Democrats Must Excise the Scourge of Antisemitism in Our Ranks Before It's Too Late

On Thursday, President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, making it easier to collect data on and prosecute hate crimes against Asian Americans.

During his speech at the bill signing ceremony, the President warned against hate of all forms: he called out antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia, along with racism. He called on Americans to remain vigilant and ahead of hate.

The President's words may prove to be prescient. In the wake of the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is now is a wave of hate sweeping through America, primarily encouraged by the far left. As an Asian American, I am observing parallels between the rise in anti-Asian violence in the aftermath of COVID and a stream of violent attacks against Jewish Americans that are at once angering, saddening, and deeply concerning.

Democratic leaders - especially those who espouse the cause of human rights for Palestinians - need to take a firm stand against antisemitic hatred and violence sweeping through our communities right now and do so before it's too late. President Biden's words about giving hate no safe harbor needs to be our work right now, right here, in defense of our Jewish friends, family members, and neighbors.

The recent wave of antisemitic hate crimes, ignited by the conflict between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas, is happening far beyond the borders of Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East. It is happening in our streets. Jewish Americans are being targeted, in the words of a memorable American song, from New York to La. Not because they are demonstrating for Israel - not that targeting them would have been any more excusable for their political opinion - but because they are Jewish.

On Thursday night, just hours after Biden signed the COVID-19 hate crimes law, pro-Palestinian goons drove through Jewish neighborhoods of New York City, screaming out antisemitic epithets and throwing explosives into crowds of Jewish people simply walking on the sidewalk. 
Jewish diners were attacked by a group of people waving Palestinian flags in Los Angeles on Wednesday. 

A week ago, a Jewish man beaten up and bloodied by a mob draped in the Palestinian flag in broad daylight in New York. Make no mistake: this is rapidly mixing with the far-right, white supremacist tinge of antisemitism, and we are beginning to become a microcosm of the pre-World War II world where Jews were treated as second-class citizens and hunted down everywhere from Europe to the Middle East.

The people who target others for violence are the worst type of cowards. Those who attack Jews in the name of the Palestinian cause are not interested in helping Palestinians. They are merely interested in terrorizing Jews. Regardless of one's position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this is wrong. This must stop.

Violence is not the only form of antisemitism ensnaring the peace of Jews across the world and in the United States. The scapegoating of Jews for antagonism toward the government of Israel is manifesting itself in many forms. Among them are the chants at pro-Palestinian protests openly demanding the extinction of the only Jewish state (challenging the existence of Israel or its right to self-defense is, in fact, an act of antisemitism under international definitions adopted by the US State Department), vandalizing of Synagogues, and straight-up holocaust denialism - or worse, holocaust celebration - by young people.

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords - who was shot in the head by a madman in 2011 - noted on Twitter that her Synagogue had been vandalized.
The good news is that people are starting to speak up, and Giffords, who is also the wife of Arizona Senator Mark Kelly, isn't alone. The Jewish Democratic Council of America has issued a statement condemning the rise of antisemitism.
But the voices of condemnation cannot just be a murmur. They must become a crescendo in our party. Regardless of what one believes with respect to Israel's military policy, we must all, in one voice, make it clear that violence or hatred against Jews is NOT a legitimate way to protest Israel, and anyone who does so is not welcome in our party.

This message must especially be amplified by elected officials and leaders who are critical of Israel and sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Bernie Sanders, Mark Pocan, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib must lead the charge. They have a special responsibility because their words are at risk of being used by extremists as an excuse for their hate and violence. They must make it clear that the people who are using hate and violence against Jews are not welcome in their ranks.

Antisemitism in any form - spoken or acted - must be given no safe harbor by the Democratic Party.

It must be called out and condemned, and law enforcement must be given every resource to bring to justice the perpetrators of antisemitic hate crimes with as much vigor as those committing anti-Asian hate crimes and those engaged in white supremacist hate crimes. There can be no ifs, ands, or buts. Our party must stand, speak, and act as one against antisemitism rising in our own fringes.

Failing to do so will be a moral failure with deep political costs. The Labour Party in the United Kingdom, under the leadership of Sanders-acolyte Jeremy Corbyn, began its political bloodbath in UK's parliamentary elections after beginning to coddle antisemitic rhetoric and people in its ranks, and the bloodletting has yet to stop if Britain's recent local elections are any indication.

Already, the Democratic postmortem of the 2020 election is showing that Democratic candidates up and down the ballot suffered from the association with radical fringes of socialism and 'defund the police' movements. We need to abandon far-left radicals from our party, not embrace them further.

If Democrats fail to purge antisemitism from our ranks, we will once and for all lose the moral high ground that we are the party that stands up against bigotry in all its forms, no matter how hard it is to do and no matter whom it is coming from.

If we fail to excise this cancer, the Democratic party will be headed for the same fate in the United States as Labour has in the UK. And let me say something as clearly as I can: we will deserve to.

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