Commentary: Antisemitism has no place in today’s political debate

At the Jan. 13 hearing of the Sussex County GOP, Nelly Jordan once again declared that she is not an antisemite. The thing about antisemitism is that in our day-to-day life, it doesn’t look like the Ku Klux Klan or Adolf Hitler. More commonly, antisemitism manifests itself in the form of charging Jews with conspiring to harm humanity and/or blaming Jews for “why things go wrong.”

The reason Ms. Jordan faced removal at that hearing was because she made remarks placing blame on the Jews for the impeachment of President Trump, going so far as to say that “Jews were going against the G-d’s will, “as it was in the times of the Old Testament.”’ The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance includes in its definition of antisemitism, “accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.”

Make no mistake, Ms. Jordan’s statement was antisemitic.

The hearing drew a crowd that included supporters of Ms. Jordan who expressed feelings that this was not about antisemitism but that their party was giving in to political correctness and limiting free speech. Nothing could be further from the truth when in fact every fact that this issue was being debated in public is proof that free speech is alive and well here in the state of Delaware. I am not advocating for the silence of Ms. Jordan and her supporters but as a representative of her political party, we expect better. When critics of her removal decry that this is political correctness run amuck, I ask why is it a negative thing to believe that language and actions that could be offensive to others, especially those relating to sex and race, should be avoided?

I ask that we all raise our collective voice for a world free of antisemitism, hate, and bigotry – whether that hate comes from the far left, the far right or somewhere in between. Part of our core mission at the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Delaware is to educate our communities and fight all forms of prejudice and discrimination. While we feel that ultimately, the Sussex County GOP did the right thing in voting out the vice chairwoman, the fact that this passed by just two votes is alarming and we will continue to work with government and party leadership to make sure that Delaware is not a place where antisemitic rhetoric is misconstrued as anything other than what it is: hate and bigotry.

Jennifer Steinberg is chairwoman of the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Delaware.