Allison Donahue | February 14, 2020
Michigan has seen a large spike in incidents of extremism and anti-Semitism in recent years. While anti-Semitic and white supremacy has reached an all time high in Michigan, it’s also reflective of what’s happening all across the country. White supremacist propaganda more than doubled in 2019 over the previous year, making it the highest year on record in the U.S. according to data released on Thursday by the ADL.
In December, President Donald Trump, while speaking to the Israeli American Council, said, “A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well; you’re brutal killers. You’re not nice people at all, but you have to vote for me. You have no choice." Days later, five people were shot and killed at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City in an act of anti-Semitic domestic terrorism.
“While we are proud Democrats, we will gladly work with political leaders – of any party – who wish to engage in substantive efforts to protect American Jews and combat antisemitism,” Noah Arbit, the founder and chair of the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus, wrote in a statement on Dec. 15. “But Donald Trump is not a normal political leader. One cannot spew the most noxious tropes of antisemitism on Saturday [Dec. 7], declare fighting hatred of Jews their highest priority on Tuesday [Dec. 10], and hope to remain a credible partner on antisemitism on Thursday [Dec. 12].”
For Arbit, anti-Semitism and hate crimes are political. “Many organizations and institutions will try to deemphasize politics in assessing anti-Semitism and its manifestations, both in attacks and rhetoric,” Arbit told the Advance. “But from my perspective, anti-Semitism is deeply political, and without a response that is equally political we are not going to be equipped to fight it.”
Arbit says part of the work of the caucus is to increase Jewish representation in the Michigan Legislature and boost education on the needs of the Jewish community.
In Arbit's perspective, "antisemitism is deeply political; without a response that is equally political, we won't be equipped to fight it."