During the past week of horrific attacks on Jews in the United States, Democratic Party leaders were notably silent.
Over the weekend, however, a memo must have gone out because suddenly, everywhere you looked, Democrats were reading from the same script:
Bernie Sanders announced, “We’ve recently seen disturbing antisemitic attacks and a troubling rise in Islamophobia. If you are committed to a future of equality and peaceful coexistence, please stand united against anyone who promotes hatred of any kind.” Ayanna Pressley tweeted, “I strongly condemn the rise in anti-Semitism and islamophobia we’re seeing across the country.” Cori Bush (an avowed supporter of the BDS movement who has argued that you cannot respond to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter”) said much the same: “The work of dismantling antisemitism, anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism, and every other form of hate is OUR work.”
The same line was promoted by Jamaal Bowman, Julian Castro, and Marie Newman. Among the Squad’s most outspoken members, Rashida Tlaib retweeted Bernie Sanders, adding a line (one assumes without recognizing the irony) from Martin Luther King, Jr. about hate being “too great a burden to bear.”
True to form, Ilhan Omar spent the weekend promoting pro-Palestinian propaganda and tweeting out the locations of pro-Palestinian rallies across the U.S.—the same rallies that have spawned the wave of anti-Semitic violence. The closest she came to denouncing anti-Semitic violence (though she refuses to use the word anti-Semitic) was to retweet another Twitter user’s comment about Jews being attacked on the street in Los Angeles with the statement, “Nobody should face threats and harassment based on their religion or ethnicity.”
The only problem with this strategy of lumping together anti-Semitism and Islamophobia? There is no rise in Islamophobia in the country. According to the most recent FBI hate crime statistics, of the 1,715 victims of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2019, 60.2 percent of the victims were Jews while 13.2 percent were Muslim. The most recent wave of attacks has targeted Jews or people who were perceived to be Jews almost exclusively.
Actions speak louder than words. It’s worth noting that at the same time they were tweeting their equivocal denunciations of anti-Semitism, Tlaib, Pressley, Bowman, Bush, Newman, and Ilhan Omar joined Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in sponsoring a bill that would halt the sale of weapons to Israel, a direct effort to undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself against terrorist attacks. Ocasio-Cortez offered her own denunciation of anti-Semitism only after having spent most of the week tweeting condemnations of Israel; as rocket attacks rained down on Israeli civilians, she thought it appropriate to tweet, “Apartheid states aren’t democracies.”
Perhaps Democratic Party leaders realized that its members tweeting out genocidal slogans (such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”) and reprehensible lies (such as that Israel is an “apartheid” state) wasn’t great for the party’s image. At least, not while Americans watched footage of Jews being hunted down and beaten on American streets by Palestinian flag-waving gangs.
But they also couldn’t countenance an unequivocal denunciation of anti-Semitism. Why not?
One reason: The left will only call out anti-Semitism when committed by people they can denounce as white supremacists, thus keeping their narrative about race intact. The recent wave of anti-Semitism doesn’t fit that narrative because the perpetrators aren’t tiki-torch-wielding Trump supporters but self-identified Muslims and supporters of Palestine. Just as those in this cohort denounced attacks on Asian Americans only if they could link it to “white supremacy,” these same voices had nothing to say about the fact that African Americans have committed the vast majority of those attacks. That tells you everything you need to know.
Another reason? The linking of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as equivalent risks is part of a larger attempt by the progressive left to craft a narrative wherein support for Israel (Zionism) is itself viewed as a form of Islamophobia. The frequently deployed lie, a favorite of the Squad, that Israel is an “apartheid state” is part of this effort as well.
It’s not a coincidence that the members of Congress who are most eager to peddle misinformation about Israel and promote anti-Semitism are also the ones most enthusiastic about equating the current round of violent attacks on Jews with Islamophobia. It gives them cover from having to take responsibility for the ways in which their own rhetoric has encouraged anti-Semitic attacks.
An unequivocal denunciation of anti-Semitism is more urgent than ever now because anti-Semitic hate is on the rise. Consider social media: The ADL found “An analysis of Twitter in the days following the recent outbreak of violence [in the Mideast] showed more than 17,000 tweets which used variations of the phrase, ‘Hitler was right’ between May 7 and May 14, 2021.” Similarly, hateful rhetoric thrives on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.
It’s also clear that this kind of rhetoric is far more widespread among the left than it wants to acknowledge. It’s not just prominent congressional Squad members who don’t see a problem in regurgitating anti-Semitic tropes. Phara Souffrant Forrest, a New York State Assemblywoman, recently tweeted an image of the Middle East with Israel wiped off the map and the hashtag #FreePalestine; a CNN contributor tweeted, “The world today needs a Hitler.”
Forget dog whistles. When it comes to anti-Semitism, a growing coalition of progressive Democrats sees nothing wrong with announcing their own reprehensible views with a bullhorn, assuming (correctly, as it turns out) that there will be no consequences for their behavior. Note to these cowards: If you’re equating current violent expressions of anti-Semitism (much of which is being perpetrated by Muslims) with Islamophobia, you haven’t just lost the plot. You’ve lost any semblance of a moral compass.