Attacked By Alt-Right Trolls, A Jewish Journalist Links Trump To The Rise Of Hate


Trump "has made nationalist policy into the policy of the executive branch," says New York Times editor Jonathan Weisman. His new book, (((Semitism))), is about being Jewish in the Trump era.


Today there are well-financed groups who are attempting to move the Jewish world even further to the Right.  Elliot Abrams, the son-in-law of Norman Podhoretz and Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State for Central American Affairs, who left government after having been implicated in the dishonesty surrounding the arming of the Contras, has joined with many other Jewish neocons to champion conservative politics inside the Jewish world.  They bought an ad on the op-ed page of the New York Times in December 1994, in which they congratulated Newt Gingrich and argued that traditional Jewish values favored conservatism....  The triumph of conservatism that these neocons are attempting to facilitate will further polarize the society, give greater credence to fascistic and anti-Semitic forces that have always found their primary base of support within the right and its anti-immigrant, racist, and xenophobic nationalist proclivities.  By the time these right-wing Jews realize what they've wrought, America may be plunged into a resurgence of hatred and reaction far more pernicious than anything we've experienced since the thirties.  Although they represent only a small percentage of American Jews, their impact is magnified because they represent the worldview of the richest Jews, they can fund their magazines and political organizations, their circles have disproportionate access to the most influential media, and they are overly represented among orthodox Jews and Jews in positions of leadership in the organized Jewish community.

The power of these neocons is increased the more that Jews tend to think of themselves and their interests as indistinguishable from that of the majority of American middle-class, suburban whites.  Those on the Left and those in the African-American world who insist that Jews think of themselves as white are the best allies of these neocon Jews to think of themselves as Jews, with a historic mission of tikkun olam, of healing and transforming a world in pain because of its alienation from God and from the God within every human being.  To the extent that we positively affirm that Jewish task and Jewish destiny, it will be hard for us to identify with the ethos of selfishness that has become so central to the meaning of being white in contemporary discourse.  For similar reasons, we have reasons to want many other groups to dis-identify with "whiteness" and to develop an identity based on their relationship to their own highest sense of purpose for their communities.

Michael Lerner, Jews & Blacks: Let the Healing Begin

Jonathan Weisman in (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump (2018) writes about anti-Semitism signs and signifiers in the digital age, and how Trump and Trumpsterism is a throwback to the 1930s.  Weisman was introduced into digital anti-Semitism via social media: "What ho, the vaunted Ashkenazi intelligence, hahaha!"  "CyberTrump" came back.  "It's a dog whistle fool.  Belling the cat for my fellow goyim."  With the cat belled, the horde followed.

What Weisman didn't know was that he had unwittingly exposed what was known in the alt-right as "echoes," those three parentheses [in the title] that practitioners of online harassment wrapped around Jewish-sounding names on social media.  Unbeknownst to, well, just about everyone, alt-right anti-Semites had created a Google plug-in that could be used to search double or triple parentheses, since ordinary search engines do not pick up punctuation marks.  Haters would slap these "echoes" around Jewish-sounding names of people online they wanted to target.  Once a target was "belled," the alt-right anti-Semitic mob could download the innocuous-sounding Coincidence Detector plug-in from the Google chrome store, track down targets like heat-seeking missiles, and then swarm.

Then the intimidation began.

Messages of this sort popped up on Weisman's computer while he edited stories or chatted with reporters.  It pinged on his iPhone in the Metro or while he was driving.  For weeks, more than a thousand maybe more than two thousand--such messages flooded his electronic life, usually as Twitter notifications but also as emails and voice mails.  He hadn't known that virulent anti-Semitism still existed in America; now, he couldn't avoid it.  The Jew can be all things to some people, it seems, none of them good.

