>> Her enemy is intolerance from any side, this week on "Firing Line."
>> I'm a proud American, I am a proud New Yorker, and I am a proud Jew.
>> It was activism that led Bari Weiss to journalism and to the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
One of her favorite topics?
Anti-Semitism -- how to spot it on the right... >> Jews will not replace us!
>> ...and on the left.
>> Her opinions, at times, have created a firestorm... >> I've been called a neocon McCarthyite alt-right person.
>> ...but she's committed to saying what she thinks.
>> "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover" is made possible in part by... And by... Corporate funding is provided by... >> Bari Weiss, welcome to "Firing Line."
>> Thank you so much.
I'm thrilled to be here.
>> You have recently published a book, "How to Fight Anti-Semitism."
And in full disclosure, you and I have known each other for a couple of years now.
>> You grew up in Pittsburgh.
>> You spent a year in Israel abroad before you attended Columbia University, where you were a pro-Israel activist on campus.
>> Yes, mm-hmm.
>> As someone who has made a career out of writing opinions, I think you've also elicited many strong opinions, and we'll get to that later.
>> [ Chuckling ] Sure.
>> But first, I'd like to start with October 27, 2018.
So, that's a date that for anyone who's from Pittsburgh and, of course, the Pittsburgh Jewish community, it's a date that's emblazoned on our brains like 9/11 is on the national consciousness.
That was the morning that a white supremacist named Robert Bowers walked into Tree of Life, which is the synagogue where, in 1997, I became a bat mitzvah.
He said, "All these Jews need to die," and then he tried to kill as many Jews as he could.
>> So, you've written about the massacre, particularly that before that, you had always felt that the United States provided a safe haven for Jews.
I mean, it's funny when I say that as someone who's now studied pretty deeply the history of Jew hatred, because it's not as if America was inoculated from Jew hatred.
You had Henry Ford, who used his newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories like the Jews were behind World War I.
>> Somehow your innocence was shattered that day in terms of how safe you felt Jews could be.
I mean, I was raised on the idea that America was unique in history, not just for Jews but for all of history.
The fact that America's founders didn't see -- For all of their flaws, right?
And we don't need to go into them, but for all of their flaws, that they didn't see Jews as second-class citizens, George Washington wrote in 1790 to the first Jewish community of the country in Rhode Island that they would enjoy not just mere tolerance but possess full citizenship in America.
You know, I was raised -- My dad would always tell us on Passover that Benjamin Franklin wanted the image on the great seal of this country to be Moses crossing the Red Sea.
In other words, the founders saw themselves as the new Israelites enacting a new exodus, and they were in thrall to the very stories that Judaism is based on.
>> But do you doubt that idea now?
>> I don't doubt the history of that and the history of that exceptionalism.
What I doubt is the idea that that means that Jew hatred cannot take root here.
I no longer am of the illusion that we're somehow exceptional in history.
I'm no longer of the view that America is somehow protected not just from the virus of anti-Semitism but protected from the virus, I would say, of anti-liberalism that we see taking root in so much of our politics.
>> So, clearly, this event was a watershed moment for you personally, and it directed you towards writing this book.
Looking back, there were things that happened to me that are just very clearly symptoms of anti-Semitism, meaning I remember waiting at the school bus with my second sister, waiting to get on the school bus to go to our Jewish school -- >> And an anti-Semitic slur was hurled at you and your sister.
>> Yeah, and the Catholic school bus would ride by and they would scream "kikes" and "dirty Jews."
And things certainly happened to me when I was a student at Columbia University under the guise of anti-Zionism.
But because I was so steeped in this myth that America was unique in history and unique for the Jews and the best diaspora experience we've ever had.
And by the way, that last part is still true.
>> It still is true.
>> Still true.
But all of those -- The point is that all of those things kind of rolled off my back.
I saw them as vestiges of an uglier time and that those people who were expressing those views were somehow fundamentally out of sync with America itself.
I can no longer confidently say that in the same way.
