When President Donald Trump suggested last month that the reported rise in antisemitism might have been due to hoaxes, the media were outraged.
When Trump rejected — angrily — the premise of a question posed by a (sympathetic) Jewish reporter who asked Trump what he was going to do about antisemitism, that was treated as evidence of his guilt. And when he condemned antisemitism, it was not enough for Democrats, who are still alleging that he is to blame.
Last week’s arrest of a Jewish teenager in Israel, with dual citizenship in the U.S., proved that much of the antisemitic outbreak was, in fact, fake news.
Though there has been a surge in anti-Jewish rhetoric and imagery online, and there has been some vandalism at synagogues and cemeteries, the bomb threats that caused the media sensation were not carried out by white supremacist Trump supporters, but an African-American left-wing journalist and the Israeli teen.
Indeed, it is now impossible to know whether the few real incidents of antisemitism were part of a surge, or part of the low level of “background” antisemitism that persists, sadly, even in the U.S., the most tolerant country in the world.
Evelyn Gordon of Commentary magazine — a publication founded by the American Jewish Committee, with a strong interest in Jewish affairs — adds an additional dimension to the story, noting that the teenage culprit was primarily interested in media coverage of the threats.
Where the media ignored the bomb threats, he gave up and moved on to other areas; where the media reported them, he launched threats against similar targets to amplify the public outrage.
Gordon notes that the politically-motivated reactions of left-leaning Jewish institutions and the mainstream media made the outbreak worse:
For most of the last two years–during which he threatened targets like shopping malls and airlines, as well as Jewish institutions in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and America–his threats produced little media coverage, so he didn’t repeat them. But after Trump’s election, he suddenly hit pay dirt. Threats against U.S. Jewish institutions fit right into the American Jewish community’s loudly proclaimed narrative that the election had empowered right-wing anti-Semites, epitomized by Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt’s ludicrous assertion that U.S. anti-Semitism was now at a level unseen since 1930s Germany. Moreover, such threats fit right into the broader left-wing narrative that Trump’s election had empowered white supremacists, racists and other right-wing hate groups.
Consequently, whereas anti-Semitic acts received little media coverage during President Barack Obama’s tenure, they suddenly began receiving massive media attention following Trump’s election–not just in America, but worldwide.
Gordon concludes: “The anti-Trump hysteria actually encouraged the very attacks it was meant to combat.” And she makes one additional, crucial point — namely, that the threats began under President Barack Obama, but it was President Trump who took them seriously enough to investigate them, and to stop them:
The Israeli police sources told Haaretz that even though the bomb threats had gone on for two years and several different countries were involved in the investigation, until recently, capturing the perpetrator wasn’t considered high priority. What changed that, they said, was Donald Trump.
A few weeks ago, he ordered the FBI to make nailing the suspect high priority. …
In short, for all the criticism he justly earned for his belated and reluctant condemnations of anti-Semitism, Trump took action to stop it in a way his predecessor never did–a point to remember for anyone who believes that actions speak louder than words.
It is unclear whether the teenager had a political motive. Regardless, Trump has been vindicated. He is owed several apologies — and, more than that, he deserves to be commended.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.