Former President Barack Obama is not mincing words when it comes to former President Donald Trump’s culpability in the growing trend of anti-Semitic hate crimes happening across the country right now.
Obama, whose administration fought to secure funding for Israel’s multi-billion-dollar defense system, has often had a tense relationship with pro-Israel supporters, who viewed some of his more controversial policy decisions as attacks on the Jewish State. Still, the former president seemed to support Jewish-Americans, who are facing a rising tide of resentment at home because of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic attacks rose to a near-record high over the course of Trump’s presidency, with 2020 recording the third-highest number of assaults, harassment, and vandalism toward American Jews in a single year. In an interview that Obama gave to Jewish Insider, the political-figure-turned-activist makes it clear that he believes that the correlation between these disturbing displays of anti-Semitism and Trump is not a coincidence.
“I said that the seeds that gave rise to the Holocaust have always been with us. They have found root across cultures, faiths, and generations. And they have reemerged again and again, especially in times of change and uncertainty,” Obama told the outlet, citing a speech that he gave near the end of his second term. “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 also called out the roles social media and channels like Fox News play when it comes to the growing divide between Republicans and Democrats across the country.
“I think a lot of that has to do with changes in how people get information,” he declared. “I’ve spoken about this before, but if you watch Fox News, you’re presented with a different reality than if you read The New York Times. And everything is amplified by social media, which allows people to live in bubbles with other people who think like them. Until we can agree on a common set of facts and distinguish between what’s true and what’s false, then the marketplace of ideas won’t work. Our democracy won’t work.”
While criticism of Israel and the human rights abuses that the country is inflicting on Palestinians does not constitute hate speech, Obama chose not to address the current war in the Middle East, focusing instead on the anti-Semitism on display during the Jan. 6th insurrection on Capitol Hill — a riot fueled by Trump.
“While I never anticipated what happened at the Capitol on January 6th, some of the negative and divisive trends that we’ve seen at home and around the world have contributed to a rise in anti-Semitism and other forms of hate,” he said. “In many cases, I’ve been pleased to see these acts of hate countered by far larger expressions of solidarity. People are recognizing that we all have a responsibility to stand together against bigotry and violence, to not be silent but there will always be a need for vigilance against anti-Semitism.”
(Via Jewish Insider)