>> So, one of the things that struck me about how you've characterized anti-Semitism is that you've called it a global conspiracy theory.
>> That is different from xenophobia or racism.
And I'd love for you to help me understand.
The racists sees themselves as punching down.
There's not a racist around probably that you can find that would suggest that Black people are the secret hand that controls the world.
They would just say Black people, Brown people, immigrants, as the xenophobe would say, that they're subhuman, right?
What the anti-Semite is saying, what the Jew-hater is saying, is that there is a secret hand controlling the world and that secret hand is the Jew.
And so the Jew becomes something not just subhuman but almost like antihuman.
And that, I think, is a very important distinction.
>> Is it punching up?
>> They see themselves as punching up, yes.
But the irony, of course, is that, by all accounts, you know, we are an oppressed minority.
And yet because of the incredible success we've been able to attain in this exceptional country, anti-Semites see themselves as punching up.
>> According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents have increased more than 150% between 2013 and 2018.
Two of the highest three years on record were 2017 and 2018, two years in Donald Trump's presidency.
>> You've written that the rule of thumb is that anti-Semitism rises at times of great insecurity and upheaval.
We have a perfect storm right now in this country.
>> Tell me why.
>> Well, there's a few things that I see happening that create a sort of petri dish for anti-Semitism to thrive.
One, a sort of post-truth culture, aided and abetted by a president who talks about fake news, in which conspiracy theories, in general, are on the rise.
And, of course, as we just discussed, you know, the key conspiracy theory is the conspiracy theory of the Jew controlling the world.
Anti-Semitism, over and above anything else, if your viewers walk away with one thing, it's the idea that it's an ever-morphing conspiracy theory that knows no political class, no color, no economic class.
It can take root and has in every culture all over the world.
So that's one.
Two, we're living in an age in which the political center is not holding.
Instead, what we see is the rise of neo-isolationism and populism on the far right and in the far left.
Populism, in general, is something understandable in a time of incredible economic inequality, which, by the way, another reason for the rise of anti-Semitism often happens in a time of economic upheaval.
But populism, in general, is not a very good thing for the Jews.
And the last thing I'll say is technology, is the fact that a lie can spread around the world in a second, and conspiracy thinking and, you know, all of the rest can just spread around in an instant on social media.
>> You've taken some time to sort of characterize anti-Semitism as it reveals itself on the right and on the left.
And let's just start with the right.
>> The kind of anti-Semitism that we saw during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, where neo-Nazis and white supremacists gathered around a rally.
I want you to take a look at something from that you've written about.
>> Jews will not replace us!
Jews will not replace us!
Jews will not replace us!
>> You've written about the line "Jews will not replace us" and replacement theory on the right.
They're screaming "Jews will not replace us."
Well, at first, I have to tell you, when I heard that -- this was two years ago.
Now I've been disabused -- I thought what they were saying was something very straightforward.
I thought what they were saying was, "The Jew is not going --" I thought it was anti-Semitic, but I thought it was straightforward in the sense of, "The Jew's not going to take my place in a university, in the corner office, at a law firm," go down the line.
Really what they're talking about is the conspiracy theory that we were talking about before.
In this disgusting view of the world, the Jews are the greatest trick the devil has ever played.
We pass as white, we look as white, and therefore we trick white people into thinking -- this is their view, not mine -- that we are of them and are making common cause with them.
Instead, what we really are is slavishly loyal to immigrant groups, to Muslim groups, to Black people, to brown people and all of the other minorities in this country that the racists on that screen believe are sullying the "true nature" of America.
>> So, I mean, I know that you've said that you don't think that President Trump is anti-Semitic, but you've also said that anti-Semites and, frankly, white supremacists find safe harbor in some of his actions and his rhetoric.
>> Oh, yeah.
When I've said Donald Trump isn't an anti-Semite or whatever I've said in the past, what I mean to say is only I don't know what's in his heart any more than I know what's in yours, although I know you, so I do.
But what I mean to say is, it's sort of irrelevant.
