After the FBI charged an Israeli-American dual citizen with making more than 100 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and civic organizations, conservative Jewish writers are saying that their left-wing colleagues owe President Donald Trump an apology.
While admitting that anti-Semitic attitudes do exist on the far right, conservative writer Jonathan Tobin is arguing that left-leaning Jewish groups have been so traumatized by the rise of Trump that they haven’t paid enough attention to denouncing hatred of Jews that originates on the left. As a result, they have made combating anti-Semitism a partisan issue, he asserted.
“For all of his obvious flaws, Trump is clearly well disposed to both Jews and Israel.” Tobin wrote in an essay for National Review. “Yet Jewish liberals were too invested in their opposition to him to understand that by linking him to anti-Semitism they were making a colossal strategic error. Making anti-Semitism a political football, instead of a cause that unites both parties and their leaders, was a dangerous game that has now blown up in their faces.”
Joel Pollack, a senior editor at Breitbart News who also is Jewish, charged liberal Jews with damaging the cause of fighting anti-Semitism by using it for political gain.
“Those of us who have tried to raise the alarm about anti-Semitism, especially on college campuses — much of which is left-wing, and linked to anti-Israel activism — may now struggle to be heard, while perpetrators will use today’s hoaxes to hide tomorrow’s crimes,” he wrote.
Some liberals have accused Breitbart News of enabling anti-Semites by welcoming them, thanks to the efforts of Steve Bannon, who ran the site, and fired columnist Milo Yiannopoulis. Breitbart’s top executives, several of whom are Jewish, including CEO Larry Solov, have denied those charges.
Prior to the arrest of Michael Kaydar, a Jewish 19-year-old who lives in Israel, the left-leaning Anti-Defamation League had repeatedly pressed Trump to take “concrete steps” to address anti-Semitism.
“His well-documented reluctance to address rising anti-Semitism helped to create an environment in which extremists felt emboldened,” the ADL’s chief executive, Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in February.
Since Kaydar was taken into custody, the group has spoken out about the arrest but has not mentioned Trump.
The ADL noted, correctly, that despite the investigation into Kaydar’s alleged conduct, no arrests had been made in several other cases: “Even though it appears that the main culprit behind the majority of these attacks has allegedly been identified, anti-Semitism in the U.S. remains a very serious concern. No arrests have been made in three cemetery desecrations or a series of other anti-Semitic incidents involving swastika graffiti and hate fliers. [Jewish community centers] and other institutions should not relax security measures or become less vigilant.”
Others reacting to the Kaydar arrest cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
“I don’t know if it would be better if we found out if it was a right-wing white supremacist, neo-Nazi or follower of ISIS,” anti-Semitism scholar Deborah Lipstadt told the Religion News Service. “The antics of one sick, malicious young man should not be used to make a case one way or the other.”
Thus far, American and Israeli law enforcement officials have not released any details about Kaydar’s alleged motivations. His attorney has said that he suffers from a brain tumor that affects his behavior.