CNN Panel Calls Out Double Standard in Attention to Anti-Semitism

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CNN’s Jake Tapper doesn’t often shy away from calling attention to anti-Semitism, even when it comes from those on his side of the political spectrum. He called out the systemic anti-Semitism at the United Nations and broke through the media blackout when the rest refused to cover the Louis Farrakhan controversy. Monday's edition of The Lead became another one of those instances when he invited New York Times staff editor Bari Weiss and Vox senior politics reporter Jane Coaston to discuss the double standard in the attention given to anti-Semitic attacks based on the attacker.

From the get-go, Tapper hit the nail on the head with his first question to Weiss: “This is kind of a sensitive question, but do you think the reaction by the politicians and the media would be any different if these recent anti-Semitic attacks had been committed by white supremacists instead of who they were committed by?

Weiss affirmed the premise by noting “it took a man walking in with a machete the size of a broomstick for there to be public outrage during the holiday of Hanukkah.” What she was talking about was the fact that “there had already been nine hate crimes against Jews in New York City and Brooklyn that week” and there was very little outrage or attention given to them.

She explained that she was from the same community in Pittsburg that the Tree of Life synagogue was in and was touched by all the support they received. In contrast, she talked about how she visited the Jersey City kosher market that was recently shot up and didn’t see one sign of condolence. She chalked it up to the fact that the gunmen were black instead of someone who could be labeled a Trump backer:

That’s really, really disturbing to me. And what it tells you is that in certain cases, when the person is wearing a MAGA hat or when they could be connected to the alt-right, that’s sort of a clean case, right? It is someone who we all — people of conscience see as a villain. But what happens when the person who’s an attacker is someone that — or when I say we, I mean we people of conscience see as someone who themselves is part of a victimized group? It seems then that a lot of people don't know how to make sense of that.

 

 

“I think one of the challenges we have is that we keep wanting to use anti-Semitism or racism as a cudgel against our political opposites forgetting that anti-Semitism exists across the political spectrum,” Coaston lamented in turn. “You know, there have been a lot of famous instances of the far-right and the far-left coming together on the subject of hating Jewish people.”

Coaston remained viewers that the Nation of Islam had found “common cause with George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party back in the 1960s and a lot of the most virulent anti-Semitism comes from Nation of Islam and some of its acolytes.”

Perhaps at the risk of causing outrage, she added that anti-Semitism was an on-all-sides problem:

And so I think that one of the challenges we face is that a bipartisan issue. It is an all-partisan issue. It is not an issue that is just connected to one particular racial group. It is something that infects and morphs and disfigures people and communities and it’s something that we have to be ready to speak out against, because one of the things that has been really horrifying about these attacks that have been taking place in New York state and elsewhere against Jewish people is that the only similarity has been the subject of the hate.

“You have — the people have been different. You know, some have been people of color. Some have been white, though that doesn't really matter when all of the victims are Jewish people, specifically people who are orthodox,” Coaston added, to which Weiss declared: “People who are visibly Jewish.”

Then, talking about how New York City could come together and move forward, Weiss called out Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio for approaching anti-Semitism as a partisan issue:

Exactly and the first thing that I think can happen is for the mayor of New York City, who too often has been talking about anti-Semitism as if it is a partisan issue, that is only tied to the President, I think the first thing that he could do is put on a kippah and say every one of conscience should join with me on a solidarity march through the neighborhoods Brooklyn where Jews are being assaulted in the street.

As the segment came to a close, Weiss denounced anti-Semitism as a “culturally inherited disease” that’s “not a partisan issue,” has “no color,” and “no political party,” and urged political leaders to treat it that way.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN’s The Lead
12/30/19
4:20:00 p.m.

JAKE TAPPER: Joining me to talk about this all is New York Times opinion writer and editor Barry Weiss. She’s the author of the new book How to Fight Anti-Semitism. Also back with me is Jane Coaston who covers white nationalism for Vox, among other topics. Bari, let me start with you. This is kind of a sensitive question, but do you think the reaction by the politicians and the media would be any different if these recent anti-Semitic attacks had been committed by white supremacists instead of who they were committed by?