What I know is that we have a president who, as my colleague, Bret Stephens has perfectly written, he is dismantling the moral guardrails that keep bigotry down.
When he talks about the "enemies of the people," when he talks about "globalists," there is a reason that anti-Semites, like the people in that clip, are drawn to his banner.
He is playing all of the major chords that anti-Semites are drawn to.
And so, you know -- And I'll go further than that.
When he says things about the members of The Squad, people like Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar and AOC and Ayanna Pressley, people that I disagree with vehemently on any number of policies, but people who are American, either by birth or by citizenship, and have pledged an oath to uphold the Constitution, when he says of those people that "they need to go back to the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," he is playing on one of the oldest anti-Jewish tropes, which is this notion of dual loyalty and a provisional belonging.
And so when I, as a Jew, hear him saying that, I hear one of the oldest, most insidious tropes that has led to the mass murder of my people.
>> Do you think it's an accident or a coincidence that incidents of violence against Jews have gone up under his presidency?
>> No, of course not.
He has made things that were rightly, a few years ago, unsayable and unacceptable, sayable and acceptable.
And that has led, I believe, to a domino effect culturally.
>> So, all right.
I want to switch to the left then, because it might surprise people, given what you've said about anti-Semitism on the right, page for page in your book, you actually spend a lot more time on the left and anti-Semitism as it's embedded in the left.
You write that "Anti-Semitism that originates on the left is more insidious and perhaps more existentially dangerous than right-wing anti-Semitism."
So help me understand that.
>> Look, first of all, I've written a tremendous amount about anti-Semitism from the right.
And I know, without going into detail in my own life, how much I fear the violence of the anti-Semitism of the far right.
Those are the people that want to kill me, and those are the people that want to kill my family.
The difference, so to speak, is that they announce it.
They don't try and pretend to be something that they aren't.
They go in to a synagogue, and they say, "All Jews need to die."
When it comes to the left, and the reason I think it is more difficult, it comes cloaked in the language that, frankly, is a siren song to American Jewish ears, which are liberal ears.
75% of American Jews identify as liberal.
And when we hear someone talking about cloaking -- cloaking a political project in the language of progress, of social justice, of anti-racism, of civil rights, well, those are the things we want to be a part of.
>> Let me give you an example of it on the left.
We had Tamika Mallory, one of the co-leaders of the Women's March, co-founders of the Women's March, on this program, and here's what she had to say about Israel.
>> The Palestinians are native to the land, you know?
They were there for a very long time, and so they're native to the land.
>> Do you feel that the Jewish people are native, as well?
>> I mean, I understand the history that -- you know, that there are people who have a number of sort of ideologies around why the Jewish people feel this should be their land.
I'm not Jewish, so for me to speak to that is not fair.
>> If you're willing to say that the Palestinians are native but not that Jews are native, I mean, you're not Palestinian, either.
>> Because I'm speaking of the people who we know are being brutally oppressed in this moment.
That's just the reality.
>> The idea that it's simply ideology that connects Jews to the land of Israel is belied by all of history, by archeology, by literal things that are still being dug out of the ground, and by what Jews, frankly, pray for three times a day, which is a yearning to return to Jerusalem.
Now, having said all of that, I believe deeply in the Palestinian right to self-determination.
I believe that the Jewish state cannot maintain its Jewish and democratic character without that.
So I will echo Tamika Mallory in the sense that I will never sit here and deny that the Arabs who are living in that land, the Palestinians, don't also have a right to that land.
But it's simply a lie of history, it's revisionist, to suggest that the Jews don't have an indigenous claim to the land of Israel.
>> You identify as a Zionist.
>> Can you define Zionism for us?
It's very straightforward to me.
It is the belief in the Jewish right to self-determination somewhere in our historic homeland between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Unfortunately, Zionism itself is a word that has sort of become a dirty word.
One example that will always stick out to me, given the fact that you showed the Charlottesville clip.
There was a -- in the wake of this Unite the Right march, there was a minority student coalition that was formed at the University of Virginia, and all the groups were allowed except for the Jewish groups.
