Category Archive: Antisemitism

German Court Rules Synagogue Burning Is Merely Anti-Israel Criticism, Not Anti-Semitism

If attacking Europe’s Jews over the purported acts of Middle Eastern Jews isn’t the definition of historical anti-Semitism, what is?

As our intellectual and moral betters on the left have been informing us for the longest time, anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism. So it only stands to reason that when you burn down a synagogue in Germany, you may be doing it solely as an overly enthusiastic expression of disagreement with Israel’s policies.

This was the studious opinion of a court in Wuppertal, a small town in North Rhine-Westphalia. As reported today in the Jerusalem Post, a lower Wuppertal court, hearing the case in 2015, found that three German Palestinians who had torched the local synagogue in July of 2014 did so to draw “attention to the Gaza conflict” and had merely chosen Molotov Cocktails as their form of justified political speech. Last week, Wuppertal’s higher court affirmed the decision, declaring that the attack—that is, the burning of a synagogue approximately 2,700 miles away from the nearest Israeli town—was motivated not by anti-Semitism but simply by a strong but understandable distaste for the actions of some unruly Jews living in the Jewish state.

To most people, attacking European Jews over the alleged acts of completely different Jews in the Middle East is the textbook definition of historical European anti-Semitism. To the court, it was simply a rational if overly rambunctious policy critique. The perpetrators were given suspended sentences.

The last expression of similar anti-Israeli sentiment in Wuppertal occurred in 1938, when Nazis fueled by a passionate distaste for the conduct of Israel—the establishment of which was still ten years in the future—burned down the very same town’s synagogue.


French candidate under fire for Holocaust comparison

Vincent Peillon, running in Socialist Party primaries ahead of elections, said Nazi persecution of Jews similar to situation of French Muslims today

Vincent_Peillon_Mutualité_11102-e1483584907819-635x357French Jews accused a left-wing presidential candidate of encouraging Holocaust denial following his comparison of the Nazi persecution of Jews to the situation of French Muslims today.

Vincent Peillon, who is running in the Socialist Party primaries ahead of the elections this year, made the analogy Tuesday during an interview aired by the France 2 television channel.

Peillon, a former education minister who has Jewish origins, was commenting on a question about France’s strict separation between state and religion, referred to in France as “laicite.”

“If some want to use laicite, as has been done in the past, against certain populations … Forty years ago it was the Jews who put on yellow stars. Today, some of our Muslim countrymen are often portrayed as radical Islamists. It is intolerable.”

In a statement Wednesday, CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, accused Peillon of making “statements that only serve those trying to rewrite history.”

Peillon neither retracted his remark nor apologized in a statement published Wednesday on his website, but said he would wanted to elaborate on what he meant in light of the controversy it provoked and to “refine my view, which may have been misrepresented because of brevity.”

Peillon wrote that he “clearly did not want to say that laicite was the origin of anti-Semitism of Vichy France,” which was the part of the country run by a pro-Nazi collaborationist government. He also wrote that “what the Jews experienced under Vichy should not be banalized in any way” and that he was committed to fighting racism and anti-Semitism.

“I wanted to denounce the strategy of the far right, which always used the words of the French Republic or social issues to turn them against the population. It is doing so today with laicite against the Muslims,” Peillon wrote.

But in its statement condemning Peillon’s remark, CRIF wrote that the history concerning the deportation of more than 75,000 Jews from France to concentration camps and death and the looting of their property, “as well as discriminatory laws such as the one about wearing yellow stars, should not be instrumentalized to create a false equivalence of suffering.”

CRIF “demands a clarification and immediate correction on the part of Vincent Peillon,” it said.

Peillon, a lawmaker in the European Parliament, announced his candidacy in December to succeed President Francois Hollande as party leader and run as its candidate in April. He was appointed education minister in 2012 and served for two years.

In the Socialist primaries, Peillon will face Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who has strong support in the Jewish community. Peillon’s mother, Françoise Blum, is Jewish.