BARI WEISS: I do and the reason for that is because it took a man walking in with a machete the size of a broomstick for there to be public outrage during the holiday of Hanukkah. Remember, when he walked into the rabbi’s house in Monsey, New York, not 30 miles from where I'm sitting right now, there had already been nine hate crimes against Jews in New York City and Brooklyn that week. Three weeks ago, there was an attack in Jersey City that targeted a kosher market. I went there the day after the attack and viewers probably don't know this I'm from the synagogue in Pittsburgh that was attacked, Tree of Life, a year ago — about a year ago to the day and in that case, right, there was this incredible outpouring of communal solidarity and support. When I went to Jersey City the day after that attack, there was not a single flower or a single condolence card. I went up and down the street asking people to say something about the attack that had happened on their neighbors and it was all they could do to get people to say that they were sorry for what had happened. That’s really, really disturbing to me. And what it tells you is that in certain cases, when the person is wearing a MAGA hat or when they could be connected to the alt-right, that’s sort of a clean case, right? It is someone who we all — people of conscience see as a villain. But what happens when the person who’s an attacker is someone that — or when I say we, I mean we people of conscience see as someone who themselves is part of a victimized group? It seems then that a lot of people don't know how to make sense of that.

TAPPER: Right and just to clarify, obviously, you’re speaking hyperbolically and not everyone with a MAGA hat. But I take —

WEISS: Of course not.

TAPPER: — of course, I just want to clarify because the internet is insane. Jane, what do you think of what Bari just said?

JANE COASTON: Yeah, I think one of the challenges we have is that we keep wanting to use anti-Semitism or racism as a cudgel against our political opposites forgetting that anti-Semitism exists across the political spectrum. You know, there have been a lot of famous instances of the far-right and the far left coming together on the subject of hating Jewish people. You see Nation of Islam making common cause with George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party back in the 1960s and a lot of the most virulent anti-Semitism comes from Nation of Islam and some of its acolytes. And so I think that one of the challenges we face is that a bipartisan issue. It is an all-partisan issue. It is not an issue that is just connected to one particular racial group. It is something that infects and morphs and defigures people and communities and it’s something that we have to be ready to speak out against because one of the things that has been really horrifying about these attacks that have been taking place in New York state and elsewhere against Jewish people is that the only similarity has been the subject of the hate. You have — the people have been different. You know, some have been people of color. Some have been white, though that doesn't really matter when all of the victims are Jewish people, specifically people who are orthodox.

TAPPER: Right.

COASTON: And I think that’s worth noting.

WEISS: People who are visibly Jewish.

COASTON: Yeah and I think that is worth speaking upon. This is happening to people who are visibly Jewish. This is people who are orthodox. This is are people who are proud to celebrate their religion and do so in full view and absolutely should be able to do so. That’s part of the foundation of this country.

TAPPER: Yeah.

COASTON: And so it is extremely concerning to see that the only thing that seems to bring all of these different attackers together is hating Jewish people.


TAPPER: And Bari, you and I have talked about this before. it does seem like when there are anti-Semitic attacks or crit — or — or remarks from the left if you pointed out, people on the left attack you.

WEISS: That’s right.

TAPPER: From the right, if you point it out, people on the right attack you. And there are people like you who are trying to say, as Jane just did, this is — this is a disorder across the political spectrum and people should stop using it against each other and start uniting.

WEISS: Exactly and the first thing that I think can happen is for the mayor of New York City, who too often has been talking about anti-Semitism as if it is a partisan issue, that is only tied to the President, I think the first thing that he could do is put on a kippah and say every one of conscience should join with me on a solidarity march through the neighborhoods Brooklyn where Jews are being assaulted in the street. And, by the way, it’s not just in Brooklyn. I had a — my friend's father-in-law, the other day — he was assaulted on the upper side of New York because he was wearing a kippah. Another friend’s father was walking out of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish the other night. He wears a kippah. He was said things that I cannot repeat on national television. It’s not just happening in the Hasidic enclaves of Brooklyn or the Haredi enclaves of Brooklyn. It’s happening to people on the Upper East Side of Manhattan who are, you know, advertising their Judaism in public.

TAPPER: Right.

WEISSl So I think that it’s — you know, Jane put it exactly right, anti-Semitism is a culturally inherited disease and in times in which the sort of moral guardrails that keep bigotry down, when those moral guardrails are dismantled, we see it cropping up in all kinds of different places. It’s not a partisan issue. It has no color. It has no political party but the thing that needs to happen from the elected leaders is that they need to say that and for the first time to do that is to show solidarity with — with Jewish communities that are being attacked.

TAPPER: Bari and Jane, we appreciate your voices and your strength in this — in this difficult time.

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