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Has US Antisemitism Reached 1930’s Germany Yet?

The thing about being a Jew, watching out for antisemitism, as we’ve all been conditioned to do, is that if you get too worried too early, you may be pronounced crazy. And if you get too worried too late, you may be pronounced dead.

I recently saw a tweet that said that if you think Jews are neurotic, it’s because we’re all descended from folks, who a couple hundred years ago said, “Not liking the vibe here, let’s get on a boat.” That’s partially true.

Some of us are descended from folks who didn’t realize quite how bad the vibe was and consequently became sole survivors of decimated families.

But Jews are too privileged, too powerful they say…

I don’t need to tell you that public antisemitic discourse has risen to historic levels in the last few weeks. There was a 145% increase in antisemitic hate crimes in NY from November 2021 to November 2022. Put differently, a Jew was attacked every 16 hours last month.

I do need to tell you that the quantity of Jew-hating comments we are seeing on our social platforms in the last few weeks is multitudes higher than what we’ve seen in 15 years of having an online presence called “Jew in the City.”

I do need to tell you that there are not one, not two, not three, not four, but five movies that recently came out on major streaming outlets like Netflix and Prime which paint Jews as thieves of black identity, controllers of the slave trade, Nazi-like baby-killers, or extremist religious folks who hate women and education. Some of these films are nothing short of blood libels.

I’m not saying the names of these films and shows in order to not attract more attention to them. But two of these productions are currently trending on Netflix. One is in the top ten shows being watched on Netflix right now.

This is the long way of asking if we have reached 1930’s Germany yet.

Because 1920 Germany had historical inflation after a – um – world-wide flu pandemic that shut everything down. Then came the stock market crash and Great Depression. By 1933, Jews began to become socially ostracized in Germany. And to be honest, with the way antisemitism, from literally every angle, is being openly spoken about by celebrities, accusing us of the most horrific and outlandish things, we seem to be well on our way.

1933 Germany also had boycotts on Jewish stores. And while the story is never exactly the same, as BDS – boycott divestment and sanctions of Israel grows – we seem to have the boycotting of Jews checkbox marked off.

1930’s Germany also included the removal of Jews in schools and professional positions. Now, in the bad old days, it was because Jews were a gross sub-human race (I’m looking at you, Whoopi Goldberg). Nowadays, Jews are being downsized in places like Harvard and Penn, and the rest of the Ivys for a GOOD reason. As Dave Chapelle told the world, Jews have got too much power, and it would be an outright mitzvah to try to do something about that Jewish problem in schools and places of work.

I know – call me crazy. We’re not there yet. I know, I know.

I haven’t wanted to watch ANY of the shows or films on these streaming services, because it’s too painful to see how the world is seeing us, knowing we can’t do anything about it. (FREE SPEECH!)

I recently watched an interview of a Holocaust survivor called “From Citizens to Outcasts,” who spoke about how Germany changed in the 1930’s. The Jewish community was at the top of society one day, and then boom, everything changed. She said that they had anti-Jewish signs around. And they were upsetting. So she’d just look away. And it seemed like if she didn’t see the sign, then no one saw it. But she said that wasn’t true. Everyone saw it.

Millions of people are watching these films and shows, even if we don’t. They are “learning” horrific things about us.

So what do we do? And why does the cycle keep repeating in every generation?

Jewish tradition says that hatred of the Jew will be the way of the world while we are in exile. The Talmud teaches:

“What is [the reason for the name] Har Sinai (Mt Sinai)? That hatred descended to the idolaters on it.” (Shabbat 89a) Our sages noticed that “Sinai” sounds like “sinah” (hatred) and understood that in accepting the Torah, we would become hated (without reason) in the world throughout time.

But our tradition also says that the way out of exile is to unite with one another and lean deeper and harder into our heritage. When Jews unite, deepening our commitment to our traditions, like in times of Chanukah and Purim, our nation has merited to see miracles.

We’ll keep fighting the good fight with our Hollywood Bureau and online advocacy. We’d be so grateful for your support in our annual campaign happening right now, so we can do even more of the great work we do.

We may be approaching 1930’s Germany once more, but we need not have the same ending this time. If we channel this growing fear into greater Jewish unity and greater Jewish pride, perhaps one day we can tell our children about the way world wide Jewry came together to end the scourge of antisemitism.

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13 comments

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  • Avatar photo Josef Flaschner says on December 7, 2022

    Bds is not having a real effect on the Israeli economy like that of Nazi boycotts

    Reply
    • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on December 7, 2022

      Thank God not yet. Still has the same features.

      Reply
      • Avatar photo Harold Steinblatt says on December 9, 2022

        Not every dangerous wave of anti-Semitism has to be declared similar to Nazism, although I guess if you feel a serious catastrophe is imminent, you may as well overstate the threat to wake people up. Trump is not Hitler, because unlike Hitler, Trump has no political agenda other than himself. Hitler had written Mein Kampf more than a decade before he assumed power; the Nazis weren’t the only party that espoused anti-Semitism in Germany. The country is not nearly suffering the economic chaos that was Germany in the ‘20s. Most importantly, the history of anti-Semitism in the US, including that of the ‘30s, doesn’t come remotely close to that of Germany – you know them all, the Crusades, expulsions, burnings, etc. The anti-Semite who coined the term anti-Semite was a German. The national composer – his music was all about German glory – was Wagner, himself a pathological anti-Semite.