Peillon, who rarely talks about his Jewish roots publicly, signed a petition by the left-wing Jcall group, the European counterpart to J Street, supporting Palestinian statehood.

In 2009, he celebrated the bar mitzvah of his son Elie at a Paris synagogue. He has another son, Isaac. Peillon is married to Nathalie Bensahel, a journalist who has written about France’s anti-Semitism problem.

Peillon opposed the ban last summer on women wearing the burkini, the full-body swimsuit favored by some Muslims, on public beaches. Valls supported the ban, citing what he said was its use by radical Muslims to oppress women.


Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is German bestseller, again

First reprint of Nazi leader’s anti-Semitic manifesto since WWII sells 85,000 copies in year, topping nonfiction list

000_jk1ti-635x357BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — The first reprint of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in Germany since World War II has proved a surprise bestseller, heading for its sixth print run, its publisher said Tuesday.

The Institute of Contemporary History of Munich (IfZ) said around 85,000 copies of the new annotated version of the Nazi leader’s anti-Semitic manifesto had flown off the shelves since its release last January.

The respected institute said that far from promoting far-right ideology, the publication had enriched a debate on the renewed rise of “authoritarian political views” in contemporary Western society.

It had initially planned to print only 4,000 copies but boosted production immediately based on intense demand. The sixth print run will hit bookstores in late January.

The two-volume work had figured on the non-fiction bestseller list in weekly magazine Der Spiegel over much of the last year, and even topped the list for two weeks in April.

The institute also organized a series of presentations and debates around “Mein Kampf” across Germany and in other European cities, which it said allowed it to measure the impact of the new edition.

“It turned out that the fear the publication would promote Hitler’s ideology or even make it socially acceptable and give neo-Nazis a new propaganda platform was totally unfounded,” IfZ director Andreas Wirsching said in a statement.

“To the contrary, the debate about Hitler’s worldview and his approach to propaganda offered a chance to look at the causes and consequences of totalitarian ideologies, at a time in which authoritarian political views and rightwing slogans are gaining ground.”

‘Not reactionaries or radicals’

The institute said the data collected about buyers by regional bookstores showed that they tended to be “customers interested in politics and history as well as educators” and not “reactionaries or rightwing radicals.”

Nevertheless, the IfZ said it would maintain a restrictive policy on international rights. For now, only English and French editions are planned despite strong interest from many countries.

The institute released the annotated version of “Mein Kampf” last January, just days after the copyright of the manifesto expired.

Bavaria was handed the rights to the book in 1945 when the Allies gave it control of the main Nazi publishing house following Hitler’s defeat.

For 70 years, it refused to allow the inflammatory tract to be republished out of respect for victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.

But “Mein Kampf” — which means “My Struggle” — fell into the public domain on January 1 and the institute said it feared a version without critical commentary could hit the market.

Partly autobiographical, “Mein Kampf” outlines Hitler’s ideology that formed the basis for Nazism. He wrote it in 1924 while he was imprisoned in Bavaria for treason after his failed Beer Hall Putsch.

The book set out two ideas that he put into practice as Germany’s leader going into World War II: annexing neighboring countries to gain Lebensraum, or “living space,” for Germans, and his hatred of Jews, which led to the Holocaust.

Some 12.4 million copies were published in Germany and from 1936, the Nazi state gave a copy to all newlyweds as a wedding gift.


Controversial antisemitism bill dies in House

controversial-antisemitism-bill-dies-in-house-620x350(JTA) — The House of Representatives ended this congressional session without taking action on a bill targeting campus anti-semitism, a measure that had been backed by mainstream Jewish groups, criticized by civil libertarians and passed unanimously by the Senate on Dec. 1. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, did not advance the bill through his committee, a congressional staffer told JTA. Congress formally ends its session on Monday afternoon, but the session is pro forma and most members are already back in their districts for a Christmas break. With the end of the session, bills still in committee lapse. The vast majority of bills don’t make it through Congress because of time considerations, although Jewish Insider reported Friday that Goodlatte opposed “rushing” the bill through the House without adequate study. The antisemitism bill’s sponsors likely will reintroduce a version of the bill in 2017, their staffers told JTA.

