American Jews were welcome in universities, country clubs and corporate boards that once excluded their grandparents. They married non-Jews, moved into mixed neighborhoods and by 2000, the first Jew ran for vice president on a major party ticket.
So the massacre on Saturday of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, by a man who told the police when he surrendered that he “wanted all Jews to die,” was for many a shocking wake-up call.
“This kind of evil makes me think of the Holocaust and how people can be so cruel, that there is so much evil in the world, still,” said Moshe Taube, 91, a retired cantor from Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh and a survivor of the Holocaust.
But it did not come out of nowhere, said experts in anti-Semitism. At the same time that Jews were feeling unprecedented acceptance in the United States, the climate was growing increasingly hostile, intensifying in the two years since President Trump was elected. And it comes at a time when attacks on Jews are on the rise in Europe as well, with frequent anti-Semitic episodes in France and Germany.
The hate in the United States came into full view last year as white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Va., with lines of men carrying torches and chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”Swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti have been cropping up on synagogues and Jewish homes around the country. Jews online are subjected to vicious slurs and threats. Many synagogues and Jewish day schools have been amping up security measures.
The 11 people killed in Pittsburgh were remembered as guardians of their faith. Read more about their lives here.]
There was also an attack by a white supremacist on a Jewish Community Center filled with children in Los Angeles in 1999 that injured five. More recently, in 2014, a white supremacist opened fire outside a Jewish Community Center in a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., killing three people.
“I’m not a Chicken Little who’s always yelling, ‘It’s worse than it’s ever been!’ But now I think it’s worse than it’s ever been,” said Deborah E. Lipstadt, a professor of Holocaust history at Emory University in Atlanta and the author of a planned book on anti-Semitism.
Ms. Lipstadt said she did not wish to be seen as alarmist, because in some ways “things have never been better” for Jews in America.
But she likened anti-Semitism to a herpes infection that lies dormant and re-emerges at times of stress. It does not go away, no matter how “acculturated” Jews have become in America, because “it’s a conspiracy theory,” said Ms. Lipstadt, whose win at trial against a Holocaust denier in England was portrayed in the 2016 movie “Denial.”
Prominent recent examples include unfounded conspiracy theories about George Soros, a wealthy donor to Democratic Party causes and a Jewish émigré from Hungary who survived the Nazis.
On Oct. 5, Mr. Trump asserted on Twitter that the women who stopped Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator to plead with him to vote against advancing the nomination of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court were “paid for by Soros and others.” In a rally in Missoula, Mont., on Oct. 19, the president told the crowd that the news media prefers to interview protesters who were paid by “Soros or somebody.”
Mr. Soros has also been accused of financing the caravan of Hondurans and Guatemalans fleeing north on foot through Mexico — another claim with no factual basis.
A day after a pipe bomb was discovered at Mr. Soros’s home in Westchester, Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, wrote on Twitter, “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican Nov. 6.”
Tom Steyer is an Episcopalian and is of Jewish descent. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is Jewish. After more explosive devices were found in the homes and offices of other Democratic leaders and supporters, Mr. McCarthy deleted the tweet.
Anti-Semitism has also become a charged topic on many American college campuses, with Israel as the detonator.
Activists on the left — sometimes including young Jews — call for boycotts and divestments from companies doing business in Israel, or the occupied territories. Mainstream Jewish groups are now branding such campaigns as anti-Semitism. Where to draw the line between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism is a growing source of friction in many colleges and state capitals.
In France, Jews have increasingly faced attacks and insults from members of the country’s large Muslim community. In March, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll, was knifed to death in her apartment by a young man who shouted “Allahu akbar.” Prosecutors classified it as an anti-Semitic hate crime.
In a 2015 study, 42 percent of French Jews surveyed said that they had suffered insults or aggressive acts at the hands of Muslims.
In Germany, anti-Semitism remains a daily occurrence, sometimes taking on the form of criminal attacks on Jews or Jewish institutions, but often in more casual insults or the questioning of the country’s post-World War II commitment to “never again” repeat the Nazi Holocaust.
One of the most prominent anti-Semitic attacks this year, in which a young Syrian struck a man wearing a skullcap on the street of a trendy Berlin neighborhood, prompted the head of Germany’s main Jewish organization to warn Jews against openly wearing skullcaps, or other public displays of their religion.
A demonstration in support of the country’s Jews drew thousands of people to the streets, but months later, in the midst of violent demonstrations by neo-Nazis in the eastern city of Chemnitz, masked assailants threw rocks and bottles at a local Jewish restaurant and shouted anti-Semitic insults, the owner told the police.
Nadine Epstein, editor in chief of Moment, an independent Jewish magazine in the United States, said that in 2014 the magazine did a special section on anti-Semitism, interviewing a wide range of scholars and leaders in the field. She said that her conclusion was that anti-Semitism, while persistent, was mostly a problem in Europe. But “it wasn’t really an issue in the U.S.,” she said.
TIME FOR EVERY JEW TO ARM AND PREVENT AUSCHWITZ USA