My Personal Experience with Anti-Semitism as a Non-Jewish seeming Jew.

Daylin Leach
5 min readMay 3, 2024


When I was in my 20s, I used to sell my car and replace it with a sportier model every couple of years. I went from a Toyota Corolla to a Ford Probe to a Mitsubishi 3000. My next car would have been a Lambroginhi except I eventually realized that they cost more than the $250 per month I was able to afford.

I thought that the cooler the car, the cooler I would be. I eventually realized that there is only so much dufus a cool car can wash off of you. I now drive a Ford Escape, which matches my natural level of cool perfectly.

When I was transitioning from my Corolla to my Probe, a man named Sterling answered my ad and dropped by to take a look. He seemed to like the car and said he was prepared to make me an offer. Perhaps sensing the inherent tension of the moment, he looked into my eyes and made me a promise. “I ain’t gonna try to Jew you down” he said. Well, you can only imagine the warm bath of relief that enveloped my being.

As we all watch the Israel-Palestine-Gaza-Hamas protests on college campuses around the country, there is a renewed debate about the level and virulence of anti-semitism in American society. Every Jewish person has experienced some level of discrimination or some measure of animosity directed toward them because they are Jewish. But while some of these incidents are blatant, many are more subtle. Haters want to hate, but they often don’t want to get caught hating.

I am different, and not just in the ways that prevent me from being invited to more parties. I have a unique perspective on anti-semitism in America. You see, I am Jewish. I was born Jewish to a Jewish mother, which is how Judaism views the religion as being passed down. I became a Bar Mitzvah in an orthodox synagogue, after which I, quoting the Talmud directly, said “Whoa Nelly!” and downshifted to reform, and later, to VERY reform. However, I’ve always considered myself Jewish and have traveled to Israel numerous times.


My last name, being Leach, does not lead anyone to believe that I am of the Hebrew persuasion. Nobody knows what my first name is all about. But Jewish isn’t often the first guess. And I look like my father, who was a ruddy Scottsman. In other words, I present as a pasty, white, protestant. Nobody would be surprised if I introduced myself as “Christian McChristianson”.

As a result, I get to see anti-semitism the way people show it to non-Jews. In other words, I have a behind-the-scenes look. And it’s not always pretty.

There was not only Sterling, who I did not wind up selling my car to. There was the very cute girl I met at a party in college who seemed to really like my jokes. As we leaned in to talk to each other above the music, she told me that big problem with campus was that there were “too many fucking Jews here”. This was crushing, and presented me with a real moral dilemma. On one hand, how could I pursue anything with a rank anti-semite? On the other hand, did I mention how very cute she was? Look, I like to feel I’ve grown as a person since then.

Then there were the numerous people whose doors I knocked on for my political campaigns. They would be complaining about some decision of the local School Board or speculating as to who was funding some initiative they didn’t approve of. They would lean in slightly, look around conspiratorially (for the roving Jews hiding in the bushes I suppose) and, sotto voce educate me about which Jews were really pulling the strings.

Interestingly, nobody ever leaned in to share conspiracies about other ethnic or religious groups. I never had someone whisper to me “Well, you know, the Belgians control the media” or “A bunch of rich Zoroastrians are bankrolling the whole thing”. Nope. Just the Jews.

There were the people who I argued middle-east policy with who, upon reaching a certain level of frustration, would lose their shit and bust out the most bigoted tropes, which they had denied endorsing just minutes earlier. And of course this doesn’t even touch what I’ve been told on social media, which makes Hitler’s bunker look progressive by comparison.

Obviously, not everybody is anti-semitic. But I have found those who harbor troubling attitudes are more common than most people think. And this just-below-the-surface hostility explains a lot of what we see in the news. Hafez Al-Assad’s Alawites have killed a good percentage of Syria’s population (over 600,000 at last count). But there are no widespread campus protests demanding divestment from Syria. It seems nobody is motivated to go postal on the Alawites.

The Second Congolese Civil War is the deadliest war since World War 2, and is an actual genocide with over 5.5 million people slaughtered. But this receives virtually no attention in America. I’ve never seen one protester on any campus wearing the native bright Fedora and carrying a sign saying “Free the Congolese”. That’s because nobody has bothered to even see who is fighting in the Congo and over what. That would involve spending 15 minutes on Wikipedia, and who has time for that?

What is happening in Gaza now is worthy of debate. There are many questions that need to be explored. What should Israel do in response to the attack of October 7th and the genocidal rhetoric of Hamas? Was or is there any other way to dislodge Hamas in a more humane way? Should there be a ceasefire? What happens if Hamas breaks that one too, as they have promised to do? These are all legitimate questions.

But it seems clear to me that it is lingering, deep-seeded and irrational anti-semitism that is, at least in part, behind the strangely one-sided and disproportionate attacks on Israel and Jewish people in general, in our politics and on our campuses.

Maybe this explains the endless chants of “From the River to the Sea!” from people who couldn’t tell you what river and what sea they are even talking about. Or “Globalize the Intifadah!”. It’s not even clear what that means, but my guess is, it wouldn’t be good for the Jews. And increasingly, it’s hard not to conclude that is exactly the point.



Daylin Leach

Long-time state House and Senate member, author of PA’s Medical Marijuana law, also creator of “shit-gibbon!” Comedian, professor, father of 2 awesome children!