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The denial and deflection that unites the cheerleaders of Trump and Corbyn

3 Mar 2017 by Dave Rich

This opinion piece, by CST's Dr Dave Rich, appeared in the online edition of the Jewish News on 3 March 2017. You can read the full article here.  

American Jews have been rocked in recent weeks by a wave of anti-Semitic incidents, including bomb threats and cemetery desecrations.

These kinds of attacks are not supposed to happen in the Jewish utopia of the United States, and suddenly the sense of insecurity felt by European Jewish communities in recent years seems to be making its way across the Atlantic.

This isn’t helped by the fact that President Trump was initially slow to condemn the attacks, and then, bizarrely, appeared to blame Jews, Democrats or anyone other than anti-Semites for carrying them out in order to damage him and his supporters.

“Someone’s doing it to make others look bad,” Trump was reported as saying on a conference call with state attorneys general from across America.

It might be anti-Semites perpetrating these incidents, or “the reverse can be true,” he said.

It’s typical of Trump to make everything – even the desecration of Jewish cemeteries – about himself, but the allegation that Jews or others carry out ‘false flag’ anti-Semitic attacks for political benefit is a conspiracy theory that is very common on the far right.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, a lot of the anti-Semites on the American far right are currently delighted with Trump’s presidency.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Trump, who regularly echoes conspiracy theories and appears contemptuous of the very idea there is such a thing as ‘fact’, could come out with such a strange suggestion; but it is certainly alarming.

It is a common mistake to view conspiracy theorists as wacky, or stupid, but usually harmless.

They aren’t.

[Image credit: Gage Skidmore/Garry Knight]


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“Since 2003, CST has been a stalwart supporter of ODIHR in its efforts to effectively monitor antisemitic hate crime in the OSCE Region. With its rigorous methodology and innovative partnerships with the British police, it is viewed by many as representing the gold standard for NGO responses to all forms of hate crime. I wish CST all success in its exciting new phase of work.”

Michael Georg Link
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights