Although antisemitism has been an ever-present scourge for centuries, it has seen a sinister and widespread modern resurgence during the last few years.
One of the most sickening and obvious examples in recent memory took place on the morning of October 27, 2018 — the Holy Day of Sabbath for the Jewish people. Robert Bowers screamed "All Jews must die," as he began shooting at the gathered congregation praying at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
He killed eleven people, wounding six others, with an assault rifle and multiple handguns. The names of who were killed are: Irving Younger, Sylvan Simon, Jerry Rabinowitz, Joyce Fienberg, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, Rose Mallinger, Bernice Simon, Richard Gottfried, Cecil Rosenthal and David Rosenthal. It was the deadliest attack ever on the Jewish community in the U.S.
So what has brought about this fresh wave of hatred? Deeper still, what has given these malevolent beliefs the encouragement to become murderous action?
The US Department of State defines antisemitism as "a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities." adding that in modern times it has been used by "making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions."
The old anti-Semitic trope of Jews running the media is one small example of what has been absorbed by the culture and turned into an easy punchline, however, these reprehensible but seemingly benign elements have become part of a larger undercurrent of dangerously misguided common belief in the United States and beyond.
Even during the most recent Senate election in Georgia, Republican David Perdue released an attack ad on Jon Ossoff, who is Jewish, that purposefully made his nose larger and more pronounced. This is an obvious reference to an ancient anti-semitic trope.
These are specific instances, but there is a deep ocean of accepted hatred that runs underneath the everyday.
Looking to the cult of mass-delusion that is Q-Anon, we can clearly see parallels between the beliefs its followers cling to, and an anti-Semitic hoax that began in Russia during 1903.
"The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion" is a fabricated antisemitic text claiming to reveal a Jewish plan for global supremacy.
It alleges that a shadowy cabal is plotting to take over the world. Alongside global domination, they seek out and kidnap children in order to torture, kill and eat them. By doing this, they gain power from the contents of the children's blood. They also control influential seats in government, the media, international finance and religious institutions. They promote homosexuality, pedophilia and a degradation of traditional values — all while crippling the white race through interracial breeding in order to weaken their power in the nation.
That description could easily have been a "drop" from the elusive figure known only as "Q". As such, Q-Anon is simply a grotesque rebrand of "The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion" for the 21st century.
Long after its publication, the text was used by anti-semites globally to reinforce their prejudices and to darken the hearts of their followers. Henry Ford himself paid for 500,000 copies to be printed in the United States during the 1920's, and the text was distributed widely throughout Europe — being especially popular in 1930's Germany leading to a population that believed all Jews were involved in a plot to take control of their nation.
Now in 2020, Q's followers in the United States are legion, and their radicalization primarily takes place not in a foreign desert, but on Facebook.
An entirely separate article would be required to properly outline the sheer amount of damage that Mark Zuckerberg and his morally bankrupt company have wrought on the psyche of the American people, but for now it is enough to say that, despite a deluge of evidence that Q-Anon and other hate groups were organizing on their platform, the social media giant was not only slow to action, but actively encouraged these members activities in order to increase user engagement.
We have only just begun to see the consequences of a future where hatred and technology are bedfellows for profit.
Q-Anon's growth on Facebook is not an aberration, as the platform has sheltered and provided covering fire for multiple other groups.
Leading up to the 2016 election these groups were gaining confidence and after the election of Donald Trump their movements became unbridled. Following the 2016 result, the ADL released its annual 2017 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. The report found that "the number of reported antisemitic incidents in the U.S. rose 57% in 2017, the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking such data in 1979. There was a total of 1,986 incidents, which fall into three major categories: harassment, vandalism and assault."
One of the primary groups to rear its ugly head was another uniquely Trumpian collective - The Proud Boys. The Proud boys, the far-right group that President Donald Trump told to "stand back and stand by" during a presidential debate, share many of the views outlined in The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion" and Q-Anon.
Founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, a far-right personality and co-founder of Vice media, the group originated as a "chauvinist" organization that believed "Western" values were being degraded by multiculturalism. Despite their overtly xenophobic and mysoginistic views, the group maintained that although it was advocating for western ideals, it was not against Jews. This claim was dubious at the time, and has only become more absurd as the group has moved more prominently into the national conversation.
The founder of a "tactical defense arm" of the Proud Boys, Kyle Chapman, said in a message on the encrypted app Telegram that he has staged a "coup" against Enrique Tarrio, the current leader of the Proud Boys.
"We will confront the Zionist criminals who wish to destroy our civilization," Chapman wrote, "We recognize that the West was built by the White Race alone and we owe nothing to any other race."
This all took place as The Proud Boys were preparing to flood the streets in order to protest Donald Trumps claims that the 2020 election is not legitimate.
As anti-semitism invades online discourse and bleeds into the streets, the larger danger is that it is now part of a political parties belief system.
The outgoing president has pathologically let loose racist dog-whistles targeting the black community, but he has also repeatedly found opportunities to incorporate antisemitic tropes into his rallies and oration.
Trump suggested that George Soros paid for protests against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
He also said that Soros was responsible for the arrival of a caravan of Central American migrants at the US border.
After the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where groups marched through the streets screaming "Jews will not replace us", Trump said there were "very fine people on both sides".
He claimed that American Jews who vote Democratic were guilty of "disloyalty" to the country. For reference, Trump has constantly referred to Israel as "your country" when speaking with American Jews - an obvious accusation of dual loyalty, a recurring anti-semitic trope.
While it remains to be seen what will happen to these hate groups that have been spurred on by the highest office in the land, there s no doubt that anti-semitism is not an evil relegated to the pages of distant history.
It is here, now, and has been emboldened by a criminal, racist, xenophobic, sexist, incompetent authoritarian who only has one goal - to incite national division while he finishes the ultimate grift.
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