I wrote in my cover story about the presidential election last month that Jewish voters were the evangelicals of 2008, the holy grail of the electorate that both sides have waged war over. (It’s been an ugly battle.)
Though Jewish representation in Congress is expected to surpass the records achieved in 2006, a Jewish friend of mine who has been an Obama supporter from the get-go messaged me Friday to ask if I thought she was paranoid or if something vicious had been beneath the surface of the whole campaign season.
Our dialogue follows:
Her: Am I imagining it ... or is there an unsettling undercurrent of anti-Semitism going on in this election? This whole thing with Lieberman has got me a little worried. I know he’s a colossal dickhead, but many are publicly calling him a traitor and that’s a really ugly thing to say.
Me: I’m not sure. The Jewish community certainly hasn’t helped itself this election being so internally divisive and commanding so much attention throughout. Certainly after the 2004 election a lot of Americans held negative feelings about evangelicals. Maybe the same thing is at play here. Hope not—the economic crisis is enough to spike anti-Semitism.
Her: I know. The whole “Jews Own the Banking Industry” and all that Elders of Zion crap will follow us in perpetuity. And I know that older Jews’ support of McCain has changed the once liberal stereotype we had. There’s just something very ugly out there, and I can almost assure you that I will not see a Jew as president in my lifetime, but ... I don’t, something’s just been bugging me lately. I can’t even give you any examples, it’s very subtle.
Me: I’m not convinced this country will ever see a Jew as president. Though, a lot of young black people would have said that 20 years ago.
Her: I hear what you’re saying, but it’s different for Jews, I think. This is going to sound awful ... and it’s going to sound as though I have persecution issues ... but EVERYONE hates Jews. I don’t mean everyone literally, of course, but anti-Semitism exists in all segments of society. Women, men, whites, blacks, immigrants from every land on this planet, Christian, Muslim, Hindus—they all have anti-Semitic issues both blatant and quiet.
There is a fear and a hatred of Jews that goes back centuries and it comes in many forms. It’s political, it’s religious, it’s even societal.
Me: Indeed: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you. But, you know, some of my best friends are Jewish.
Her: And some of them just look Jewish. ;-)