The bill outlined when criticism of Israel crosses into antisemitism, citing the “three D’s” first advanced by Natan Sharansky, the Israeli politician and former prisoner of the Soviet gulag: demonization, double standards and delegitimization. The act billed itself as a tool “to help identify contemporary manifestations of antisemitism, and includes useful examples of discriminatory anti-Israel conduct that crosses the line into anti-Semitism.”

The Anti-Defamation League, which led lobbying for the legislation, said the bill, should it become law, “addresses a core concern of Jewish and pro-Israel students and parents: When does the expression of antisemitism, anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Zionist beliefs cross the line from First Amendment-protected free expression to unlawful discriminatory conduct?”

Critics of the bill included Michael Macleod-Ball, chief of staff of the American Civil Liberties Union’s legislative office in Washington, who told The Forward that the bill could impinge on the free-speech rights of critics of Israel. The act “opens the door to considering anti-Israel political statements and activities as possible grounds for civil rights investigations,” he said. Kenneth Stern, who as the American Jewish Committee’s former specialist on antisemitism and extremism wrote a similar definition of antisemitism later adopted by the Department of State, told The Forward that the congressional version is “both unconstitutional and unwise.” A number of left-wing and pro-Palestinian groups had criticized the legislation.


Descendant of Holocaust survivors leads assault on Holland’s far right

Dutch Deputy PM Lodewijk Asscher is taking people to task for a glut of hate-speech masquerading as politics

lodewijk-asscher-965x543AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Even in a country where hate speech is the subject of intense political and judicial review, Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher’s Facebook post from February about the phenomenon was unprecedented.

Titled “Disrespectful Dog,” the 735-word essay by Asscher, a descendant of Holocaust survivors who last week became Dutch Labour’s candidate for prime minister, featured a compilation of racist insults used against him on social media. Asscher, 42, explained that anti-Semitic attacks over his Jewish roots were causing him to limit his use of Twitter and Facebook.

The text, a sarcastic open letter to online abusers, stood out in a country where the media typically keep out of the private lives of senior politicians — and where politicians, in turn, rarely speak of their ethnicity or religion. The post made the front pages of leading dailies and earned praise for Asscher. The top political commentator of the RTL television and radio broadcaster, Frits Wester, called the post “brave.”

This outspokenness by Asscher, an eloquent yet down-to-earth statesman who once served as deputy mayor of Amsterdam, was key to his comfortable victory last week in the Labour primaries. He ran on a relatively aggressive platform that promised left-wing voters an unrelenting assault on Holland’s rising far right ahead of the general elections in March.

After thanking his predecessor at Labour’s helm, the first goals that Asscher listed in his victory speech were “the need for unity against right-wing politics” and a “progressive and uniting answer to Wilders.” Geert Wilders heads the far-right Party for Freedom, which has emerged as the country’s most popular party in five major voting polls conducted after November 25.

The success of Wilders — an anti-Islam provocateur who on Friday was convicted of incitement for having promised to “arrange” for Holland to have fewer Moroccans — is part of a surge of popularity for the far-right in Europe amid fears of home-grown jihadist terrorism.

Wilders “rides a wave of fear and uses societal divisions,” Asscher said in his victory speech on Friday. “But the politics of blame can never be the answer.”

Asscher also referenced the rise of populist causes elsewhere, from the British vote in June to leave the European Union to Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

“We have four years of President Trump ahead of us, and in our own country, Geert Wilders is ahead in the polls,” he noted.

To be sure, Asscher’s predecessor, Diederik Samsom, is no fan of Wilders and has spoken out against him. But Samsom’s priorities in the government, where Labour is a junior partner to the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, have been largely economical and too pragmatic for some Labour voters who see him as overly accommodating to the free-market policies of the ruling party.

