When Your Liberal Values Need Not Apply

Have you ever seen a human rights group promote awareness about anti-Semitism?

Maybe you’ve seen a Facebook campaign to stop discrimination against Jews?

Well, haven’t you ever been on a march, sponsored by a non-Jewish organization, to end anti-Semitism in the Western World?

If you answered no to any of the previous questions, you are not alone; anti-Semitism has been forgotten as a human rights cause by the generation that claims to be so invested in human rights. My generation of smartphone-toting millennials is one of the most liberal in America’s history, and along with this liberalism comes broad support for “liberal values,” like human rights and tolerance. The rise of popular movements like #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) could have never happened were it not for my generation’s predisposition toward human rights and equality, both of which are commendable ideals. (Whether or not BLM accomplishes that is another discussion entirely.)

Such mass movements could also have never risen to prominence without the accessibility of social networks. One can easily become an activist by reposting or retweeting an article or video — and with the abundance of material from AJ+ and MTV, millennials need not look too hard. My peers are committed to some worthy human rights causes indeed — the end of police brutality and discrimination against women, to name a few — but anti-Semitism never seems to make the list.

57% of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States target Jews — this is over three times the amount of hate crimes committed against any other religious group, including Sikhs and Muslims. Yet, when I mention this, my “human rights activist” peers dismiss this. Jews are apparently not worth mentioning.

Jews are, as a group, educated and successful. They have assimilated into American society at the expense of their collective identity. Discrimination against Jews is dismissed because they are not considered a minority, ethnic or cultural. (I was reminded of this when, at the BDS vote at the University of Minnesota, a pro-BDS student sarcastically tweeted that “today [she] learned that Jews are a minority group.”) How quickly the “human rights activists” forget that not too long ago quotas were placed on the number of Jews admitted to universities and that the greatest atrocity ever committed was based on a notion of a racial hierarchy that placed Jews at the bottom. How quickly the “rights activists” forget that almost half of French Jews have considered leaving France because of widespread anti-Semitism. How quickly the “human rights activists” forget that Jews throughout the world feel unsafe — often, regardless of how hard they’ve tried to assimilate.

It’s easy to disregard my generation now as young and foolish — but, as cliche as it may sound, they are the next generation of leaders. They are my friends and my enemies, my peers and my opponents. They are the scores of people that claim to care for the rights of man, but forget the rights of the man whose rights have, throughout history, been consistently ignored.

Anti-Semitism is a human rights issue, plain and simple. I’m not saying that “the goyim (non-Jews) are out to get us” or that “another Holocaust is imminent.” I’m not one for histrionics or for apocalyptic “vibes.” (I am also not one for denigrating my non-Jewish friends.) That said, I am indeed saying that a generation that claims to care about equality and tolerance stops caring once the safety and freedom of my people are put into question. A generation which has never had an easier time of being advocates and activists for “liberal values” rarely puts in the two minutes it takes to write a Facebook post about the reality of anti-Semitism. Their concern for human rights is selective, and their dedication to tolerance extends only haltingly to Jews.

Fellow millennials, if you’re reading this, answer me this: how can you call yourselves human rights activists if your convictions need not “have Jews apply?” Why do you care about “liberal values” only until those of my rabbi, my brother, and my friend have been violated?

About the Author
Leora Eisenberg is a current freshman at Princeton, where she is a CAMERA fellow. She is a passionate Israel activist and lover of Judaism, and writes in the Algemeiner, Israel Hayom, Aish, Kveller, Orthodox Union and other publications.
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