The past few weeks have been eye-opening for American Jews. I would have never believed that numerous celebrities could post videos of Louis Farrakhan, Ice Cube could post bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracies, and Desean Jackson as well as Nick Cannon could engage in classic and undeniable anti-Semitism with virtually no broad-based condemnation. There will always be those who stand up against hate no matter where it comes from — Jemele Hill, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Charles Barkley come to mind as recent examples. But, those courageous few are unfortunately the exception rather than the rule.
The reason that the toleration of anti-Semitism seems so surprising is that it is being tolerated by those who are supposed to be standing up for groups that are victims of prejudice. Who would have thought that progressives — those who spend their days being angry on other groups’ behalf — would somehow let anti-Semitism slip? I sure wouldn’t have. But, then again, nobody else did either.
The root of progressive anti-Semitism, however, becomes much more clear once the thin veil of “tolerance” and “acceptance” is understood for what it truly is — a fragile façade that will crumble at the slightest touch. The truth is that progressives look at Jews as just another group of oppressive white people that are taking advantage of the poor, the working class and the various oppressed minority groups in America. This is a message that finds its chief megaphone in Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. While people claim that Farrakhan and Nation Of Islam are irrelevant fringe actors, the truth is that they have found themselves in positions of tremendous influence. This influence has made its way into mainstream American discourse.
Progressives who subscribe to Nation of Islam’s pernicious philosophy see the financial success of American Jews, the political success of the State of Israel, and assume that there must have been foul play involved. To them, every disparity can be attributed to discrimination. To them, if that is not worthy of hate, then nothing is.
The issue with this narrative is that it is an outright lie. Over half of all hate crimes committed due to prejudice against a religious group are committed against Jews and all indicators available suggest that anti-Semitism is rising once again. In New York, anti-Semitism accounts for more than half of all hate crimes. It is ignorant at best, malicious at worst, to claim that anti-Semitism is merely an issue of the past. Moreover, we cannot discuss anti-Semitism in a context that ignores the Middle East and the state of Israel. With Iran’s supreme leader putting out a call for a “final solution” just weeks ago as well as Hamas’ Charter, still today, calling for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews around the world, anti-Semitism in America is just the tip of the iceberg.
While anti-Semitism in America seems to have died down tremendously over the past 70 years, and the numbers show that it has, the fact that this singular form of hate is still pervasive in some communities as well as seemingly acceptable in our popular culture and among celebrities is undoubtedly startling. This is not evidence of oppression against American Jews — the Jewish people have a far too long history of true oppression to claim that the United States in 2020 can even be compared to our past — but rather it is evidence of prejudice that is readily ignored by those who would like to ignore it.
The true irony is that neither anti-Semitism, nor anti-Zionism, (but I repeat myself) are progressive in any true sense of the word.
If progressives see it as their duty to stand up for groups that have historically been victimized, it is truly impossible to understand how Jews could be left out of that equation. The only way to create a fictional history absent of Jewish oppression is one where the Holocaust never happened, there was no anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and there is no anti-Semitism in the Middle East. To claim any of the antecedent phenomena never took place would be to engage in historical revisionism — as well as anti-Semitism — of the highest order.
Beyond anti-Semitism in general, anti-Zionism in particular is not progressive in any real way either. Defining the term will help explain why.
Zionism is, in its most simple terms, the Jewish right to self-determination. Moral humans generally, and progressives in particular, should be standing for the self-determination of all people. So, to somehow come to the conclusion that by standing for the right of self-determination for all groups — with the exception of Jews — is somehow progressive seems more than a little odd.
It is not only anger-inducing, but also thoroughly depressing, to see the willing and, at times, prideful ignorance of the faux-progressives that occupy our media, popular culture and college campuses. For those who continue to readily ignore some hate, they must realize that anti-Semitism has a long and ugly history — one that refusing to acknowledge will not suffice to make it disappear.