Extremism in America

Ken Jacobson, Deputy National Director of the ADL, continued the conversation on extremism in America for this breakout session. According to Jacobson, overall anti-Semitism is no acceptable by society at large, unlike what was seen in the past when it was championed by those like Henry Ford.

At the same time, anti-Semitism can still be seen popularized by a number of different groups in America. First and for most, anti-Semitism is seen within white supremacist groups, which can be further divided between anti-government groups and generally supporting white supremacy. They believe that Jews control everything, and often blame the Jewish people for their sense of losing control of America. There is also anti-Semitism within Islamic fundamentalism, and proponents of this extremism support a multitude of conspiracy theories, such as Jews were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Thirdly, anti-Semitism is also found within some segments of the African-American community – for instance, within the speeches of Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan.

Finally, leaders of the BDS movement support anti-Semitism because they are against a two-state solution that would allow Israel to stay a Jewish democratic state. These leaders have become adept at coalition-building, as can be most recently seen with the “From Ferguson to Palestine” slogan. At the same time, Jacobson argued that not everyone attending BDS events are necessarily anti-Semitic, or even wholly anti-Israel, but are moved to help the Palestinians. Therefore, the Jewish community should continue to build its own relationships with other groups, especially those that are most vulnerable to BDS messaging.