Anti-Semitism is on the Rise—Condemn It | News, Sports, Jobs

In his 1933 novel “The Oppermanns” Lion Feuchtwanger did what all great writers do: he captured the specific to reveal the universal.

The book represents a double tragedy, fictional and real, as the author is strangely prescient in his description of a Jewish family in Germany. It’s a tough read because we know what’s going to happen in the world beyond fiction. A nation will succumb to hatred and millions will perish as a result.

The Oppermanns can be seen, in retrospect, as a warning, a siren alerting the country – and the world – to the evil within them. Some listened, but many others did not. The death camps emerged, and the victims multiplied: men, women and children, their bodies piled up in the fields in front of Auschwitz and Belzec and Treblinka and…

America is not Nazi Germany, and a second Holocaust is not imminent. But the rhetoric of 2022 bears a chilling resemblance to the rhetoric of 1934. Despicable words lead to despicable deeds. Anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise and must be condemned at every turn.

We have heard despicable words recently. When celebrities utter these comments, it adds poison to an already toxic environment. It corrodes our national spirit, legitimizing in the spirit certain attitudes that have no legitimacy in a just and benevolent society.

Kanye West, the rapper who calls himself Ye, may be a gifted artist, but talent is no shield against the malignity that can rot a person’s soul. Ye, who sported a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt at a recent fashion show, tweeted that he would go “death idiot 3” about the Jewish people — a nasty comment that sparked a rally in which white supremacists hung a banner on a freeway overpass in Los Angeles: “Kanye is right about the Jews.”

Unlike Germany’s response of 1933, the reaction here was swift, fair and decisive, especially among the business community. The companies associated with West – Adidas, Balenciaga, CAA and MRC – let him go, although we’d say it took too long. West claimed to have lost $2 billion in one day.

“We cannot support any content that amplifies its platform,” CAA and RCN leaders wrote in a joint memo.

Before West unleashed his tirade against Jews, former President Donald Trump said American Jews “better pull yourself together” a comment that critics decried as condescending and anti-Semitic.

“No president has done more for Israel than me,” Trump, who has a daughter who converted to Judaism and Jewish grandchildren, posted on his media platform, Truth Social. “Surprisingly enough, however, our wonderful evangelicals appreciate this much more than people of the Jewish faith, especially those who live in the United States”

In another incident, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving promoted “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America”, an anti-Semitic film based on the book of the same title.

“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have zero tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech,” the team tweeted.

Each incident occurred against the backdrop of rising anti-Semitism. The Anti-Defamation League reported 2,717 anti-Semitic incidents in 2021, three years after 11 people died at a Pittsburgh synagogue; this figure represents a 34% increase over the previous year.

“Jews were beaten and brutalized in broad daylight, say, in the middle of Times Square or Los Angeles or the Strip in Las Vegas, where people who simply identified as Jews were assaulted and attacked,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told PBS. “It was new.”

When anti-Semitic incidents occur, the whole community must react forcefully.

In a 1933 review of “The Oppermanns” the New York Times said it was targeting both Germany and “the outside world”.

“It’s…carrying the message, ‘Wake up! The barbarians are upon us!’”

Almost 90 years later, Joshua Cohen expressed a similar sentiment in The New York Times.

“His example (of Feuchtwanger) shows that art can challenge power, so to speak, ‘powerfully’, and yet have no political effect”, he wrote.

Anti-Semitism does not germinate from a single seed; it is sown and nurtured across communities and across nations.

Yes, 2022 is not 1933. But the real tragedy of “The Oppermanns” is that it may be as relevant today as it was then.

— San Antonio Express News

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