Attorney General William Barr condemned the spread of anti-Semitism on Monday, comparing hatred against Jews to a form of metastasizing cancer.
“A healthy body with a strong immune system can have success in preventing cancer from emerging or spreading, but if the immune system weakens, cancer can emerge,” Barr told the crowd while speaking at the Department of Justice’s summit on anti-Semitism. “Some might be localized, but others can rapidly metastasize and become systemic. Just like the physical body, a body politic must have an immune system that resists anti-Semitism and other forms of racial hatred.”
“What is the state of our immune system within American society?” he continued. “In a pluralistic society like ours, I think the ability to resist hate comes from cultivating a civil society that on the one hand nurtures the freedom of each group to pursue their faith and distinctive way of life, while at the same time fostering the ties that bind us together into a genuine broader community.”
The Justice Department revealed in early July that it will be hosting the summit, bringing together Trump administration officials and Jewish leaders to discuss combating anti-Semitism on colleges campuses and throughout America, reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Referring to hatred against the Jewish people as “the most ancient and stubborn form of racism throughout western history,” Barr stated that combating anti-Semitism is a “critical priority” of his department.
“The causes have been varied; at times it has been driven by religious intolerance, cultural differences, economic envy and ideological dogma,” Barr said. “Sometimes those disappointed with their own rotten life seize on conspiracy theories to blame the Jewish people for their own discontent, and some times political factions competing for power find in the Jewish people a convenient scapegoat to unify and inflame their political base.”
The attorney general put forth that while there is no state-organized violence in the United States, the country has faced a surge in political violence over the past decade, especially regarding reported instances of anti-Semitic hate crimes.
“This past year in particular, the entire nation saw the evil fruits of this anti-Semitism in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue and in California at the Chabad at Poway,” Barr said. “In both instances, gunmen motivated by hatred against Jews opened fire killing worshippers and injuring others.”
“Of course it is one thing for the nation to pull together in condemning anti-Semitism when confronted with front-page stories about horrific shootings, as in Pittsburgh and in Poway, but far too often Jews and Jewish communities in America suffer outside the spotlight,” he continued, noting the desecration of gravesites in Jewish cemeteries and the uptick in attacks of Orthodox Jews in New York City as instances of anti-Semitism that received only local attention.
“While the tragic attacks in Pittsburgh and Poway appropriately drew national attention, these attacks and others like them in communities across the country, sadly are less well-known outside the Jewish community, but they form the daily background of concerns about security and safety that many in the Jewish community feel,” Barr said. “The nation as a whole must be aware of these concerns and reject the forces that motivate them.”
Although assuring the Jewish community that the Department of Justice, along with the entire federal government, will not tolerate religious-based attacks, Barr expressed concern over political factions dividing Americans to obtain power in the name of identity politics.
“They undermine the values that draw us together, such as a shared commitment to our country’s success,” Barr added. “This is the breeding ground for hatred and we must reject it.”