Anti-Semitism reared its ugly head on the second night of violent riots in Philadephia, Pa., on Tuesday. The riots erupted over the police shooting of 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr., who was rushing police with a knife. In the name of Black Lives Matter, rioters and looters ransacked stores and brought mayhem to the City of Brotherly Love. In one particularly ugly incident, black rioters shouted at Jewish men who said they came out to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
In the video, several black men taunt the Jews.
“Y’all know that we the real Jews, right?” one black man says, repeating the Black Hebrew Israelite narrative. According to the more extreme Black Hebrew Israelites, not only are some black people descended from Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel (which is plausible), but only black people have the rightful claim to true Judaism.
Others taunt the Jewish men, saying, “This ain’t y’all fight, y’all gotta go.”
One of the Jews responds, “We’re showing solidarity.”
“We don’t need no solidarity,” one of the rioters responds.
Yet the black men shout, “Get the f**k out, get the f**k out!”
“You’re trash, cuz,” another rioter shouts. “Get your white a** out of here!”
As the Jewish men leave, the black man says, “Revelation 2:09, Synagogue of Satan!”
The Black Lives Matter rioter was quoting — and misinterpreting — the Bible to attack the Jews. Revelation 2:9 is part of St. John’s letter to the Church in Smyrna. The letter comforts the church amid tribulation and warns of a coming persecution. In the letter, Paul acknowledges “the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”
This passage makes a religious distinction between the hostile Jews of ancient Smyrna who persecuted Christians and the Christians who accepted the Gospel Jesus gave to all people. The text suggests that those who follow Jesus are the true Jews because they are following the God who first called the Jews.
These Jewish men were not harassing the Black Lives Matter rioters, nor were they persecuting them. It is outrageous for the rioters to respond by calling them false Jews and then branding them part of the “synagogue of Satan,” apparently due to the color of their skin.
Yet this terrifying anti-Semitism appears to be growing more mainstream. In July, a black NFL player shared a fake quote from Adolf Hitler warning that “white Jews” planned for “world domination.” Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued extra coronavirus restrictions for specific areas of New York City with high Orthodox Jewish populations in a move rabbis denounced as “blatantly anti-Semitic.” A Jersey City, N.J., school board member condemned Jews as brutes and defended men who shot up a kosher supermarket, claiming that they were fighting for the black community.
In the first round of riots following the death of George Floyd, rioters in Los Angeles, Calif., spray-painted “F**k Israel” and “Free Palestine” on the wall of a synagogue.
America’s leaders need to condemn this terrifying anti-Semitism. President Donald Trump has responded to the increasing anti-Semitism on college campuses with an executive order. Will Joe Biden condemn the anti-Semitism at Black Lives Matter riots?
Black Lives Matter rioters in Philadelphia threaten, assault, and chase out Jewish residents claiming "you don't live here" and call them members of the "Synagogue of Satan." pic.twitter.com/pKEssPeGLi
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) October 28, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.