By Colonel Nelson L Mellitz, USAF, Ret.
This is the second in a continuing series of articles in “The Jewish Veteran” on the ever-increasing anti-Semitism in the United States and overseas.
The U.S. State Department has joined with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), a 31-member nation-state organization which met in Bucharest during 2016, and adopted a non-legally binding “working definition” of anti-Semitism:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individual(s) and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Examples of anti-Semitism given in the 2016 IHRA Plenary meeting notes include:
- The targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
- Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective….
- Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters….
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.
Will having a definition for anti-Semitism stop anti-Semitism?
Anti-Semitism is an ancient hatred of our people. In the 21st century, the internet is used to communicate lies and falsehoods about Jewish people at the speed of light. In the past, that would have taken weeks or even months. We already know the possible consequences of allowing anti-Semitism to spread unimpeded.
There are two major battlegrounds in the fight against anti-Semitism: social media and college campuses.
The far left, far right, and Muslim extremist groups have formed an alliance to spread their anti-Semitic lies and falsehoods. These groups use social media and the internet to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to exist. An example of this approach is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement with the help of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP uses the internet to push lies and falsehoods against not only Israel but the Jewish people. SJP states that anyone who supports Israel is against justice for all minorities. A study published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets from three million unique handles in 2017, and the number is increasing. That means on average there were 81,400 anti-Semitic tweets per week in 2017.
College campuses have become a major communications hub for hate groups. These hate groups use the campus internet and in-person platforms to promote anti-Semitism to impressionable young people – both Jewish and non-Jewish. The organization StandWithUs is a leading pro-Israel organization that investigates anti-Semitism and other types of discrimination on college campuses. StandWithUs says freedom of speech for Jewish students who support Israel is often violated on campuses. The group claims that at major U.S. colleges, Jewish students are branded as either supporting or not supporting Israel. If the student is a supporter of Israel, they have been physically and verbally attacked as a person that opposes social justice. Jewish and non-Jewish students that support Israel are continuously excluded from campus councils and social organizations.
Anti-Semitism is growing in the United States and throughout the world. The Jewish War Veterans has joined a coalition of over 145 major Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, and we have jointly endorsed a recent publication “The New Antisemites: How the Delegitimization Campaign Against Israel Drives Hatred and Violence in America.” JWV has responded to anti-Semitism with a renewed commitment to battle and counter anti-Semitism wherever it shows its ugly head. In the 1930s, Jewish War Veterans who served in World War I marched in the streets of New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and elsewhere with our partner Veterans Service Organizations against Hitler’s fascism and hatred of Jews. The Jewish War Veterans still has that commitment against anti-Semitism. Perhaps we need marches in 2021 to prove to the world we are still actively fighting anti-Semitism.
JWV was formed in 1896 to counter anti-Semitism statements that we did not fight for the United States during the Civil War. Now in our 125th year, we are still fighting against anti-Semitism, perhaps a different form, but still anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism is increasing throughout the United States with hate speech and actions on college campuses, in government, and in social organizations. Join with your fellow JWV’ers to increase our efforts to fight this hatred and secure the future of the Jewish people in the United States, in Israel, and around the world.
Volume 75. Number 1. 2021