Contrary to one of the myths propagated by anti-Semites in America, the American Jewish community is hardly monolithic when it comes to beliefs and opinions about the issues of the day. This even includes topics like Israel and how to deal with the rising anti-Semitism we seem to see everywhere. I learned this first-hand dealing with campus anti-Semitism in the University of California campus system particularly at UC Irvine while I was teaching there part-time 1998-2016). Indeed, like Americans in general, it is a fragmented community when it comes to various issues.
A prime example of the splits within the Jewish community is Boston. In recent years, I have noted the efforts of many Jewish leaders and rabbis to isolate local activist Charles Jacobs and his organization, Americans for Peace and Tolerance. Jacobs’ sin? He brought attention to the radical backgrounds of certain mosques in the Boston community with links to terrorism. Since many Jewish leaders were invested with inter-faith events with these mosques, they did not want their community to hear the truth.
Now a coalition of left-wing Jewish groups in Boston is seeking to have the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and its leader, Mort Klein, booted from their group, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. Klein’s sin? He is critical of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, pointing out its anti-Zionist platform and its overall anti-Semitism. Not surprisingly, we see J Street and the New Israel Fund involved in the effort to go after Klein. The Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) is currently running the story.
While I am a critic of BLM (the organization, not the sentiment), that is not the topic of this piece. The topic is the effort of the left to silence conservative voices. That happens within the Gentile community, and it happens within the Jewish community as well.
Referring back to UC Irvine and that university’s on-going problems with anti-Semitism, when the Department of Education/Office of Civil Rights was investigating the complaints of harassment against Jewish students supporting Israel back in 2007-2008, it was the ZOA who came to the defense of the Jewish students. Susan Tuchman, their chief legal counsel, flew out from New York to support the cause while local Jewish leaders did nothing. Eventually, the investigation was closed for reasons having nothing to do with the facts (timeliness of complaints and the fact that none of the complaints were Israelis. Simple religious discrimination was not part of the DOE/OCR guidelines at that time.)
At any rate, while ZOA was in full support, the Anti-Defamation League was missing in action. Worse yet, the local Jewish Federation of Orange County and the campus Hillel chapter did everything they could to stop Jewish students from standing up and speaking out and to deny there was any problem at UC Irvine. It was a shameful action on their part.
So now the ZOA is getting the same treatment. BLM is a sacred cow to the left. It doesn’t matter how many people are maimed or killed by the BLM/Antifa-led riots. It doesn’t matter that a pogrom literally occurred in the heavily-Jewish Fairfax district of Los Angeles, with synagogues spray painted and night riders roaring through the district yelling obscenities at Jews-as if they were to blame for the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Historically, American Jews have supported the efforts of African-Americans to gain equality. That was exemplified by their participation in the Civil Rights movement. That was to their credit because that was a worthy movement. Today’s climate is a more complicated question. That a Jewish leader like Mort Klein and his great organization should be isolated because they point out uncomfortable truths about BLM is hardly in keeping with liberal tradition of tolerating free speech on both sides of an issue. It is downright fascist.