“Asscher is more value-driven than Samsom, who some critics saw as focusing too heavily on economic growth charts while the far right was surging,” said Ronny Naftaniel, a Dutch Labour member and a prominent member of the country’s Jewish community. “I think his election enriches the Dutch political system and gives progressive voters a voice through which to express their rejection of extremism.”

In an interview for the NOS television and radio broadcaster, Asscher said, “Wilders needs to be confronted in debates, among voters, not in courtrooms.”

It was a criticism of the general strategy of the mainstream Dutch left wing, which some observers accuse of doing too little to block Wilders.

Whereas Labour has focused on the economy, the Dutch left-of-center Socialist Party has been less enthusiastic about defending multicultural values that are seen as controversial for its working-class voter base. With the ruling party reluctant to bleed rightist votes by picking a fight with Wilders, vocal opposition to his policies fell to smaller parties that are seen as elitist, thereby strengthening his image as the enemy of the elite.

While Wilders’ prominence on Asscher’s to-do list is new, Asscher has consistently been quick to denounce other expressions of hate speech — including against Jews and Israel, Naftaniel said. He noted Asscher’s strongly worded reaction in 2014 to a remark by a Labour member and government-employed cybersecurity expert who said that the Islamic State terror group was a Zionist invention to malign Muslims.

“It made me sick to my stomach,” said Asscher, the senior-most politician to comment on the incident.

To Naftaniel, this demonstrated a zero-tolerance attitude in Dutch Labour to left-wing anti-Semitism. And that, Naftaniel added, sets his party apart from its British counterpart under Jeremy Corbyn, who has expressed support for Hamas, Hezbollah and some attempts to boycott Israel.

“Corbyn is a radical,” Naftaniel said of the man whom many British Jews accuse of allowing anti-Israel rhetoric by some party members to morph into open anti-Semitism. “And while Asscher has his [own] values, he is a pragmatist.”

Asscher’s great-grandfather, Abraham, was a leader of the Jewish council set up by the Nazis to control Dutch Jews ahead of their extermination in death camps. He is not the first Labour leader with Jewish roots; former Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen led the party for two years until 2012.

Whereas Cohen has downplayed his Jewish origins — “I have a Jewish name, and that’s about it,” he said in a 2010 interview — Asscher, who has three sons with his non-Jewish wife, “is more at ease or open to talking about his Jewish roots,” Naftaniel said.

This openness was on display in Asscher’s unusual Facebook post from February.

“Many of you possess a keen historical insight,” Asscher wrote sarcastically in that letter, which he addressed to the people who hurl anti-Semitic insults at him online, including those accusing his great-grandfather of collaborating with the Nazis. “You found out that I’m related to Abraham Asscher, who was a chairman of the Jewish council. Chapeau,” he wrote, using a French-language expression for “well done.”

Despite his eloquence, Asscher does not appear to be in an advantageous position to take on Wilders, according to Manfred Gerstenfeld, a former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who has authored several books about the Netherlands.

With anti-immigrant sentiment running high and the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service warning of the “sudden and explosive renewal of Dutch jihadism,” Asscher’s anti-Wilders rhetoric “will likely not change or even address the very real social problems, created by many members of the Muslim minority, that Wilders is pointing out in his populist style,” Gerstenfeld said.

In Dutch politics, the party with the highest number of votes is tasked by the monarch to form a coalition government. The leader of that party usually becomes prime minister.

The scope of Labour’s challenge is visible in recent polls that show Labour trailing Wilders by more than 20 seats, Gerstenfeld said. Asscher’s party is expected to garner approximately 11 seats in Parliament out of 150, compared to the 30 or so seats the polls predict for Wilders’ party.


Does said threefold rise in German antisemitism signal a ‘new era’?

Top European rabbi warns of “new era of antisemitism” amid said rise in German incidents.

showimage-3The world has entered a new era of antisemitism, a top European rabbi warned in response to a report released Tuesday about rising antisemitism in Germany.

