Dmitri Shufutinsky

Dhimmi Leaders in “Legacy” Jewish Organizations

For months–no, for years–alarm has been growing in the American Jewish community over the inaction of large swathes of so-called leaders for our “legacy” organizations. Groups like the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and Jewish Federations of North America have done great work in the past. Luckily, some chapters and courageous activists within these groups still are committed to “fighting the good fight.” Furthermore, smaller organizations are forming, collaborating, and fighting contemporary antisemitism. Sadly, as two major recent events have demonstrated, many famous leaders and donors to the legacy groups falsely believe that they cannot take a stand against left-wing antisemitism for fear of political backlash. Our legacy organizations have started to crumble away in the face of their dhimmi leadership.

For those who may be unaware, dhimmi is an Arabic term for non-Muslims living under Muslim rule. These peoples were subject to a certain level of protections, so long as they acknowledged their legal inferiority to Muslims. In essence, it was a form of non-American Jim Crow, implemented for Christians and Jews (and an even worse status for non-Abrahamic adherents), and oftentimes the alleged protections were in name only. 

Recently, the JCRC-NY hosted a gala honoring Bill Thompson, Board Chair for the City University of New York (CUNY.). A group protested the event, outraged that a major Jewish organization would honor someone associated with what is being called the most antisemitic institution of higher learning in the United States.  Jewish-Americans have repeatedly been attacked, slandered, and marginalized by CUNY over the past several years and have been waiting for mainstream Jewish organizations to take a strong stance against the Jew-hatred they’ve faced. In a stunning display of gaslighting and whataboutism–tactics common and popular amongst “woke” regressives–the protestors were accused of  “dividing the Jewish community” by handing out fliers about CUNY’s extensive antisemitic record. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the JCRC has been ignoring pleas and concerns from Jewish parents about the normalization of anti-Zionist antisemitism in public school curricula. While Jewish students are being bullied and Israel is slandered under the so-called Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, the JCRC in the Bay Area has implored parents to keep quiet and let them “handle” the issue. This “handling,” as it were, has not led to the improvement of public school curricula or Jewish students’ lives at school. Instead, it has led to a cushy, virtue-signaling, event-filled campaign meant to showcase the JCRC’s commitment to fighting Islamophobia, transphobia, and every kind of bigotry besides–it would seem–antisemitism. Perhaps the JCRC should be renamed to the “All Kinds of Bigotry” Community Relations Council, as it clearly is not prioritizing the Jewish community.

Not to be outdone, the Jewish Federations of North America and Jewish Council for Public Affairs pulled out of a major coalition to combat antisemitism from all sides of the spectrum. The reason given is that one organization–Combat Antisemitism Movement–made a video about “Woke Antisemitism” that described the increasing prevalence of antisemitism on the extreme left-wing. After receiving complaints from political connections, JFNA and JCPA told CAM to pull the video. Unfortunately, CAM caved and pulled it, while still acknowledging the fight against left-wing antisemitism as important. This wasn’t enough, however, to bring JCPA or JFNA back into the coalition, at least not yet. Nevermind the fact that the coalition is also meant to combat antisemitism on the extreme right-wing–apparently, that isn’t a concerning enough issue to keep these “legacy organizations”in the coalition. More important than representing or protecting the Jewish community, it seems, is maintaining “personal and professional” relationships with those who are indifferent to left-wing antisemitism; outwardly hostile towards Israel and Jews as a whole; and organizations’ desire to be aligned with the progressive movement. And as for CAM? Some undoubtedly will question their commitment to fighting left-wing antisemitism. What will concerned students and parents think when a group they hoped would listen to their worries has now backed away? Rubbing salt in the wound is the mind-boggling fact that JFNA and JCPA pulled out of the coalition anyways.

The Jewish community in the United States (and likely some other countries as well) has for some time been wrestling with the rise of antisemitism, including from those whom they believed to be their political allies. A common question asked in the community is: how has this oldest hatred been allowed to spread so far, wide, and deep? How is it that all of our oldest, well-respected and generally well-funded organizations, with such strong alliances, failed to stem the tide? Too many Jewish leaders have hired staff that are sufficiently progressive in order to virtue-signal to GenZ that they’re “hip enough” to “stand in solidarity” with progressive social movements. These far-left-leaning staff members are running the show, pulling our legacy organizations farther to the left while ignoring their mission to combat antisemitism. Under such dhimmi leadership, legacy groups will cower away from the harder tasks and challenges of fighting for Jewish equal rights if it means being granted a few privileges–at least on paper–by outsiders. So what if Jewish students are harassed on college campuses if they can get a good photo op with the university president? Why should they try to change bigoted and propagandized curricula when their friends, former coworkers, and ideological allies (in some other struggle for social justice) helped craft that curricula? Why bother explaining the phenomenon of left-wing antisemitism, and battle it, when they need to remain politically-connected to the wider progressive movement that sees being called “woke” as a badge of honor?

The sad truth is that dhimmis have conquered our best and brightest organizations, forgetting who and what they represent in favor of photo ops and clout-chasing. They do not represent ordinary Jews, Judaism, Zionism, or anything other than their own self-promoting, personal interests. They will settle for crumbs happily if they can enhance their image as “balanced” or “progressive.” And this dhimmi leadership will continue to entrench itself and claim it represents the Jewish community only so long as we, too, continue to eagerly reach for crumbs.

About the Author
Dmitri Shufutinsky is a freelance reporter with the Jewish News Syndicate, and a Junior Research Fellow with ISGAP. He made aliyah to Kibbutz Erez through Garin Tzabar in 2019, and served as a Lone Soldier in the IDF. Dmitri is an ardent Zionist and a supporter of indigenous rights, autonomy, solidarity, and sovereignty. He currently lives in Hadera, and a graduate of Arcadia University's Masters program in International Peace & Conflict Resolution.