For close to two decades, we have been blowing the whistle on the rising tide of anti-Semitism. When asked the source, our answer has always been the same: Look in three directions – the far left, the far right, and the jihadists. Too many in our hyper-politicized world, however, would prefer to shy away from this trifocal analysis. For them, it doesn’t necessarily sit well ideologically, the facts be damned.
But we don’t have a particular ax to grind or, if you will, a “preferred” enemy to confront. We’re a Jewish front-line agency that doesn’t get to pick and choose our threats because they might suit a subtle, or not-so-subtle, partisan outlook.
When neo-Nazis came out by the hundreds in Charlottesville and chanted blood-curdling diatribes evoking the Third Reich, many Jews rushed to condemn them, and rightly so. We were most assuredly among them.
Whether appropriate or not, some celebrity Jews even chose to brandish the yellow Star of David, reminiscent of what Jews in the German concentration camps and ghettos had to wear, marking them for likely extermination.
While admiring this post-Charlottesville determination to stand up as Jews, I couldn’t help but wonder where some of these very same people had been in recent years when the threats and attacks were coming from elsewhere.
To be absolutely, unmistakably clear, there is a real danger emanating from the far right.
For some time, we had thought it was more ominous in Europe, where, unlike here, extremists were also organizing under the banners of political parties, such as the Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, and the National Front in France. They have been seeking to gain influence through the ballot box, in addition to their activities in cyberspace and on the streets.
In some cases, they lionize 20th century fascists, call for registries of Jews, disparage or even deny the Holocaust, and rant about Jewish power and influence.
It turns out that they have a fair number of kindred spirits in the U.S., who march in the streets declaring that “Jews will not replace us” and pining for “blood and soil,” the English translation of the Nazi belief in “Blut und Boden.”
But the danger doesn’t begin and end here. Nor, therefore, should our concern and outrage.
For one thing, the far left also poses daunting challenges.
Many in this camp seem to have a problem with one country on earth – and it just happens to be the only Jewish-majority nation around, with a Jewish population, it might be noted, of just over six million people, many of whom were themselves targets of the far right (and the far left and jihadists) in the past century.
No other nation awakens the far left’s misguided passion in the way that Israel does. Only democratic Israel is constantly in their crosshairs.
They don’t organize BDS campaigns, flotillas, flytillas, apartheid weeks, or disruptive protests about the true human-rights abusers, just Israel, as it seeks to defend itself against those who openly proclaim their intent to destroy it.
In the same vein, they celebrate self-determination for the Palestinians, but would deny it for the Jews.
Is this obsessive, relentless attempt to challenge the Jewish people’s national aspirations not a form of anti-Semitism? Of course it is, and has been acknowledged as such by the UN Secretary-General, the President of France, and many other astute leaders.
And when was the last time, for example, that anyone saw a protest by these self-professed human rights campaigners of the far left, whether on an American campus or elsewhere, about mass murder in Syria; Islamic State’s genocide against the Yazidis; the Venezuelan government’s wholesale destruction of a country; concentration camps housing hundreds of thousands of inmates in North Korea; the British Labor Party’s recurring examples of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, beginning at the very top of the party leadership; or Iran’s serial violations of the human rights of women, gays, and religious minorities?
Their blatant selectivity and hypocrisy speak volumes.
But bifocal lenses aren’t sufficient, either. Trifocals are needed.
Of late, the greatest physical threat to Jews has come from jihadists.
Consider the fact that every fatal attack against Jews in Europe in recent years has been carried out by Islamic extremists.
From the kosher supermarket in Paris to a Jewish school in Toulouse, from the Jewish Museum in Brussels to the synagogue in Copenhagen, from the murders of Ilan Halimi and Sarah Halimi in Paris to the Israelis (and Bulgarian) killed in Burgas, they were all perpetrated by jihadists.
Add to that the genocidal ambitions of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, incendiary Salafist teachings in many madrassas, and the ubiquitous anti-Semitism in important segments of the Arab media.
So, by all means, let’s express our utter revulsion when Nazis march in Charlottesville, and let’s speak up when the occupant of the Oval Office stunningly fails to provide moral clarity in confronting such an unfolding drama.
But, equally, the same Jewish outrage needs to be manifested when the leader of a country, Iran, seeks a world without Israel, when Hezbollah’s top cleric calls for the mass murder of Jews, when Jewish children are shot to death in front of a Jewish school for the simple fact that they are Jews, and when groups on American campuses single out Israel, alone among 193 UN member states, for delegitimization and disappearance.
Oh, and as if things weren’t already complicated enough, we also must not lose sight of the seemingly bizarre alliances that emerge, such as between the far left and Islamic extremists regarding Israel and Zionism, or the far right and Islamic extremists on Holocaust denial and demonization of Jews.
In other words, it’s a time for those who genuinely care about anti-Semitism to open their eyes wide – and not allow ideological or partisan thinking to narrow the field of vision.
David Harris is the CEO of American Jewish Committee.
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This article was originally published on HuffPost and Times of Israel