Juliane Baer-Henney, a spokeswoman for the German Justice Ministry, confirmed to the Post on the phone Wednesday that antisemitism in Germany has risen threefold in one year – 2,083 cases of attacks on Jews, Jewish property and hate speech against Jews last year, compared with 691 in 2014.

“There is a rejection of mainstream politics, and we need to be aware of the waves of antisemitism sweeping across Europe,” Conference of European Rabbis president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said. “As a society we must take measures to reject antisemitism and ensure that it does not become a new norm.”

Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said: “The recent report published by Süddeutsche Zeitung showing that the number of right-wing extremist offenses has risen is indeed worrying. At the same time, the sensitivity of the population and its willingness to report such incidents have apparently also increased. Moreover, the German government actively supports the fight against hate speech, antisemitism and sedition in social networks and elsewhere. These developments partly explain the rise in the number of offenses. We highly appreciate the civic and government engagement.”

Baer-Henney said the criminal statistics are recorded from the 16 German states based on uniform criteria to measure the criminal acts. The Justice Ministry started to assess antisemitic criminal acts based on a uniform standard for the decentralized system in 2014.

The 16 states prior to 2014 used different criteria to determine criminal antisemitism. When asked how the Justice Ministry defines modern antisemitism, the spokeswoman said she would provide the Post the information by the week’s end.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, top Nazi-hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, does not believe that the reported numbers reflect the true extent of the phenomenon.

“I’m sure there are many incidents that are not reported,” he said, adding that the report is nevertheless cause for serious concern.

“There is no question that the arrival of the millions of immigrants from countries where antisemitism is very rife led to additional problems,” Zuroff said.

The key to effectively tackling the issue of antisemitism, he said, is tied to the extent to which anti-Zionism is identified as a component.

“Invariably, [anti-Zionism] is motivated by antisemitism, and in countries where this is recognized, they understand the nature of the beast,” Zuroff said. He noted that in countries where a link between antisemitism and anti-Zionism is not made, certain incidents are not included in statistics about antisemitic attacks.

“In Germany, in certain quarters, there is an understanding of the link between the two, but there is always a time lapse between understanding something and acting on it, and in some of these countries we are in the time lapse now,” Zuroff said.

Germany is awash in BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) activities targeting the Jewish state. Last week, anti-Israel activists donned inspector uniforms in the city of Bonn and marched into the Galeria Kaufhof department store to isolate “illegal products” from the disputed territories, and ensure Israeli products were labeled correctly based on EU guidelines. Similar anti-Israel actions took place in Frankfurt, Bremen and Berlin.


German organizers of Kristallnacht memorial sought to ban Israeli flag

Students were allowed to wear Palestinian keffiyeh scarfs at the Holocaust event.

showimage-2Organizers from the “Walk of Remembrance” to commemorate the persecution of Jews in the northern German city of Oldenburg attempted on Thursday to ban the Israeli flag from the ceremony.

“I wanted to participate in the march with my Israeli flag as a sign of solidarity with Israel – the state of survivors of the Holocaust. No sooner that I rolled out the flag, a teacher came to me and demanded that I roll back the flag,” Rolf Woltersdorf, a member of the German- Israel Friendship Society (DIG) in Oldenburg, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

The Holocaust remembrance event is a yearly memorial march in remembrance of the deportation of Oldenburg Jews to concentration camps and the destruction of the synagogue in 1938. Pupils from local schools contribute to the content of the event.

Woltersdorf said one organizer “wanted to remove me with physical violence” because of his Israeli flag. He added that some of the marchers supported his solidarity with Israel.

Woltersdorf said as he continued to march, an active member of the DIG urged him to remove the flag.

Cordula Behrens, an educator with the society, draped herself in an Israeli flag. A teacher confronted Behrens and said the flag has nothing to do with the memory of dead Jews.

Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter and the head of its Jerusalem office, told the Post on Thursday: “This is part of a new trend to use the Holocaust to besmirch and delegitimize Israel. The only good Jew is a dead Jew for these people. It is a very dangerous thing because they are ostensibly trying to remember the Holocaust but these are distorted lessons of the Holocaust. It is the ultimate insult.”

Manfred Klöpper, the former head of the German trade union association in the city of Wilhelmshaven and a member of the Left Party, confronted Woltersdorf and Behrens, asking why on this commemoration day the “national symbol” from Israel is displayed. Woltersdorf told Klöpper the Oldenburg Rabbi Alina Treiger is praying right now for the “nation of Israel.” Klöpper responded: “That does not interest me at all.”

Klöpper told the Post on Tuesday: “I asked why the flag was displayed.” When asked if the Israeli flag should be shown, he said “yes.”

Some Oldenburg Jews, including the de Beer family, managed to flee to Israel during the Holocaust.

“That the State of Israel saved many Oldenburg and European Jews from German death sentences apparently did not interest the teachers and the former trade union official,” Woltersdorf said.

The commemoration event organizers allowed the Palestinian keffiyeh (checkered black and white scarf) to be worn. A number of the students sported the keffiyeh, a popular scarf among Germans over the decades.

The Oldenburg public school IGS Flötenteich is engulfed in an antisemitism scandal because the public school teacher, Christoph Glanz, who participated in the march, advocates a total boycott of the Jewish state.

Glanz accused Israel of “crimes against humanity” and “ethnic cleansing.” He also said Israel is engaged in genocidal activities and “Israel’s government is a racist freak show.”

On Tuesday, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician Karin Bertholdes-Sandrock filed a questionnaire about Glanz’s anti-Israel activities.

She asked the administration of Governor Stephan Weil what resulted from the state’s investigation of Glanz.

Bertholdes-Sandrock further asked if the government shares the view of the Green Party MP Volker Beck that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is antisemitic. She questioned what actions the state government plans to take in response to Glanz’s activities.

School authorities launched an inquiry into Glanz for alleged misconduct and antisemitism.

His critics accuse him of glorifying Palestinian violence on his Facebook page, belittling the Holocaust, and calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Anna Anding, a spokeswoman for the CDU, told the Post that the state government will respond by November 25 to Bertholdes- Sandrock’s questions.

Woltersdorf slammed Glanz’s participation in the commemoration event because he campaigns to “defame and demonize Israel as an ‘apartheid state,’ which he wants to abolish, and this is apparently acceptable.”

Dr. Elvira Grözinger, a member of the German branch of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, told the Post: “Mr. Glanz seems to be fond of dead Jews more than if the living ones as he refers to the victims of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, he follows the pattern of those Germans who prefer to see the Israelis as perpetrators, thus relativizing the German atrocities toward the Jews.” Post emails to the “Walk of Remembrance” were not returned.


Comment: ‘Everyone I hate is Hitler’- Dangerous politicization of antisemitism

An NYPD report on November 6 showed there were 103 antisemitic incidents so far in 2016 compared to 125 for all of 2015 – so basically no change.

AUS administration run by the “alt-right neo-Nazi movement,” claims a commentator online. The chief strategist is an American Goebbels. One meme reads: “First they came for the Muslims and we said ‘not this time mother –’” signed by someone named April Daniels. A cartoon by Eli Valley shows Pepe the frog (a symbol of the far Right) speaking with Sheldon Adelson, saying, “So it’s agreed we exterminate the Jews here and you can exterminate the Palestinian there.” To which the Adelson character says, “Sign me up.” Liana Fincke drew a cartoon showing a devil wearing a swastika saying “vote for me I’m pro-Israel” and another man saying “duh… okay.” A journalist posted a “template for how to respond” if approached by Trump with a letter from 1962 from Bertrand Russell to British fascist Oswald Mosley.

“Trump has shattered Jews’ American idyll,” claimed Chemi Shalev. “American Jews have transformed virtually overnight from insiders to outsiders. If worse comes to worst, they’ll always have Israel.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s national director claimed that the US “has not seen this level of antisemitism in mainstream political and public discourse since the 1930s.” One more piece of evidence.

