Much ado has been made over antisemite Louis Farrakhan’s latest speech (essentially an unhinged, three-hour long rant about how “evil” Jews are), and the “surprising” revelation that his throngs of supporters include none other than Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Carmen Perez. That is to say, at least three-quarters of the Women’s March organizers are, it would seem, not at all bothered by Farrakhan’s crass hatred of Jews, making it all too likely that they themselves endorse his diseased outlook. Mallory’s repugnant “enemies of Jesus” defense, compounded by her co-organizers’ own deflections with nary a single negative word about Farrakhan, more or less confirmed these suspicions – although it’s not like I had any doubts.
I believe it’s time for us all to face the facts: left wing antisemitism exists, and it is just as rampant and dangerous as its alt-right counterpart. This recent scandal involving Farrakhan, along with the absolutely terrible defenses/counter-backlash it generated, has laid this inconvenient truth bare for all to see, although the broader left will, of course, continue to deny it.
Alas, it just doesn’t make any sense. Progressives have always prided themselves on using rigorous self-analysis to unlearn oppressive behaviors. They’ve always asked themselves questions like “how do my actions affect minorities, and in what ways are they influenced by existing power structures?” But these well-established progressive tenets are almost instantly forgotten whenever someone so much as utters the word “Jew”. By contrast, progressives who are accused of antisemitism tend to see themselves as righteous activists “under siege”, as victims of an insidious Jewish/”Zionist” plot to browbeat their critics into silence – all in pursuit of some nefarious political agenda. How can one possibly explain, let alone justify, such blatant hypocrisy?
I believe these attitudes stem from two main sources: anti-Jewish traditions inherited from the European Enlightenment (especially Soviet-era socialism), and the overall inability of our people to mount an adequate defense against antisemitism. The first is something I have discussed at length in previous articles, most notably here. In short, what we now consider left-wing/progressive ultimately goes back to the Enlightenment, an intellectual movement that occurred against the backdrop of a superstitious, theocratic, and (yes) intensely antisemitic Europe. Virtually all of the early Enlightenment thinkers (and most subsequent ones) existed within this framework, and it manifested itself in their writings.
Although they successfully challenged many European cultural institutions, they failed to divorce themselves completely (or at all) from the racist attitudes that had thrived in Europe for so many centuries. What they did instead is what today’s anti-Zionists are currently in the process of doing: taking old antisemitic ideas and giving them a fresh coat of paint, thereby making them more palatable to the cultural zeitgeist of their time.
Not unlike their forebears, Enlightenment Europeans hated us on the grounds that we were a foreign, backwards, obsolete people with no future and no moral claim to social or even legal equality. They conceptualized us as secretive, inordinately powerful, and innately predisposed to clannishness and deceit – stereotypes that are ultimately Orientalist in origin. More to the point, they believed Jews were to have no place in the new world order, and would need to disappear (either willingly or by force) before progress could be achieved. This “new” antisemitism was really the same as the old – it was just replacement theology with a new name, a new god (proverbially speaking), and a new set of excuses.
The contemporary anti-Zionist worldview is no different. Although they no longer consider us an Oriental people (as doing so would justify Israel’s existence, in their view), all of the attendant stereotypes have remained intact. Just like before, we are seen as intelligent (e.g. “Jews are smart!”) and exotic (e.g. the continuous fetishization of Jewish culture in Western society, especially by Christians), but also dishonest (e.g. “Jews always claim antisemitism when they want to shut down criticism of Israel”), immoral (e.g. “Jews/Israel/Zionism is evil”), barbarous (e.g. “Israel is committing genocide”, “Israel thirsts for Palestinian blood”, “Israel kills Palestinian babies”), clannish (e.g. dual loyalty charges), secretive (e.g. constant talk of secret Jewish/Zionist lobbies and conspiracies), and inordinately powerful (e.g. “Jews/Zionists control the media, the US government, the UN, the entire world”). In other words, Jews are seen as over-privileged, generally untrustworthy, and not really deserving of sympathy to begin with, so it should come as no surprise that Jewish claims of antisemitism are, more often than not, instinctively rejected as self-serving lies. As for gentiles who call out antisemitism? Obviously they’re just paid ventriloquist dummies for the secret Jewish/Zionist lobby.
