The Trump administration’s State Departmant spokesman, Mark Toner, recently made a public statement saying that the previously vacant position of Anti-Semitism Envoy will shortly be filled. The news comes after vociferous urging from the Anti Defamation League (ADL) and its leader, Jonathan Greenblatt (who stated that, “-fighting anti-Semitism is a fixture of American foreign policy-“). Other political figures, including, Nita Lowey of New York and Ted Deutch of Florida, preceded the announcement with calls for the post to be filled in light of what they described collectively as, “Rising antisemitism.” It seems rather strange to me that so few of these individuals are stating precisely how supposed Jew hatred is rising, merely that it is. There is also the problem of definitions, for while antisemitism sounds rather straightforward the word’s usage has become so expansive that even mild criticisms of Israeli policy can now be subject to accusations of Jew hatred, which naturally makes little sense. Antisemitism simply means one who is vigorously opposed to Semitic people (primarily, Jews and Arabs) – for the purposes of both logical clarity I, for one, will not grant criticism of Jewish practice (whether religious or political) as inherently antisemitic anymore than anyone should define criticism of Islam or any policy of a given Islamic nation as antisemitic.
So, with that out of the way, let us turn to the available and relevant facts to see if wholesale anti-Jewish sentiments are indeed on the rise or whether Greenblatt just sees Nazis as readily as Haley Joel Osment sees dead people. Before we do that, however, it is pertinent to note that the majority of American Jewish agencies measure and record antisemitism primarily in attitudinal and behavioral patterns which makes objective data somewhat difficult to come by.
With that being said, since Donald Trump’s election, numerous incidents, such as paintings of swastikas and bomb threats have been made to various Muslim and Jewish centers (some hoaxes, some not) and so a narrative was conceived (without a precise series of objective facts or correlating data-sets) that Trump and his acolytes were fostering in a Dark Age of racial and religious hatred. Three sources since the election to now have been cited as providing evidence for this rather extraordinary claim: The Federal Bureau of Statistics, The SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) and (this surprised me) Shaun King’s King and Ushahidi Hate Crime Map application.
In the latter two cases, The Ushahidi Hate Crime App and the SPLC, the majority of the information is purely anecdotal and is therefore useless in developing patterns as regards demographics, location, frequency of occurrence and collective severity, ect. As for the Federal Bureau of Statistic, the federal government is neither designed nor capable of ascertaining such information in terms of linear trends. One of the primary flaws with FB statistics is that they acquire their information via local law enforcement agencies which are not required to send any information regarding hate crimes. Let me repeat for the sake of clarity: local U.S. law enforcement agencies can send hate crime information to the FBI if they want or if they deem it necessary but it is not required. Furthermore, even those agencies who do happen to record “hate crimes” are often extremely lax in their documentation – and who can blame them, when faced with murder, rape and riots it makes little sense to prioritize some West Virginian hilljack randomly shouting “Nigger” or some random LARPer from /pol/ vigorously Tweeting about gassing the Jews.
As of 2016, FBI data-sets analyzing 2014 to 2015  showed that it was not Jews who were experiencing a marked increase in alleged “hate crimes” (which let us not forget can be basically anything from a offensive word all the way to actual physical assault) but rather, Blacks and African Americans and Whites or European Americans. In my own research I could find no conclusive evidence for a long term trend away from tolerance towards Jews in America from the American populace. Quite the contrary, it appears as if America’s collective feeling towards the Jewish people (and religion) seems to be quite positive. Take for instance this poll from the Pew Research Center which shows that of all the religious groups in the United States (atheists were included for some reason) Jews evoked the warmest feelings (atheists and Muslims evoked the coolest or most unpleasant feelings). This study is representative of only 4,248 US individuals but even still, if antisemitism was really “on the rise” one wouldn’t really expect this kind of overwhelmingly positive result. The moral of the story is that solid evidence needs to be established that establishes definitive timelines and maps attitudinal trends from positive to negative before it can be definitively stated that there is some kind of Jew hate subsuming the entirety of the United States. Anything else is hysterical fear-mongering – but what else can one really expect from groups such as the ADL?
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