The Associated Press tells us “American Jews alarmed by surge in antisemitism.”

But the actual statistics on hate crimes are more vague.

An NYPD report on November 6 showed there were 103 antisemitic incidents so far in 2016 compared to 125 for all of 2015 – so basically no change. According to the FBI there were 664 anti-Jewish incidents in 2015 (there were 257 against Muslims and 1,700 against African-Americans). That’s an increase from 609 in 2014. Back in 1996 there were 1,109.

An ADL blog claimed a “rash of vandalism and swastikas reported following election day.” The same ADL asserted that “antisemitic assaults rise dramatically across the country in 2015.” Actual numbers showed a 3% increase from 2014; 941 incidents versus 912. Rather than a dramatic rise, New York showed a decrease in incidents, from 231 to 198. But “antisemitism decreases” is not a headline. “Worst antisemitism since 1930s” is.

There is no doubt people are alarmed in America. An article in Fortune noted that over 800 journalists had reported antisemitism on Twitter related to this election.

Part of the reason people are alarmed is because of the hundreds, probably thousands of articles about the “surge” and “spike” in antisemitism since the US election – none of which actually showed any data about the supposed increase and most of which relied on data from before the election or from 2015 (one report claimed “US hate crimes against Muslims surge 67 percent,” but the data all related to a surge in 2015, not 2016). “Trump’s election triggers old nightmares for Holocaust survivors in America,” wrote Marisa Fox-Bevilacqua at Haaretz. They’ve been triggered because of a wave of hysteria and psychosis that has pushed fearmongering to extraordinary levels. Probably never in history have so many people written so much about so little antisemitism.

How did we get here? For years those crying “antisemitism” tended to be associated with pro-Israel Jewish voices.

Ruth Wisse at Tablet wrote in May 2015 that “antisemitism on American college campuses is rising and worsening.”

She quoted a Louis D. Brandeis Center survey showing “more than half of Jewish American college students personally experienced or witnessed antisemitism.” However almost all the examples in the article related to anti-Israel events. “Every year, some 200 campuses now host a multiday hate-Jews fest, its malignancy encapsulated in its title: ‘Israel Apartheid Week.’” Antisemitism was “spiking” and “skyrocketing” on campus, newspapers told us. The Observer claimed one report showed 287 antisemitic incidents by June 2016 compared to 198 in 2015. “Campus events denying the right of Israel to exist – which nearly tripled,” was a major component.

There were also other incidents of non-Israel related antisemitism such as Oberlin College’s former assistant- professor Joy Karega posting on social media stories claiming the Rothschilds control the world. As recently as November 2 the Zionist Organization of America was speaking out about antisemitism on campus.

In a sense it was the Jewish Right that dominated and owned the “antisemitism rising” brand. In the 1980s the extremist rabbi Meir Kahane even used to talk about a “second Holocaust” in America. But the election in 2016 changed all that. Suddenly people on the Left began to worry that what they called “alt-right white supremacy” was connected to the Donald Trump campaign. In September The Daily Beast published “Alt-Right leaders: We aren’t racist, we just hate Jews.” Combined with the antisemitic attacks on journalist Julia Ioffe in April after her profile of Melania Trump, the Left began to take back the “antisemitism is a threat” story.

Piecing together a few quotes from articles at Breitbart, one of which was written by David Horowitz (who is Jewish), many writers connected the dots to dangerous antisemitism circulating around the campaign. When Trump won the election Samuel Freedman called it the “revenge of white supremacy” and Bradley Burston claimed it was a “historic victory for antisemitism.” The target of these writers was often Stephen Bannon and his association with Breitbart. “What’s more, unlike Trump, Bannon does not appear to be merely manipulating these people for political gain. He really hates us,” wrote Eric Alterman. There was actually scant evidence of Bannon’s antisemitism, as Alan Dershowitz has pointed out, but if you tell a story long enough it appears to be true.

