Anti-Semitism is a politics of misdirected blame. Today its most frequent target is the state of Israel.

By Ruth Wisse

In the wake of the shooting in Pittsburgh, a volley of voices called for more of this or that—armed guards or gun control, barring the doors of synagogues, policing of fringe web platforms or resources for mental health. While President Trump denounced the shooting as “an evil anti-Semitic attack” and visited the grieving community, a sector of the media blamed the president for the incident, as it does for everything else. It was politics as usual.

But instead of prompting a serious inquiry into the ideology that fuels the murder of Jews, the atrocity seems to be reinforcing a misconception that can only worsen the problem. Anti-Semitism is not synonymous with Hitlerism—the only form of anti-Semitism that has gone down in military defeat. Anti-Semitism is a politics of misdirected blame, and Americans must be sure to avoid its trap.

The shooter is being cast as a neo-Nazi threat. Under the caption “A Day of Broken Glass,” a cartoon in the Pittsburgh Current shows broken windows on the Tree of Life synagogue, linking this attack to Germany’s Kristallnacht of Nov. 9, 1938, which signaled Nazism’s open season on the Jews of Europe. Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett made the same association in conveying Israel’s sympathy to the Pittsburgh community.

What could be worse than the specter of Nazism here in America? In fact, it is politically comforting to cast Robert Bowers in this light. Unlike in Germany, where the attacks on Jews were launched by the Führer, our head of government ordered the full press of law enforcement to prosecute the sole gunman. Unlike in Germany, where the SS directed and fomented the attacks on Jews, here four policemen were shot trying to save the Jews. Moreover, the American people are united in horror at this atrocity. If Mr. Bowers represents anti-Semitism, the response to his attack tells us we have relatively little to fear.

Mr. Bowers’s shooting—complete with his scream that “all Jews must die”—conveniently fits the stereotype of “evil” that Americans and the Jews among them constructed in the wake of the Holocaust. It seems to ratify our fantasy of the enemy as Darth Vader—blackhearted, ostentatiously murderous and cruel.

The country that lost more than 400,000 servicemen fighting Hitler is not likely to support attacks on synagogues full of Jews. But anti-Jewish politics in America is now bolder than in the 1930s. Never coterminous with Nazism, anti-Semitism becomes truly dangerous to a society only when espoused by its leaders and politicians. Today, the political forces of anti-Semitism most often target Jews through their state.

It was eerie to hear the prime minister of Israel and members of its government, who routinely respond to Pittsburgh-like attacks on Israeli citizens, consoling American Jews for their losses. Jews in Israel are threatened daily by Hamas and Hezbollah on two of their borders and by Palestinian Arabs taught and paid to do so by their leaders and coreligionists. Stabbing, blowing up or throwing rocks at Jews is the sport of youngsters raised to hate Jews, and destroying Jewish property with burning projectiles was this summer’s chief entertainment of boys in Gaza—from which Israel extracted every last Jew in 2005.

This Jew-hatred dates from the year Germany surrendered in World War II when anti-Semitism became the dominant ideology of the Arab and Muslim Middle East. Just as Europeans organized politics against the Jewish “usurper” among them, the Arab League sought to expel the Jewish people—their fellow Semites. And just as European anti-Semitism united left and right, revolutionaries and traditionalists, internationalists and nationalists, populists and elites, so too anti-Zionism unified otherwise adversarial Arab and Muslim countries.

Assailing Israel deflected blame for domestic flaws in Arab societies. It still does. It redirects grievances against the Jews, inspiring national and religious fervor through opposition to a common enemy. The Jews, a small minority whose power is hugely inflated, are a perennial target, though they have no incentive for counteraggression and every reason to seek acceptance in their usual position among much larger surrounding nations. The typical reaction of the Jews of Pittsburgh was not to call for the death penalty but to reveal that Jewish doctors had treated the shooter. The Jews of Israel imprison but do not execute those who slaughter their women and children. Mr. Bowers has rightly been called a coward for attacking the innocent; so are those who attack Israel.

