Past the broader white supremacy and fascism displayed the pro-Trump mob, there have been particular anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi parts that advantage sustained consideration. Brandeis College professor of American Jewish historical past Jonathan Sarna broke down what he noticed and related it to the hatred of Jews that’s so widespread amongst adherents of QAnon, white nationalists, and different members of the far proper.
One of many many horrifying photographs from the Jan. 6 rampage on the U.S. Capitol reveals a long-haired, long-bearded man carrying a black “Camp Auschwitz” T-shirt emblazoned with a cranium and crossbones, and below it the phrase “work brings freedom” – an English translation of the Auschwitz focus camp motto: “Arbeit macht frei.”
These and associated photographs, captured on tv and retweeted on social media, reveal that a few of those that traveled to Washington to help President Donald Trump had been engaged in way more than only a doomed effort to keep up their hero in energy.
As their writings clarify to me as a scholar of American anti-Semitism, some amongst them additionally hoped to set off what is named the “Nice Revolution,” primarily based on a fictionalized account of a authorities takeover and race battle, that, in its most excessive kind, would exterminate Jews.
Jews had been rightly horrified the embrace of genocidal hate proven some among the many Trumpist mob—violent hate that displays ideologies expressed the white nationalist far proper each earlier than and all through the Trump period. When folks say that they need to kill all of the Jews, historical past has taught us to not dismiss it. For individuals who tried to downplay the anti-Semitism that runs deep on the appropriate—each amongst elected Republicans, in addition to these carrying tiki torches and chanting “Jews is not going to exchange us”—let me simply say the next: “I advised you so.” Separate from the anti-Semitism on show, the overwhelming majority of us felt utter revulsion for the rebellion itself—for the overthrow of democracy and rejection of the expressed will of the American voters that it proclaimed as a purpose.
The Jan. 6 putsch in Washington, D.C. to put in Trump as chief for who is aware of what number of extra years led to failure. That was an incredible reduction, however not precisely one thing that impressed pleasure for Jewish People. For that emotion, we needed to look down south, to the really inspiring win underdog Jon Ossoff. Sure, Joe Biden had gained Georgia two months earlier, however Ossoff had are available second in his race. Additionally, this was a January runoff election—the place Democratic candidates normally fall wanting the help they’d earned within the normal. But Ossoff exceeded his Nov. three tally, one thing Democrats had no means completed, aside from one extraordinarily low turnout race in 1998.
Through the marketing campaign, Ossoff’s Republican opponent, Sen. David Perdue, ran a blatantly anti-Semitic tv advert. First, the Perdue spot paired a picture of Ossoff with that of one other Jewish politician, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and acknowledged “Democrats are attempting to purchase Georgia.” As Every day Kos’ Laura Clawson famous on the time: “placing two Jewish politicians along with textual content doubtlessly tapping into longtime anti-Semitic slurs about Jewish folks shopping for energy” was unhealthy sufficient. The advert went additional—it took Ossoff’s nostril and made it greater, in order to “different” him much more. Presaging his debate efficiency, the place he forcefully hit Perdue on insider buying and selling in addition to COVID-19, Ossoff held nothing again in his response to the advert.
Ossoff spoke proudly of his Jewish heritage and the way it informs his progressive politics in an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, printed about two weeks earlier than the runoff: “I’m descended from Ashkenazi immigrants who fled pogroms within the early 20th century, and I grew up amongst kinfolk who had been Holocaust survivors. So my Jewish upbringing instilled in me a conviction to struggle for the marginalized and oppressed, and likewise to be vigilant the place there’s the chance that authoritarianism might emerge.” As an expression of that connection, Ossoff carried his ancestors with him as he took the oath to turn into a senator.
What Ossoff did touched me deeply. I’ve realized a lot about my very own ancestors—as a younger youngster, I hocked my father to do analysis and create an in depth household historical past. I don’t imagine we’ve got the manifests, however I do know that my Nice-Grandfather Morris and Nice-Grandmother Hanna got here throughout in 1907 on the ship Caledonia, and my Nice-Grandfather Max arrived in 1910 on the Litvania.
American Jews—most of whom are Democrats—take nice satisfaction in Ossoff’s election. For many, I imagine that it’s about way more than electing a Jewish senator—Ossoff’s removed from the primary; Majority Chief Chuck Schumer has now reached the next rating political place than any Jewish American ever has, one other supply of satisfaction. We additionally experience the truth that Ossoff performed a key function in Schumer turning into the Majority Chief, thus enabling the Biden-Harris administration to, hopefully, enact much more progressive laws than appeared potential earlier than the Georgia runoffs.
It was particularly candy for such an essential win to happen in a state that was, till now, most infamous when it comes to Jewish historical past for the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank—an act organized , amongst others, former governor Joseph Mackey Brown and different high-ranking elected and legislation enforcement officers. As Steve Oney, writer of And the Lifeless Shall Rise: The Homicide of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank, wrote in The Washington Put up: “Anti-Semitic incidents have elevated within the state previously few years, as they’ve throughout a lot of the nation. But Ossoff’s triumph means that within the South a brand new day has come. The lynching of Leo Frank is not going to be forgotten, however simply possibly it’s going to loosen its grip on the psyche of the area’s Jews.”
Along with his Jewishness, Ossoff additionally mentioned one other vital side of his background with Haaretz.
