The Washington Post’s Opinion Page Calls Out Antisemitism

Jews comprised 57.5% of victims of all religious bias hate crimes in the United States in 2020, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Yet, many U.S. news outlets have failed to provide adequate coverage of the rising danger of antisemitism. Indeed, as CAMERA has documented, some in the media have actively contributed to the problem, engaging in antisemitic tropes, offering apologetics for antisemites—and, at times, even publishing them.

Accordingly, the Washington Post’s decision to publish not one, but two, opinion pieces in the same week calling out antisemitism is not just welcomed—it’s much needed.

On Sept. 23, 2021, Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen authored the bluntly titled, “When you vote to let terrorists kill Jews, that is antisemitism.” Thiessen didn’t pull any punches while describing the efforts of a handful of members of Congress to block funding for the Iron Dome, the U.S.-funded defense system that blocks missiles and rockets fired into Israel.

Thiessen quoted Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who noted that the Iron Dome “is a purely defensive system,” which “protects civilians when hundreds of rockets are shot at population centers.” Iron Dome, Slotkin tweeted, “is used to protect our bases abroad, in addition to Israeli civilians in their homes.”

But the truth about Iron Dome was obfuscated in the misleading statements of the small coterie who sought to block its funding. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), for example, tweeted, “Here’s an idea: don’t sell arms to anyone who violates human rights.”

The decision by Omar and others to oppose funding Iron Dome is particularly malicious, Thiessen observed. As recently as May 2021, Gaza-based terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fired 4,369 rockets at Israel. Many of the rockets missed their targets, and as CAMERA’s Alex Safian has documented, many fell short and killed or wounded Gazans.

Many of the rockets were aimed indiscriminately at residential neighborhoods where they could—and in some cases, did—strike and kill Israelis. Yet, Iron Dome blocked the overwhelming majority of these missiles. This system not only saves lives, but it prevents Israel from escalating and carrying out a major ground operation in Gaza—one that would likely result in a significant loss of life, Israeli and Palestinian alike.

As Thiessen noted: “If you oppose funding for the Iron Dome, it means you want to deny Israel the ability to stop those rocket attacks. It means you want Hamas to retain the capability to kill Israeli civilians in their homes. And it exposes the lie that these progressive representatives are not antisemites. When you vote to let terrorists kill Jews, that is antisemitism.”

The Washington Post columnist also recited the litany of evidence illustrating the antisemitism of Rep. Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MN) and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). All three, for example, introduced pro-boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) legislation that compared boycotting the Jewish state to boycotts against Nazi Germany. For a newspaper that has often obfuscated on the blatant antisemitism of these representatives, Thiessen’s reproach is welcome.

Another Washington Post opinion piece also called reader’s attention to rising antisemitism—not in the halls of Congress, but in the dormrooms and lecture halls of colleges.

“Across the country, a new trend is on the rise: antisemitism on college campuses,” writes Michal Cohen in a Sept. 24, 2021 Post op-ed (“American University sets a dangerous precedent: Antisemitism can wait”). Cohen, a senior at American University and marketing officer for Jewish on Campus, a non-profit organization, told Post readers how universities are spreading the virus of antisemitism. Cohen recounted American University’s pathetic and belated response to swastikas found on AU’s campus, lamenting that Jewish student’s “feel unsafe.”

Antisemitism has become endemic in institutes of learning, as CAMERA has documented. In recognition of this threat, CAMERA recently launched the International Student Leadership Institute, which along with CAMERA on Campus, works to combat antisemitism on campuses.

The Washington Post has not given this threat the attention that it deserves. As CAMERA noted in a Spring 2020 essay, the newspaper’s editorial board even opposed President Donald Trump’s December 2019 executive order to combat antisemitism on college campuses. Worse still, the Post mischaracterized the order, claiming that it “specifically targets colleges and universities by classifying Judaism not only as a religion but also as a race or nationality.” But it does no such thing. As the ADL pointed out “the Executive Order includes Jews in Title VI protections, something ADL and previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have supported for years.”

It is past time for major U.S. newspapers to devote column space to the ominous rise of antisemitism. The Washington Post’s decision to do so should be lauded and, one hopes, repeated—including by the newspaper itself.