For years now, Jews across western Europe have been the targets of harassment by Muslims. Police officers stand guard outside of synagogues. Recently, when I stayed in the Jewish Quarter in Rome, I couldn't help notice the presence of multiple police kiosks, each manned by an armed cop. Many Jews in European cities have long since ceased wearing yarmulkes or Stars of David. Jewish kids are instructed by their parents to avoid identifying themselves as Jews at school lest they be beaten up by their little Muslim friends.
Meanwhile, almost everyone in a position to do something is a coward. Politicians continue to recite the mantra that "Muslims are today's Jews," even though in Europe today Muslims are far more often the tormentors than the tormented, and Jews lead the list of victims of public abuse. Police prefer not to prosecute Muslim perpetrators for fear of being called "Islamophobes." Teachers don't want to deal with Muslim bullies in their classes for the same reason.
Yet you would hardly know this to read much of America's Jewish media. On August 2, the Jewish Journal ran a piece slamming Trump adviser Stephen Miller for dismissing (quite properly) the suggestion by CNN's Jim Acosta that the new immigration bill favoring English-speakers violated the "spirit" of Emma Lazarus's Statue of Liberty poem, "The New Colossus," and emphasizing, as if it had anything to do with the issue, that Miller himself is the great-grandson of Jewish immigrants. This was not the first time the Jewish Journal had gone after Miller for being a Jew who supports immigration reform. In March, another piece in that publication, headlined (I kid you not) "From Hebrew School to Halls of Power," noted that Miller was "a principal author of Trump's draconian immigration measures, including the executive order the president signed in late January targeting immigrants from Muslim-majority countries," even though "[t]hese politics are generally reviled in the liberal circles of his Jewish upbringing."
The big hit-job, however, came a year ago, when the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal, Rob Eshman, sneered at Miller for the way in which he "froth[ed] the mob" at Trump rallies over immigration. Eshman professed shock at the news that Miller is Jewish. How, he asked, could "this young anti-immigrant leader" be "the descendent of immigrants"? Eshman looked into Miller's family tree, and discovered that his maternal great-grandfather, seeking to escape persecution by Cossacks, fled Antopol (in present-day Belarus) and settled in Pennsylvania, where he founded a thriving business. And yet, thundered Eshman, Miller dares to serve as "Trump's anti-immigrant avatar." Imagine: "The great-grandson of a desperate refugee can grow up to shill for the demagogue bent on keeping desperate refugees like his great-grandfather out."
Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor to the President for Policy, talks to reporters about President Donald Trump's support for creating a "merit-based immigration system", August 2, 2017. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Needless to say, the immigrants Trump wants to keep out of the U.S. are precisely the type who, in Europe, are currently Jew-bashing people like Stephen Miller -- and Rob Eshman. But Eshman doesn't want to think about this ticklish fact, which challenges his own simplistic, self-righteous pontifications. No, better to demonize Miller as "an American Jew [who has] turn[ed] on immigrants," who has "tak[en] the side of people who... would have met your own great-grandparents at the docks with stones and spitballs," and who is "stoking anti-immigrant fear and hate, by calling for a ban on an entire religion."
As it happens, Trump has never sought to enact a ban on an entire religion, although the present situation in Europe certainly makes a good argument for such a ban (with ample room for sensible exceptions, of course).
On August 3, over at the Forward, formerly the Jewish Daily Forward, one Steven Davidson actually served up one of the most idiotic articles of the year, entitled "19 People Jews Should Worry About More Than Linda Sarsour." Sarsour, of course, is the devout, hijab-wearing, sharia-loving, Israel-boycotting Muslim who, since her high-profile appearance at the Women's March on the day after Trump's inauguration, has become a hero of feminism and of the left generally. Linda Sarsour is the very personification of stealth Islamization and an obvious anti-Semite. But as Davidson himself noted, she's acquired plenty of Jewish allies and defenders, "including Jeremy Ben-Ami, Mark Hetfield, Rabbi Jill Jacobs and Brad Lander."
As for Davidson, while finding some of her language "coarse and insensitive," he insists that criticism of her has "no basis in reality." In his piece, he encouraged readers to move from Sarsour and focus their concerns instead on 19 other people, including Louis Farrakhan, David Duke, the Ayatollah Khamenei, and the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah. Well, I don't know about you, but I'm capable of hating all these other people while still having enough hate left for Linda Sarsour. (I'm also capable of noticing that nobody in the American mainstream is celebrating most of these other creeps, while Sarsour, under a Hillary Clinton administration, would probably have been in line for a Presidential Medal of Freedom.)
Also on the list, however, are White House counter-terrorism adviser Sebastian Gorka, whom Davidson smears as "a member of a far-right group founded by Nazis"; Trump strategist Steve Bannon, formerly of Breitbart, which "spew[s] xenophobic hate"; Milo Yiannopoulos, who although half-Jewish "disseminat[es] Jewish conspiratorial tropes"; and President Trump himself, whose crimes against the Jewish people, according to Davidson, include "[r]efus[al] to mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day." Never mind that he has a Jewish daughter and grandchildren; we are supposed to believe that it is Trump, not Sarsour, who threatens Jews. Perhaps Davidson should have a little chat with some of the growing number of European Jews who are heading straight to Trump's America to escape Sarsour's coreligionists who, in countries run by politicians of whom Davidson doubtless approves, are being allowed to turn Europe once again into a place from which Jews feel compelled to flee.
Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.