kind—whether it comes from the right or the left. We need to understand that this war must be fought from the north to the south, from the east to the west and upside down, in advanced and Third World countries, in wealthy neighborhoods in the United States, in the Parisian banlieues, in heavily populated areas where immigrants reside in Brussels and London, and in bourgeois buildings where far-right movements are based, or in the rooms of extreme left, which now paints Jews as monsters with missiles.
“All Jews must die” is anti-Semitism’s universal slogan. It is found in the hundreds of thousands of posts per second on social media, which rips kipahs and Stars of David from the necks of Jews on the street and beats them, and has been the driving force behind 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 in the United States—a nearly 60 percent increase over the year before, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League.
And it’s happening across the globe.
The gunman who committed the massacre at the synagogue in Pittsburgh couldn’t have used a better banner for the growth of hatred against Jews, who from the right infects the left with Nazi stigmas, and from the left to the right with the hate for Israel, which pulsates among white supremacists and the bourgeoisie alike. It passes from the history of Nazism to the Arab world, which spreads lies about Israel, echoed inside the United Nations.
Schoolbooks in the Arab world are full of defamation of the Jews. Nations like Iran and Syria, and terror organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO and Islamic Jihad all have as their explicit aim the genocide of the Jews.
During this time of urgency, attributing the fever to the “radicalization” of the Trump era is just an attempt to put make the game so small, so narrow compared to this hydra with so many heads. Neo-Nazis are just a part of contemporary anti-Semitism, and not the larger.
Journalist Fiamma Nirenstein was a member of the Italian Parliament (2008-13), where she served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Chamber of Deputies, served in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and established and chaired the Committee for the Inquiry Into Anti-Semitism. A founding member of the international Friends of Israel Initiative, she has written 13 books, including “Israel Is Us” (2009). Currently, she is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Translation by Amy Rosenthal.