The story of the Jews in America shows how a people persecuted by Christians and Muslims in the Old World were welcomed, not just tolerated, in the New World. Even when anti-Semitism has sprouted, Americans’ ingrained decency and love of liberty has triumphed, squelching any budding bigotry.
Today, alas, college campuses are witnessing an un-American outbreak of Jew hatred, not “just” anti-Zionism. “Nearly three quarters” of Jewish students in last summer’s Cohen Center at Brandeis University survey reported being exposed to at least one anti-Semitic statement in the 2014-2015 academic year. The Amcha Initiative, a group that tracks anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses, inventoried 302 incidents at 109 schools in 2015, including a vandalized menorah, swastikas spray-painted on Jewish student centers, a Jewish student punched in the face, and a YikYak message posted at the University of Chicago that sneered: “Gas them, burn them and dismantle their power structure. Humanity cannot progress with the parasitic Jew.”
In an age of zero-tolerance for subtle microaggressions, these macroaggressions should be generating widespread outrage—rather than being ignored, or even excused sometimes. To resist this scourge, Jews and non-Jews alike should learn about Americans’ historic and unending disgust for anti-Semitism. A characteristic but forgotten moment occurred in 1809, when a Republican rival tried expelling the Federalist Jacob Henry (PDF) from North Carolina’s state legislature—because Henry was a Jew.
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