America’s Silence in the Face of Anti-Semitism is Evil
©2019 CLIFFORD C. NICHOLS, ESQ.
Last Thursday, authorities disclosed that, included among items found in the Florida home of a man named Walter Stolper, 73, there were three mugs: one bearing an oath to Hitler; another with a Hitler Santa; and — were that not enough —yet another with a smiling Nazi holding a young girl.
And in rooms beyond his cozy kitchen, the police also found a knife bearing a Nazi emblem, an SS flag, a framed Nazi eagle logo, and — perhaps to provide Mr. Stolper some light bedtime reading — a copy of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”
This was the chachka seized pursuant to his arrest last year for attempted murder.
Allegedly, a security videotape recorded him pouring gallons of gasoline down the trash chute of his Miami Beach condo in order to — in his words — “burn down the building with all the f***ing Jews.”
Yet, were this unvarnished display of hatred not sad enough, sadder still is the reality that, in the America of today, it would appear Mr. Stolper is not alone in the way he thinks. Note the following open displays of anti-Semitism that have occurred elsewhere just since his arrest:
October 2018 — The murder of eleven Jews in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue by a man whose social media bio included the statement "Jews are the children of Satan”;
October 2018 — The beating of an elderly Jew in Brooklyn on his way to a synagogue by a man who stopped his car, ran over and began viciously attacking him while yelling “Allah”;
November 2018 — The attempted murder of a group of identifiable Orthodox Jews standing in front of their Shul in Los Angeles by a man who, after driving past them, made an abrupt U-turn and began screaming anti-Semitic slurs as he then tried to run them over; and
December 2018 — The doctor in Ohio who was fired by the Cleveland Clinic where she worked for boasting on her social media of her plan to kill Jews by giving them the wrong medications.
And all this is before you get to the anti-Semitic revelations of people like Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour and her friend Louis Farrakhan, who only recently reaffirmed his long-standing hatred of Jews before an approving crowd in Detroit with his now infamous proclamation: “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.”
To be sure, many in America have rightly condemned these people and their anti-Semitism for the evil it is. The questions that linger, however, are whether such instances of hate are merely deviant aberrations occurring within an otherwise healthy society? Or are they in reality only symptoms of an even more viral and potentially lethal form of such evil presently metastasizing in the inner core of America’s culture?
Alarmingly, it would seem the latter is the case, as it appears that our society is allowing a strain of anti-Semitism to become normalized by those in leadership who are willfully choosing to either overlook or, in some instances, even embrace the evil it presents.
For example, in addition to the coverage given to Mr. Stolper’s Nazi paraphernalia last Thursday, consider two other items that — with no lack of irony — also made the news that same day.
During one segment on CNN, freshman Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar was being asked to explain her Tweet in which she had asked: "Allah to help the world see how ‘evil’ the actions of the nation of Israel are.”
Remarkably, at the same time this was occurring, it was also being reported on CNN and elsewhere that, earlier that same day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had bestowed upon Ms. Omar the honor of being appointed to the coveted House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Among other things, and beyond her tweets to Allah, Omar apparently also openly supports a movement known as BDS — boycott, divestment, and sanctions — which is little more than a thinly-veiled strain of anti-Semitism that singles out America's strongest and most reliable ally — the Jewish state of Israel — for economic isolation and condemnation. And now, thanks to Ms. Pelosi, Omar is soon to be on the very Congressional committee charged with helping to determine the fate of that alliance.
Perhaps what should be even more alarming, however, is the fact that Ms. Omar — like Mr. Stolper — is not alone in the way she thinks.
Twitter allows the BDS movement’s anti-Semitism to be propagated by “@BDS Coalition.” AirBNB has curtailed its operations in “Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.” And, despite is its acknowledged anti-Semitic roots, BDS is also spreading rapidly within the confines of the hallowed halls of America’s universities
Just last October, in a Los Angeles Times editorial attempting to justify why the Students for Justice in Palestine conference promoting BDS would be allowed by his office to go on at UCLA, even UCLA’s Chancellor Gene Block could not avoid acknowledging that his decision had been made notwithstanding the fact that even UCLA’s “Principles Against Intolerance,” adopted in 2016, “warn about the dangers of anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism, in which criticism of Israel morphs into hostility against Jewish people.”
That acknowledgment alone should then be enough to cause us all to wonder whether Ms. Pelosi also knew of this reality when she appointed a supporter of BDS to the Foreign Affairs Committee? And if so, did Ms. Pelosi willfully choose to overlook Ms. Omar’s anti-Semitism, or — worse yet — even tacitly embrace it?
Moreover, these very same questions should also justifiably be asked of all the people in Minnesota who chose to vote for Ms. Omar and elect her to Congress in the first place.
And … also asked of the university authorities and students at UCLA and beyond who are in any way engaging the BDS movement.
All of these people are either overlooking or embracing a badly disguised form of anti-Semitism that is wrongfully being given the dignity of debate by virtue of its deceitful packaging — the lie that anti-Zionism is somehow not anti-Semitic.
And … as to the rest of us … if we don’t ask these questions, will we not also be guilty of that for which we are accusing them?
At the end of the day, both the cause and the cure for anti-Semitism elicits complex and confounding questions that many great minds have failed to satisfactorily answer through the ages.
Surfacing in almost all cultures at one time or another down through the centuries, anti-Semitism is not solely a product of any single ideology, religion, political party or, for that matter, any nationality or even part of the world.
The only thing we are left knowing for sure is that it is evil, and as such, in any society in which it manifests, it serves as a reasonably accurate barometer of the rise or decline of evil in that culture. And so, even though a cure for anti-Semitism may remain elusive, it clearly puts before each of us, as individuals, a clear choice.
Will we remain silent or will we be willing to take a stand and publicly condemn anti-Semitism for the evil that it is in whatever form it may reveal itself?
Before being murdered by the Nazi’s for taking such a stand on this very point, Dietrich Bonhoeffer had this to say:
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
After all, Mr. Stolper wanting to mass murder his Jewish neighbors is evil. So isn’t it also evil to knowingly allow a prejudiced public official to being given a seat on an American foreign policy committee so that they can direct it in ways they hope could ultimately result in the killing of millions of Jews?
If not the citizens of Minnesota, perhaps this is a question we should all be asking Ms. Pelosi.