Increase in Anti-Semitic Incidents Strains Democrats, GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 10, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Tuesday, 25 May 2021 09:14 AM
Democrats and Republicans are struggling to cope with the rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S.
The Anti-Defamation League on Thursday reported 193 such incidents in the country amid a week of conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. There had been 131 anti-Semitic incidents reported the previous week.
The violence in the Middle East has highlighted the partisan divide in Washington, D.C., over how best to achieve peace in the region, according to Politico on Tuesday.
Progressives who openly have supported the Palestinian cause have been accused by Republicans of abandoning the United States' closest ally in the Middle East.
Some GOP members have blamed Democrat rhetoric for inspiring the recent anti-Semitic attacks.
"Obviously, [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer is not anti-Semitic. [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi is not anti-Semitic. [House Majority Leader] Steny Hoyer is downright pro-Israel, and pretty strongly," Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said. “The problem is, they got more comfortable with their party drifting.
"Clearly, they have some policy confusion right now. The Republican Party has never been divided that way."
Democrats, with the goal of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, implored Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end retaliatory strikes against Hamas in Gaza, where many civilian casualties resulted before the cease-fire.
Many of those same Democrats blamed Republicans for defending the actions — and Arab civilian deaths — of Netanyahu’s government.
Lawmakers in both parties complained that the 11-day Middle East conflict bled into the fight against anti-Semitism.
Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., who is Jewish, said she thought the rhetoric regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict contributed to the current increase in anti-Semitic incidents.
Biden has been "doing everything he can diplomatically,” Rosen said of the Middle East crisis, but the "rise in anti-Semitic violence has to stop. And so we have to be very vigilant to figure out what to do about that moving forward."
Rosen, who co-chairs the bipartisan Senate Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, has been outspoken about attacks motivated by discrimination against Jews.
President Joe Biden and top deputies have condemned the rise in anti-Semitic violence.
Among Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., were set to introduce a bill this week to address the rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes.
Democrats have insisted their criticisms of Netanyahu's government — which some progressives have described as an “apartheid” regime — should not be mistaken for a lack of support for Israel's sovereignty.
The possible evictions of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem, some Democrats say, support the view the U.S. should not be funding what they see as human rights violations.
The emergence of the Jewish left has drawn a firmer distinction between alignment with the Israeli government and alignment with the interests of American Jews, according to Sophie Ellman-Golan, director of strategic communications for Jews for Racial & Economic Justice.
"For a long time, pro-Israel politicians and advocacy groups have spoken about Jews in the diaspora and the state of Israel as if we are one and the same," she said. "We aren’t, and the increased visibility of the Jewish left is making it harder for people to claim otherwise."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other liberal critics of the Israeli government have condemned the recent spate of anti-Semitic attacks while also criticizing the actions of the Israeli government.
Still, more moderate Democrats have pushed progressives to do more on behalf of American Jews.
"I’ll say the quiet part out loud; it's time for 'progressives' to start condemning anti-semitism and violent attacks on Jewish people with the same intention and vigor demonstrated in other areas of activism," Rep. Dean Phillips, who is Jewish, D-Minn., tweeted. "The silence has been deafening."
Republicans also have been criticized over perceived discriminatory comments.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., last week likened House mask requirements to the plight of Jews during the Holocaust.
Greene's statements were denounced by fellow Republicans, including Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Peter Meijer, R-Mich.
Jewish advocates said Greene was an outlier, and urged lawmakers to stay focused on combating anti-Semitism.
"It’s just the latest manifestation of her mania, her lunacy. The reality is on the ground in public places, the Jewish community is worried about their own literal physical safety and security — and that’s what we need to keep focused on," said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL's CEO.