In addition to the racism and xenophobia on display Saturday in Charlottesville, the ‘Unite the Right’ event represented a perfect example of what Anti-Defamation League characterised as the “animating power of conspiratorial antisemitism”. Prominent among the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who spoke at the rally was former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.
ADL summarized his talk thusly:
He led other white supremacists in chants of “The goyim know” – a reference to the belief, common among anti-Semites, that Jews have a plan for domination and control that they are keeping secret from non-Jews. On his first post-rally radio show, Duke also blamed the “Zio-establishment for Charlottesville” for the “antifa terrorist attacks.” He continued: “There is no future for white children, that there is no future for America, that there is no future for the west unless we overthrow this Zio-garchy that is ruling over us. In the media they dominate the international globalist media, they dominate the Zio-fed Federal Reserve and the banking institutions, they dominate politics….If we don’t overthrow this Zio-garchy over us then we have no future.” He continued: “It’s ultimately Jewish racism, it’s tribalism and supremacy. They’re the supremacists. They want to not only have their Zionist ethno-state of Israel, but they want to have supremacy over our media, over what we discuss, over our banking system, and over our political system. They’re the most powerful force in campaign financing and campaign organization in America, in the world.”
Though much of the reaction to the Charlottesville rally and violence has focused on the US political reaction, few have attempted to contextualize the hate expressed that day by reporting on the prevalence of such antisemitic attitudes in the US.
A comprehensive ADL commissioned poll on global antisemitism sheds some light on this question.
Focusing on questions in the survey which overlap with the antisemitic themes advanced by Duke, concerning the putatively injurious impact of Jewish power, here are the results:
- 18% of Americans believe that Jews have too much power in the business world.
- 15% of Americans believe that Jews have too much power in international financial markets.
- 11% of Americans believe Jews have too much control in global affairs
- 11% of Americans believe Jews have too much control over the US government.
- 12% of Americans believe Jews have too much control over the global media.
Results in the UK are similar.
Though, at first glance, such numbers seem troubling, ADL’s comparative analysis indicates that the US and UK are among the least antisemitic countries in the world.
So, where in the world are such toxic expressions of antisemitism most popular? In ‘Palestine’.
Indeed, even compared to other Muslim and Arab states, Palestinians have the distinction of being the most antisemitic national group in the world.
Here are ADL’s results for Gaza and the West Bank:
- 91% of Palestinians believe that Jews have too much power in the business world.
- 89% of Palestinians believe that Jews have too much power in international financial markets.
- 89% of Palestinians believe Jews have too much control in global affairs
- 85% of Palestinians believe Jews have too much control over the US government.
- 88% of Palestinians believe Jews have too much control over the global media.
Why are we noting this? Because, understanding the problem of Palestinian antisemitism is vital to understanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict as it really is, beyond the cliches and talking points which inform the echo chamber of the opinion elite. Yet, despite the fact that David Duke style antisemitism – within Palestinian culture, the media and politics – is documented continually on sites such as Palestinian Media Watch, the UK media almost universally ignores the phenomenon.
Palestinian antisemitism not only hurts Jews – the object of their hatred – and the peace process, but, as Walter Russell Mead explained, also does grave harm to Palestinians themselves.
“Attributing global events to the machinations of an all-conquering Jewish conspiracy”, argued Mead, “is the sign of profound mental and social failure—and a harbinger of more failures and errors to come”. “Societies”, he continued, that are “in thrall to this kind of darkness…and whose intellectual leaders cannot understand how power works in the modern world…are unlikely to develop the vigorous, forward-looking and competent civil societies that can promote true democracy”.
Those who advocate for Palestinian rights and yet don’t confront this pathos are giving Palestinians – even if granted statehood – little incentive to embark on a path to real progress, thus consigning generation after generation to political, social and economic failure.
On some issues, there aren’t two sides. You don’t have to be ‘pro-Israel’ to acknowledge that antisemitism is never morally defensible, and – most of all – is always a path to ruin.