This week leadership at Rutgers University- New Brunswick issued a statement condemning the rise of antisemitic violence that has been plaguing the United States and global Jewish communities. After pressure from the very zealots advocating for, and possibly committing, violence against Jewish people, those same leaders retracted their statement and issued another one, seemingly siding with groups who support antisemitism under the guise of anti-Zionism.
One need look no further than the response those groups had to the retraction. It wasn’t enough that the chancellor and provost retracted their statement against antisemitism, so-called “pro-Palestinian” groups issued additional demands, including the university’s divestment from Israel. A major sticking point for the “pro-Palestinian” group was that the statement condemning hate and violence did not specifically single out support of Palestinians. They did not wish to be included in an equitable statement against violence and bigotry, but instead demanded to be placed in a position of privilege, as though their grievances are more important than any other marginalized group.
According to multiple sources, attacks against Jewish Americans have increased by more than 400% over the past few weeks. This is an inconvenient truth for those who promote a false equivalency between antisemitism with Islamophobia, like Senator Sanders, who was incapable of speaking out against violent attacks against Jews without also including others. Instead of exhibiting leadership and acknowledging that the Jewish American community is literally under attack, leaders are all lives matter-ing this issue in a most blatant example of what-about-ism.
And if this isn’t disturbing enough, these types of statements of solidarity are being made under the guise of social justice. We have to ask ourselves, what type of person apologizes for making a statement condemning antisemitism? How is it that movements centered around civil rights have been hijacked by groups and individuals who actively and openly speak out against these same rights? We’ve witnessed this with the leaders of the Women’s March cozying up to illiberals like Farrakhan and Sarsour, both who uphold anti-feminist ideology, and the Black Lives Matter movement aligning themselves with groups who engage in terrorism against LGBTQ+ folks while there has been an unprecedented increase in attacks against Black trans women, amongst others. So, I pose this question—how did this happen?
There are many ingredients that led to the creation of a recipe for illiberal liberal pie, and I will discuss a few. First, the rampant and unquestioning adoption of ideology that claims to be woke and progressive without any real critical and analytical thinking allowed for discouraging of counter-ideology. When any and all questioning is discouraged and even defined as racist, it is unsurprising that there are few with the courage to launch an opposing viewpoint. I’m not saying that I blame those who do not openly question the unwavering support and blind faith that this ideology demands out of fear of being classified as racist.
Second, identity politics has been embraced by both fringes of the political spectrum. Unfortunately, Jewish Americans, specifically Zionists, have become a political football. Those who hold social, economic, and political progressive opinions are being forced to prioritize their values, placing their Jewish and Zionist identities last. Those who are socially, economically and politically conservative are being compelled to emphasize their support for Jewish self-determination in our ancestral homeland and ignore competing values and identities. This game of identity politics is not only costing individual and community agency, it is costing lives.
The final ingredients are historical revisionism and mass brainwashing. When anti-Semites began framing their bigotry as opposition to the actions of the Israeli government and started floating the ideology that Zionists are White European settler-colonialists, the misinformation campaign left the gates. And what fertile ground they had to plant those seeds since history and social studies have rarely been prioritized in American education. The number of people who have no idea about the history of the region is astounding. The amount of individuals who are unaware that Jewish people have had a continuous presence in Eretz Yisrael for millennia is shameful. The ones who never question why the people in North Africa and the Middle East speak Arabic, but weaponize gender diversity within the Spanish language in the Americas are displaying their privilege and ignorance proudly.
So, we end up with academics, social justice warriors, and so-called allies accepting antisemitic attacks against Jewish people, siding with terrorists and descendants of the Arab settler colonial invaders who conquered the Maghreb, all under the guise of progressivism.