The history of anti-Semitism is as old as the Jews themselves, adopting countless forms and flavors across the generations. Most recently, it was the Nazis who proposed a Final Solution to the Jewish Problem, casting Jews as vermin, a subhuman blight on humanity. Only through extermination could the survival and welfare of all mankind be secured.
But that wasn’t all. Simultaneously, the Nazis accused the Jews of masterminding a global conspiracy and seeking to gain control over the world governments and economies. That ordinary Germans willingly accepted both these fabrications at one time proves that a population will believe anything that leaders tell them as long as the message is effectively packaged.
But here is the most dangerous fantasy of all: The belief that it could never happen again, that it could never happen here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Fortunately, there are voices determined to prevent that from happening. Organizations like the Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism, founded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, are taking bold steps to raise awareness and impose sanity upon the relentless narrative of Jew-hatred. Even more reassuring, the initiative has sparked conversation and action among groups like 360° Nation (of which I am honored to be a member), inspiring grassroots movements to take responsibility for the direction of our society.
DEFENDERS OF THE TRUTH?
Not all forms of anti-Semitism are equal, however. The most insidious slanders are those couched within the guise of noble intentions and social justice, especially when supported by enough granules of truth to lend legitimacy to the larger lie. The perpetrators feign authenticity by claiming that they are not attacking Jews at all, only certain enclaves of Jews, or specific Jewish institutions, or particular Jewish philosophies—like Zionism, or Chassidim, or the Ultra-Orthodox.
Martin Luther King invalidated this approach, remarking that, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”
Who are the perpetrators? Many in the media; most notably, the one institution that should be the leading advocate for truth: The venerable New York Times. Instead, the paper of record has embarked on a smear campaign against Orthodox Jews.
On September 11, 2022, the Times launched a 17-part hit-piece targeting the Orthodox community and its educational institutions. To support its accusations, the paper cited a relative handful of disaffected individuals, championing them as if their experiences represented the mainstream of Torah observant society rather than a marginal aberration.
EXCEPTION, NOT THE RULE
Of course, Orthodox Jews are not perfect. We suffer from the same human failings and shortcomings as everyone else. But the success of our communities has been demonstrated through a variety of indicators, perhaps most notably by the results of a 2011 study reported by the Times itself. Based on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the study identified Orthodox Jews as the happiest of any demographic.
Amidst all the cherry-picked anecdotes of alleged abuse, neglect, and indoctrination, it’s remarkable that not one single member of the Times staff seems to have wondered aloud how such a benighted and dysfunctional community could possibly have produced such happy and contented adherents.
But even worse than the Times’ yellow journalism was the credulity and acclaim their report initially received. After garnering the Polk Award in journalism and being named a finalist for Harvard University’s Goldsmith Award for investigative journalism, the Times’ report was poised to cap its achievement by winning the coveted Pulitzer Prize.
That’s what galvanized leaders in the Orthodox community decided to take action by dispatching a 30-page letter with 70 footnotes to members of the Pulitzer Prize board, then disseminating the letter throughout the media. The Wall Street Journal, after picking up the letter, denounced the Times for violating ethical standards through systematic misrepresentation. Not only did the Gray Lady fail to win a Pulitzer; its report neither ranked as a finalist nor even received honorable mention.
CONSPIRACY OF THE COMPLICIT
The Times report is not an isolated incident of anti-Jewish propaganda. Netflix as well has produced anti-Orthodox programming designed to attract voyeuristic audiences by making salacious accusations grounded in emotional catharsis with little foundation in reality. These types of media attention tar an entire community with the brush of defamation, drive a wedge into the Jewish community and increase anti-Semitism among media consumers lacking the sophistication to differentiate between one variety of Jew and another.
The late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, one-time Chief Rabbi of England, spoke eloquently of the need for the non-Jewish community to address anti-Semitism. Jews cannot defend themselves alone; a response carries weight when it comes from within the community of the perpetrators, not solely from among the victims.
More significantly, however, is that anti-Semitism is not just about the Jews.
Some have observed that the Jewish people are the canary in the cultural coal mine. Once ideological zealots start coming for the Jews, it’s only a short moment in time before they come for the Catholics, the Mormons, the Muslims, the Christians, the traditionalists, the libertarians, and every perceived other according to their beliefs and ethnicity. It has happened before, and it’s delusional to imagine it can’t happen again.
It is indeed unfortunate that the Orthodox, historically, have had so much trouble messaging to the outside world. But that’s beginning to change. We invite you to learn who we are, to see that the old anti-Semitic tropes have merely been resurrected in new, politically correct language. Please visit KnowUs.org. We’d love it if you got to know who we are, and we look forward to the chance to get to know you as well.
 This last is a made-up media term, invented to imply extremism.
 There is a longer version of the quote, erroneously attributed to Dr. King. It would be nice to claim he had said it, but bending facts to fit the narrative is the quickest way to fail the test of integrity.
Editor’s Note: Join Yonason and all of us as together, we combat all forms of hate. Read more here: Hate is A Four-Letter Word