Antisemitism Resurgent: Manifestations of Antisemitism in the 21st Century

The Far Right

A July 2019 report by E. Tendayi Achiume, the U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance concluded that antisemitism is on the rise among the far right. According to her findings, far-right antisemitism—and violent far-right antisemitism in particular—is on the rise across Europe.*E. Tendayi Achiume, “Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” U.N. General Assembly, July 30, 2019, https://undocs.org/A/74/253.x

The Jewish Invaders and Domination

Neo-Nazi groups such as the National Socialist Movement and Combat 18 have openly espoused antisemitic positions, while far-right ethnonationalist groups such as Les Identitaires have applied historically antisemitic tropes to immigrants and other minority groups.*“The Aims of C18,” Combat 18, accessed April 10, 2018, https://ia600104.us.archive.org/15/items/Combat18/Combat%2018/Ef3824e2beb9985f682e99fd133515b22cfa03ef4_Q20647_R331396_D1942757.pdf; “French crack down on ‘racist soup,’” BBC News, January 25, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4644766.stm.x Chief among these is the idea of the Jew as the outsider seeking to infiltrate society in order to destroy it from within. During the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalists marched through the streets chanting “Jews will not replace us!”*Emma Green, “Why the Charlottesville Marchers Were Obsessed With Jews,” Atlantic, August 16, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/nazis-racism-charlottesville/536928/.x Robert Bowers, who murdered 11 people during the  October 2018 attack at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, accused the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)—a Jewish refugee aid organization—of bringing foreign invaders into the United States.* Abby Ohlheiser and Ian Shapira, “Gab, the white supremacist sanctuary linked to the Pittsburgh suspect, goes offline (for now),” Washington Post, October 29, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/10/28/how-gab-became-white-supremacist-sanctuary-before-it-was-linked-pittsburgh-suspect/.x On March 15, 2019, Brenton Tarrant attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51.*“Christchurch attack: Brenton Tarrant pleads not guilty to all charges,” BBC News, June 14, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48631488.x Tarrant also believed he was defending the white race from invading immigrants.

This philosophy is known as the Great Replacement theory, which postulates that non-European migrants threaten to replace the dominant white European culture.*“Frequently Asked Question,” Generation Identity United Kingdom and Ireland, accessed March 8, 2018, https://www.generation-identity.org.uk/faqs/.x Tarrant entitled his manifesto “The Great Replacement” and wrote about the “crisis of mass immigration … that, if not combated, will ultimately result in the complete racial and cultural replacement of the European people.”*Brenton Tarrant, “The Great Replacement,” Internet Archive, accessed April 1, 2019.x Tarrant and white-nationalist groups have attempted to define a broader white European ethnic identity prevalent in the Western world that transcends national borders. They believe that that identity is threatened by non-European invaders who want to uproot the dominant culture and implant their own. Tarrant focused his hatred on Muslims, but others like Bowers have included Jews as part of the perceived foreign threat.

The idea of a Jewish invasion aligns easily with theories of Jewish domination that have proliferated among the global far right. The conspiracies of an international Jewish cabal manipulating international politics and finances found in the pages of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion have gained international prominence among the far right.

Far-right protesters marched through Poland in November 2017 on the occasion of the country’s independence day to, as one protester told the media, “remove Jewry from power.”*Matthew Taylor and agencies, “Domestic Threat White Supremacy Extremism,‘White Europe’: 60,000 nationalists march on Poland’s independence day,” Guardian (London), November 12, 2017,https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/12/white-europe-60000-nationalists-march-on-polands-independence-day.x At the 2013 meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest, the neo-fascist Hungarian political party Jobbik protested what it called a Jewish attempt to buy Hungary. According to Jobbik Parliamentarian Marton Gyongyosi, Hungary had “become subjugated to Zionism, it has become a target of colonisation while we, the indigenous people, can play only the role of extras.”*“Jobbik rally against World Jewish Congress in Budapest,” BBC News, May 4, 2013, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-22413301.x Then-Jobbik leader Gabor Vona decried “Israeli conquerors, these investors, should look for another country in the world for themselves because Hungary is not for sale.”*“Jobbik rally against World Jewish Congress in Budapest,” BBC News, May 4, 2013, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-22413301.x

Created in 2003, Jobbik has made antisemitism an inextricable part of its platform. Jobbik believes that its fundamental purpose is the protection of “Hungarian values.”*“Jobbik - The Movement for a Better Hungary,” Facebook page, accessed April 4, 2019, https://www.facebook.com/JobbikEnglish?sk=info.x The movement directly links Jews to the communist occupation of Hungary after World War II, on which Jobbik blames Hungary’s economic and cultural decline. Groups like Jobbik present historical figures such as Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky*Marx’s father was a non-practicing Jew who converted to Lutheranism and his mother was a gentile. Nor was Marx raised Jewish. Trotsky was a secular, non-practicing Jew.x as proof that communism is an inherently Jewish invention. Further, they view communism as part of an older, global Jewish plot to gain domination—first locally and then nationally and internationally.

