Opinion writer

The Anti-Defamation League reports:

Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. surged more than one-third in 2016 and have jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to new data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, ADL reports that there has been a massive increase in the amount of harassment of American Jews, particularly since November, and a doubling in the amount of anti-Semitic bullying and vandalism at non-denominational K-12 grade schools. . . .

The 2016 presidential election and the heightened political atmosphere played a role in the increase. There were 34 incidents linked to the election. For example, in Denver, graffiti posted in May 2016 said “Kill the Jews, Vote Trump.” In November, a St. Petersburg, Fla., man was accosted by someone who told him “Trump is going to finish what Hitler started.”

Jews are not alone however. White nationalist incidents are up across the board:

These incidents need to be seen in the context of a general resurgence of white supremacist activity in the United States,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL Center on Extremism. “Extremists and anti-Semites feel emboldened and are using technology in new ways to spread their hatred and to impact the Jewish community on and off line.” Incidents in 2016 and Q1 2017 included network printer hacks and the use of source-masking technology to make it easier to harass Jews anonymously. “The majority of anti-Semitic incidents are not carried out by organized extremists, as the bomb threats in 2017 demonstrate. Anti-Semitism is not the sole domain of any one group, and needs to be challenged wherever and whenever it arises.”

The United States, unfortunately, is following Europe in this regard, which has been undergoing a massive resurgence in anti-Semitism for several years.

President Trump’s apologists say he isn’t anti-Semitic, has a Jewish daughter and just this weekend gave an impassioned speech via video to the World Jewish Congress in recognition of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. That’s not the point. We would not claim Trump is anti-Semitic, but he has done far, far too little to combat it. Issuing his International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement in the United States, he omitted Jews, an unfathomable error that gives comfort to Holocaust deniers.

He has gladly accepted the support of the alt-right and hired Stephen K. Bannon, whose former outlet, Breitbart, claims to be home of the alt-right and has pandered to anti-Semites. A statement condemning anti-Semitic threats to Jewish entities had to be dragged out of Trump.


Rabbi Joshua Bolton surveys damaged headstones at Mount Carmel Cemetery in February in Philadelphia. (Jacqueline Larma/Associated Press)

Just last week, Trump put his weight behind the candidacy of Marine La Pen, whose assertions regarding the Holocaust created a storm of controversy and whose National Front Party has sparked an increase in anti-Semitism in France. For any other president this would be unthinkable.

Trump continues to employ Sebastian Gorka, despite mounds of evidence of his association with fascist, anti-Semitic groups. Democratic House members have sent a letter to Trump urging him to fire Gorka:

Mr. Gorka has ties to former prominent members of the anti-Semitic Jobbik party in Hungary. An aspiring politician himself, Mr. Gorka and two influential members of the Jobbik party founded the New Democratic Coalition, a Hungarian party referred to by watchdog organizations as blatantly racist and anti-Semitic. Compounding this troubling history is the recent revelation of Mr. Gorka’s public support for the Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda), a militia created by the Jobbik party. The Hungarian Guard was well known for its anti-Semitism, at times referring to Jews as “Zionist rats” and “locusts,” and calling Hungarian Jews “nation-destroyers.” This vile paramilitary group was sued and ultimately disbanded by Hungarian authorities after it was determined that the group threatened the human rights of minorities. When asked in a broadcast interview if he supported the move to establish this militia, Mr. Gorka responded: “That is so,” and then proceeded to explain that the group filled “a big societal need.” Mr. Gorka has also written pieces for a far-right, anti-Semitic Hungarian publication Magyar Demokrata, whose editor-in-chief was one of the Guard’s founding members.

In sum, Trump, either because of his natural affinity for right-wing nationalist groups (that invariably peddle in anti-Semitism) or because of willful ignorance (he’s shown no interest in learning much of anything about anything). has given aid and comfort to anti-Semites. That has real-world consequences.