It is depressingly easy to dismiss or minimize the seriousness of the current outbreak of antisemitism in the West. Indeed, the rationalizations are almost instinctive: It is a temporary flare-up caused by the Middle East conflict. Antisemites remain a small minority. Hate crime laws and better policing will take care of the problem. Racists have constitutional rights too, however much they may violate the rights of others. Shouting “Kill the Jews” is just criticism of Israel. Action will make everything worse.
None of these is true. As a result of such denialism, the situation has become dire, and not only for the Jews. The proof is before us in our streets and on our campuses: For decades, the West has indulged, appeased and even begged its antisemites to play nice. Like all bullies and barbarians, they have declined to do so. As a result, a full-scale antisemitic social movement has emerged in the West for the first time since the Nazi era.
This should be deeply worrying to all Western societies, because this new movement threatens not only the Jews—though it certainly does that. It threatens the foundational values of Western civilization itself. If the movement grows in strength and numbers, it could destroy Western societies or at least change them to such a degree as to be unrecognizable and certainly undesirable.
There is substantial historical proof that this is the case. For example, in the 19th century, the most backward and undeveloped nations of the West were those of Eastern Europe, where not coincidentally, antisemitism was at its strongest. Germany before the Nazis was one of the most advanced and dynamic societies in Europe. When antisemitism seized power, Germany hurled itself into a suicidal war that left it in ruins.
The Middle East lacks none of the resources necessary to be one of the most progressive and prosperous parts of the world. Riven with Jew-hatred and the sociocultural poison that comes with it, however, it remains regressive and poor.
Clearly, modern societies, especially democratic societies, cannot survive antisemitism. The West should do everything in its power to avoid such a fate.
There is, of course, a great deal that both the U.S. and the European democracies can do. Clearly, the first step is to hold antisemites accountable. The recent congressional grilling of three presidents of systemically antisemitic American universities is a good example of what this might look like. So are the federal civil rights investigations that have been launched and the punitive steps taken against campus hate groups. European bans on pro-Hamas demonstrations, while sometimes poorly enforced, are also welcome.
None of this, however, is enough. The problem is a radical one and demands a radical solution. Put simply, antisemitism must be cut off at the source by getting rid of the antisemites. Three policies could accomplish this while causing minimal collateral damage.
First, any non-citizen of whatever race, creed or color who engages in illegal antisemitic activity—such as murder, assault, intimidation, harassment, terrorism, incitement, etc.—should be summarily deported back to the country of which they are a citizen. Such deportations, for various reasons, are uncomfortable but hardly unprecedented. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, for example, recently proposed mass deportations of “those who have no right to stay in Germany.”
This leaves us with the question of what should be done with those guilty of antisemitic crimes who are citizens. Here, we run into understandable scruples. Nonetheless, the liberal values that foster such scruples are themselves endangered if proper action is not taken. Accordingly, if those guilty of antisemitic offenses are citizens, then after proper due process, they should be stripped of their citizenship and deported.
Obviously, many will object to such a policy on numerous grounds, especially because it would leave the antisemites in question stateless. This may be the case, but there are numerous countries such as Turkey, Qatar and the Scandinavian nations that have a long tradition of sheltering highly dubious individuals and organizations. They would no doubt welcome the deportees.
There would obviously be differences between Europe and the U.S. in terms of the implementation of these policies. In Europe, enforcement would be far easier, as there are already punitive laws against racist activity. In the case of the U.S., the First Amendment protects some forms of hate speech, which means that, to a certain extent, antisemites have to be allowed to get away with incitement. However, they are not fully protected. Direct threats and incitement against specific individuals or groups (such as a synagogue congregation) are not protected, and laws can be tailored accordingly.
Finally, and in some ways most important, immigration from countries in which over 50% of the population is antisemitic should be banned. If exceptions are to be made, the entrants should be very carefully vetted according to very clear standards. While Western nations will have legitimate misgivings about such a policy, statistics on this issue are readily available and easily confirmed, meaning the chances of harm to individuals who are not antisemitic can be minimized.
Certainly, it is perfectly within the rights of any sovereign state to decide who should be allowed to enter and live in it. Nor is it a sin to decide that playing host to thousands if not millions of racists is undesirable. Moreover, as we have recently seen, Western nations have plenty of antisemites already; they do not need to import more.
Such policies would not only reduce the number of antisemites in a given society. They would also act as a deterrent. They would send an unequivocal message: If you want to come here or live here, know that antisemitism will not be tolerated. Antisemites lack many things, and courage is one of them. If properly enforced, such measures will keep them in check.
At the moment, however, the West is acting like a man with stage-four cancer who thinks he can cure himself with acupuncture when radical surgery is required. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The West still has a chance to cure itself of a terminal disease, but to do so, it must be willing to put its perhaps admirable scruples aside in order to save its Jews and itself.