Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Two years ago, the House of Representatives had a unique opportunity. 

As the Associated Press summarized the situation at the time under the headline House Democrats fail to condemn anti-Semitism, don’t rebuke Rep. Ilhan Omar:

Ms. Omar has on multiple occasions questioned the support shown for Israel by most members of Congress. At one point she suggested it was because they were bought off by Jewish money and more recently she suggested Israel-backers had dual-allegiances both classic anti-Semitic tropes.

The expectation was that the House was going to condemn antisemitism -- and rebuke Omar in particular.

That did not happen.

Among the excuses for not condemning Omar, the Democrats claimed:
"Ms. Omar has faced unconscionable attacks as one of two Muslim women in Congress"
“This woman has death threats”
“The question was maybe she needs security because of the kind of wrath that she has been facing. That is really unacceptable.”
So in the end, Omar was not condemned at all.
And neither was antisemitism -- at least not in the way that had been expected:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants were rewriting the resolution to include other forms of hate speech, and they postponed a vote that had been expected to occur Wednesday.

“People do feel if we’re going to condemn one form of bigotry that we make sure we also condemn other forms of bigotry,” said Rep. Pramilla Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Instead, legitimacy was given to the attitude that "if we’re going to condemn one form of bigotry that we make sure we also condemn other forms of bigotry."

We saw that attitude again, later that year.

In response to an antisemitic attack on a kosher supermarket in Jersey City that left 3 people dead, the chancellor of Rutgers University–New Brunswick, Christopher J. Molloy posted a letter on the Rutgers website addressing what happened:

One week ago today, we learned about the brutal acts that took place in Jersey City. As the details unfolded in the days that followed, we learned more about the victims and the intention behind the attack.

The events that took place right in our backyard were motivated by hatred and narrow-mindedness and once again, we find ourselves consoling one another as we denounce intolerance and violence.
(h/t EOZ)

There was no mention of Jews.
There was no mention of antisemitism.
And there was no complaint about the letter itself

Fast-forward to 2021.

On May 29, Chancellor Molloy posted another letter, this time in response to the rise in antisemitic attacks on Jews following the war that broke out after the Hamas rocket attack on Israel. In a letter entitled Speaking Out Against Acts of Anti-Semitism, Molloy wrote:

We are saddened by and greatly concerned about the sharp rise in hostile sentiments and anti-Semitic violence in the United States. Recent incidents of hate directed toward Jewish members of our community again remind us of what history has to teach us. Tragically, in the last century alone, acts of prejudice and hatred left unaddressed have served as the foundation for many atrocities against targeted groups around the world.

He went on to generalize his condemnation to include "all forms of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, xenophobia, and oppression, in whatever ways they may be expressed."

That may be a watering down of his opening condemnation of antisemitism. But in any case, his condemnation of antisemitism was condemned.

Greg Price, of the Daily Caller, tweeted excerpts of a Students for Justice in Palestine post on Instagram, objecting to the chancellor's letter:




The post directly ties Jews with Israel, demanding that any condemnation of attacks on Jews in the US must also make mention of Palestinian Arabs in the Middle East.
o  It proclaims the need for "a safe learning environment inclusive of difference," though attacks on Jews in the US have increased at a time that there have been no similar uptick in attacks on Arabs or Muslims.
o  The post closes with more linkage, this time between Jews and Palestinian Arabs in the US, implying that any mention of antisemitism against Jews requires a mention of alleged wrongdoing against Palestinian Arabs, whose "voices" and "visibility" are allegedly being dismissed.
o  It closes with not only with a demand for an apology for condemning only antisemitism, but also with the claim that respect for those "voices" of Palestinian Arabs in Rutgers require condemnation of Israel.

This follows the model established by Pelosi and the Democrats in the House, that condemnation of antisemitism cannot exist on its own -- it must be accompanied with other condemnations of other forms of bias. 

This model of refusing to condemn antisemitism on its own was further emphasized in May by progressive Democrats:

o  Bernie Sanders: “We’ve recently seen disturbing antisemitic attacks and a troubling rise in Islamophobia
o  Rep. Cori Bush: “The work of dismantling antisemitism, anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism, and every other form of hate is OUR work”
o  Rep. Jamaal Bowman: “We’ve seen an increase in antisemitic and Islamophobic hate, in NYC and nationwide — hateful words, hate crimes, and other forms of violence.”
o  Rep. Ayanna Pressley: “I strongly condemn the rise in anti-Semitism and islamophobia we’re seeing across the country.”
o  Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Antisemitism has no place in our country or world. Neither does Islamophobia,”

SJP merely takes advantage of this trend of linkage and goes even further, demanding that condemnations of antisemitism must require condemnations of Israel as well. 

In response, the chancellor apologized on May 27:

...while the intent of our message was to affirm that Rutgers–New Brunswick is a place where all identities can feel validated and supported, the impact of the message fell short of that intention. In hindsight, it is clear to us that the message failed to communicate support for our Palestinian community members. We sincerely apologize for the hurt that this message has caused...

But 2 days later, the university president denied that any apology was given, claiming, "Rutgers deplores hatred and bigotry in all forms. We have not, nor would we ever, apologize for standing against anti-Semitism."


In order to support their denial of apology, the original URL (https://newbrunswick.rutgers.edu/chancellor/apology) now goes directly to the page that denies that any apology was ever made (https://newbrunswick.rutgers.edu/chancellor/on-hatred-and-bigotry)

So now, not only are Jews not allowed to define antisemitism, now it is not even politically correct to condemn it.

That was the message this week, in the reaction to another condemnation of antisemitism. On June 10, a condemnation of rising antisemitism was posted by April Powers, the SCBWI Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, on the Facebook page of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI):


Although the statement specified "speaking out against all forms of hate," that was not enough and SCBWI was pressured to apologize for condemning antisemitism.

As far as what kind of feedback to the post forced the apology, Powers notes "I removed both anti-Palestinian and anti-Israeli posts" and at least one Palestinian writer was blocked and had her comments removed.

The executive director of SCBWI, Lin Oliver, posted the apology:

On behalf of SCBWI, I would like to apologize to everyone in the Palestinian community who felt unrepresented, silenced, or marginalized. SCBWI acknowledges the pain our actions have caused to our Muslim and Palestinian members and hope that we can heal from this moment.
First among the changes she listed, Oliver noted the resignation of Powers.

It is a sign of the world we live in that, while at Google their head of diversity is forced to leave his post (but not resign from the company) for making antisemtic comments, at SCBWI the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer is forced to resign for actually condemning antisemitism.

Oliver claims: 

I can assure you that this painful week has been a crucial learning experience for SCBWI.

For SCBWI -- perhaps.
But for antisemites, it was a glorious reaffirmation that they are in control.

The excuse for not condemning Ilhan Omar -- the potential violence and danger she might face -- is very one-sided. It does not apply to condemning antisemitism, despite the actual violence and danger that Jews now face.










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