It’s always the right time to talk about anti-Semitism, especially during Black Lives Matter protests

Recent weeks have seen a heated discussion among American Jews about whether there is a “right time” to talk about anti-Semitism. And if so, does now qualify, since our country is going through a reckoning over racism?

American Jews want to show solidarity with peaceful protesters, but should that include support for the Black Lives Matter organization, which called Israel an apartheid state, supported the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, and accused Israel of genocide in its 2016 manifesto? And should Jews remain silent while Israel is falsely accused of teaching brutal tactics to police, or when protests include “vandalism to Jewish businesses and synagogues” in Los Angeles, chants of “From the river to the sea” in Brooklyn, and slanderous accusations that Israel murders children in Washington, D.C.?

There was, by contrast, no such debate during Christians United for Israel’s annual summit this week. Conducted virtually for the first time because of the pandemic, CUFI’s national conference included numerous speakers determined to speak up for Zion’s sake, as the book of Isaiah urges. 

There was, by contrast, no such debate during Christians United for Israel’s annual summit this week. Conducted virtually for the first time because of the pandemic, CUFI’s national conference included numerous speakers determined to speak up for Zion’s sake, as the book of Isaiah urges. 

One message that echoed across the summit was that it’s always the right time to shine a light on anti-Semitism. Speakers encouraged the summit’s tens of thousands of participants to educate themselves about anti-Semitism. That education would include not only learning from dark, historic moments such as the Holocaust, but also how to recognize the anti-Semitism that hides in plain sight today, on college campuses and in the halls of Congress.

During a panel discussion on anti-Semitism, Holocaust survivor Irving Roth explained that words “direct people to the truth.” Words matter because they lead to actions, whether they are atrocities like the Holocaust or the possibility of a better future. Roth was joined by CUFI Middle East analyst Kasim Hafeez, who was raised as a radical Islamist in the United Kingdom and reflected: “I love this country, and it saddens me. There’s this horrible moment of seeing a parallel of what I saw in the U.K. with anti-Semitism. … It doesn’t just roll in on a truck one day. It’s gradual. There’s little hurdles and steps; it creeps in. People fall asleep at the wheel. It’s almost ignored. There’s this attitude of, ‘It could be worse. At least we’re not the situation in Europe.’” Hafeez warned that ignoring those small changes means losing the chance to halt anti-Semitism while there is still time. Hafeez encouraged participants, “You can make the difference.”

Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who signed the nation’s first anti-BDS bill into law as governor of South Carolina, told participants, “We must keep telling the truth about Israel.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked about realizing in law school “how anti-Israel some parts of academia can be” and that “Israel needs to be protected from BDS.” Among Pompeo’s examples of the importance of truth-telling was his simple statement, “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, returned after speaking in 2019 to update the audience on the passage of his bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which is intended to combat campus anti-Semitism. Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Democrat from Nevada, discussed the bipartisan Never Again Education Act, another CUFI legislative priority that President Trump has signed into law; this law will ensure that students learn about the Holocaust in school.

In a stirring speech, CUFI founder John Hagee described combating every form of anti-Semitism, including BDS, as central to the organization’s mission. Hagee, who warned that Hitler’s ghost is walking across U.S. college campuses and smiling, called anti-Semitism “evil,” “a sin,” “driven by demonic hatred of Jews,” and “a global cancer.” Describing anti-Semitism as “everybody’s problem,” Hagee called on Christians to join Jews in a nonpartisan battle against anti-Semitism. He urged CUFI’s 8 million members to call out evil when they see it and to act. 

Hagee admonished members of Congress for “churn[ing] out sham resolutions,” asking, “How long will we allow them to give respectability to anti-Semitism?” Hagee explained, “It’s not a difficult conversation. Either you’re willing to unequivocally oppose anti-Semitism or you’re not. There is no middle ground.”

He preached, “Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others. [CUFI] is that stronger person, standing up for Israel and the Jewish people.” Listing Jewish enemies across time, including the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, and more recently, those who led the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, Russian pogroms, and the Holocaust, Hagee told his listeners, “We weren’t there then, but we are here now [to keep history from repeating itself]. Shine the light!”

There’s no question anti-Semitism is resurgent, and it will not disappear on its own. It is time that all people who are troubled by hatred start talking more about how we are going to fight it together.

This article appeared in The Washington Examiner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: