As the media had conniption fits all day Monday about President Trump’s apparently bigoted Tweets about liberal Democratic representatives, the Department of Justice was focusing necessary attention on the growth of another horrid form of bigotry, namely anti-Semitism.

Good. The problem is worrisome, and the history behind it is monstrous.

The event in question was the department’s Summit on Combatting Anti-Semitism. Attorney General William Barr gave an excellent keynote address.

Set aside the mistake he made in saying that anti-Semitism is a “form of racism.” (Jews consider themselves “a people” in addition to adherents of a religion, but not as a “race.”) Barr’s call to arms was otherwise on target. There is, he noted, “a marked increase in reported instances of anti-Semitic hate crimes. … Anti-Semitic violence is especially pernicious because it targets both Jewish ethnic identity and religious practice.”

Recalling the millennia of mistreatment, national expulsions, and pogroms against Jews, Barr cited, as continuations of those evils, the shootings in the past year at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue and California’s Chabad of Poway. He said, though, that what should not go unnoticed is the increasing number of other anti-Semitic acts, perhaps not as bloody but still meant to terrorize, that have been occurring in the United States.

Vandalism at synagogues, desecration of Jewish cemeteries, harassment of Jewish businesses, zoning standards used maliciously to keep Jews out of certain neighborhoods, and of course repeated bias against Jews on college campuses: All these, and more, are happening with statistically greater frequency.

“A body politic,” Barr said, “must have an immune system that resists anti-Semitism and other forums of hatred.” (Did he mean “forms of hatred,” perhaps?)

“My concern today,” he continued, “is that under the banner of identity politics, some political factions are seeking to obtain power by dividing Americans. …

[The full July 16 column is here.]


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