U.S. Jews grap­ple with anti-Semitism erup­tion

Anti-Defama­tion League fo­cuses on surge in vit­riol

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By Rachel Zoll

NEW YORK — American Jews gath­ered Thurs­day to wres­tle with how they should con­front an elec­tion-year surge in an­tiSemitism, a level of bias not seen in the U.S. for decades.

At a na­tional meet­ing of t he Anti- Defama­tion League, the Jewish civil rights group, about 1,000 peo­ple lis­tened to talks ex­press­ing shock at the ha­tred ex­pressed dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and ques­tioned what they thought was a high level of ac­cep­tance by other Amer­i­cans.

“I’m strug­gling right now in this American mo­ment,” said Ye­huda Kurtzer, pres­i­dent of the Shalom Hartman In­sti­tute of North Amer­ica, an ed­u­ca­tion and re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion. “I won­der whether I have been — and I think the an­swer is prob­a­bly yes — a lit­tle bit naive.”

Dur­ing this past year, anti-Semitic im­agery pro­lif­er­ated on so­cial me­dia, Jewish jour­nal­ists were tar­geted and long­stand­ing anti-Jewish con­spir­acy the­o­ries got a fresh air­ing. Much of the bias orig­i­nated with the al­ter­na­tive right, a loose group es­pous­ing a provocative and re­ac­tionary strain of con­ser­vatism.

It’s of­ten as­so­ci­ated with far right ef­forts to pre­serve “white iden­tity,” op­pose mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and de­fend “West­ern val­ues.”

In ad­di­tion to the on­line in­tim­i­da­tion, re­ports of anti-Semitic van­dal­ism and other at­tacks have risen.

Last week, the day af­ter the elec­tion, a Philadel­phia store­front was sprayed with a swastika and the words “Sieg Heil 2016,” which means “Hail Vic­tory,” a Anti-Defama­tion League leader Jonathan Green­blatt, left, says it’s vi­tal to un­der­stand what Jews are up against. com­mon Nazi chant, and the word “Trump,” with a swastika re­plac­ing the “T.”

These de­vel­op­ments have stunned U.S. Jewish lead­ers, who in re­cent years had been more fo­cused on anti-Semitism in Europe and on ad­dress­ing com­plaints of anti-Jewish bias on col­lege cam­puses amid the de­bate over the boy­cott, di­vest­ment and sanc­tions move­ment against Is­raeli poli­cies to­ward the Pales­tini­ans.

In a sign of the depth of American Jewish anx­i­ety about anti-Semitism, ADL of­fi­cials said do­na­tions to their or­ga­ni­za­tion in­creased 50-fold in the days af­ter the elec­tion and a large ma­jor­ity of the money came from first-time donors.

Ev­ery one of their re­gional of­fices re­ported an uptick in calls from peo­ple want­ing to do­nate or vol­un­teer, the ADL said.

“We must not be silent, we must raise our voices, we must act, and to act we must un­der­stand what we are up against,” said Jonathan Green­blatt, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of ADL, open­ing the meet­ing in Man­hat­tan.

As the pres­i­den­tial race in­ten­si­fied, Jews started see­ing their names brack­eted with a se­ries of paren­the­ses in ha­rass­ing tweets, sig­nal­ing that the per­son had been iden­ti­fied as a Jew. The im­age be­came known as the Jewish cow­bell and its source was traced to neo-Nazis and white na­tion­al­ists.

The ADL in­ves­ti­gated the ha­rass­ment and found more than 800 jour­nal­ists had suf­fered anti-Semitic at­tacks on Twit­ter dur­ing the elec­tion, mostly from anony­mous Twit­ter ac­counts, al­though some be­longed to known white su­prem­a­cists.

Jane Eis­ner, edi­tor-inchief of the For­ward, an in­flu­en­tial Jewish news­pa­per that cov­ered the elec­tion, said she re­ceived an email the morn­ing af­ter the sec­ond pres­i­den­tial de­bate with an im­age of a Nazi sol­der point­ing a gun at her head, dig­i­tally ma­nip­u­lated onto a con­cen­tra­tion camp uni­form.

Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign came un­der scru­tiny since much of the ha­rass­ment came from ac­counts tied to his sup­port­ers.

The pres­i­dent- elect’s daugh­ter Ivanka, and her hus­band, Jared Kush­ner, one of his top advisers, are Ortho­dox Jews. Kush­ner has de­fended Trump against al­le­ga­tions of bias.

The is­sue erupted anew when Trump an­nounced far-right pub­lish­ing ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Ban­non as his top White House strate­gist.

JULIE JA­COB­SON/AP

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