I’m reflecting on the primary meal I ever shared with [the late Georgia] Congressman John Lewis. He wished to speak to me in regards to the alliance between Jews and Blacks within the civil rights motion, and the way he had marched alongside rabbis and Jewish activists for civil rights within the South within the mid-1960s. He harassed how essential it was to maintain this alliance. […]
And that the usual bearers in these historic runoffs are a younger Jewish son of an immigrant, mentored John Lewis, and the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a Black preacher who holds Dr. [Martin Luther] King Jr’s pulpit and who pastored John Lewis, is a continuation of this custom.
That pastor, after all, is Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, who additionally was elected to the Senate on Jan. 6, in a Georgia runoff of his personal; collectively, the 2 cemented a Democratic trifecta.
Eric Foner, a Columbia College historian and broadly acknowledged professional on the Reconstruction Period, appeared again on that day with The New Yorker.
[It] was an attention-grabbing day from a historic standpoint, as a result of it started, should you bear in mind, with folks speaking in regards to the victory of those two candidates in Georgia, a Black man and a Jewish man, and realizing that’s an incredible factor for Georgia. Georgia has a really lengthy historical past of racism and anti-Semitism. That’s the way it started. 4 or six hours later, you’ve got an armed mob seizing the Capitol constructing. You’ve these two themes of American historical past in juxtaposition to one another. And each of them are a part of the American custom, and we’ve got to pay attention to each of them, not simply the extra honorable components. […]
I imply, Georgia, like a lot of the Deep South, had an extended historical past, initially, of slavery. It was one of many main cotton-producing slave states. In Reconstruction, it had a really energetic Klan, which was very brutal and violent towards African-People and towards whites who coöperated with them. Later, it disenfranchised Black voters for a very long time. In the midst of the 20th century, you’ve got leaders like Herman Talmadge there who had been simply absolute outright racist. You even have the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish manufacturing facility superintendent in Georgia within the early twentieth century. So anti-Semitism was additionally fairly properly entrenched.
I’m supplying you with a litany of unhealthy issues, however what’s really essential is that individuals are in a position to overcome this. That with that historical past hanging over you, you continue to can elect a Black man and a Jew to the Senate from Georgia. So I believe that’s trigger for optimism. We educate historical past, however historical past just isn’t determinism. We don’t have to only relive our historical past over and over. It’s potential to maneuver past it, and I believe what occurred in Georgia is slightly step in that course.
Whereas Jewish and Black People have a shared historical past of discovering themselves in white supremacist crosshairs, in addition they have one other shared historical past, one among working collectively in opposition to those self same forces. To make sure, there have been some bumps alongside the best way. These embody tensions deriving from, for instance, financial exploitation of Blacks carried out some Jews (Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. neatly summarized the scenario), or violence in opposition to Jews dedicated now and again particular person Black folks, together with just lately.
But the connection between the 2 teams has, for essentially the most half, been a fruitful partnership—one which has, over the previous century, centered on cooperation within the profitable effort to advance progressive objectives, notably civil rights.
Jewish People are additionally the second–most reliably Democratic voting bloc amongst all ethno-cultural teams, behind solely African People. We acknowledge the menace to Jews within the U.S. from the Trumpist proper, and I’m not simply speaking in regards to the occasions of Jan. 6. Nearly all non-Orthodox Jews—who’re 90% of U.S. Jews—supported Biden-Harris, and Jews persistently ship round three-quarters of their votes to Democrats in presidential elections. By comparability, the votes of non-Jewish whites over the previous few a long time clock in at barely one-third for Workforce Blue.
Jewish Republicans, after all, do exist, and School of Charleston professor of Jewish Research Joshua Shanes has examined in depth the shift towards Republicans and Trump among the many Orthodox. The tiny variety of Jews discovered at Trump’s failed coup are Orthodox. It’s not that the President Who Tried To Overturn An Election He Misplaced didn’t try and get extra Jews to vote for him—he did, insulting them. His “outreach” failed, as each pre- and post-election polls point out.
As I wrote in 2019, if President Charlottesville “actually cared about Jews, he’d resign and simply go away.” Sadly, he stayed in workplace to the bitter finish—and scuttled gracelessly away with out attending his successor’s inauguration. If there have been any Jewish People on the market nonetheless on the fence, questioning which of the 2 main events have the again of their group, the bare anti-Jewish hate we noticed on the Camp Auschwitz Rebellion of 2021 ought to have answered that query. On Jan. 6, Robert Keith Packer, the Trumpist rioter carrying Nazi hate throughout his chest, symbolized what the Republican Celebration has to supply Jews. In contrast, Biden laid out his file and proposals on issues of significance to the Jewish group on his marketing campaign web site; Jews can maintain him accountable if he doesn’t ship.
In the meantime, watching Ossoff and Warnock marketing campaign collectively—triumph collectively—reminds us the entire energy of what Blacks and Jews can obtain once they lock arms and work in live performance towards making actual the values of justice and equality that unite the 2 teams. “They campaigned collectively successfully as a ticket,” acknowledged Michael Rosenzweig of Atlanta, who’s an energetic participant in his state’s Democratic Celebration. “They usually had been very very open, very specific in regards to the significance of the truth that we had a Black pastor operating alongside a younger very proud American Jew.”
And it was essential. Jews demonstrated that they’re loyal Democrats lengthy earlier than Jan. 5, however Jon Ossoff’s victory, secured on that day, was an essential expression of the allegiance of the Democratic Celebration and Democratic voters to Jews and our progressive values. The alliance stays as sturdy as ever as we transfer ahead from the horrors of the final 4 years.
Ian Reifowitz is the writer of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh’s Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Approach for Trump (Foreword Markos Moulitsas)