So what is really going on? Many voices on the Left have used antisemitism as a tool against the Trump administration, exaggerating the levels of antisemitism and the extent of it. They disregard evidence that Trump grew up around Jews and indeed that his family is intermarried with Jews, and they disregard that Bannon even created an Israeli-run version of his website. Unfortunately, just as the Right exaggerated rising campus antisemitism, misinterpreting every anti-Israel act as pernicious (accusing Jewish groups who are anti-Zionist of being antisemitic), the Left exaggerates every hint of racism on the right as antisemitic, when in reality much of the racism is directed at other communities. Of course the racism is vile, but it should be confronted as racism, not “antisemitism.”

The two abuses of antisemitism have agendas. On the Right the exaggeration of increased antisemitism on campus was related to a campaign to defend Israel. Antisemitism was hijacked as a way to color all anti-Israel views as antisemitic and the very real dangers of real antisemitism was ignored to achieve the larger pro-Israel goal. The boycott movement, apartheid week, Palestinian flags – it’s all “antisemitism.”

The Left’s voices against antisemitism also have an Israel- centric narrative to them, that seeks to tar pro-Israel groups as not only whitewashing antisemitism but being tied to Trump to discredit them. “Trump lends hope to Israel’s right,” The New York Times claimed. “Trump emboldens Israel’s far right,” wrote Saeb Erakat. America’s “most powerful Jewish organizations” have “kept quiet during the most bigoted presidential campaign in history,” wrote Peter Beinart.

They even perform the trick of pulling an antisemitic rabbit out of a Zionist hat. “Strange but true that many ardent Zionists view Western antisemitism as good,” wrote journalist Dan Murphy on Twitter. “How Bannon and Brietbart can be pro-Israel and antisemitic at the same time,” headlined The Forward. In the article Todd Gitlin at Columbia University claimed that “the coexistence of antisemitism and right-wing Zionism ‘in Trump’s world make sense.’” A new narrative is forming to claim that Zionism is actually a form of antisemitism. This fulfills a kind of fantasy on parts the Left whereby being pro-Israel will now be seen as a component of being antisemitic, which will mean that the reality of radical-left antisemitism will forever be inured from claims it is antisemitic.

“Israeli Right works with antisemites” is that goal many anti-Zionists have always had in mind since the 1920s when they suggested that Zionism was a form of antisemitism because it called into question the place of Diaspora Jewry. The strange intersection of this election has allowed this fringe view to take center stage.

Rarely in history has antisemitism been so politicized, so untethered from real acts of antisemitism. Can we escape the train wreck that is about to happen, where some elements of the Left tar Zionism as antisemitism and the Right stays mired in its over-use of claims of antisemitism? In the recent documentary The Last Laugh, co-writers Ferne Pearlstein and Robert Edwards looked at comedians making fun of the Holocaust. In the film many comedians, such as Sarah Silverman, make fun of the genocide, calling it “alleged Holocaust” in one scene. She’s mocking antisemites, but what happens when antisemites think it’s funny? There is also “Holocaust fatigue,” says Edwards. “When it gets to the point where people roll their eyes and it has no effect anymore, then you have a real problem.” Have we watered it down too much? In the 2013 Pew Survey, “remembering the Holocaust” was the most important aspect of Jewish identity for 73 percent of American Jews. Antisemitism is a major portion of identity. But we’ve also educated generations to see more antisemitism than there is, to mock the Holocaust while at the same time seeing a new Holocaust as just around the corner as media claims we live in the 1930s.

Claiming “antisemitism” is easy, but that’s precisely why it should be done sparingly.

Too much crying wolf over antisemitism has harmed its meaning. It is also leading to shocking levels of people believing they are just years away from being sent to concentration camps. An honest discussion should be had on the Left and Right of American Jewry to stop exaggerating and work to confront real incidents of antisemitism and not waste time inventing bogeymen and fearmongering.