Kudos to Joshua Shanes for this remarkable op-ed at the WaPo. Extending Joshua’s argument a little, he bats down the lie that you hear about Trump (and also about anti-Zionism?) that you can’t be an anti-Semite if you don’t hate and even “like” Jews (or support the State of Israel). Joshua’s op-ed makes reference to the historical figure Carl Lueger. Thinking, of course, about Donald Trump, the example of Lueger reminds me of the reference comparing Trump to King Achashverus in the Purim story made by Rav Moshe Lichtenstein, whose address after Pittsburgh I posted was it already last week or the week before after the Pittsburgh massacre.
These are what I took most to heart from Joshua’s op-ed:
“Scholars of anti-Semitism and modern Jewish history are very familiar with the figure of Karl Lueger, the popular mayor of Vienna who rode anti-Semitism to office at the end of the 19th century. Like many divisive politicians today, he almost certainly did not believe in his own rhetoric. Famously, when caught dining with a Jewish friend, he shouted at an anti-Semite, “Wer ein Jude ist, bestimme ich!” (“I decide who is a Jew!”)
But he was a master of what historian Carl E. Schorske called the “politics in a new key,” the politics of rallies, slogans, symbols and emotion. He understood the politics of moving the masses. He abandoned liberalism for populist anti-Semitism because he understood that anti-Semitism could be harnessed rhetorically to electrify and grow his base, to bring in constituents whose economic interests would normally conflict with each other. And he was right.”