People vote their social, economic or foreign policy issues every four years at election time. It is what has motivated me, but this year is different,
I’m an anti-Semitism voter. I never thought this would be an issue, but at age 62, with a family from Shreveport, La., and having grown up in the 1970s deep South, I rarely, if ever, experienced anti-Semitism. In elementary school, I was usually the only Jewish kid in class, and in high school, my senior class had about five Jews. But this year is different; I have seen events that worry me as an American Jew.
In 2018, two openly anti-Semitic women were elected to Congress and immediately commenced a campaign of disinformation against American Jews and Israel. When Congresswoman Ilhan Omar publicly questioned the loyalty of American Jews and accused her colleagues of taking bribes to support Israel, leaders of both parties pushed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, but they could not get the votes to pass it until the resolution was watered down to no longer identify the perpetrators and added racism and “Islamophobia.”
This was followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders aligning his presidential campaign with the anti-Semitic congresswomen and Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour, the former leader of the socialist Women’s March. Sanders publicly called Israel an apartheid state and repeatedly called their prime minister a “racist” on national television. Few Democratic members of Congress or Jewish NGOs spoke out against this libelous canard.
Anti-Semitism on college campuses reached a new high in 2019, with over 200 incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault against Jews. At Michigan State University, swastikas were painted on the Hillel student center; at Columbia University, professors harass Jewish students in class and host prominent anti-Semitic speakers; and at the University of Illinois, the Students for Justice in Palestine succeeded in pressuring the student government to pass a resolution declaring anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism as being exclusive of each other. These are just three of hundreds of examples of the anti-Semitism Jewish college students have faced.
But what made anti-Semitism my top issue was the George Floyd killing, which had nothing to do with Jews, but a lot to do with Jewish history. Rioting, looting and mob violence broke out in Minneapolis, but it soon ceased being about Floyd and became about the tearing down of American culture, institutions and government. Despite universal outrage over Floyd’s murder and near unanimity on the injustice that had been perpetrated, senseless violence has continued nonstop.
The specious accusation of American “systemic racism” flies in the face of empirical data showing huge progress made in this country since 1970. But data and facts no longer matter. What has been stunning is watching the failure of state and local governments to stop the lawlessness. What has also been sad to watch is the open hostility to Jews who have played no role in any of these sad events.
During the Los Angeles Black Lives Matter “protest,” three prominent synagogues were vandalized, and Jewish businesses were ransacked. In Portland, Oregon, where some of the worst violence has occurred, the Chabad center was victim of an arson attack that destroyed the building; in Kenosha, Wisc., BLM activists spray painted “Free Palestine” on the driveway of the Beth Hillel synagogue.
I get it when the BLM leadership explicitly states they are Marxists. I get it when they march in the streets of D.C. screaming about “Israeli genocide,” and I get it when their platform finds space to single out only one foreign country for boycott and divestment, Israel. But what I don’t get are the secular leftist Jewish groups announcing support for this political movement that hates us. The Anti-Defamation League has even aligned themselves with Al Sharpton, a renown anti-Semite and bigot. The abandonment of American Jews by hundreds of Jewish organizations supporting BLM has been tragic.
For 20 years British Jews continued to vote for the Labour party despite increasing anti-Semitism by party officials. Then it happened, the Labour party nominated an ally of Hamas and Hezbollah, an open anti-Semite named Jeremy Corbyn for prime minister. If American Jews look the other way and vote for politicians who embrace, tolerate or ignore anti-Semitism from activist groups, academics and elected government officials, we will be sending the same signal the upper middle class Jews of 1932 Berlin sent —anti-Semitism is not an issue. And it will continue to grow if unchecked. It did not have a happy ending for the Jews of Europe in 1932, and I can’t see how it will for American Jews in the 21st century USA. The ball is in our court.
So, this year, I am going to use the only weapon I have to fight Jew hatred and the lawlessness that enables it. It is the ballot box. I am voting against any politician who supports, excuses or looks the other way in the face of anti-Semitism. I am voting against supporters of mass immigration and open borders, as I have seen what it has done to the quality of life for European Jews. I will be voting against politicians who do not publicly support law enforcement. But most of all, I am voting against mob rule and any politician who supports it, excuses it, or looks the other way in the face of it. And this is because I have read history well and have seen how Jews fared in 1917 Russia, 1938 Germany, 1959 Cuba and 2003 Venezuela when mobs ruled.
When mobs rule, Jews always lose.
Jerry Levy is an adjunct professor at Georgia State University who lives in Smyrna. He is a former volunteer with CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America).
- Ilhan Omar
- Bernie Sanders
- Linda Sarsour
- Women's March
- George Floyd
- Systemic racism
- Black lives matter
- Anti-Defamation League
- Al Sharpton
- Jerry Levy
- Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
- Georgia state university