In Brief

Anti-Semitism in America: a case of double standards?

Officials were strikingly reluctant to link Texas synagogue attack to anti-Semitism

Over decades of foreign travel, I picked up a useful trick for finding local synagogues, said Deborah Lipstadt in The New York Times. You didn’t need the exact address; you just headed to the area and looked out for the police officers with sub-machine guns.

These days, sadly, it’s the same in the US – where anti-Semitic terrorists have attacked Jews in synagogues four times in the past four years. A friend recently told me that she checks the exits every time she walks into a synagogue, and works out the best hiding place.

Many more will be emulating her following the recent attack on the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. A gunman – 44-year-old British citizen Malik Faisal Akram – seized four hostages. The stand-off ended after the rabbi, who’d had active-shooter training, threw a chair at him and fled with the other captives. FBI agents shot Akram dead at the scene.

When a gunman bursts into a synagogue, ranting about Jewish power and demanding the release of an al-Qa’eda terrorist, you’d have thought his motivation was pretty clear, said Michael Graham in The Detroit News. Yet officials were strikingly reluctant to link the crime to anti-Semitism.

In an initial statement, the FBI said that Akram was “singularly focused on one issue” that was “not specifically related to the Jewish community” (though it later acknowledged that it was an anti-Semitic attack). President Biden urged caution in jumping to conclusions as to “the motivations of the hostage-taker”. Many regard this as the latest example of a “double standard” in the treatment of hate crimes. “American sensitivity to issues of race and justice is at or near an all-time high.”

Why don’t Jews get the same support as other minorities? US officials and the media have no problem recognising one sort of anti-Semitism, said Caroline Glick in Newsweek: namely, the sort conducted by white supremacists. The synagogue attacks recently carried out by white supremacists, in Pittsburgh and California, both prompted massive coverage and were “condemned from coast to coast”.

Yet when anti-Semitic attacks are carried out by black nationalists or Islamists, they don’t generate the same reaction, perhaps because of sensitivity about racism and Islamophobia. The “devastating reality” is that Jews in the US are “being targeted by three distinct types of anti-Semites. But they are only being protected against one.”

Recommended

How Salman Rushdie exposed fault lines between the West and Islam
Salman Rushdie at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October 2019
Expert’s view

How Salman Rushdie exposed fault lines between the West and Islam

‘Drip drip hooray’
Today’s newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘Drip drip hooray’

Cats grounded in German town
A cat inside a box
Tall Tales

Cats grounded in German town

Was attempted FBI break-in linked to Trump raid?
FBI director Christopher Wray
Speed Reads

Was attempted FBI break-in linked to Trump raid?

Popular articles

Why The Satanic Verses is still controversial
Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses
Getting to grips with . . .

Why The Satanic Verses is still controversial

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 August 2022
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 August 2022

The Week Footer Banner