Jonathan Foxman

Anti-Semitism and the Ideology of Oppression

Why is it some Americans can't tolerate seeing images of Jewish victims?

Something hasn’t seemed right: the young people tearing down posters, the mobs vandalizing Jewish businesses and threatening their customers, the justice-minded student protesters who seem so completely uninterested in Hamas’ hideous cruelty.  Yes, it’s anti-Semitism, and that is enormously dangerous and despicable.  But it just seems there’s something more to it.  What compels someone to smear feces on a poster of a kidnapped child?  It’s heart-breaking to see the images of these innocent victims and think what they’ve experienced, what they’re still experiencing.  Don’t we all feel that at a deep, human level?  Apparently not.  Instead, their pictures are defiled, and their posters torn down, over and over.  And they aren’t being torn down by masked terrorists with green headbands and AK-47s.  The perpetrators are normal looking young Americans.

I struggled to understand this until I realized I was watching a generation of young progressives who have come to embrace a fundamentally different ideology.  The something more I saw was zealotry.  The people justifying Hamas’ attacks, even cheering their atrocities, are the zealots of an ideology that looks at the world and sees only oppression.  Wealth and power have relevance because they reveal oppression.  Skin color has relevance because white is the color of oppression and colonization.  In this ideology, everyone must be either oppressor or oppressed, good or evil.  It is always 100% the one or 100% the other.

This ideology makes the world easy to understand.  There’s no need to study the complexities of the Middle East when you can just rely on the transitive property of equality.  If A = B and B = C, then A = C.  If Jews are wealthy and powerful and the wealthy and powerful are oppressors, then Jews are oppressors.  If colonized peoples are darker skinned than their colonizers and Palestinians are darker skinned than Jews, then Jews are colonizers.  If oppressors and colonizers are evil and Jews are oppressors and colonizers, then Jews are evil.

Of course, the idea that all Jews are wealthy and powerful is an age old anti-Semitic lie.  Unfortunately, it’s recently found new life thanks to the likes of Kanye West and Elon Musk.  And you can only think all colonizers are white, if your education and perspective are limited to grade school European history.  Also false is the notion that Jews are white.  Israel’s citizenry is 70% people of color.  But vetting facts isn’t really your principal concern when you’re drawn to something because it’s a shortcut.

Another essential element of this ideology is fighting the revealed oppression and doing so by any means necessary.  No doubt that flows from knowing with complete certainty who is good and who is evil.  There is no hesitation or doubts begging further consideration because there is no uncertainty.  After all, Jews are rich and white and control the world, right?  So, what more evidence could you need that they’re oppressors?  From there, the reasoning that follows is, “if there’s no doubt they are evil, then anything we do to oppose them is justified.”  The protest banners read, “DECOLONIZE BY ANY MEANS” not just “DECOLONIZE,” because no action is unjustified in order to end what they believe is the singular cause of all the problems in the world, oppression.  This ideology offers absolute clarity on who deserves justice.  Then, it demands that justice be wrought by any means necessary.

So, here we are.  Without any real knowledge or understanding, only applying flawed logic to false premises, Israel is deemed an irredeemably evil colonialist oppressor.  There is so much that is great and important and necessary about Israel (whether or not some believe that specific policies and actions of its government are flawed).  Israel is forced to make existential decisions every day under the unrelenting pressure of decades of threatened and attempted extermination.  These include daily rocket attacks and regular incursions by Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Iran-backed jihadists sworn to kill every Jew and wipe Israel off the map.  These include unprovoked, full scale military invasions by surrounding nations many times larger than Israel.  These include suicide bombers and stabbing attacks from Palestinians whose chosen representatives have rejected every peace proposal ever offered, every opportunity for a two-state solution, and answered Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 by turning it into a terrorist base used to launch attacks against Israel.  It is not unreasonable to question the decisions of the Israeli government in this environment.  It is wildly unreasonable to be willfully ignorant of the history and dynamics then side passionately with murderous terrorists against Israel.

The young progressives rampaging on our university campuses and in our cities have chosen the latter.  They have concluded that everything Israel does, in fact its very existence, is an injustice, so Israel must be fought by any and all means necessary.  No Israeli, no Jew is deserving of sympathy, because they are part of the oppressor group.  To feel sympathy for them or to allow others to feel sympathy for them isn’t just wrong, it violates the sanctity and order of the ideology, which reserves all sympathy for the oppressed.  This is why women’s rights groups refuse to condemn the rape of Israeli women.  This is why the young people tearing down posters of innocent, kidnapped children actually seem offended by them.

Further, they have adopted the highly problematic view that those fighting evil are, by definition, good.  On that basis, they choose to side with Hamas, a bloodthirsty death cult.  This is why we have hang-glider images glorified as symbols of resistance.  This is why the atrocities of October 7 are already so widely denied, dismissed, or excused.  This is why they insist on sanitized wording, like “freedom fighter” instead of “terrorist” and “acts of resistance” instead of “beheadings.”

We have been shown the ideological zeitgeist of an ascending generation of young progressives, and just some of its consequences.  The implications are significant, especially if we care about living in a world where morality is based on universal principles.  The moral abomination of torturing innocent children shouldn’t depend on whether they’re deemed part of an oppressor group.  There are no circumstances, ever, where such monstrous acts should be accepted or justified.  Any ideology that excuses torture or rape under any circumstances is wrong.  Any ideology that justifies any and all means, so long as they are used to attack those it has deemed oppressors, is wrong.  Such ideologies reject universal morality.

What’s happened in America since October 7 forces us to recognize the dangers of an ideology that claims morality is relative and, therefore, some groups are worthy of sympathy, while others are not.  Such thinking in the past allowed for apartheid, slavery, and genocide.  Our modern Western civilization is based on the principles of universal morality, including that all people are created equal, that there should be equal treatment under the law, and that there should be equal rights.  These are things we believe to be inherently true.  Even though we fail at times to live up to our ideals, the right answer then is to strive to do better.  It is not to abandon our principles for an ideology that justifies cruelty and discrimination.

The urgent question now is how to get through to a younger generation of Americans who have learned something so very different.

About the Author
Jonathan Foxman is a Jewish-American business executive in the United States.
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