They came waving Palestinian flags and clad in the keffiyehs that have become a symbol of the Palestinian cause. Dozens of chanting protesters crowded the street outside Goldie, a vegan restaurant serving Israeli-inspired dishes in central Philadelphia, blocking traffic and chanting, "Goldie, Goldie, you can't hide. We charge you with genocide."
What does this restaurant have to do with the war in Gaza? Nothing. It serves falafel to Philadelphians. It is owned by a Jew, who was born near Tel Aviv. And that's enough.
Around the world, synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, Jewish-owned businesses, and individual Jews are facing harassment, vandalism and even murder. Just two days after the Hamas terror attack, a Jewish student who tried to paint the Israeli flag on a "free speech rock" at Wayne State University was shoved and called a "f—-ing Zionist." A week later, a woman was punched in the face at Grand Central Terminal. When she asked her attacker why, he said "You are Jewish."
At the University of Minnesota, the Jewish student center erected a display showing the faces of children kidnapped by Hamas. It's been kicked over and damaged twice.
In Pittsburgh, just a few blocks from the Tree of Life synagogue, scene of the deadliest attack on Jews in American history, homes were defaced with graffiti proclaiming, "Free Palestine," "Death 2 America" and "I stand with Gaza."
In Thousand Oaks, California, a pro-Palestine demonstrator struck a 69-year-old Jewish man in the head. He later died of his wounds.
These are snapshots of a broad phenomenon. The Anti-Defamation League reports that anti-Jewish acts have increased more than 300% since the 10/7 attacks.
The Israel/Hamas war has also inflamed anti-Palestinian rage. A six-year-old child whose parents were from the West Bank was stabbed to death and his mother seriously wounded by a knife-wielding landlord in Illinois. And in Burlington, Vermont, three Palestinian college students were shot on the street simply for being identifiably Palestinian.
There are also reports of an increase in threats against American Muslims, though aside from the two terrible attacks in Illinois and Vermont, there doesn't seem to be a great wave of anti-Muslim sentiment surging in the nation or the world.
What would the response have been if we had seen one? If, in the wake of 10/7, we had seen mosques defaced, Muslim students harassed, Muslim homes vandalized, posters of kidnapped Palestinian children ripped down (work with me here), death threats posted online against Muslim Students Associations, individual Muslims shoved, slapped and punched "because you're a Muslim" and hordes of protesters carrying Israeli flags and chanting "From the river to the sea, Israel will be Arab-free!" we'd have no trouble labeling what was going on, would we?
We don't hold Muslims in Dearborn responsible for the acts of Muslims in Jakarta. We don't call in threats to their mosques or harass random Muslim engineers because Muslim regimes elsewhere are persecuting Christians.
Nor, of course, did we harass or persecute Buddhists due to the actions of the Burmese regime, which viciously persecuted its Rohingya Muslim minority, or individual Chinese Americans for China's oppression of the Uyghurs, or individual Catholics for the actions of the IRA, or individual Protestants for the acts of the Ulster Defense Association. We don't harass individual Russians for Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
In America, we believe in treating everyone as an individual, not as the mere representative of the group he or she may belong to.
So why is it so hard to see what is happening to Jews in the United States and around the world for what it is? Individual American (or European or Australian) Jews are not responsible for Israel's actions. They may support them, though surprisingly often they do not. But that's irrelevant. Isn't it odd that the very people decrying what they call "collective punishment" of Palestinians in Gaza can't see a contradiction in holding a Jew in Los Angeles responsible for what happens in Khan Younis?
Many of the antisemitic protests and harassments began before Israel retaliated for the 10/7 terror attack. They were, in effect, celebrations of Israeli victimization. They didn't chant, "Not in our name" after Hamas gang-raped women to the point of breaking their pelvises and filled their vaginas with nails and rocks before shooting them in the face. Protesters carried placards proclaiming, "By any means necessary" — as blatant an endorsement of terrorizing civilians as you can find.
There are no rallies in London or Paris demanding that Hamas release the hostages or permit the Red Cross to visit them. And the United Nations organization responsible for speaking up for women? Silence about the brutal attacks on Israeli women and girls. Israeli first responders forwarded the evidence to UN Women. Nothing for eight long weeks until Sheryl Sandberg and protesters in the UN lobby shamed them into a belated statement.
No, the upsurge in antisemitism wasn't a response to the IDF's campaign to wipe out Hamas. The initial wave was approval for killing and torturing Jews.
Some on the far left couldn't see that, but guess who could? The far right. Remember Charlottesville? Some of the same lowlifes, like the National Justice Party, are now showing up at anti-Israel rallies. Another neo-Nazi group, NSC-131, hung banners from an overpass near Boston that read "Free Palestine" and "End Jewish terror."
Those groups are fringe, but they have friends in very influential places. Tucker Carlson, for example, has used his X-supported platform to denounce those who warn of rising antisemitism on college campuses as "hypocrites" because they have not condemned the supposed support for "white genocide" at American universities. Carlson has brought the "great replacement" conspiracy theory into the mainstream. That was the very idea that motivated the Tree of Life killer.
Similarly, Carlson's patron, Elon Musk, has opened the sluice gates for bigotry and antisemitism on X.
The fever swamps are on our phones and in our social media feeds now. When conspiracies are loosed upon the world, it always comes back to the Jews. Whatever side you're on, if you think it's only the other side that has this problem, think again.
Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her new book, Hard Right: The GOP's Drift Toward Extremism, is available now.
Reprinted with permission from Creators.