I noticed the phenomenon on social media first.
On a Facebook group that was supposed to help with the study of Daf Yomi I casually mentioned Christian antisemitism. I was then aggressively confronted by a lady. She informed me that before converting to Judaism, she had been a minister and had never encountered antisemitism. I don’t know where she studied, but if she was telling the truth (big if) I suspect she skipped the class about Jesus’s tirades against the Pharisees.
Anyway, she was fed up with all the talk about antisemitism. She believed that we Jews spend too much time worrying about a marginal phenomenon, that there are so many other victims of so many other so more dangerous forms of racism. She went on to rage about checking our privilege (she meant I should check mine) and, you know where it’s heading, what about anti-Arab racism in the Jewish community. Never lose an opportunity to evoke that (data-free) ectoplasm. And of course the Palestinians.
I was talking about antisemitism not because I was seriously interested in contrasting it -which apparently must be done keeping silent- but because my agenda was to exaggerate the threats in the UK, to encourage Jews to emigrate to Israel, and to steal land from the Palestinians. In other words, I discovered that, by mentioning antisemitism, I was working for the Jewish National Fund, the evilest entity in the world.
That was my first encounter with the now-familiar argument. If we talk about antisemitism, we serve the interests of the Zionists, and we hurt the Palestinians.
Then came the book by David Baddiel, “Jews don’t count”. Do you remember the reactions from the Far Left? You cannot blame David Baddiel for being a Zionist (he’s not a big fan of Israel), but the line of criticism was the same. There are so many other victims, why we should pay the Jews special attention, Jews are certainly more well off than [name any other immigrant community, perhaps not the Indian]. Antisemitism is just one variety of a larger problem called systemic racism (of which David Baddiel himself is not exempt) which itself is part of an even larger problem called capitalism, which includes imperialism, of which Zionism is part, so please notice that Arab/Muslim/Palestinians deserve our full solidarity, and this book is a distraction. The Had Gadya of wokeness.
“How to Fight Antisemitism” by Bari Weiss landed on the bookshelves in the same month. The anonymous thugs of JewDas briefed the troops (“if your Rabbi has these books on the shelves, let us know and we’ll ‘take care of…”). And off the reviewers went.
Bari Weiss had been targeted with the same criticism that Baddiel had received. With just a bit more contempt. That is because Bari Weiss is a woman, she is an American, and she has exposed how woke militancy works at the New York Times.
There are so many other victims, why we should pay the Jews special attention, Jews are certainly more well off than [name any other immigrant community, not the Indians]. My favourite variation on this theme was: “Jews have been massacred in Muslim Countries but (note the but) in Europe they have more agency than the Muslims”. Because evidently having such agency compensates for having the tomb of your family turned into a public toilet, as per the Iranian custom.
On went the same woke version of Had Gadya. Antisemitism is one variety of systemic problem called racism. Racism is part of a big problem called capitalism, which includes imperialism, of which Zionism is part, so please notice that Arab/Muslim/Palestinians deserve our full solidarity then why all these pages about Muslim antisemitism. This book is a betrayal.
And have you noticed how Dara Horn’s book “People love dead Jews” has been -for lack of a better word- welcome? Perhaps not, because on the Far Left, they firmly believe it’s better not to talk about that sordid chapter of Jewish history called Yevsektsiya (as Dara Horn does). Those on the Far Left who have tried to write about that book have repeated the same lines.
Jews are certainly better off in America than [name any other immigrant community, not the Asian American]. And here again, Woke Gadya for you. Antisemitism is one variety of a systemic problem called racism which itself is part of a big problem called capitalism, which includes imperialism, of which Zionism is part. Why are we talking so much about antisemitism? This book must be thrown into the bin because it espouses “the lachrymose conception of Jewish history”, a locution by which Salo Baron designated works of Jewish history centred on persecutions.
Except that the expression was coined to invite to study how the Jews resisted marginalisation, not to deny that antisemitism existed. Or that it could be erased with the abolition of capitalism.
Such a primitive understanding (“antisemitism is part of capitalism, get rid of capitalism and antisemitism will disappear”) is naive and it is demonstrably wrong. Look at the history of the Jewish communities (or of what remained of them) after WWII in Eastern Europe, under Communist rule.
Antisemitism did not disappear, despite all the good intentions of many Jews who embraced Communism in good faith. Marxists of various denominations have written thousands of pages since 1844, when Karl Marx himself elaborated a variation of the old prejudice which associates Jews with money, by constructing the theory of interdependence between antisemitism and capitalism.
Such a sociological theory is valid as Lysenko’s agronomics and -ask Nathan Sharansky- equally mortal.
The militants of the Far Left has reacted furiously to these three books because they hate when someone uncovers how antisemitism is largely present in their own ranks. Which Baddiel, Weiss, and Hormn undoubtedly do.
But above all, they don’t like the exposure of that intellectual flaw, which links antisemitism to a specific social system and dates back to Karl Marx nonetheless. On such an intellectual flaw they have built a political project and an antiZionist Holy Alliance based on the minimisation of antisemitism.
Nowadays, Marxists feel energised by Critical Race Theory. I believe that Critical Race Theory is constructive to debunk unconscious biases -especially in the legal system- which push people to criminality only because of the colour of their skin. But it ought to be said that Critical Race Theory has become a framework for denial of antisemitism. And it contributes to an intellectual atmosphere that makes so many University campuses very dangerous places for Jewish students and scholars.