Ever since the Gospels proclaimed that “the Jews answered in one voice, ‘Give us Barabbas”’ (John, 18:40), antisemitism has essentially and ultimately been a conspiracy theory. But it wasn’t until 1879 when an Austrian named Wilhelm Marr coined the precise term. And it caught on:
“In 1879 German journalist Wilhelm Marr published a pamphlet, Der Sieg des Judenthums über das Germanenthum. Vom nicht confessionellen Standpunkt aus betrachtet (The Victory of the Jewish Spirit over the Germanic Spirit. Observed from a non-religious perspective) in which he used the word Semitismus interchangeably with the word Judentum to denote both ‘Jewry’ (the Jews as a collective) and ‘jewishness’ (the quality of being Jewish, or the Jewish spirit).
“This use of Semitismus was followed by a coining of ‘Antisemitismus’ which was used to indicate opposition to the Jews as a people and opposition to the Jewish spirit, which Marr interpreted as infiltrating German culture. His next pamphlet, Der Weg zum Siege des Germanenthums über das Judenthum (The Way to Victory of the Germanic Spirit over the Jewish Spirit, 1880), presents a development of Marr’s ideas further and may present the first published use of the German word Antisemitismus, ‘antisemitism’.
“The pamphlet became very popular, and in the same year he founded the Antisemiten-Liga (League of Antisemites), apparently named to follow the ‘Anti-Kanzler-Liga’ (Anti-Chancellor League). The league was the first German organization committed specifically to combating the alleged threat to Germany and German culture posed by the Jews and their influence, and advocating their forced removal from the country….”
Being a conspiracy theory, cooler heads could simply let the right-wingnuts expose their toxic paranoia by blaming their grievances, for example, on the Rothchild family wealth and respond accordingly. On the other hand, indulging accusations of antisemitism against the liberal end of the spectrum without a fair amount of skepticism amounts to a capitulation to cynical and provocative manipulation, allowing these bullies to ram their propaganda into the mainstream, such as it is, of our valuable public discourse.
The manipulation is often enough a result of a Republican-Likud tag-team approach, whereby Israeli Likud Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu seizes upon shameless opportunities from US Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, without consulting the State Department, to help throw a wrench into the Obama administration’s efforts to seal the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to the anti-immigrant policies of Viktor Orban’s fascist regime in Hungary, where leadership of the Hungarian Jewish Federations condemned Orban’s 2017 anti-immigration billboard campaign using the image of financier and human rights donor George Soros with the tag “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh.” Soros, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor, is routinely and falsely accused by right wing politicians and pundits of having survived the Holocaust by collaborating with the occupying Nazis.
Hungarian Jews appealed to Israel’s embassy in Budapest, which responded with a statement against the anti-Soros campaign, saying it “evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear,” subtly reminding anyone paying attention to the historic role of Orban’s Fidesz Party in the deportation of 500,000 Jews to Nazi death camps, including late iconic author Elie Wiesel. But as Prime Minister Netanyahu planned a trip to Budapest, Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued another statement clarifying that Soros was a legitimate target for criticism. The Chairman of the Hungarian Jewish Federations, Andras Heisler called the statement a “let-down for our community.”
Bibi’s son Yair went on to rub it in, tweeting “To all the liberals who went bananas over this tweet: you are crazy! These leaders are true friends of Israel and the Jewish people. Unlike Jeremy Cornyn, Rashida Tlaib, Linda Sarsour etc that you adore who are actually antisemites and racist!” And followed up downthread with a photo of himself shaking hands with Orban, writing “Take that!”
Rest assured that right wing thugs and genuine antisemites will exploit every vague appearance of antisemitism from the left to gain the upper hand in any relevant dispute, to the point of disingenuously pointing out “tropes” where examples of actual words and actions are sparse. Such is how they made a virtual industry for accusations of antisemitism against US Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnestota, when Omar correctly asserted that the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tilts to the right with a strong talent for fundraising and bad faith lobbying.