Weismann posits that until the rise of Trumpism, Judaism was easy, not just for me but for millions of American Jews.  It was cafeteria-style: observe or don't, join a synagogue or attend the occasional Jewish film festival, rad Philip Roth, eat bagels and babka, say "Oy" ironically.  You could be Jewish by religion, Jewish by culture, Jewish by birth or identity--take your pick.  In October 2013, the Pew Research Center asked the American Jewish community what it meant to be Jewish.  The answers said a lot: 73 percent, the largest category, said remembering the Holocaust, followed by another category that was even more nebulous, who said leading a moral or ethical life.  Then there were the 56 percent who said that being a Jew meant working for justice and equality, the 49 percent who said it meant being intellectually curious, the 43 percent who said it meant caring about Israel, separated by statistically insignificant gap from the 42 percent who said it meant having a good sense of humor.  Second from the bottom, at 19 percent, was observing Jewish law, followed only by eating traditional Jewish food.

Weisman believes that Charlottesville and the "Unite the Right" rally has forced a sleeping nation to confront its new reality: The Right has successfully seized the cause of free speech in recent years, defining tolerance as the mandatory acceptance of intolerance.  This phenomenon has emboldened a sitting member of Congress, Steve King of Iowa to declare, "I'd like to see an America that's so homogeneous that we look a lot the same."  We are supposed to accept this in the name of free expression.


Weisman posits that that alliance between black and Jewish leaders in the 1950s and 1960 gave rise to the notion that American could--and would move forward, seemingly inexorably, toward that enlightened place where Judaism wouldn't matter, where the lynch-mob's rope and the Klansman's dynamite would be rendered useless forever.

Toward safe, self-satisfied complacency.

James Baldwin in his essay, "Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They're Anti-White" (New York Times Magazine, April 9, 1967), tells why this shibboleth has never been reached.  Baldwin begins with a listing of complaints against the Jewish landlords, merchant, welfare workers, cops, union leaders, teachers, the Army, and American corporations, but has to admit that "I think they are controlled by Americans and the American Negro situation is a direct result of this control.  And anti-Semitism among Negroes, inevitable as it may be, and understandable, alas, as it is does not operate to menace this control, but only to confirm it.  It is not the Jew who controls the American drama.  It is the Christian."

The root of anti-Semitism among Negroes is, ironically, the relationship of colored peoples--all over the globe--to the Christian world.  This is a fact which may be difficult to grasp, not only for the ghetto's most blasted and embittered inhabitants, but also for many Jews, to say nothing of many Christians.  But it is a fact, and it will not be ameliorated--in fact, it can only be aggravated--by the adoption, on the part of colored people now, of the most devastating of the Christian vices.....

One does not wish in short, to be told by an American Jew that his suffering is as great as the American Negro's suffering.  It isn't, and one knows that it isn't from the very tone in which he assures you that it is....

The Jew's suffering is recognized as part of the moral history of the world and the Jew is recognized as a contributor to the world's history: this is not true for the blacks.  Jewish history, whether or not one can say it is honored, is certainly known: the black history has been blasted, maligned, and despised.  The Jew is a white man, and when white men rise up against oppression, they are heroes: when black men rise, they have reverted to their native savagery.  The uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto was not described as a riot, nor were the participants maligned as hoodlums: the boys and girls in Watts and Harlem are thoroughly aware of this, and it certainly contributes to their attitude toward the Jews.

But, of course, my comparison of Watts and Harlem with the Warsaw ghetto will be immediately dismissed as outrageous.  There are many reasons for this, and one of them is that while America loves white heroes, armed to the teeth, it cannot abide bad niggers.  But the bottom reason is that it contradicts the American dream to suggest that any gratuitous, unregenerate horror can happen here.  We make our mistakes, we like to think, but we are getting better all the time.

Well, to state it mildly, this is a point of view which any sane or honest Negro will have some difficulty holding.  Very few Americans and this included very few Jews, wish to believe that the American Negro situation is as desperate and dangerous as it is.  Very few Americans, and very few Jews, have the courage to recognize that the America of which they dream and boast is not the America in which the Negro lives.  It is a country which the Negro has never seen.  And this is not merely a matter of bad faith on the part of Americans.  Bad faith, God knows, abounds, but there is something in the American dream sadder and more wistful than that....

One does not wish to believe that the American Negro can feel this way, but that is because the Christian world has been misled by its own rhetoric and narcotized by its own power.....

