Sunday Commentary: Unleashing the Hate

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – If you are an American Jew, you have to be a little concerned about the trajectory of things.

The latest…  Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has found himself in hot water as he posted the link on Twitter to the 2018 documentary “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which espouses several anti-Semitic tropes (for background see – here and here).

By itself, it is easy to write off Irving, who missed much of last year because he refused to vaccinate.  Just as it is easy to by itself write off Ye or Kanye West for his anti-Semitic tirade earlier this month.

The problem is that you then have white supremacists putting banners over the crowded 405 overpass in LA, just as they did over a less crowded 113 overcrossing near UC Davis.  And then you have the increased incidents like you had this week at UC Davis where Proud Boys were confronting protesters with pepper spray and attempting to provoke fights.

Should we be worried?  I think so, because the legacy of Trump is that he has given voice to and empowered these voices of hate and anger.  We saw what was unleashed on January 6, but, more menacing, we see how pervasive the belief on the right is that the 2020 Election was somehow stolen from Trump.

Under normal conditions, you would probably expect that the post-2020 behavior by Trump, January 6, and numerous attempts to subvert the lawful and legitimate election of Joe Biden would eliminate Trump from consideration for 2024—but things are not normal.  The pandemic, the teetering economy, and soaring inflation push Trump very much into play in 2024.

Remember, it was the Great Depression and the second German economy collapse that paved the way toward Hitler, even after his failed Putsch attempt in 1923.

We have seen, since 2017, the rise in hate crime incidents and that includes against Jews.

The Washington Post notes that “current attitudes toward Jews are complex and can seem to run in different directions.”

Overall they find “Americans overall espouse less antisemitic views than they did 60 years ago.”

According to ADL (Anti-Defamation League), in the 1960s, when people were asked if they agree with a series of negative stereotypes about Jews, about 29 percent of Americans were considered anti-Semitic.  On the other hand, in 2019, the most recent year of measure, it was 11 percent, the lowest ever.

The Post reports, “That same year, however, the ADL also tracked 2,107 incidents of vandalism, violence and harassment toward Jews in the United States, which at the time was the highest number since the group began gathering data in the 1970s. (That record was broken in 2021).”

“While at a generalized level, antisemitic attitudes have dropped, the incidents have risen because there is less shame. People feel they can say and do anything,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League told the Washington Post in an interview.

That makes a lot of sense.  It seems to be exactly what we are seeing.

These people have been empowered by and egged on by Trump.

But, wait a second, defenders of Trump will point out that his son-in-law is Jewish.  So are some of his key advisors.

Yes and some of my best friends are Black, say just about everyone accused of being racist in modern America.

As the Washington Post last week pointed out, Trump has a long history of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes.

“Wonderful Evangelicals are far more appreciative of [Trump’s record on Israel] than the people of the Jewish faith, especially those living in the U.S.,” Trump said on Truth Social.

Trump believes that he while he is so popular in Israel he could be elected prime minister, “U.S. Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel — Before it is too late!”

This plays on the misguided belief that American Jews have a dual loyalty to Israel.

This was not a one-off, as the article goes to great lengths to show.

“We have people that are Jewish people that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough,” he said in 2019.  He added the same year, “Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.

“Jewish people who live in the United States don’t love Israel enough,” he said in an interview last summer, adding: “I believe we got 25 percent of the Jewish vote, and it doesn’t make sense. It just seems strange to me. But I did very well in Florida. I did great in Florida.”

With all that said, there really is a common denominator—it’s all about him.  He thinks that Jews should support him, because he is supportive of Israel.

His narcissism aside, I don’t really think that’s what is behind the surge in anti-Semitic comments.  Rather it is the more general empowerment of far-right forces.

This goes back instead to Charlottesville and before.

Trump was criticized for delaying calling out the white Supremacists at Charlottesville.  When he did, he mucked it up, stating, “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

The forces on the far right have been empowered and given voice—and now we are finding that that genie is not easily put back into the lamp.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Ron Glick

    I grew up during the Civil Rights era. I heard Dr. King’s famous I Have A Dream speech the day it was given. It has informed my view of equality throughout my entire life. However, as I have grown older, my understanding has become more self interested as I have come to realize the importance of defending the civil and human rights of others as a bulwark against hate directed towards myself.

    Stated simply my philosophy on race, ethnicity  and religion can be reduced down to the idea that the Jews are next. You must stand up for your brother or there will be no one to stand up for you.

    Look no further than Charlottesville as the perfect example. The demonstration there was supposed to be about Confederate statues but morphed into a Nuremberg style torchlight rally of anti-Semitic replacement theory.

    Trump may have a convert daughter but I always knew where his rhetoric and courting of right wing extremists would lead. And so I am not surprised in the least by the rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

    Still I am hopeful because of people standing up against hate. You talk about the perpetration of anti-Semitism by sports stars but you missed the spot on response from my hero Kareem Abdul Jabbar who in 2020 responded by writing:

    The lesson never changes, so why is it so hard for some people to learn: No one is free until everyone is free. As Martin Luther King Jr. explained: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” So, let’s act like it. If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone.

    You can read his entire piece here:


  2. Dave Hart

    Maybe it’s time for our community to put our heads together to figure out ways to pull the rug out from under these groups in a way that works in this community.  For instance, would our police force be able to help us decide what measures to take when the Proud Boys show up?  Is it legal, for instance, to have bags of flour to throw back at them so they are easier to identify when trying to leave town?  Violence is what they want, so violence is not what we should grant them.  Instead we need to make fun of them, make them the butt of some kind of joke, mock them in some way that is visible.  With all the smart people in this town, surely we can come up with a way of effectively embarrassing them.

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