Omar emerged with the win in her recent Minnesota primary challenge while the race revealed alot about her argument that AIPAC is “all about the Benjamins.” Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz writes:
“The Somali born lawmaker, who came to America as a child when her family received asylum, is facing a tough challenge from Antone Melton-Meaux, a lawyer who has raised more than half a million dollars from pro-Israeli groups for his Congressional bid. The spending is a direct attempt by organizations and Political Action Committees such as ‘Pro-Israel America,’ ‘Friends of Israel’ and NORPAC (an organization affiliated with AIPAC) to drive Omar out of Washington…. Omar created a political storm in March 2019 during a discussion about Israel, antisemitism and the impact of the pro-Israeli lobby in America. Omar said, ‘I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.’ She was accused by Jewish organizations of antisemitism in response…. Omar and [Michigan Rep. Rashida] Tlaib, who are the two first Muslim women ever elected to Congress, planned to travel to Israel and the occupied West Bank in the summer of 2019, but the Israeli government decided to bar them from entering the country following pressure from President Donald Trump’s White House…. The race is important for groups like AIPAC as part of the broader battle over the Democratic Party’s approach towards Israel. In June of this year, the pro-Israeli lobby lost a major ally when veteran Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, lost to progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman who was supported by Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressive politicians who promote a more critical policy on Israel…. Omar has been endorsed by Sanders and by former Congressman Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s Attorney General, as well as by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi….”
This fight goes back to at least February of 2018 and is not likely to end anytime soon despite the fact that accusations of antisemitism against Omar led by the likes of Forward editor Batya Ungar-Sargon ought to be rendered historically ridiculous in light of AIPAC and its allies pouring half a million dollars — or 5,000 Benjamins — into the Minnesota congressional district to defeat Rep. Omar.
While both Omar and her discontents employ specific examples in support of their perspectives, her right wing opponents are much weaker in their ability to back up their arguments. George Soros and his Open Society Foundation definitely fund organizations and projects with a leftish human rights agenda and AIPAC certainly lobbies for and steers American donors and lawmakers to respective campaigns and policies that favor the revisionist Israeli Likud party over its more liberal rivals, to the point where the likes of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his Justice Minister Yossi Beilin had openly criticized the American lobbying organization. To appreciate the breadth and depth of this collusion, we don’t need to look much further than the overlapping Likud-Republican associations from the likes of Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, who cut his political chops working for Frank Luntz on the Gingrich Revolution’s Contract With America, to the Trump Administration’s US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who chaired American Friends of Beth El fundraising arm for the Jewish West Bank settlement of the same name.
Dark money accusations against Soros commit much more bad faith than those against AIPAC and, as such, better serve propagandistic motivations than legitimate policy arguments as they stray wildly from factual basis. Soros does not, for example, fund Black Lives Matter nor Anti-Fascist Action (Antifa) nor migrant caravans from Central America to the United States border.
It is the lies that launch the conspiracy theories that evince the genuine antisemitism, which comes primarily, if not exclusively, from the right.
Omar said, in a public discussion in March of 2019, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Iowa Representative Steve King back in 2015 told Boston Herald Radio that he didn’t understand “how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second and support Israel along the line of just following their president [Barack Obama].”
Omar continued, that “it’s almost as if every single time we say something, regardless of what it is we say, that it’s supposed to [be] about foreign policy or engagement, that our advocacy about ending oppression, or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity, we get to be labeled in something, and that’s the end of the discussion, because we end up defending that, and nobody gets to have the broader debate of ‘what is happening with Palestine?’”
It should be apparent that Rep. Omar, the one who takes the greater part of accusations of antisemitism in the broader public discourse, is the party trying to have a genuine foreign policy debate. But, in fact, that is not what is happening. Instead, Omar is beaten over the head for alleging “dual loyalties” and “antisemitic tropes,” as “the Left” is routinely presumed guilty of “political correctness” and engaging in a so-called “cancel culture.”
Meanwhile, when the White House Press Corps asked President Trump about Rep. Omar’s observations, he openly argued in favor of American Jewish “dual loyalty” to Israel, saying “I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” And when asked, during the runup to President Obama’s closing of the Iran nuclear deal, why Rep. King believed that many American Jews supported the policy priorities of President Obama, King revealed his expectation of American Jewish loyalties for Israel, answering “I think many of them no longer have ties to Israel,” Buzzfeed reported. “They are secular, they are Democrats by political affiliation and by their nature they are leftist.”
What’s the guy’s name on first base?