President's Viewpoint

President’s Viewpoint: The Dangerous Rise of the New Anti-Semitism in America

By President Jerry Falwell, October 31, 2019

In March, House Democrats passed a shallow resolution condemning anti-Semitic rhetoric, but failed to identify offenders by name. It was concluded by the house speaker that statements were made, but they weren’t “based on any anti-Semitic attitude.”

Not based on any anti-Semitic attitude? There is a severity and consequence to this kind of moral reasoning. There are historic lessons we cannot ignore. Anti-Semitic demagogues like Adolf Hitler were able to assume power by first speaking in only figurative and euphemistic terms, then creating false historic narratives and warping the moral conscience of Germany. The Jewish Holocaust didn’t begin with guns and gas chambers, but with false anti-Semitic tropes and tales.

These recent comments by freshman congresswomen have called attention to another radical movement on the left, called the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS). The movement was organized by anti-Israel activists in an effort to create a propaganda machine used to delegitimize the state of Israel and stigmatize the Jewish people. Their ultimate agenda is to isolate Israel and systematically weaken it by whatever means necessary.

Never without a sense of irony, the BDS movement defines itself as “a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches, and grassroots movements across the world.”

While this issue is gaining a foothold in the United States, this anti-Semitic movement has been violently escalating in the Middle East for years. The current tension and hostility in the United States as a result of this movement has opened the door to even more radical anti-Semitic ideologies. But this is just the tip of the iceberg; these radical ideologies have been growing and spreading across the world for decades, waiting to explode into conflict. It is just a matter of time.

Now imagine for a moment if the shoe were on the other foot. A movement focused on boycotting, divesting, and sanctioning Muslim people and a Muslim state? The public outcry would be at a pandemonium level — and rightly so — but there is no such movement.

As House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said, “We’ve seen a rise in anti-Semitic violence globally over the course of the last several years. And we are now seeing a rise in the very halls of Congress in the kind of vitriolic and vile anti-Semitic comments like the ones you’ve seen from Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib.”

But I believe that Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said it best: “We need to send a strong statement as a body that we stand against all this anti-Semitism, all of the anti-Israel hate. Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East. And it’s a relationship we should be strengthening, not weakening.”

In a speech delivered in Green Bay on April 27, President Donald Trump responded to the synagogue shooting at Chabad of Poway in the suburbs of San Diego, saying, “We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated.” The president’s words are not only an appropriate response to one tragedy, but a timely challenge to a rising and pervasive attitude among the left.

The cultural and political left are moving full steam ahead in the opposite direction, and the media is only exacerbating the issue further. The New York Times international edition published a shocking cartoon on April 25 that depicted President Trump wearing a yarmulke and being led by a dog in the likeness of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with a neck collar donning the Star of David. It took several days of public outcry for the New York Times to respond with a printed apology and disciplinary action for the production editor. Peddling the soft language of the cultural left, the New York Times vowed to remedy the error with “unconscious bias” training — a solution that Band-Aids the problem and does nothing to fix the hateful rhetoric spewed by many of our nation’s largest media outlets.

President Trump’s commitment to Israel, however, has been praiseworthy and admirable, keeping a campaign promise by moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Under the president, the U.S. continues to foster a healthy relationship with one of our strongest allies while condemning anti-Semitism and hatred from the left.

Last year, tens of thousands of Palestinians, supported by Hamas, gathered at the Israel-Gaza border in protests known as the Great March of Return. American media coverage was embarrassingly biased against Israel and against President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Palestinians were not protesting the embassy; they were, instead, protesting the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel. Their main means of protest was violence — burning tires, Molotov cocktails, and even explosive devices, endangering Israeli troops and provoking them to use force.

Some of the major supporters of the Palestinian protestors and the BDS movement are, in fact, terrorist groups. Now, why would ANY self-respecting American willingly choose to follow a movement that is backed by terrorist organizations, direct enemies of the United States? The same terrorist groups that supported 9/11. Recently, John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban” fighter, was released from prison after serving a 17-year sentence. He was one of the first enemy combatants captured in the Afghan War at age 20. His story served as a shocking, early reminder that homegrown terrorism can even begin in the United States. These terrorist groups are targeting the young and impressionable. Allowing these movements to gain a foothold in our country is dangerous and threatens the freedom we have worked so hard to preserve.

Some of the most impressionable people in America are the millennial generation and college-age students today. Statistically speaking, college campuses have the potential to be the most dangerous places for radical and violent ideology. In 2016, Jewish Americans were the target of 1,267 incidents of hate-based crimes, but that number rose by 57 percent in 2017. And it has been on the rise ever since. On college and university campuses in 2017, the number of hate-based crimes against Jewish community members rose by 89 percent. College students are statistically even more intolerant than the community as a whole. This cannot continue. Numerous colleges have backed the BDS movement, including Barnard College, George Washington University, and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Some students at these universities are furthering hate-based policies, boycotting anything that has to do with Israel. There have even been students who were openly hostile toward the Jewish community and have had little to no accountability for their actions. These universities need to take a good look in the mirror and evaluate if they are truly practicing what they preach. Are they really holding constructive, respectful discussions, or are they furthering the divide in our nation? It all starts with tolerance and accountability, a platform that many of the nation’s most renowned educational institutions stand behind.

Our current college students are the next generation that will be running this country, and we cannot have hate-based ideologies instilled in the minds of the future doctors, lawyers, senators, and leaders of our communities.

As the president of Liberty University, I believe teaching tolerance to all views is extremely important. Liberty is a Christian university, and inherently our views on God and religion differ from those of the Jewish faith, but that doesn’t mean that the Jewish people deserve hate or persecution. God has called us to love one another, and that includes our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Our country has forgotten the beliefs that the United States was founded upon. Our founding fathers fought for the right to religious freedom and to be free from persecution. We cannot allow our country to return to the Dark Ages, and the rise of anti-Semitism is doing just that.

I am glad to see Christians speak out against these atrocities. We must continue to do so.
Like white supremacy, anti-Semitism must also be rooted out and destroyed. History cannot repeat itself. Recently in June, the nation celebrated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion for the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany. In most towns and cities across our nation, only a small contingent of brave men remain who experienced that day. They were all hardly more than boys. They didn’t sacrifice their lives for conquest or glory, but for freedom and liberty — to defend those who suffered and lost tragically.

Our country needs to wake up and take hold of the freedoms and ideals so valiantly protected and preserved on our behalf. We cannot pick and choose which hatred to confront and which to ignore. We cannot keep our values and freedoms if we cannot confront our vilest offenders. Anti-Semitism cannot and should not be tolerated.

It has no place in America. It has no place in the world.

To my Jewish friends: we are with you. We will not stay silent. We will fight back.

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