Editor’s Note: Lev Golinkin writes on refugee and immigrant identity, as well as Ukraine, Russia and the far right. He is the author of the memoir “A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
Monday evening, as American Jews gathered to celebrate the second night of Hanukkah, news broke of Rudy Giuliani’s anti-Semitic tirade against billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
The remarks, which came during an alcohol-laden interview with New York Magazine, cap off a long, alarming year for anti-Semitism both in the United States and abroad.
Indeed, the most dangerous thing about living at a time of constant stories about anti-Semitism is how quickly the hatred is normalized. Two and a half years ago, chants of “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Virginia, stunned America; today, anti-Semitism is just a part of the news cycle.
And so, as we take stock after this latest news, it’s time to face three uncomfortable truths. First, despite his claims, Giuliani’s comments are unmistakably anti-Semitic. Second, this anti-Semitism is not merely vile but dangerous: The anti-Soros tropes like those evoked by Giuliani may tacitly encourage those prone to violence, resulting in Jewish bodies on the streets. Most disturbingly, we can’t write this off as the inebriated ravings of a single man. Everything Giuliani said had been repeated, over and over, by President Donald Trump, by Republican lawmakers and by Fox News hosts.
Of course, today’s surge of anti-Semitism isn’t limited to Republicans; the problem is widespread. Some of the leaders of the Women’s March have been plagued by accusations of anti-Semitism and a horrific kosher market attack in Jersey City earlier this month is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism thought to be fueled in part by a hatred of Jews, according to the state attorney general.
But the proliferation of anti-Semitic tropes in the GOP is so worrying precisely because it’s widespread and systematic. By now, there’s enough evidence to say that, in much of today’s Republican Party, anti-Semitic tropes are not an irregularity but a feature.