In the American context, the most ironical thing about Negro anti-Semitism is that the Negro is really condemning the Jew for having become an American white man--for having become, in effect, a Christian.  The Jew profits from his status in America, and he must expect Negroes to distrust him for it.  The Jew does not realize that the credential he offers, the fact that he has been despised and slaughtered, does not increase the Negro's understanding.  It increases the Negro's rage....

A genuinely candid confrontation between American Negroes and American Jews would certainly prove of inestimable value.  But the aspirations of the country are wretchedly middle-class and the middle class can never afford candor....

The crisis taking place in the world, and in the minds and hearts of black people everywhere, is not produced by the Star of David, but by the old, rugged Roman cross on which Christendom's most celebrated Jew was murdered.  And not by Jews.


Jonathan Weisman seems to be in dialog with James Baldwin in his description of the election of the first black/Negro president: Barack Obama, something unimaginable to Baldwin.

Weisman states that the two political parties battled each other over which one loved Israel more, stood most firmly for Judeo Christian values (the Judeo part got added somewhere along the way), and was friendlier and more inviting to Jewish voters (and Jewish donors).

Then, in 2008, the bottom dropped out.  A decade later, it is remarkable how we have forgotten how scary the financial crisis was, when capitalism itself seemed to be on the brink.  Hundreds of thousands lost their jobs each month during a horrifying stretch from April 2009 to December 2009.  Unemployment soared so high and so suddenly that talk of a depression seemed not like fear mongering but rather simple historical relativism.  The magnitude of the Great Recession, the sustained job losses, stock market decline, evaporation of wealth, and closings of business had no comparison to any stretch other than 1929.  Barack Obama, the first African American president, came to power as Americans legitimately questioned the future of democratic capitalism.

And where was the hate?  Sure, there were voters who could not bring themselves to pull the lever for a black man with a strange name, but as Obama himself said countless times, hos skin color probably was, on net, a benefit.  More people came out to vote for the first black president than secreted themselves into the booth to vote against him because of the color of his skin.  Blacks who had never, or rarely, voted came out in droves.

Weisman covered the Obama campaign in 2008, first for the Washington Post, then for the Wall Street Journal from the Midwest to the Deep South.   He saw no white hoods or green Pepe the Frog memes.  He saw pride, even among the people who would ultimately vote against him.

From the moment he was inaugurated people worldwide lined the streets and filled lecture hall to see and hear him speak: "When a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere.  When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk.  When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations.  When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean."

The right grumbled about "apology tours" and Kenyan socialism, weakness abroad and leading from behind, but internationalism didn't miss a beat.  There seemed to be hardly a whiff of rising ethno-nationalism.

Weisman posits that Barack Obama was the apotheosis of liberal internationalism.  A Jew was White House chief of staff.  An American president held a Passover Seder, then another.  The Jew thrived.

In late March 2016, at a very bad Thai restaurant in the little town of Selfoss, Iceland Weisman his two daughters sat with his girlfriend and her two daughters family blending.  His girlfriend's daughter, Hannah was talking about Black Lives Matter and the injustices that befall African Americans every day.

"Anti-Semitism basically doesn't exist in the United States," she asserted.

Weisman relates: I shock myself with my response.  "I recoiled at her words and argued passionately that Jews must never think that anti-Semitism has been eradicated.  Vigilance, I preached.  The Jew can never be at peace.

I sounded like my grandmother."

Views: 93

Comment by mary gravitt on April 9, 2018 at 11:54am

Fascism isn't coming to America, it here.  Anti-Semitism, in spite of Sheldon Adelson's generosity to Trump is flashing its ugly ass in public more than ever.  We had better get our acts together and fight as one people or face the gas chambers as individual so-called races.  There is only one race: The Human Race.  There is only one America: E pluribus urum: out of many one.  The is what has always distinguished America from the other nations of the world.  Trumpism cannot make America great again because America when it fights prejudice is and has always been great.

Comment by koshersalaami on April 9, 2018 at 6:16pm

Blacks and Jews are sometimes allied and both have a very personal sense about how bad a thing persecution is, but Blacks and Jews do not understand each other because our experiences, including our persecution experiences, are too radically different. Also, our self-definitions are too radically different. 