The Far Right Redefines Who is a Jew

To promote the idea of Jews as invaders, the far right and white nationalists have to define who is a Jew. According to Jewish religious law, anyone born of a Jewish mother is Jewish regardless of practice or belief. The far right has long assigned a racial component to Jewish identity to create a visible enemy through easily identifiable racial features, such as the hook nose. The Nazi regime made Jewish identity completely reliant on genetics and declared that anyone with three or more Jewish grandparents—on either side—to be Jewish.*“Nuremberg Race Laws,” U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, accessed November 25, 2019, https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/nuremberg-laws.x This genetic definition served the purpose of keeping Jews in the role of outsiders—even assimilated secular Jews who married gentiles were still considered Jews. Beliefs can be changed but if Jews are a distinct race, they are always Jews.

The modern far right has embraced this idea of a separate Jewish race made up of ersatz whites who are attempting to subvert the European white race. To the far right, it is this ability to “pass” that makes Jews even more dangerous. James Mason, the American neo-Nazi author of the anthology Siege, has argued that Jesus led a split between the white Jews and non-white Jews. According to Mason, the white race is the remnants of the true Israelites who became Christians.*James Mason, “That Poisonous Crap,” Universal Order, accessed December 20, 2018, http://siegeculture.biz/that-poisonous-crap/ (site discontinued).x Jews, according to Mason, “are the spearhead of this traitorous drive to subvert and to sell out our people.”*James Mason, “Islam,” Universal Order, accessed December 20, 2018, http://siegeculture.biz/islam/ (site discontinued).x In Siege, Mason described a “healthy state” as one that would “expel – or kill – the Jew; a decadent one will take him to its bosom. The Jew corrupts the nation.”*

Comments on a story on Entertainment Weekly’s website

James Mason, Siege (IronMarch.org, The Jews-as-a-separate-race argument actually received a legal boost in 2018 from a Louisiana court that ruled Jews were a race, though the court’s intentions were not to lift the arguments of white supremacists. Citing racial discrimination, Joshua Bonadona had filed a civil lawsuit that February against his alma mater, the Baptist institution Louisiana College, after he was passed over for an assistant football coach position because of what college president Rick Brewer allegedly called Bonadada’s “Jewish blood,” according to the complaint. Bonadona had been born to a Jewish mother and grew up practicing Judaism but converted to Christianity in college. His argument, thus, was based on his racial heritage rather than the religion of which he no longer considered himself a part.*Hannah Natanson, “Louisiana judge says Jews are a race and protected by anti-racial-discrimination laws,” Washington Post, July 20, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/07/20/louisiana-judge-says-jews-are-a-race-are-protected-by-anti-racial-discrimination-laws/.x

The college denied that Jews constituted a race and so were not protected under racial discrimination laws. U.S. Magistrate Mark Hornsby ruled later in 2018 that Jews did, in fact, merit protection under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which specifically forbids employers from discriminating based on sex, race, or religion. The case was the first time in U.S. legal history that Jews had specifically been granted legal protection as a race under the Civil Rights Act.*Hannah Natanson, “Louisiana judge says Jews are a race and protected by anti-racial-discrimination laws,” Washington Post, July 20, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/07/20/louisiana-judge-says-jews-are-a-race-are-protected-by-anti-racial-discrimination-laws/.x According to Hornsby’s decision:

Jewish citizens have been excluded from certain clubs or neighborhoods, and they have been denied jobs and other opportunities based on the fact that they were Jewish, with no particular concern as to a given individual’s religious leanings. Thus, they have been treated like a racial or ethnic group that Title VII was designed to protect from employment discrimination based on membership in that group.*“Bonadona v. Louisiana College, et al,” Law360, July 13, 2018, https://www.law360.com/dockets/download/5b49117ca701e72ec0000019?doc_url=https%3A%2F%2Fecf.lawd.uscourts.gov%2Fdoc1%2F08915327266&label=Case+Filing.x

However, some legal and civil rights activists also warned that white supremacists would use the ruling as proof Jews are a distinct—and inherently inferior—race.*Michael Kunzelman, “Judge: Jewish heritage can be basis for race discrimination,rdquo; Associated Press, July 16, 2018, https://apnews.com/82c5075c54ce4f179e6517f0e4f07824; Hannah Natanson, “Louisiana judge says Jews are a race and protected by anti-racial-discrimination laws,” Washington Post, July 20, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/07/20/louisiana-judge-says-jews-are-a-race-are-protected-by-anti-racial-discrimination-laws/.x The far right maintains the distinction of Jews as a separate race altogether in order to justify acts of violence against them in defense of the white race, as Bowers did when he blamed Jews for a white genocide.*Chas Danner and Adam K. Raymond, “What to Know About the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting,” Intelligencer, October 28, 2018, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/10/what-to-know-about-the-pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting.html.x As with the Church-sponsored religious antisemitism of the past, violent far-right antisemitism is viewed as defensive in the interests of protecting the white race from Jewish attack. Horrific acts like the Tree of Life shooting are justifiable if one is led by the misguided belief that such violence is a response to genocide. And with encouragement from ideologues like Mason, violent antisemitism will surely remain a permanent staple of the far right.

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Historic professional, societal, and political restrictions on Jews helped give rise to some of the most enduring conspiracies about Jewish influence.

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