It is painfully fitting, even if wholly coincidental, that the murderous anti-Semitic assault on Jewish worshipers celebrating the end of Passover at a California synagogue on Saturday occurred only days after the New York Times published a grotesquely anti-Semitic cartoon which, it admitted with some understatement, “included anti-Semitic tropes.”
The cartoon is so obviously vile, so flagrantly evocative of Nazi ideology and present-day Hamas propaganda, that it cannot be passed off, as the Times’ spinmeisters attempted to do, as a mere “error of judgment.”
It depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog with a Star of David on his collar, leading a blind Donald Trump, wearing a skullcap.
This was no mere “error of judgment.” It was a manifestation of the normalization of anti-Jewish racism, and of its carefree absorption not merely by the far left but the fashionable soft left as well. This cartoon would never have passed scrutiny at the Times had racism of this gross sort been directed at people of color or Muslims. No, anti-Semitism has become an acceptable form of racism within widening swaths of America.
The phenomenon has begun to seep subtly into the Democratic presidential nomination fight, where candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke, eager to pander to a Democratic base that increasingly demands this sort of stuff, have adopted over-the-top, mindless rhetoric, labeling the Israeli government “racist.” For her part, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in pursuit of the same constituency, was quick to defend the repeated anti-Semitic pronouncements of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who accused pro-Israel Americans of buying support for Israel with hundred-dollar bills or, as she put it, “Benjamins.”
Yesterday’s shooting spree at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, six months to the day after an even deadlier attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, is part of the new normal metastasizing throughout America, as it has in Europe and the Mideast.
The white supremacism, the neo-Nazism and the vicious anti-Semitism of the far right garners a great deal of attention — as well it should. But there is responsibility — and guilt — for the spreading anti-Semitism in America that falls elsewhere as well. That includes the left, and it includes the oh-so-fashionable left embodied by the New York Times. The problem is an ugly one, and it runs far deeper than errors of judgment.