Anti-Semitic Attacks Spread in the Toxic Climate of the Trump/Pence Regime
March 8, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Over the last seven weeks, an alarming wave of threats against and attacks on Jewish institutions has been growing in the U.S. In 45 days there were 90 bomb threats, mostly against Jewish community centers, but more recently also at Jewish schools, forcing evacuations while buildings are searched, and spreading a primal fear among Jewish people for themselves and their children.
Often the threat is delivered by a computer-distorted voice on the phone—sounding like Donald Duck but evoking the horror of the Nazi Holocaust during World War 2, when millions of Jewish people were demonized, imprisoned, tortured, and then murdered. Sometimes the voice says something like this: “In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered.”
In addition, there have been numerous incidents in which Nazi swastikas and other racist and anti-Semitic graffiti is scrawled on Jewish institutions or in mainly Jewish communities. And recently there were large-scale desecrations of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Rochester in which hundreds of gravestones were knocked over.
So far, this wave of attacks has not resulted in injuries or deaths (though it should be noted that in recent years there have been attacks on Jewish centers in which people were wounded or killed.) But these attacks on Jewish people have the impact of terrorizing Jewish communities, and emboldening fascist forces who have an actual program of destroying or driving out sections of the people they believe are “impure,” “criminal,” etc.
Trump Refuses to Condemn Anti-Semitism
Trump has gone to great lengths to not speak out against these specific attacks or to oppose anti-Semitism. Even on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27, 2017, when this wave of attacks was underway), Trump’s official statement spoke generically about the Holocaust. He referred to the “horror inflicted on innocent people,” but did not mention the Jews who were the main targets and victims of the Holocaust.
At Trump’s press conference on February 16, a reporter for an online Jewish media group tried to ask Trump what he would do to deal with the threats against Jewish centers. Trump lashed out at him, called the question “repulsive,” said that the reporter had “lied,” told him to “sit down.” And Trump declared himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life.”
Amidst growing outrage at the attacks and Trump’s refusal to condemn them, he did open his speech to a joint session of Congress on February 28, by saying, “Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week's shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.”
With “last week's shooting in Kansas City,” Trump was alluding to the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla near Kansas City. Here Trump—who has incited every kind of racist, xenophobic, misogynist hate—only condemned “hate” and “evil.” He did not condemn the xenophobic white racism expressed by the murderer who shouted “Get out of my country” just before murdering Kuchibhotla. Friends and relatives of the two men have repeatedly denounced Trump for creating an atmosphere that led to this shooting.
Nor would Trump explicitly condemn anti-Semitism by name. It is unlikely that this was a slip-up, given the whole history of Trump not mentioning Jewish people in a Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, and the furor after that. Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress was, by all accounts, carefully scripted and read from a teleprompter, which makes the omission of any mention of anti-Semitism all the more significant.
Anti-Semitism—Part of the Fascist Trump/Pence Package
In coming to grips with why this is happening—and what to do about it—we have to keep coming back to the basic reality that the inauguration of Donald Trump was the coming to power of a fascist regime. As we state in “What Is Fascism,” “Fascism is the exercise of blatant dictatorship by the bourgeois (capitalist-imperialist) class, ruling through reliance on open terror and violence, trampling on what are supposed to be civil and legal rights, wielding the power of the state, and mobilizing organized groups of fanatical thugs, to commit atrocities against masses of people, particularly groups of people identified as ‘enemies,’ ‘undesirables,’ or ‘dangers to society.’”
Historically, anti-Semitism has been deeply woven into fascist ideology, which sees Jewish people as a cosmopolitan elite, unrooted from any nation, attempting to dominate the world through manipulating international finance. And anti-Semitism meshes tightly with the fascist nationalism of Trump’s “chief strategist,” Steve Bannon. (For background, and refutation of, the lies, myths, and prejudice behind anti-Semitism, and whose interests that has served historically, see “Revolution Responds to Question on Nature of Holocaust”).
For the most part this anti-Semitic madness is not expressed openly by regime figures. But it is being put out there, and people are being trained and rallied to this poisonous outlook. One prominent example: right before the election Trump ran a TV ad attacking what it claimed were “those who control the levers of power in Washington….global special interests… [who] partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind.” The ad attacked them for being “responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth….” It featured images of billionaire George Soros, a Jewish hedge fund tycoon; Janet Yellen, the Jewish chairman of the Federal Reserve; and the Jewish CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein.
In addition, the Trump regime has strong ties to a whole cesspool filled with openly anti-Semitic forces. Steve Bannon, has bragged about making his Breitbart News Service “the platform for the alt-right.” The alt-right is a racist, white supremacist, misogynist movement with a strong neo-Nazi core. Richard Spencer, a major figure on the alt-right, celebrated Trump’s election at a rally marked by fawning allusions to Nazi Germany and ending with people giving the “Seig Heil” straight-arm salute and shouting “Heil Trump, Heil Victory.” And Bannon takes “credit” for bringing these Nazis into the mainstream of U.S. politics.
These rising anti-Semitic attacks are another clear sign of the ugly and dangerous direction this regime is taking society—rapidly—and of the urgent need to drive them out before they succeed.
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