Biden nominee to fight antisemitism abroad says attacks here are forcing Jews to go ‘underground’



In contrast, it was truly heartening to see Muslim faith leaders stand up and support the Jewish community in Colleyville and beyond in response to this attack. Likewise, Abdullah Antepli, a Duke University professor and Muslim leader called on his co-religionists to do more to fight antisemitism: “We have every right to be pro-Palestinian; American Muslims have to make this a pillar of our faith life, but increasingly, this is becoming a zero-sum game, and subtly veiled antisemitism is creeping, hiding behind being pro-Palestine—and we have to stop this denial. Pay attention to the last 10 to 15 years.” Jews and Muslims need to stand together against hate that both groups face.

But right now I’m focused on antisemitism. And so is Professor Deborah Lipstadt. President Joe Biden recently nominated her to serve in a newly enhanced State Department position: special envoy to monitor and combat anti-semitism. She is a world-renowned scholar and the dorot professor of modern Jewish history and holocaust studies in the Tam Institute for Jewish studies and the Department of Religion at Emory University in Atlanta.

Unfortunately, her nomination has been held up because Republicans don’t like that she called out Sen. Ron Johnson for language she characterized as “white supremacy/nationalism. Pure and simple.” So Republicans won’t let her serve her country and fight antisemitic hate because she condemned one of their own for spewing hate. Grand old party indeed.

Lipstadt offered her thoughts in the wake of the Colleyville synagogue attack, and summed up what Jews are feeling in a New York Times opinion piece titled Why It’s Scary to Be Jewish in America Today:

It is not just the large synagogues that fear for security. I hear from students that they think twice about going to Hillel services, the campus Jewish chaplaincy. Some out of fear for physical safety. Some out of worry about the slings and barbs that might come from other students in the dorm. I met parents whose child had been accepted to a very selective college. He wears a kipa and was struggling with whether to replace it for the next four years with a baseball cap. Increasingly I hear: Jews are contemplating going underground.

We are shaken. We are not OK. But we will bounce back. We are resilient because we cannot afford not to be. That resiliency is part of the Jewish DNA. Without it, we would have disappeared centuries ago. We refuse to go away. But we are exhausted.[…]

We are standing tall and we are standing straight. But we are checking for the exits.

Everyone in America, from white Christians to Muslims to African Americans and more, must work hard to combat antisemitic hate when they see it. Thankfully, many already are, but the continued barrage of assaults, vandalism, and violence makes clear that more work is needed. American Jews are asking our allies of every background to stand with us in the fight to protect our people and our community.


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