Antisemitism in America, a worrying year

It has been an mixed year for Jews in America, a majority of whom were deeply uncomfortable with the result of the presidential election.

December 29, 2016 12:22

During the presidential campaign, the Anti-Defamation League reported a surge in antisemitic tweets targeting Jewish journalists. More than two thirds of the comments were made by Twitter users who used the terms “Trump”, “nationalist”, “conservative” and “white” to identify themselves.

After an campaign that galvanised antisemitic groups across America, president-elect Donald Trump also came up with what was for many a perturbing choice for his ambassador to Israel: his pro-settler lawyer David Friedman.

Jewish groups across the US raged against Mr Trump’s decision to favour a man with no diplomatic experience, who once called those involved in liberal pro-Israel lobby J Street “Kapos”, has questioned the need for a two-state solution and rejects the international consensus that settlements in the territories are illegal.

Meanwhile, according to a 2016 report from the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic attacks on American campuses nearly doubled. Ninety incidents were reported on 60 campuses in 2015, as opposed to 47 incidents on 45 campuses the year before. Overall, the 941 antisemitic incidents reported in the US mark a three per cent increase on the previous year’s figures.

New York got a controversial Israeli Consul-General after Brazil refused to confirm Dani Dayan, the former head of the Yesha Council of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and one of the most prominent advocates of the settler movement. Eventually he was given the job at the New York consulate.

There were also important shifts on the centre and left of the US political spectrum. For the past five years, Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a strong supporter of Israel, headed the Democratic National Committee, one of the most influential positions in American politics.

Leaked documents indicated that, during the election campaign, party officials were actively supporting Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, the first Jewish American to win a presidential primary, and Wasserman Schultz was forced out.

Her likely replacement, Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, is the first American Muslim to serve in Congress.

He has disavowed his early involvement with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, but he remains a divisive figure.

In 2017, the most influential Jews in the US could be Ivanka and Jared Kushner, Trump’s daughter and son-in-law.

December 29, 2016 12:22

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