Because they were Zionists.
Because they were on the side of the "oppressors," because "oppressors" have no place in a coalition of the oppressed.
Now, that is a very rich thing, given that the people who marched in Charlottesville were anti-Semites shouting, "Jews will not replace us."
There's a canard that's often used on the left that any criticism of Israel is accused of being anti-Semitism.
If that were true, I would be an anti-Semite many times over, including in the pages of The New York Times.
I am deeply critical of the policies of the Netanyahu government and of lots of policies currently enforced in the state of Israel, just as I am deeply critical of policies of the Trump White House and of the American government.
>> So you can be a Zionist and still be critical of the state of Israel.
>> I think it is, in fact, a Zionist position, just as I think it is the position of an American patriot, to want America to live up to its ideals.
So I think it is an expression of my Zionism to criticize Israel.
Now, the way that that becomes complicated is the people that say, "Because Israel has all of these flaws, it doesn't have a right to exist," when you never hear them saying that about -- I don't know -- China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, even this country.
So there's a very clear line to me of where it crosses the line into anti-Semitism.
>> Let's talk about where anti-Semitism has appeared on the left in Congress.
>> There's been a long history of tweets and exchanges between you and Representative Ilhan Omar.
She tweeted, years ago, before she ever ran for Congress... And that tweet was then taken down but reemerged in an interview she did on CNN.
Why is the word "hypnotized" so problematic?
>> Because the idea of the Jew as capable of hypnotizing the world, as she put it, the idea that the Jew somehow has this unbelievable superhuman power and ability not just to persuade people but to hypnotize them, that is sort of the template, right?
That is sort of the template for the Jew as the duplicitous manipulator, the evil puppeteer.
Then you have the demonology right now on the far right of people like George Soros, Lloyd Blankfein, all of the rest, these evil Jewish bankers pulling the levers of power for their own benefit.
And I would argue that what you see in that Ilhan Omar tweet is that she is using Israel as a stand-in for that, that sort of, in certain ways, the biggest Jew in the demonology of modern anti-Semitism is the Jewish state.
And she's saying that Israel has hypnotized the world.
>> So when she came under fire for that 2012 tweet, here's what she said on CNN.
>> I don't know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans.
My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza war.
And I am clearly speaking about the way that the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war.
>> We don't usually talk about democ-- democratically elected governments as regimes, first of all.
But the thing I'll add is, the reason that I wrote a column about her statements and reached out to her is, I believe very, very strongly in giving people the benefit of the doubt and giving them the most generous read until proven otherwise.
>> But right after that clip, you wrote the column, she tweeted at you, "Hey, Bari Weiss.
In all sincerity, it was after my CNN interview that I heard from Jewish organizations that my use of the word 'hypnotize' and the ugly sentiment it holds was offensive."
So did anything come of the exchange between the two of you?
>> I had hoped that it would.
I extended an invitation for her to come to The New York Times and talk to me and talk to my colleagues about -- certainly about her views on Israel and the Jewish people but also more broadly.
Like, what is her -- what is her view of where the Democratic Party should be going?
I see a Democratic Party where the winds are at the backs of people like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and AOC.
And I want a sense of where they think the party is going.
But, unfortunately, she didn't come in.
>> One of the most enduring anti-Semitic tropes is that the Jews are not completely loyal to the United States of America.
We mentioned this earlier, that they hold dual nationality or dual loyalty.
And this came up in an original "Firing Line" with William F. Buckley Jr. when he hosted Stephen Isaacs in 1974.
I'd like to show you a clip of that and how Buckley dealt with anti-Semitism.
Let's take a look.
>> There's nothing wrong with a lobby.
It's okay for the oil industry to have a lobby in the United States or for the dairy farmers.
Where it becomes -- This is a classic anti-Semitism, if you will.
It becomes different if suddenly it's Jews doing it.
No one screamed when Italians put heavy pressure on our government to get more Italians in the United States many years ago.
