By Andrew Joyce, Ph.D. | 8 April 2017
The 19th-century humorist Josh Billings once wrote that “there is no greater evidence of superior intelligence than to be surprised at nothing.” Demonstrating its superior intelligence on Jewish matters, few events shocked the Alt Right less than the recent arrest of a Jewish teenager in Israel for hoax bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Although we are now some weeks removed from the epicenter of this hoax, the sheer scale of its attending political and media hype are deeply significant and deserve further discussion and contextualization. Of particular interest are the actions and posturing of the Anti-Defamation League, shameless in its immediate assertion that the perpetrator was a White anti-Semite, again demonstrating great tenacity in the exercise of its considerable political and cultural influence. Employing the flimsiest of narratives, underpinned by an equally suspect “history of persecution,” the ADL was able to disseminate the myth of Jewish victimhood in the media, secure top-level consultation with the FBI, and even publicly chide the President of the United States for his “inadequate” response. In particular, Trump’s refusal to automatically assume that the bomb threats were a “hate crime” was met with bitter rebukes from several Jewish organizations.
After the “US-Israeli” culprit was apprehended, the naive might have expected some humility and soul-searching from these groups. Yet, in a development that will again fail to surprise the Alt Right, the ADL was unapologetic and intransigent. With extreme arrogance, the organization issued a statement reading: “While the details of this crime remain unclear, the impact of this individual’s actions is crystal clear: these were acts of anti-Semitism.”
Although Jews themselves seem to have learned little from the episode, it does provide us with some food for thought. From beginning to end, the episode perfectly revealed in microcosm the Jewish relationship to anti-Semitism, the construction of narratives through which Jews understand themselves, and the importance of myth and deception in sustaining Jewish identity. In short, the episode revealed the core of a singular phenomenon — the quintessential ‘Jewish hoax.’ Since no language better grapples with the concept of the compound noun than German, we may even coin a term for this phenomenon — the Judenscherz. […]