Since the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas began, there have been several verbal and physical assaults against Jews across America. A substantial uptick in anti-Semitic rhetoric and attacks has occurred from Los Angeles to New York, and abroad in London and elsewhere. Recent tweets from Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib likely exacerbated and emboldened attacks in the US.
People have been targeting Jews and Jewish neighborhoods with acts of violence and hate in recent weeks. These actions have frequently been accompanied by chants of “free Palestine,” “kill all the Jews,” and the like. Sadly, though these attacks are repugnant and entirely antithetical to a free and open society, they have recently become commonplace in the US, and this brand of hatred and violence has been fueled by “woke” politics.
Such anti-Semitism erupting across the US is rooted in a major development in woke thought that has become familiar over the past year or so: if you are angry enough about a political issue, then you have the right to perpetrate violence against random and innocent citizens—without consequence and with justification. This thinking fueled rioting in cities across the country that resulted in billions of dollars’ worth of looting and destruction, assaults on conservatives, and even an attack on a Republican senator. The latest verbal harassments and physical assaults against Jewish Americans are simply the latest development in woke politics.
Of the congresswomen listed above, both Omar and Tlaib have had brushes with anti-Semitism before. Omar’s anti-Semitism went so far that the House felt the need to vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and racism by representatives not once, but twice. The posts referenced above by these representatives are irresponsible and encourage people to commit acts of hatred and anti-Semitism. This is not a new tactic for these congresswomen. Representative Ocasio-Cortez acted similarly last year in the wake of riots breaking out in cities across the country when she posted a video to social media wherein she assured her followers the unrest would continue until progressive policies were enacted.
From the outset of the 11-day fighting between Israel and Hamas, many rushed to cast judgment on Israel, saying the state practiced “apartheid” and claiming that Israel was trying to commit “ethnic cleansing” against the Palestinians. The latter claim is particularly jarring as it draws a likeness between Nazi Germany and modern-day Jews. This is not merely in poor taste; it’s hateful, devoid of any class whatsoever, and an utterly unnuanced view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unfortunately, the misleading (and outright anti-Semitic) claims that surrounded this conflict from the beginning framed many Americans’ perspectives on the situation and arguably incited—or at the least, emboldened—people to commit the acts of anti-Semitism.
Rather than taking the lead from elected officials and media sources with a track record of anti-Semitism and encouraging violence, all citizens, especially Christians, ought to ensure that they are well-informed and educated on matters like these so as to provide wise and gracious insight to others. A few exceptional resources for understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the culture, and the history of the region include Hope in the Holy Land (a feature-length film that shows both Jewish and Palestinian perspectives of the conflict) and Times of Israel (an online newspaper based in Jerusalem that reports the latest developments in Israel). Providence also has several resources, including by Marc LiVecche, Robert Nicholson, and Paul Miller.
Being better educated on these issues ensures that we see both Jews and Palestinians as what they are—human beings with dignity. That’s precisely how Christians and non-Christians should treat both groups. Get to know these issues, get to know these people, and help end injustice and unrest in the region by cultivating relationships with the people involved, not by trying to tear them down or destroy them, either in America or the Middle East.