The most ancient of hatreds, that against the Jews, did not go into lockdown and did not self-isolate during Covid. Just before the pandemic hit, the League for Human Rights released it’s annual survey of anti-semitic incidents for 2019. It demonstrated a doubling of incidents nationally and the highest total number ever.
In the midst of Covid, the period following the George Floyd murder, we saw a host of anti-racist actions from marches to the taking down of statues to the firing of respected professionals for uttering an inappropriate word. Some were needed. Others not.
But in the midst of all this critical societal self-examination, anti-semitism continued its malignant growth. One can see the most hateful and ludicrous comments all over social media including some that blame the Jews for the virus. It led some Jewish students to create a popular mene. The words are fitted into a Star of David, they read, “ First they came for LGBTQ and I stood up, for love is love. Then they came for immigrants and I stood up because families belong together. Then they came for people of color and I stood up because black lives matter. Then they came for me but I stood alone for I am a Jew.”
These words jumped to mind in the reaction — or lack of one — to the anti-semitic tweet issued by Philadelphia Eagles star receiver DeSean Jackson last week. In it he repeated a quote incorrectly attributed to Adolf Hitler, that repeated so many of the ancient lies about Jews controlling everything and having a plan for world domination. He even added — again with an incorrect attribution to Hitler — that Jews were not the “real Children of Israel.” Though Hitler never said it, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan constantly repeats these libels. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called the US-based NO 1 “hate group.” The Anti-Defamation League has described Farrakhan as “anti-semitic.”
What were the repercussions of Jackson’s tweet? Not many at all. There was a bit of local uproar over them for which Jackson apologized — twice — and withdrew his comment. He was fined by the Eagles. Two Jewish NFL players — the Patriots’ Julian Edelman and the Kansas City Chiefs’ Mitchell Schwartz — expressed “disappointment” and “sadness” and suggested visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC and then having dinner to discuss the issue and arrive at a better, “mutual understanding.” And there was a deafening silence from the NFL, non-Jewish players or any significant national media. ESPN could find no stronger word for the wide receiver’s comments than, “controversial.”
In fact, former NBA player Stephen Jackson (no relation) said that DeSean should not have apologized for “speaking the truth.” And he was supported by Marquise Goodwin, Alshon Jeffery, JR Smith, Kevin Durant, and several other sports figures. Jackson seemed to have doubled-down on DeSean’s tweet by writing the following in answer to Jewish criticism, “Your races’ pain doesn’t hurt more than the next races’ pain. Don’t act like your hardships are more devastating than ours.” Jackson also affirmed his “love” for Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, and that he could both, “Love Rev. Farrakhan and the Jewish people.” In a speech last year Louis Farrakhan said he was. “here to separate the good Jews from the satanic Jews.” We assume Stephen Jackson “loves” the “good Jews.”
All this played out against a backdrop of events that included the CBC’s disgraceful firing of Wendy Mesley for using an “inappropriate” word in quoting someone at a staff meeting! Virtue-signalling has gone mad. And we are not recommending it as an antidote to anti-semitism. But we are sick and tired of a double standard when it comes to Jews. Both Mr. Jacksons need to learn some history. No other group fought so hard for Black civil rights through the post World War II era nor stood should-to-shoulder so strongly with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as did the Jews. American Jewish Congress President Arthur Hertzberg, NAACP General Counsel Jack Greenberg, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Rabbi Joachim Prinz just to name a few. They marched, they litigated, they wrote and they bled.
The Jewish people have nothing to apologize for nor any need to explain. But history matters. And the answer to the Jacksons of the world was given by Dr. King himself in his famous “I have a dream!” speech. In it he said, “America has drawn a cheque on the bank of moral credit to its citizens of color and that cheque has come back NSF.” Well, our message to the Jacksons and Farrakhans of the world is that, “The world constantly writes cheques on its bank of moral credit to the Jewish people, and those cheques always come back NSF.” Intolerance of anyone breeds intolerance of everyone. Intolerance is often first aimed at Jews, but it never stops at them. It’s a lesson Rev. King understood well. It is to be hoped that the Jacksons of today learn it too.