A discussion that was guaranteed to upset my grandmother was the question, “Could it happen in America?”
“America is a great country. It took us in when no one wanted us. It could never happen here.”
And with that the discussion would end.
Hagai Merom, former Labor MK, and treasurer of the Jewish Agency and WZO just published a report ahead of Yom Hashoa.
In the past 2 years, approximately 1/3 of all reported anti-Semitic attacks occurred in the United States. In 2008, it was 130 out of 343, and in 2009 it was 120 out of 440.
These statistics can be argued in many different ways. After all, the US has the second largest Jewish population in the world, so this number isn’t so large compared to similar volume of attacks in the UK or Europe. And the absolute number dropped in relation to the rising world number.
There’s also the question of what Merom has actually counted as anti-Semitic attacks, as the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism at TAU indicates very different, and far more worrisome numbers – and this is what they do for a living.
In their more detailed report and analysis, it is clear that anti-Semitism is rising, rising rapidly, and rising high.
To begin with, SRI reports 1,129 major violent anti-Semitic attack worldwide in 2009 – up from 559 in 2008. And these are just major attacks, not general incidents. But of those only 116 were in the US. While the UK leads with a whopping 374.
Surprisingly, polite Canada, with not such a large Jewish population, actually tops the US in anti-Jewish violence. (Now that’s scary. I though those guys were nice.)
But unlike Merom’s report, SRI data indicates that major anti-Semitic attacks in the US rose (not dropped) in 2009 to 116 from 98 (and in Canada to 138 from just 13 the year before!).
So now I return to my original question that would upset my grandmother so much.
Could it happen in America?
To begin with, it seems clear that the trend these past few years worldwide is that it could happen again if we aren’t watching – and if the State of Israel didn’t exist.
We’re talking about a 7-fold increase in major anti-Semitic attacks in the space of 10 years, and 14-fold increase in the space of 20 years. In the last year alone it doubled.
That a lot.
Surprisingly, the ADL reports that anti-Semitic attitudes (not acts) in the US are at an all-time low (in the general population).
The ADL also says that general anti-Semitism (major + minor incidents) in the US dropped between 2007 (1460 incidents reported) and 2008 (1352). They haven’t yet released 2009 data.
The problem here is the disconnect in the correlation between anti-Semitic attitudes (down) and acts of major violent anti-Semitism (up).
It appears to me that small groups (Muslims, ISMer types, etc.) are responsible for the increasing attacks and feel freer about using more violent measures. They feel more emboldened for a number of reasons.
Looking at other ADL reports, it is clear that while the ADL does do incident breakdowns, they seem to generalize and lump all incidents together in their final analysis - regardless of severity - while the SRI reports primarily uses only violent or more serious incidents as their measuring stick.
It might be difficult to say who is objectively right here in analyzing the data and deciding what is most important yardstick to use, but subjectively I don’t think there is any question at all.
Once merely needs to ask Jewish students (or Michael Oren) on campus, if they think that the problem is worse.
And all the reports do agree, there is no denying that on an individual level, the attacks are more violent, more virulent, more open, and more aggressive than in previous years – and no indication of that stopping anytime soon.
Does this mean eventually Concentration Camps, or just a Kristallnacht?
I am honestly afraid to say yes. It is hard to imagine these things happening in America – but I am sure the Jews in Germany said the same thing.
Yet, think about it, how far off is America from a Kristallnacht variant?
Do anyone really have difficulty imaging such a thing happening around Berkeley, for instance, particularly after the Muslim students get themselves all riled up? Or in New Jersey?
Berkeley protest from ZombieTime
And now you’re probably saying to yourself, Joe’s made the point that has ruined his argument. It’s not America that is increasingly acting anti-Semitic; it’s the Islamists in America and the academics in America.
That may very well be, just like it’s the Islamists in Europe that are changing the face of Europe.
It may never be able to happen in the America as we remember it, but it might be that it could very well happen in the America that it is turning into.
The only difference between now and the anti-Semitic violence of the 1930’s is that now we have a State of Israel to help defend us and provide guaranteed refuge.
I honestly can’t answer the question if it could happen in America. I would certainly hope that it couldn’t and wouldn’t. I would love to say absolutely not. But the raw data is clearly worrisome enough that the question is no longer just hypothetical.
It is certainly a question that must be asked and discussed if we want to try to make sure it won’t happen in America, and to at least be prepared for the possibility that it could.
Cross-posted on JoeSettler
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