White House plan to fight antisemitism takes on centuries of hatred in America

(The Conversation via AP) – As reported anti-Semitic incidents in the US in 2022 reached an all-time highThe White House began developing a plan to counter this hatred, declaring in an official statement, “Anti-Semitism has no place in America.”

US National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism, Free on May 25, 2023, based on conversations with more than a thousand stakeholders, including myself, a scholar of American Jewish history. The plan outlines more than 100 steps for federal agencies to take in the coming year and calls on Congress, state and local governments and the private sector to get involved. Recognizing that history matters, those steps include raising awareness of antisemitism in the present and past, and expanding knowledge of Jewish heritage in America.

There are two sides to that legacy. Its bright side honors the achievements of American Jews and their many contributions to this country. Its darker side has a long history of antisemitism from colonial days to the present day.

Governors, Generals and Members of Congress

During a recent celebration marking Jewish American Heritage Month at the White House, Jewish achievements were on display. Michelle Diamond and Ben Platt, stars of the Broadway revival of the musical “Parade,” performed. that these actors, the show’s book writer, Alfred Uhry, and its composer, Jason Robert Brown, are all Jewish for the presence and contribution of Jews in American theater, the arts, and beyond.

Yet “The Parade” tells the story of a horrific episode in the history of American antisemitism.

US President Joe Biden speaks during a celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in Washington. (AP/Manuel Bales Seneta)

In 1913, Leo Frank, manager of an Atlanta pencil factory and a Jew, was accused of murdering one of his teenage workers. Frank maintains his innocence and the trial becomes a national media circus.

A crowd gathered outside the courtroom. Frank’s lawyer told the court, if Frank had not been Jewish, he would never have been prosecuted.

Even as the trial judge questions Frank’s guilt, the jury convicts him, and Frank is sentenced to death by hanging. Two years later, when the governor of Georgia commuted that sentence to life imprisonment, a gang of vigilantes kidnapped Frank from prison without a shot being fired and beat him to death.

Leo Frank. (Public domain/Wikipedia)

Antisemitism came to America 250 years before the murder of Leo Frank. In September 1654, after 23 Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in colonial Brazil landed in Manhattan, the colony’s governor, Peter Stuyvesant, tried to drive out this “traitorous race” of “blasphemers” and “enemies”.

he failed.

Yet during the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant expelled Jews from his military district, the District of Tennessee, which stretched from the southern tip of Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico, an order opposed by President Abraham Lincoln.

In the 1940s, Rep. John Rankin, a Democrat from Mississippi, railed against Jews from the House floor, claiming that Jews “have been trying to destroy Christianity for 1,900 years, and everything that is based on Christian principles.” is based.”

They had already “almost destroyed Europe”, Rankin said, and were now doing the same to America.

Being Jewish is a ‘bad luck’

Powerful voices in the private sector joined governors, generals, and members of Congress in spreading antisemitism.

In May 1920, The Dearborn Independent, a newspaper owned by automobile tycoon Henry Ford, carried the headline “The International Jew: The World’s Problem”. For the next 91 weeks, the weekly ran a series of articles decrying Jewish power and the dangerous influence of Jews on American life.

The paper’s circulation grew as copies were distributed to every Ford dealership and sent to every member of Congress.

German diplomats award Henry Ford, center, Nazi Germany’s highest decoration to foreigners, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, for his service to the Third Reich in Detroit, July 30, 1938. Karl Kapp, the German consul in Cleveland, holds the medal while Fritz Heiler, left, of the German consul in Detroit, shakes his hand. (AP Photo/File)

News of Ford’s anti-Semitism even reached Adolf Hitler, who in March 1923, in the early days of the Nazi Party, told a Chicago reporter how much he admired Ford’s anti-Semitic policies. If he could, Hitler said, he would send some of his so-called “Shock Troops” to America to support Ford.

Encounters with antisemitism, and not just from public figures, creep into the memories of American Jews. My book “America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today” sheds light on some of them. In the 1880s, a Philadelphia writer regretfully recalled a teacher saying: “It is your misfortune, not your fault, that you are a Jew.”


इस सितंबर 8, 1945 की फाइल फोटो में, न्यूयॉर्क की बेस मायरसन, अटलांटिक सिटी में वार्षिक मिस अमेरिका पेजेंट में मिस अमेरिका 1945 का ताज पहनने के बाद राजदंड धारण करती हैं, एनजे मायर्सन, पहली यहूदी मिस अमेरिका जिसने 1945 की शानदार जीत की सराहना की। राष्ट्रीय हस्ती में, 14 दिसंबर, 2014 को सांता मोनिका, कैलिफ़ोर्निया में अपने घर पर निधन हो गया। वह 90 वर्ष की थीं। (फोटो क्रेडिट: एपी)

मायर्सन ने अपने वर्ष का कुछ हिस्सा असामाजिकता के खिलाफ बोलते हुए अपना ताज पहनाया। इस बीच, लौटने वाले अमेरिकी जीआई जिन्होंने एकाग्रता शिविरों को मुक्त कर दिया था, उन्होंने अपनी आँखों से देखा था कि असामाजिकता कहाँ तक ले जा सकती है।

व्हाइट हाउस जिस असामाजिकता से आज लड़ने की उम्मीद करता है, वह इस इतिहास और बहुत कुछ पर आधारित है।

व्हाइट हाउस की योजना अक्टूबर 2018 में पिट्सबर्ग सिनेगॉग में 11 उपासकों की हत्या, अमेरिकी यहूदियों के खिलाफ सबसे घातक घृणा अपराध के आरोपी व्यक्ति का मुकदमा चल रहा है।

पामेला एस नडेल, अमेरिकी विश्वविद्यालय