On the left, Jews have a special assigned role to play: we must be the “ally”, the martyr, the sacrifice who willingly gives up his/her life for the good of humanity. Socialist and Enlightenment thinkers mostly had the same ideas. Be it by genocide or peaceful (or not so peaceful) assimilation, the argument goes that Jews are obsolete and must disappear, one way or another.
The only noticeable difference is that they can no longer express their hatred of Jews as…..well, hatred of Jews. The late 20th/early 21st zeitgeist of anti-racism won’t allow for that, so they (again) need to circumscribe the old hatred and update it for today’s audience. But as a result of waning Holocaust guilt and the resounding success of anti-Zionist propaganda, even these limitations are slowly being lifted. The way things are going right now, it won’t surprise me in the least if, 20 years later, left-wing activists openly and defiantly champion Jew-hatred as a progressive value.
The second reason “left wing” activists won’t listen to us is that they don’t feel like they have to. And honestly, why would they? History has shown that the only effective way to achieve equality is to grab the oppressor by the ear and force them to listen, even when they really, really don’t want to. But we’re currently incapable of exerting that kind of pressure, because we’re too small, too scared, too traumatized, too defenseless (the IDF notwithstanding), and ultimately too divided to uproot such gargantuan, deeply embedded power structures. It also doesn’t help that we are despised on an almost global scale (which is to be expected when two of the world’s most powerful cultural institutions – Christianity and Islam – are premised on Jewish obsoletion), nor does it help that we are (falsely) seen as over-privileged, hyper-powerful “white people” who wear “funny hats”, have “goofy sidelocks”, eat “smelly food”, and are known to “exploit” a tragedy that happened almost 100 years ago at the expense of “more deserving” victims (not that this ever stops non-Jews from using the Holocaust as a political football for their own agendas). That is to say, they don’t think we need any help because we’ve already “made it”, and by demanding solidarity all we’re really doing is selfishly hogging the spotlight from people who need it the most.
The incentive to listen to us just isn’t there, and that makes it very easy for people to kick us around. We are an excellent punching bag for leftists who, embittered by whatever challenges they face in their everyday lives, need someone or something to take their aggression out on. Or perhaps they just need to satisfy that innermost human desire to act out in a tribalistic manner, thereby elevating their own self-esteem. Or maybe they are in need of a convenient lightning rod for their own problems, so they don’t have to deal with it themselves. Whatever their needs are, gentiles have an easy receptacle for that aggression: namely, us. Not only are we incapable of effectively fighting back, our complaints are almost always met with cold indifference, if not accusations of lying. Targeting us may even net you money and popularity. The benefits of antisemitism far outweigh any potential drawbacks. After all, it’s not like Jews are human beings or anything, so it’s you’re really hurting anyone, are you?
That, my friends, is what progressive Jews (real progressive Jews, not antisemitic poseur groups like “Jewish Voice for Peace”) are forced to deal with on a daily basis. And as you might expect, we are sick and tired of it. The left needs to stop making excuses for antisemitism, stop lionizing antisemites, stop infantilizing them when they are neither Jewish or white (e.g. “it’s just their culture”), and STOP making them out to be victims of insidious smears. It is blind, craven, insensitive, and grotesque behavior. And while I’m at it, you can also stop excluding us from solidarity lists like these…
Onto Tamika Mallory, she is NOT in any way, shape, or form a victim. She deserves every scintilla of the scorn and derision she has received thus far. That she attended Farrakhan’s event and refused to denounce him afterwards was bad enough. But instead of an apology, she gave us this…
I suppose no one told her that Jesus was a Jew, from the Jewish city of Bethlehem, in the Jewish region of Judea, located in the southern part of the Jewish/Samaritan country of Israel? That in Jesus’ time, the term ‘Palestinian’ referred to a long-dead Greek people, not an Arab population whose ancestors invaded and colonized Israel at a much later date? Assuming she really is a Christian (which is what she claims to be), she isn’t a very good one, because not even the supersessionist New Testament would dispute’s Jesus’ Jewish origins, or the land’s Jewish character.
