Former President Barack Obama appeared to blame his successor, former President Trump, for adding fuel to rising anti-Semitism.
“I said that the seeds that gave rise to the Holocaust have always been with us,” Obama told Jewish Insider. “They have found root across cultures, faiths, and generations. And they have reemerged again and again, especially in times of change and uncertainty.”
“When I gave that speech, it was clear that anti-Semitism was on the rise around the world. People’s anger over everything from immigration to inequality was boiling over — and many of them were looking for someone else to blame. And for four years, we had a President in the White House who fanned those flames,” Obama wrote.
Incidents of anti-Semitism hit an all-time high in 2019, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979. More than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment occurred across the U.S., including a string of violent assaults in Brooklyn and deadly attacks in New York, New Jersey, and California.
In one of the most shocking incidents in recent years, two shooters launched an attack in broad daylight at a kosher market in a Jersey City Orthodox community in December 2019, killing a police detective and three bystanders during an hours-long shootout between the suspects and police.
Less than three weeks later, a man stabbed five people at a Hanukkah party in a rabbi’s home. One of the victims, a 72-year-old rabbi who was stabbed in the head multiple times, succumbed to his wounds and died about three months later. Earlier in the year, a shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California during Passover left one woman dead and three others injured including the synagogue’s rabbi.
While Obama appeared to suggest that Trump may have contributed to the rise in anti-Semitism, The Washington Post noted in February 2017:
As bad as 2017 has been for anti-Semitic incidents, 2016 wasn’t great, either. Nor was 2015, when the Anti-Defamation League reported 90 anti-Semitic incidents on campuses, twice as many as the year before — a slow drip that has continued into this school year. … While there is real anti-Semitism, we have no reliable statistics available to show there’s been a rise in anti-Semitism since Trump’s election. And while it’s easy for some to blame Trump for all acts of bigotry, we should discern what’s new from what we’re simply noticing for the first time.
Several members of the Democratic Party have been accused of expressing anti-Semitic sentiment; in early 2019, before all three of those high-profile incidents of anti-Semitic violence, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was criticized and accused of being anti-Semitic when she remarked on the “political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and several other Democrats have had ties in the past to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has a history of negative remarks about Jews, whom he has called the “satanic Jew,” including saying, “the powerful Jews are my enemy.” In 2018, some Democratic lawmakers denounced Farrakhan under pressure to do so by Republicans.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, formerly the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, previously vocally supported Farrakhan but has since condemned him.