From the Washington Post opinion section:
Why we were overdue for a fierce debate about anti-Semitism in America
By focusing mostly on the Holocaust, we have overlooked centuries of American anti-Semitism.
By Pamela S. Nadell
Pamela S. Nadell holds the Patrick Clendenen Chair in women’s and gender history at American University and is the author of “America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today .”
Anti-Semitism is everywhere these days. … Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) intimates that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee pays politicians to support Israel and, more recently, wonders about people pushing for “allegiance to a foreign country,” triggering this week’s fierce debate about anti-Semitism in U.S. politics. …
Compelled to apologize for her first comments, Omar thanked Jews for “educating” her about “the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.” But who, other than historians and some Jewish communal leaders, knows that history?
If only Jews could find the courage to finally speak up about the hushed-up subject of anti-Semitism.
When Americans think of anti-Semitism, they think of the Holocaust. …
This focus on the Holocaust gets Americans off the hook. …
But anti-Semitism is an American problem. … It is this history, which is rarely conveyed in classrooms or monuments, that we need to confront as a nation.
Anti-Semitism on U.S. soil goes back to Colonial days. In 1654, 23 Jews, fleeing the Inquisition that threatened to reach them in Brazil, landed in New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony that became New York. There, Gov. Peter Stuyvesant wanted to eject this “deceitful race — such hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ,” people he despised for “their customary usury and deceitful trading.”
Fortunately for these refugees, New Amsterdam’s Jewish leaders successfully interceded. Stuyvesant’s request that these new lands not “be infected by people of the Jewish nation” was denied.
But other Americans echoed Stuyvesant’s sentiments. ,… In 1862, during the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant expelled the “Jews, as a class,” from his military district. Although President Abraham Lincoln countermanded the order, the legacy of an expulsion on U.S. soil painfully echoed Jewish persecution across the ages.
… Anti-Semitism limited Jews’ access not only to hotels but also to social and professional clubs, private schools, camps and fraternities. …
Someday, reparations will be paid to members of the Hillcrest Country Club because their great-grandfathers couldn’t join the Los Angeles Country Club.
As I wrote in my new book, “America’s Jewish Women,” an anonymous “Jewess” described anti-Semitism’s impact on her family in a women’s magazine in 1942. Her daughter had planned to vacation with a friend, but the hotel told her that she wouldn’t find the right “company” there. …
If I were asked to help educate Omar, I would reflect less on the history of anti-Semitic tropes. Instead, I would focus on this history of anti-Semitic acts. They far better demonstrate why her Jewish colleagues are so worried about her education.