That tweet alone should have ended her career. But instead, she still has hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of devoted followers leaping to her defense, including Linda Sarsour (not that we weren’t already aware of her antisemitism), Carmen Perez, and other high profile figures like Shaun King. This is just more proof that the left does not care about antisemitism or Jews. Remember how outraged we all were when Trump said the neo-Nazi marchers at Charlottesville were “very fine people”? This is the SAME thing. Hell, I’d even call this worse, because at least the alt-right (as horrible as it is) doesn’t feign “opposition” to antisemitism. They don’t hate us and then deny our history, suppress inconvenient facts, elide Jewish testimony, and laboriously twist themselves into knots to convince people that their Jew-hating ideas are, in fact, perfectly compatible with the anti-racist values they champion. Instead, they simply hate us, and they make no effort to pretend otherwise. At this point, asking me to choose between left wing and right wing antisemites would be like asking “do you prefer Trojan horses, or would you rather I came up to your door and said ‘hey, I want to kill you, let me in please’?”.
Onto Linda Sarsour, whom I consider to be one of the greatest threats to our community. She claims to be an ally in the fight against antisemitism (or “real” antisemitism, as she calls it), but this is really nothing more than a self-serving gesture. Most of us knew that long before she was outed as a Farrakhan apologist. Her track record of thinly veiled antisemitism is too long to adequately recap in the space of this article (it’s long enough as it is) but one example I’d like to touch upon is her calling Chuck Schumer (a Jewish politician) a “white man”, while referring to herself as a “person of color”. A very odd claim when one considers this…
Either way, Schumer is an ethnic Jew, an indigenous person of the Middle East. He is no more or less “white” than Linda is. That she would simultaneously call him white and herself a person of color (in the same sentence no less) is such a blatantly obvious, calculated attempt at erasing Jewish history, identity, and rights (what possible motive would she have to do that?) that it’s a wonder no one else has called her out on it.
Make no mistake, Linda: putting aside that loud, vocal phalanx of token Jews you surround yourself with (Jewish Voice For Peace, are you listening?), we do not see you as a progressive or an ally of any kind. You are a fraud who disguises her vile ideas with faux-progressive frippery in an effort to normalize it. You are a revolting excuse for a human being, and we despise you. You can be certain of that.
You, Mallory, Perez, and others like you are the reason most Jews support Zionism. Israel was never JUST an indigenous people’s liberation project. It is our safe space in every sense of the word. It is the only place on Earth where we are our own masters, not helpless minorities living at the sufferance of our “betters”. It is the only place where antisemitism comes with a price and can never thrive. It was created (or rather, reborn) so that we could get away from people like YOU. Israel is our statement to the world: We are not white. We are not Khazars. We are not “just a religion”. We are a dispossessed indigenous people of the Middle East. We are human beings. We have national rights. And above all, we are your EQUALS.
When it comes to our safety, we’ve learned that the only people we can rely on are ourselves. That is why Israel rankles you so much, because you believe (just like every other antisemite) that we are inferior and should not HAVE that kind of power to begin with. In fact, we shouldn’t even exist in the 21st century. We were “supposed to” disappear centuries ago, but we didn’t. Instead, we regained sovereignty over a sizable portion of our native lands, then built a powerful army, tanks, and nuclear weapons to defend ourselves with. And this is intolerable to people who think we should have just assimilated and become French, German, Arab, Christian, Muslim, etc a long time ago.
If you want to call yourselves our allies, you have to really show it. You must listen attentively and incorporate our voices, even when (especially when) doing so will require you to cede some power. Only speaking about antisemitism when it comes from white nationalists is not solidarity. It is half-hearted tokenistic posturing that is designed to serve you far more than it does us (assuming we factor into your considerations at all), and it’s just not good enough.
I don’t expect perfection, but I expect A LOT better than what I am seeing right now.