Know It When You See It
Mort Klein’s defense of President Trump, his description of him as an individual who “loves the Jewish people and the Jewish state” and the “greatest president for the Jewish state and Israel ever” is typical of the right wing of the Jewish community’s view of what is and is not anti-Semitic (“Letters,” Sept. 5). It is this narrowness of vision that has led some to lionize those Christian fundamentalists who proclaim their love of Israel while preaching that Judaism is an inferior faith and that Israel has been punished for Jews not accepting Jesus.
Justice Potter Stewart, in an opinion on obscenity, wrote that while not an expert he knew it when he saw it. If only it was that simple to recognize anti-Semitism. When I taught courses on anti-Semitism I used a widely accepted definition that it was hostility, disparagement and hatred of Judaism and of Jews. No doubt there are those who verbally attack Israel for no other reason than it is the home of the Jewish people. It would be hard to argue that those who fit this definition are not to a significant degree anti-Semitic.
But is it so that espousing love of Israel and for politicians supporting her politically gives one a sort of “get out of jail” free card that excuses expressions and attitudes that put us in a negative light and reflect classical anti-Jewish beliefs such as our desire to “control politicians” as expressed by Trump at a gathering of cheering Republican Jews?
The thousands of Pittsburgh Jews who told the president that he was not welcomed at their shul until he clearly and forcefully denounced white nationalism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia don’t believe he has done so. Neither do most of us. His suggestion that we can best protect ourselves from anti-Semitic attacks by bringing firearms to our synagogues is an outrage.
Burt Siegel | Vice Chair, Democratic Jewish Outreach PA
I enjoyed your article about Weiss’ book How to Fight Anti-Semitism (“Bari Weiss Talks Anti-Semitism, How to Fight It,” Sept. 12), but I wanted to clarify a common misunderstanding.
The Kaddish was not printed in Hebrew by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or any other paper for that matter. The Kaddish is not a Hebrew prayer. It is written in Aramaic, which, while it uses Hebrew letters, is actually a different Semitic language, and supplanted Hebrew in the Near East for a dozen centuries.
Daniel Loeb | Wynnewood