>> Oh, yes, they did.
>> I mean, nativism -- >> They refused to pass the law.
>> Right, nativism is an old American thing.
But people weren't suggesting something invidious.
They weren't suggesting dual nationality, which is always the threat that bothers Jews.
Jews have sort of an ingrained -- you know, this Jewish radar which says, "There they go.
They're getting us for dual nationality again."
American Jews are American Jews, but they have other interests, and they worry when those interests are looked upon as something evil.
>> Is this something you've seen?
>> I love that clip.
I mean, William F. Buckley was so important on the right in his time, especially at National Review -- >> When you talk about guardrails and keeping the guardrails of civilization up, he absolutely prohibited anti-Semitism on the page.
I mean -- So, most famously, there was an employee, Joe Sobran, and for viewers who are interested, look him up.
He was a very hard-core anti-Semite, and Buckley fired him.
And then he goes on to write this 40,000-word essay called "In Search of Anti-Semitism," about anti-Semitism of the right in the person of Sobran but also in the case of someone like Pat Buchanan, someone who was, until very recently, considered a very fringe, marginal figure and whose ideas you could say have found somewhat of a home in Trumpism.
When I think about how responsible adults behave in moments like this or in the face of bigotry and Jew hatred, even at considerable cost, like, I think about Buckley.
>> Well, so, let me take that and give you a counterfactual.
President Trump, in April of 2019, while speaking at the RJC, the Republican Jewish Coalition, to a room full of American Jews, said this.
>> I stood with your Prime Minister at the White House to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
[ Cheers and applause ] >> Yeah.
So, "your president," "your prime minister" -- this is the horrible situation the President has put American Jews in.
He can stand in front of a room of American Jews and say, "I've given you all of these policies with regard to Israel that you --" or even the executive order on college campuses that a lot of American Jews support.
And yet, at the same time, he is creating, both in his word, in the signals he sends -- I mean, I would say dog whistles -- it's beyond that.
It's just the dog.
Like -- >> It's not subtle.
>> It's not subtle.
He is creating an atmosphere that is incredibly dangerous for us.
>> But you did write that Donald Trump is a philo-Semite.
What is that?
>> Well, so, a philo-Semite, like, in the way that my dad thinks about it, is someone who loves the Jews.
But there's someone who said that -- and I thought this was brilliant -- that Donald Trump thinks all of the bad stereotypes about the Jews are true.
He just thinks they're good things.
He thinks that we're greedy, that we're power-hungry, that, like, we control the levers of power, all the rest.
>> These are values he shares and aspires to.
>> So, you yourself, because of your strong views and because of your heartfelt positions that you articulate so effectively, have been in the middle of firestorms, Twitter firestorms, and much controversy around your statements and your positions.
What is it like being in the middle of these kind of controversies?
>> Well... Look, there are controversies that are good and intended, and there are ones that are not intended, that are tripping into landmines.
I don't think I've tripped on a landmine in quite a while, but I will say that those suck and there's just no way to lie to you about that.
Like, it's a terrible thing.
And Twitter, I think, in a lot of ways, elicits the worst impulses in all of us.
But when I create a controversy because I have, you know, afflicted the comfortable, I'm really happy about that.
When I create controversy because I am willing to be different and think differently and express those views, I'm really, really proud of that.
And I have to tell you that one thing that helps me in those moments is -- it will sound cheesy, maybe -- but a sense of how lucky I am in history and especially in Jewish history and the fact that I have the ability, as a Jewish woman, as a Zionist and as a feminist to walk into every room and never check those identities at any door I walk through, that is a reality that would have been unimaginable not just to my ancestors, to my grandmother.
And so when I keep that in mind, like, I'm sorry, but then, like, Twitter stuff becomes like nothing.
>> Bari Weiss, thank you for sharing your views and for coming to "Firing Line."
>> Thank you so much, Margaret.
>> Thank you.
>> "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover" is made possible in part by... And by... Corporate funding is provided by... >> You're watching PBS.