Don’t Ignore Antisemitism on the Left
Readers of The Hartford Courant were recently treated to a nasty diatribe masquerading as a eulogy. Jon Schoenhorn, a Hartford attorney and a cousin by marriage of Lori Kaye, who died heroically in the recent synagogue shooting in Poway, California, used her death as an opportunity, in an op-ed in The Courant published on April 30, to excoriate the evil forces in American society he considers responsible for it. These include, in his litany of horrors, “a racist and xenophobic president,” “opportunists [favoring President Trump’s policies] who stay silent in the face of bigotry,” and of course the National Rifle Association.
What any of this has to do with his cousin’s murder is beyond comprehension. In an online “manifesto” the actual murderer, John Earnest, attacked President Trump as a “Zionist” and a “traitor.” Mr. Schoenhorn is either ignorant of this or chose to ignore it. Instead, he lambastes the president for characterizing the white nationalists and neo-Nazis at Charlottesville in August 2017 as “fine people” without bothering to inform his readers that in his very next sentence the president explicitly excluded the nationalists and neo-Nazis from his description.
An attorney should get his facts right before levelling charges.
But Mr. Schoenhorn’s ideological blinkers blind him to more than facts that contradict his ideological narrative. They also inure him to the growing antisemitism on the left that has penetrated the Democratic Party and now threatens to corrupt it. The plain fact is that among the most vocal and influential Democrats in the current Congress are three unabashed antisemites – Representatives Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez. An iteration of their statements defaming Israel, American Jews, and the millions of non-Jewish Americans who support the only nation-state of the Jewish people in the world today would require another op-ed twice the length of this one.
But Mr. Schoenhorn writes nothing about them. One wonders if he even knows, or cares, about antisemitism on the left, or about its tolerance by the leaders of the Democratic Party, who, to appease the antisemites within their party, not long ago watered down a denunciation of antisemitism into an anodyne condemnation of generic bigotry, bolstered by specific examples ranging from the Dreyfus Affair over a century ago to a supposed plague – shamelessly exaggerated on the left and by the mainstream media – of Islamophobia. Arguably even more dangerous than this antisemitism are the attempts to silence its critics by presidential candidates Sanders and Warren, who respectively accused them, in the case of Representative Omar, of racism and inciting violence.
All Americans, not just those who are Jewish, as am I, should recognize the regrettable but undeniable reality that antisemitism, often maliciously sanitized as “anti-Zionism,” has become respectable on the American Left. They should also have the intellectual honesty to recognize that whatever their personal opinion of President Trump – whose infantile tweets, limitless vanity, and ad hominem attacks on supporters as well as enemies I consider contemptible – he has easily been the most pro-Israel president since Israel’s founding in 1948; conversely, can any sentient being imagine a President Sanders moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights, withdrawing from the viciously antisemitic United Nations Human Rights Council, closing the PLO’s Mission in Washington, or explicitly condemning Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah for their genocidal intentions not just towards Israelis but all Jews regardless of nationality? To consider our current president complicit in antisemitism, much less “the bigotry, racism, gender bias, and homophobia” Mr. Schoenhorn wrongly believes to be rampant in America today, is as empirically dubious as it is morally abhorrent.
Jay Bergman is a professor of history at Central Connecticut State University.