        Reply
    • Avatar photo Zerach says on December 8, 2022

      Great article except for the conclusion. The only hopeful solution is to pack your bags and return home to Eretz Yisrael! Here we have a Divine promise. Please do not ignore the signs and make plans while it is still relatively easy and doable.

      Reply
      • Avatar photo Nancy Perkins says on December 8, 2022

        Re: Moving to Eretz Yisroel. That solution is sadly not realistic for certain people. I personally cannot wait to visit Israel again, but at this point do not have plans to make Aliyah.

        Reply
  • Avatar photo Judith says on December 7, 2022

    Where can we find the interview with the Holocaust survivor? I too am always scanning the horizon for signs that things have truly turned for the worse. In fact, maybe it’s because the catastrophe occurs in such a slow motion that we don’t all see it until we’re in the middle of it.

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Aaron says on December 7, 2022

    Here’s part of the problem. Instead of standing up for our legal rights in this country the way other minorities do, we keep conditioning ourselves – in the name our our tradition – into anticipating a recurrence of “1930’s Germany”. This sort of cursed-nation mentality is not befitting Creator’s Chosen nation. And it doesn’t in any way contribute to our survival. Why in the world would an unaffiliated (or perhaps even an affiliated) Jew want to have anything to do with a tradition that effectively legitimizes antisemitism? Enough is enough. No, I’m not disputing the tradition itself, or the notion of working on our unity as a way to end the exile. I’m just saying that, aside from all that, we’ve got to do our part to stand up for our rights, safety and dignity. I know, that what you as JITC are doing. But there’s no basis to anticipate the “1930’s Germany” in the present-day America.

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Michal Gruen says on December 8, 2022

    Great article, but you’re missing one significant point…. in 1930s Germany the one thing that the Jews could do was to get out except that many had nowhere to go and saw the signs too late. After the holocaust G-d performed open miracles in the establishment of the state of Israel. So now we do have a place to go, and when America starts looking like 1930s Germany it’s time for the Jews to come home. We picked up our family with seven children and left the idyllic Monsey, NY life and moved to Israel because we saw the signs post pandemic, we are waiting for the rest of our Jewish brothers and sisters…. come join us before it’s too late!

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Luftmentsch says on December 8, 2022

    I can be alarmist about antisemitism, but this is too much. There were probably good points buried in here, but there is a lot of nonsense too.

    Hyper-inflation in Weimar Germany wasn’t caused by Spanish Flu, it was caused by the German government printing loads of money to pay off war reparations. And to compare contemporary inflation with Weimar hyperinflation is ridiculous. In Weimar Germany at the height of hyper-inflation, goods were re-priced in shops every hour to keep up with inflation. People would go shopping in the morning because they knew they would not be able to afford to do so in the evening. People’s entire life savings evaporated overnight. Nothing remotely like that is happening in America today.

    Similarly, as bad as BDS is, it’s conducted by individuals and trade unions, and it’s ridiculous to compare it to the government-sponsored boycott of Jews in Nazi Germany. Nor are antisemitic paramilitary groups roaming US cities at will, beating up who they like as they did in Weimar Germany.

    There is also nothing like the widely-accepted belief in Weimar Germany that the Jews were responsible for Germany’s defeat in World War I, not least because there is no comparable national trauma in recent American history. Nor to the historic antisemitism that had existed in German society for decades.

    And to imply thatMy Unorthodox Life is somehow on a par with the work of Joseph Goebbels gives Julia Haart far too much credit (seriously, most people don’t think about Julia Haart as much as this website thinks they do).

    I would suggest reading Richard J. Evans The Coming of the Third Reich to learn what 1920s and early 1930s Germany really looked like and Future Tense by Rabbi Lord Sacks z”tzl for the dangers of assuming that the whole world is out to get us.

    Reply
    • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on December 11, 2022

      The point wasn’t to say it’s all exactly the same, it’s to say that there are similar patterns. The most concerning films out right now are painting Jews as baby-killing Nazis. Julia Haart’s hot fakes aren’t helpful but are child’s play in comparison.

      Reply
  • Avatar photo Elana Spiro says on December 11, 2022

    Yes, we are there already. Duh. But we have Israel. Everyone should be here. let this be not pre-Holocaust but pre-Moshiach, so everybody just get over here. I just made aliyah two months ago. The fears of a Target-and Costco-free living experience should be outweighed by the fears of the real and present danger of just being a Jew in the US. It’s hard to accept because we grew up so relaxed about being Jewish. It’s very hard to believe that this is realy going on, but, the sooner we accept it and realize we have a viable option than to just continue remaining there in fear, the better! It’s awesome to live in Israel and to feel the security of G-d’s protection, and the special feelling of being part of a holy, no-apology nation that has infrastructure to defend the Jewish people if necessary, G-d forbid.

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Mike says on December 12, 2022

    “Our tradition also says that the way out of exile is to unite with one another and lean deeper and harder into our heritage.” Words well taken! Our sages gave us the solution. Nothing else will help. Just the opposite, alternative “solutions” only serve to aggravate the situation. Thank you for enlightening us and directing us on the right path!

    Reply

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