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Anti-Semitism in Congress

The crowd cheered, “Death to the traitor! Shame on the Jews!”

The 44th mayor of Chicago has spoken. You may better remember him as Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s Jewish Chief of Staff. Here is an excerpt from his most recent article. “Representative Ilhan Omar [Muslim Congresswoman from Minnesota] has attracted much news coverage…for promoting some ugly tropes about Jews…Questioning congressional support for Israel, she blamed the campaign money provided by pro-Israel supporters. ‘It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.’ Her remarks are not anti-Israel; they are anti-Semitic… repeating some of the ugliest stereotypes about Jews…suggesting a dual loyalty that calls our devotion to America into question…Maybe I’m sensitive to this charge…”

Mr. Emanuel is not the only one calling for unequivocal condemnation of Omar’s bigoted comments. However, in today’s political climate there are always competing voices. The Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, was delighted by Omar’s offensive language. Even as she faced mounting calls to apologize, Farrakhan told her, “Sweetheart, don’t do that…You have nothing to apologize for.”

Within the Democratic Party itself there is an open rift. The newly-energized far left does not automatically support Israel. In fact, there is outright antagonism to the Jewish nation.  This antipathy has long been obvious on college campuses. Now it is in Congress. This is an ominous shift.

But America is not unique. Everywhere Jews have taken up residence and contributed to their host country, they have been accused of dual allegiance.  Just a few years ago, the French Ministry of Defense released documents from the infamous Dreyfus Affair.

Alfred Dreyfus had been drafted into the French Army. His brothers-in-arms, many of whom were anti-Semites, snubbed him. Despite them, he climbed up the military ladder, and in 1894, he was nominated for membership of the high command, the first and only Jew to attain such standing.

The next year, the French media ‘discovered’ that someone had been passing secret documents to Germany.  This was an opportunity for the Jew-haters.  Rumors immediately spread that the Jew, Dreyfus, was suspected of spying for an enemy. Widely published in the press, the Minister of Defense publicly blamed Dreyfus before he even had a trial.

A closed-to-the-public military court deemed the libelous documents classified. So Dreyfus’ attorneys were unable to defend him. The judges ruled that Dreyfus would be stripped of all his ranks and exiled to Devil’s Island in South America for life, where 75% of all prisoners died.

In 1895, thousands came to enjoy the sight of a Jewish officer being demoted in a central Paris square. A soldier in dress uniform physically ripped all his medals and awards from his lapels and then took Dreyfus’s sword and broke it. The crowd cheered, “Death to the traitor! Shame on the Jews!”

The verdict triggered a powerful wave of anti-Semitism, with demonstrations and physical attacks against the Jews.  Against this mindset, the famous French author Emile Zola, wrote an open letter in which he accused the military of forgeries and a flawed trial. Published on the front page of France’s most popular newspaper, with the headline, “J’Accuse!: it sold 200,000 copies in one day.

France split into two camps.   Then an investigator, appointed to review the entire matter, discovered that the document that had established Dreyfus as a spy was indeed a forgery. An officer was arrested. He immediately confessed but then committed suicide. In 1899, Dreyfus got a second trial

Unimaginably, Dreyfus was found guilty again. However, ten days later the President of France pardoned Dreyfus. Still, it took another seven years for Dreyfus to be exonerated from all guilt, and regain his military rank. He actually returned to active duty and fought in World War I.

And so it is in every generation and in every country.  There will always be those who are against the Jews. So how do we survive? The final sentence of Exodus relates how the Jewish people in the desert would only travel when the Cloud of Glory moved forward. It ends with the phrase, “For G-d’s cloud would remain on the Tabernacle…before the eyes of the entire house of Israel in all their journeys.” On several occasions, the Rebbe explained that “all their journeys” is to be taken literally. Each and every Jewish journeys until the coming of Moshiach requires and merits G-d’s protection.

This is significant. Jews should not look to Washington, the European Union or to the United Nations for security assurances. Do we want their friendship? Obviously yes, and both Democrats and Republicans should appreciate the value of a safe Israel. But ultimately, our insurance policy comes from the One Above. So cast your vote on the only One who can never lose His Seat and watches over us in all our journeys.

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