The most discouraging feature of the anti-Israel brand of anti-Semitism is its penetration of Western societies, including the U.S. That a single shooter wants to kill the Jews is less dangerous to this country than Louis Farrakhan’s smiling designation of Jews as “termites,” broadcast to a vast audience, or the vicious movement to boycott Israel—an extension of the Arab boycott launched in 1945. The incursion of fanatical anti-Israel politics into the American campus and the Democratic Party is a threat not to the Jews alone but to what they represent in a liberal democracy.

Even as we try to comfort the mourners and suggest better security measures, we must stop the scourge before a full-fledged anti-Semitic politics emerges in America under the unifying banner of “intersectionality.” Anti-Semitism is the only ideology that can unite the far left and far right. Its success would signify America’s failure.

Ms. Wisse, a senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund, is author of “Jews and Power” (Schocken, 2007).

(This article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal. November 1, 2018)



  1. The only comment that I will make on this apologia for the Jews, is that: has it ever crossed your mind that the machinations and actions of reckless Jews serve to provoke so-called “anti-Semitism”?


    1. I don’t consider this article an apologia for the Jews. I would like to know in more detail what you mean by “the machinations and actions of reckless Jews serve to provoke so-called “anti-Semitism” Please provide an example of machinations and actions of reckless Jews that serve to provoke anti-Semitism. And, you called it “so-called anti-Semitism.” Does that mean you don’t think it is really anti-Semitism?


      1. Okay, here is my response to your questions. We will not go into the power, through its many PACs and other organizations, of the pro-Israeli lobby in the US. But, we will point out that American foreign policy in the Middle East and in North Africa does not serve US interests, but rather the interests of a foreign state, Israel. The Mideast wars waged by US armed forces do not benefit the US.

        Let’s stay on the topic of disproportionate Jewish influence in society. Jews make up about 2 1/2 percent of the US population but dominate many fields. Through their ownership, they control the US media and entertainment corporations and many large book publishing houses. Fully one third of the sitting Supreme Court justices are Jews (and they are no friend to those on the “right”. Jewish pressure groups seek to control the narrative on any major societal issue (ADL. SPLC, AIPAC, etc.) Basically, the Jews to a very large extent control the culture in America.

        As to so-called anti-Semitism, we all know that anyone who dares to criticize Jews or Israel gets smeared as being “anti-Semitic”. But, why should any group be above legitimate criticism? The tag of anti-Semitism is used to stifle and silence criticism of Jews. And, let us not overlook the phenomena of the “self-hating” Jew, a Jewish person who dares to criticize the actions of other Jews. He/she gets labelled as being self-hating.

        Your blog is called bear to the right. The right and left in the US are just two cliques both of which are controlled by the Jews. Do you want the the Trotskyite neocon Zionist clique to rule over us? Then vote Republican. If you prefer the Marxist-Leninist clique, vote for the Democrats.

        The sad fact is that Jews have been at the forefront and behind the scenes of almost every destructive revolution (social, political, economic) in the Western world in the past 2 centuries. As to the schemes and the machinations of the Jews. you can check out the blogs of Ron Unz and Gilad Atzmon. As well, you can read the extensively researched works of Herve Ryssen, and Prof Kevin MacDonald, and especially Michael Hoffman (Hoffman’s books are now being censored on Amazon, but, there are plenty of blog posts giving us his words and main theses and incisive analysis).

        Let us not here go into the very vile passages in the Talmud, the governing book of modern Judaism. But, we would like to call to your attention the bifurcated set of ethical principles found in that book. It is wrong for Jews to lie to, steal from, kill, rape, enslave, etc. other Jews, but such actions are not forbidden if Jews do these to non-Jews (the goyim).

        Lastly, many Christians today in the US suffer from the religious error of Christian Zionism whereby they nearly worship the Jews. Christian Zionism is anti-thetical to authentic Christianity.

        Do the research and then, after careful reflection, come to your own informed conclusions.


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