During one appalling weekend, the New York Times published a cartoon in its international edition dripping with anti-Semitism, while worshipers at a synagogue in Poway, California were attacked by a white nationalist terrorist. It’s a miracle only one person was killed at the Chabad in Poway, but that doesn’t diminish the horror or lessen the shock.
If we hadn’t before, we Jews in the United States now must take security seriously in our houses of worship. We face the terrible reality that the scenes we see in Europe – like the Austrian soldier with the sub machine gun standing guard in front of the synagogue in Vienna – may become our new reality.
There is no comparison between the New York Times and Poway incidents in terms of horror. In its own way, however, the Times cartoon is more disorienting. We know where white nationalists on the right stand and how vigilant we must be against their hatred. We don’t know where the progressive left stands and see them drifting toward the same racist place as the racist right. In very real terms, we see ourselves having no place to stand.
The Times cartoon was remarkable in the degree of its anti-Semitic caricature. Leftists claim that they are not anti-Semitic, just opposed to Israeli policies. This cartoon however, went full throated anti-Semitic. Not comfortable showing a blind President Trump being led around by the seeing-eye-dog Netanyahu wearing a Magen David, the cartoonist added a kippah on the President. The message now was inescapable. Trump is a secret Jew. Likely he is part of some international conspiracy to manipulate the United States for nefarious Jewish aims.
This racism was published in the bastion of liberalism, not conservatism. It came from the newspaper that supposedly calls out the hatred of anti-Semites, not supports them. In the final analysis, the New York Times shows how the political spectrum is far more circular than linear, and how far the progressive left has drifted toward the racist right.
To be a proud member of the left now one must agree that Israel is evil, and that it is an Apartheid state who commits massive human rights violations against innocent Palestinians. Therefore Israel must be shunned by the body of nations and by “right thinking” people everywhere. Even people who defend Israel are expected to start with an apology for its human rights record and work from there. Those of us who refuse to do so, who believe that Israel has one of the best human rights record in the world – especially considering the enemies on its borders sworn to destroy it – are told by the progressive left due to our support for Israel we have no right to claim support for other causes such as women’s rights, gay rights, racial equality etc. To the progressives, our litmus test for believing in any of these other causes is to turn our backs on the one Jewish State.
The full measure of elitist thought is becoming both unified and calcified among those pillars. It’s certainly not just in newspapers or the media. Check out our college campuses to see where American academia has reached, as well the modern college student body with its constant BDS resolutions. Curiously, those same people who claim to care so deeply about human rights have no problem with China’s policy toward Tibet or its Muslim minority, or with Turkey’s oppression of its Kurds. Seen any BDS protests demanding divestment from Beijing recently? In Europe, the left wing grows more anti-Semitic daily (witness Jeremy Corbyn) while the extreme right, shunned for decades after World War II, now enters national governments for the first time since. Just this weekend it happened in Spain.
So where do we turn? The right wants to exterminate us, the left wants to prevent us from being able to defend ourselves.
Our only option now is to be very public in calling out the hatred coming from both sides. White nationalism clearly is resurgent. Despite his doubling down over the weekend in response to Joe Biden’s criticism, President Trump’s woeful reaction to Charlottesville was a seminal moment in energizing the racist right. We must never accept his attempt to differentiate his claim that “there were good people on both sides” as just a statement about Confederate monuments. When neo-Nazis get involved the entire dynamic shifts. If the President didn’t know that then, learn it now.
Simultaneously, we must stop excusing the racism that is becoming part of the very fabric of the progressive movement. Ilhan Omar may be a progressive darling, but just because she is a “woman of color” doesn’t excuses her rampant racist statements (did you know that Jesus wasn’t Jewish according to Ms. Omar?). Roger Waters may have been a great bass player but he is a disgusting racist. Utterly determined to destroy the one Jewish State, he cares little for human rights abuses in so many other parts of the world and concentrates strictly on boycotting Israel. It’s really not complicated. It is not only legitimate but necessary to criticize Israel, and every other country. If you single out Israel while giving other nations a pass (like University of Michigan Professor John Chaney-Lappold, who refused to recommend a student for study abroad in Israel, and only Israel) you are an anti-Semite.
Since the rebirth of Israel in 1948 philosophers have postulated what would happen in a world with both resurgent anti-Semitism yet a strong State of Israel. Thanks to the willing collaboration of the right and the enforced “groupthink” of the left, we soon may face that terrible reality.