Jews cannot relate to the Black experience in America and though we may come closer to understanding it than other privileged populations we don’t grasp its scope and entirety. We can relate to hatred but not to that profound a lack of respect. Those who hate us do not think we’re incapable. We can’t relate to the continuing consequences of multiple persecutions of slavery, including forced breakups of families, eradicated original religion, literacy illegal in some states. Our American success is based on family, religion, education, the very things you were denied. We haven’t experienced that, we can’t relate. 

Blacks cannot relate to the Jewish experience. Blacks look at America and assume it will always be home. Jews have never been able to assume that about anywhere. German Jews in the early part of the twentieth century were intensely chauvinistic about being German. They viewed Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jews as speaking a low-class bastardized version of their language. Also, American Jewish immigration is mostly much more recent than forced Black immigration. These two factors mean that Jews identify internationally to a very different extent and, by extension, we view international antisemitism very personally. As a child, I knew five direct ancestors who had immigrated from Eastern Europe. You look at the Holocaust as something that happened overseas, I look at it as something that killed my grandfather’s sister. You look at antisemitism in Paris as inconsequential to us, but my sister’s boyfriend is a Jew from Paris who has family there. You think of Israel as a foreign pain in the ass, I’ve been in Torah study when a mother there texts her son who’s visiting Israel because her phone app just told her a Gazan rocket is headed for his neighborhood and she receives a return text that he’s already sought shelter. We’re not nervous about American antisemitism because of what’s happened in America, we’re nervous about it because of what’s happened everywhere, and still does. We have been forced to identify globally, not because we haven’t been loyal to the countries we’ve lived in but because they haven’t been loyal to us. That, by the way, is a key reason Jews are worried about Israel’s continued existence: if we get forced out or driven out like we have been everywhere else, we want a place we know we can go. That sounds far fetched to most Americans but to us it’s often part of our recent family history. 

As Jews do not understand slavery and Jim Crow, Blacks do not understand the Holocaust and even the extent of the pogroms. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was not a race riot, it was what Jews who were being deliberately starved did to prevent themselves from being murdered immediately on the spot. This was about survival in a very literal immediate sense. As we cannot relate to slavery, you cannot relate to having one out of every three of you in the world, including children, murdered within four years with help from no major country. Oddly, in a sense we could already relate to it, because though we’d never faced massacres that big, we’d faced awfully big massacres before, numerous times. 

Here, we’re White. It doesn’t mean the same thing to us as it means to you. For you, Black is about your race and about your ethnicity. For us, it’s about our race but not about our ethnicity. It’s not that we have a strong White identity, but the issue for you is not about our identity so much as it’s about our privilege. And, in spite of the fact that American antisemitism is definitely on the upswing due to Trump (though the armed police presence at my Temple in North Carolina at every service way predates Trump), we absolutely have White privilege, Jewish or not. But our sensitivity to antisemitism isn’t as crazy as it looks to you because it isn’t restricted to the United States because we aren’t. If we don’t look out for each other, we live persecuted (like Jews in the Soviet Union) or we die. 

The fact that our experience is different doesn’t make it trivial, but the fact that we have such experience doesn’t mean we don’t have White privilege and it also doesn’t mean we really grasp the magnitude of the Black persecution experience. 

Comment by Ron Powell on April 10, 2018 at 11:23am
"Attacked By Alt-Right Trolls, A Jewish Journalist Links Trump To The Rise Of Hate"

Shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who is only halfway paying attention....
Comment by koshersalaami on April 10, 2018 at 12:20pm

No, it shouldn't

Comment by mary gravitt on April 10, 2018 at 12:24pm

We must never forget who we are.  We are all Americans.  We are all in danger because the United States is being ruled by a mad-man.  It does not matter what our history is, our present has brought US together under common cause.  History will prove that this is true.  The United States is as close to haven and heaven as as most of US will ever get, and WE have a vested interest in its survival.

Jews have allowed themselves to be blinded by whiteness.  And this is a trap.


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