By Rolene Marks
One of the world’s most famous human rights icons and uber-Zionist, Natan Sharansky, theorised that you can measure anti-Semitism through what he calls “the 3-d lens”. It is not a fabulous accessory for your eyes but rather a logical checklist to measure anti-Semitism.
The 3-d’s identified by Sharansky are – Demonization, Double-standards and De-legitimization.
The world seems to be suffering from an age-old disease for which there seems to be no cure – anti-Semitism. Often lying dormant until it can manifest in whatever trendy guise is part of the current zeitgeist, anti-Semitism has currently reared its ugly head as hatred against the Jewish state, Israel. The 3-d lens has helped define this ugly phenomenon a lot more clearly. It seems that lately that you cannot open a newspaper or scroll through your social media news feed without mention of an anti-Semitic incident somewhere in the world. The ominous site of the Nazi swastika is now common on university campuses across the USA and other parts of the world with its appalling message – Jews not welcome!
Recently, Jews around the world commemorated 80 years since the horrific events of Kristallnacht on the 9th of November 1938. Kristallnacht is a brutal reminder that the Holocaust did not start with gas chambers and Auschwitz. It started with words.
Many believed that after the atrocities of the Holocaust were made public, anti-Semitism would have ended. Today it is manifesting in new forms. In the past, anti-Semitism has revealed itself “traditionally” in ugly caricatures and stereotypes, the desecration of cemeteries and places of worship and discrimination against Jews. I remember a time in my life when sports clubs and organisations where what we called “JNA” – Jews not Allowed.
Today it is different – and no less malignant.
It has become a gross and dangerous global phenomenon – France reported a 69% growth in anti-Semitic attacks in 2018 and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has issued her own caution against growing levels, and in the United Kingdom, concern that it has been given a tailwind by Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn has given rise to yet another manifestation – that of political anti-Semitism.
It is often said that when the world is in a time of chaos the first scapegoats to bear the brunt of peoples’ frustration and anger are the Jews. Images of the new ‘yellow vest’ phenomena in France with their virulent indictment against what they see as wealthy Jews responsible for their misfortune does not happen in a vacuum. It happens when we fail to examine anti-Semitism through the 3D lens.
It is not specific to the European continent either. This cancer is prevalent in the USA as well.
The horrific events in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh where 11 people, with an average age of 73, were slaughtered during Shabbat prayers simply because they were Jewish, has exposed startling levels of anti-Semitism in the United States. Their killer clearly stated on more than one occasion that “All Jews must die”. This horrific attack has been termed the worst anti-Semitic incident in US Jewish history.
Anti-Semitism is spreading its tentacles in a variety of forms. It is present in the far-right to far-left, from the lowest of the low KKK member to the upper echelons of the political establishment. It is also present in a new trend called Intersectionality – which can basically be defined as all suffering or oppression is linked. In other words, if you feel discriminated against as a woman or for your sexual orientation, you could immediately identify with oppressed Palestinians. Context and nuance be damned! This is impacting on the Jewish community as the message is simple – all are equal, all are welcome, except Zionists.
In a world where women’s rights and gender equality is growing in the collective global consciousness, spurred on by movements like the Women’s March, one would think that these seemingly progressive organizations would embrace diversity. And they do. Except if you are a Jewish woman who identifies as Zionist!
This is where intersectionality is finding a support base. The leaders of the Women’s March have come under increasing criticism for their support of arch anti-Semite, nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan meets all 3 of the d’s in Sharansky’s lens. He demonises – having referred to Jews as “termites” or “satanic” and “have infected the whole world with poison and deceit.” He questions Israel’s legitimacy (de-legitimization) by calling or the destruction of the Jewish state. At the end of a talk to students at the University of Tehran law school, Farrakhan led the chanting of the common Iranian refrains “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” and was joined by members of the audience. Farrakhan also displays an appalling double standard when it comes to racism. An “advocate” for racism, he employs the grossest vitriol against Jews – “The Jews have been so bad at politics they lost half their population in the Holocaust. They thought they could trust in Hitler, and they helped him get the Third Reich on the road.”
This is a man that Tamika Mallory, one the leaders of the Woman’s march declared “GOAT- Greatest of all time” and that her colleagues Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour proudly align themselves with. What could have been a revolutionary movement for women, has descended into a cesspit of hatred and discrimination that is resulting in chapter after chapter cancelling their solidarity marches because of accusations of Anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism has found fertile ground on the African continent as well. Once the economic powerhouse of the continent, South Africa and in particular its ruling ANC (African National Congress) party, have created an environment that is allowing the seeds of hatred to firmly take route. The ANC have cemented their relationship with international terror organization, Hamas. The irony of it all is that the Charters of these two organisations could not be more different but yet they have found common ground, signing a Memorandum of Agreement to increase co-operation and entrench their mutual solidarity against the State of Israel. Apart from the absurdity of this alliance, this has a knock-on effect and is evident in the increased vitriol on social media, support for BDS and amongst populist groups like Black Land First and the EFF (Economic Freedom Front). It is deeply worrying that the Rainbow Nation is forgetting the lessons of its past and descending into a cesspit of intolerance – especially since the rest of the continent is opening up to and warming ties with Israel.
Whenever the world seems to be in chaos, Jews are blamed for this and today anti-Semitism is embarking on a dangerous world tour. It can no longer be viewed as solely a Jewish issue or a left- or right-wing phenomenon. Eighty years after Kristallnacht, we are reminded that the Holocaust started with words and not gas chambers and if we treat all forms of racism as equal, then we all need to start looking at anti-Semitism through Sharansky’s 3-d lens.
It is often said that Jews are the proverbial canaries in a coalmine and that what starts with the Jews does not end with the Jews. In times of turbulence, Jews are often the first scapegoat but very rarely the last.
For anyone who deigns to deny that anti-Semitism is a growing international problem, perhaps they need to borrow Sharansky’s 3D glasses.