Steve Kramer

Antisemitism On The Left

I was shocked, but not surprised, to see the Washington Post feature an op-ed this weekend (August 19) stating that the left has eschewed political violence. Author Yoav Fromer admits that there is some violence on the left, but for decades it hasn’t compared to the “methodical, organized and strategic violence and incitement” of the right. What about rioting in Ferguson, MO, Portland, OR, Baltimore, MD and annually in Devos, Switzerland, or the attempt to murder the Republican congressional baseball team, to name just a few recent instances? There is extreme violence on the fringes of the left and the right. Excusing the left wing component, as the media icons do on a regular basis, only exacerbates the political divisions which are plaguing Western democracies.

We know about right wing antisemitism, which we witnessed in Charlottesville. But antisemitism is also prevalent on the left. It hurts to see Jews supporting the BDS movement (boycott, delegitimize, sanction Israel); the Black Lives Matter movement (Israel is the apartheid state), the LGBTQ movement (pro-Palestine and anti-Zionist), and the feminist movement (ditto), ignoring the bias against Jews and Israel. The great majority of Jews are liberal; they must wake up to the fact that movements such as those above are intolerant, not liberal.

If you are willing to toe the antisemitic, anti-Zionist line, you’re ok to join these movements. But if you have pride in the fact that you are a Jew, or are a supporter of Israel, it’s past time to strongly express your disgust and to withdraw your support from organizations which are antisemitic and anti-Zionist.

Below are some excerpts from recent articles by a variety of non-doctrinaire writers, documenting the fallout from some of the above mentioned movements.

Bari Weiss, New York Times

“For progressive American Jews, intersectionality [Intersectionality is the idea that all oppressed peoples and categories of people share a position, and by virtue of that fact are potential allies in the struggle against their oppressors] forces a choice: Which side of your identity do you keep, and which side do you discard and revile? Do you side with the oppressed or with the oppressor?

That kind of choice would have been familiar to previous generations of left-wing Jews, particularly those in Europe, who felt the tug between their ethnic heritage and their ‘internationalist’ ideological sympathies. But this is the United States. Here, progressives are supposed to be comfortable with the idea of hyphenated identities and overlapping ethnic, sexual and political affinities. Since when did a politics that celebrates choice — and choices — devolve into a requirement of being forced to choose?

Jews on the left, particularly in recent years, have attempted to square this growing discomfort by becoming more anti-Israel. But if history has taught the Jews anything it’s that this kind of contortion never ends well.”

Alan Dershowitz, Professor Emeritus Harvard Law School

“What’s new is the anti-Semitism from the right has become emboldened and now almost catching up with the anti-Semitism on the hard left which has been in existence for 20 years,” he said. “I love the concept of Black Lives Matter, but they are an anti-Semitic group.”

Jennifer Ann Moses, USA Today

“Not ISIL (thousands of Yazidis murdered). Not North Korea (where untold millions, including children, have been killed by famine, imprisonment in slave camps, and torture.) Not Syria, where Bashar Assad’s forces continue to kill Syrian citizens by the hundreds of thousands. Nope: it’s Israel that some misguided folks at Black Lives Matter have singled out for accusations of genocide, even though Israel applies capital punishment only for crimes against humanity, and in practice Israel hasn’t sought the death penalty in decades. In other words, Israel, alone among the nations in its neighborhood, has never practiced state-sponsored bloodshed.
… when it comes to hating Jews, normative reality has nothing to do with it. The only thing that matters is the narrative of hatred.”

Jonathan S. Tobin, Jewish Press

“Unfortunately, many decent liberals have turned a blind eye to left-wing anti-Zionist agitation that is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism. Those who say they wish to deny Jews statehood, the right of self-defense, or the ability to live in peace in their homeland are practicing discrimination against Jews. This is the definition of anti-Semitism. And it is on the left, not the right, where support for such hatred, whether in the form of backing for the BDS movement or cultural boycotts, is growing.

It isn’t alt-right Internet trolls who are orchestrating anti-Jewish protests like those of Linda Sarsour or efforts to boycott Israeli plays at Lincoln Center, where the appearance of even the work of a critic of Israel like David Grossman was enough to generate protest from mainstream artists.

Nor is it Trump who is responsible for turning universities into places where Jewish students no longer feel safe expressing their Jewish identity.

But unfortunately, all too many liberals would still rather believe Trump, their main political foe, is the real reason anti-Semitism is growing.”

Hannah Dreyfus, Jewish Week

“Jewish feminists of all stripes who are also Israel supporters, find themselves increasingly caught in the crosshairs of a culture war that seeks to isolate them both on campus and far beyond the quad. The bind they are in is a delicate one: jettison the progressive movement altogether, based on its harsh Israel positions, and not have a seat at the table, or agree to disagree on Israel but preserve a much-needed voice in the debate on a whole range of issues.

The International Women’s Strike [March 8, 2017], which called for the ‘decolonization of Palestine,’ solicited the participation of Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a Palestinian woman convicted and sentenced by an Israeli military court in 1970 to life in prison for two bombing attacks. [She was released in a prisoner exchange after just 10 years in prison.]

Emily Shire, a journalist and editor living in New York who covers feminism and politics, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times about her conflicted Zionist and feminist identities. The article — headlined ‘Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists?’ — was prompted by the controversial platform of the Women’s Strike and the involvement of Odeh.

Speaking to The Jewish Week the day after her piece was published, Shire said the “outrage and negative comments” she received in response to the article were “unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. “I received my first-ever comment from someone wishing I would die.”

It’s a reality that the extreme right and the extreme left are closer to each other than either is to the center. Hatred of Jews and Israel is a uniting factor. Whether from the left or the right, antisemites seem to get away with it. There’s nothing more to say.

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.
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