What an Anti-Semite's Fantasy Says about Jewish Reality

(New York Times) Bret Stephens - A man travels 4,800 miles from the north of England to the heart of Texas. Appearing to be homeless, he gains entry into a synagogue where the rabbi welcomes him with a cup of tea. With a handgun, he takes the rabbi and others hostage for 11 hours while demanding the release of a convicted terrorist held in a nearby prison. A hostage reports him as saying, "I know President Biden will do things for the Jews." The common denominator in each of the mutations of anti-Semitism over the centuries is an idea, based in fantasy and conspiracy, about Jewish power. The old-fashioned religious anti-Semite believed Jews had the power to kill Christ. The 19th-century anti-Semites who were the forerunners to the Nazis believed Jews had the power to start wars, manipulate kings and swindle native people of their patrimony. Present-day anti-Zionists attribute to Israel and its supporters vast powers that they do not possess. If you think the reason Israel gets so much support in Congress is the money and influence of the pro-Israel lobby, you might be surprised to learn that that lobby ranks 20th on the most recent list of congressional donors, giving away a paltry $4.5 million compared with the $95 million that retiree interest groups donated. The likeliest reason there was so much hesitancy to describe the attack in Texas as anti-Semitic was that the assailant was a British Muslim of Pakistani descent. Not white. Not privileged. Not right-wing. In the binary narrative of the powerful versus the powerless, his naked anti-Semitism just doesn't compute: Powerless people are supposed to be victims, not murderous bigots.

2022-01-24 00:00:00

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