Antisemitism gains a renewed foothold in our global society


Berl Falbaum
Veteran Political Journalist/Author

After I wrote a column stating that Israel was the victim of a double standard in the reaction to the Israel-Hamas war, I received several e-mails asking, “why?”

Why, they asked, was Israel treated so unfairly and differently than, for instance, Russia and its unprovoked, inhumane attack on Ukraine?

Valid question; one that deserves a cogent, candid, unequivocal response. The answer is simple, though painful, and is embodied in one word: antisemitism.

Yes, that is a powerful charge, one not easily made, but, sadly, all too true.  

Here is the overriding principle: If members of a race, religion or nationality are held responsible for alleged misdeeds or are falsely accused when guilty parties are not held accountable, that is called discrimination. In the case of Jews, it is antisemitism.

– When campuses at universities explode with anger at Israel for its response to Hamas’ butchery, but are silent to the inhumanity of Russia in Ukraine, it is not an exercise of freedom of speech; it is antisemitism.   

– When professors call out Jewish students in their classes because of the war, it is not an exercise of academic freedom, it is antisemitism.

–When some journalists distort facts, exaggerate Israel’s role, are silent on the reasons for Israel’s response, it is not just journalistic incompetence, it is antisemitism.

– When picketers carry signs with swastikas and declare “Death to the Jews,” -- do I really need to say it? -- it is antisemitism.

– When public officials try to justify the butchery of babies, the beheading of the elderly, the burning alive of civilians, it is antisemitism.

Or consider these antisemitic acts from throughout the world:

– A mob stormed a Russian airport trying to stop a plane from arriving from Tel Aviv.

– In Barcelona, dozens of pro-Palestinian protestors occupied a hotel owned by a Jewish businessman.

– In Berlin, vandals hurled Molotov cocktails at a synagogue and scrawled the Star of David on doors of homes and apartment buildings where Jews live.

– A drastic rise in antisemitic acts were reported across Europe and the United States since the start of the war October 7.

FBI Director Christopher Wray in Senate testimony, reported that the Jewish community was “getting hit from all sides,” adding that while it accounted for only about 2 percent of the U.S. population, 60 percent of the country’s hate crimes were motivated by antisemitism.

I can hear it coming, the bromide: Anti-Zionism or criticism of Israel is not necessarily antisemitism.

True enough. Indeed, I am a critic of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I would like him to resign or be ousted not just because of his failure to detect Hamas’ plans and prevent the massacre, or his alleged corruption but because of some of his policies affecting Palestinians.

No, all criticism of Israel does not equate to animus toward Jews and Israel. But sometimes, antisemitism is just antisemitism. This is one such case. It is blatant; nothing subtle about it.

The expert “talking heads” on TV and analysts in newspapers dance around the obvious. It is all too evident how they work to avoid facing this fact because it is controversial and their acknowledgment of this truism might cause a backlash.

Sure, I understand completely that motivation is hard to prove. But, in this case, the evidence is clear. You don’t have to look hard given the bigoted signs on picket lines, that Jewish institutions have to increase their security, or just listen to the ugly, foul anti-Jewish language of protestors.

Journalists might read Hamas’ charter which calls for its control of all the land between the river (the Jordan) to the sea (the Mediterranean).  To reporters covering the war: That comprises all of Israel.

Jews are not surprised by the antisemitism or by the avoidance to acknowledge it. That is not new. For thousands of years, Jews have been expelled from countries, suffered through pogroms, endured the Holocaust, and were victims of antisemitism everywhere they lived.

That raises the next question: Why is this so?

Millions of words have been written to try and explain it. No one I know has a definitive answer. I have read much on the subject and am no closer to an answer.

One reason that intrigued me was in a book, “The Israel Test: Why the World’s Most Besieged State is a Beacon of Freedom and Hope for the World Economy.”

The author, George Gilder, investor, author of 49 books, and economist, argues the world is jealous of Jews because despite their travails, Jews not only survived but always excelled in music, medicine, education, science and public service.  

Reading his strong defense of Jews and Israel, I thought he might be Jewish, but when I interviewed him on the book in 2009, I discovered he was a Calvinist.

As Jews have done in the past, they will survive this onslaught as well.  Militarily, Jews are probably stronger than ever before. All the leaders of Israel since its founding in 1948 understood that Israel needed a strong military and they allocated significant resources to its development.

The political fallout is another matter; that might be the most difficult hurdle to overcome.

The question of “Why Always the Jews?”, brings me to the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” which deals with brutal Russian anti-Semitism and pogroms around 1900. In the play, Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman, looks to the heavens and pleads: “I know, I know we are the chosen people. But once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?”

To which I would add just one word: “Please.”


Subscribe to the Legal News!
Full access to public notices, articles, columns, archives, statistics, calendar and more
Day Pass Only $4.95!
One-County $80/year
Three-County & Full Pass also available