A friend who is Jewish (I will call him David) was recently invited to speak about anti-Semitism at a left-wing rally in a major Canadian city. His speech was well received. A young Palestinian even approached David after the speech to shake his hand. This event confirms that much of the left, even the modern left, is friendly and even welcoming towards Jews. A little scratching under the surface, however, reveals that the situation is not nearly as rosy as it may seem.
It started when David heard about the event and noticed that there would be speakers about racism and other forms of discrimination but nothing about anti-Semitism, so he contacted the organizer. After some friendly discussions, the organizer suggested that David be the speaker about anti-Semitism.
David has little experience in public speaking, and he was worried about the reception that he would receive from a left-wing audience. But he decided that he could not miss this opportunity, so he asked friends for advice, and he prepared a speech. In the speech, he explained the history of anti-Semitism, from traditional anti-Semitism to modern anti-Semitism that often disguises itself as anti-Zionism, particularly on the left.
David wrote that he could not speak about anti-Semitism without speaking about anti-Zionism. He wrote that just like Aboriginal people bear a special relationship with the land on which they first dwelt, so do Jews with Israel, and that Jews have been repeating the wish of “Next year in Jerusalem” at every Passover Seder for times immemorial. David stated that it is anti-Semitic to believe that every ethnic group has the right to self-determination except the Jewish people.
Unfortunately, when the organizer read the draft speech, David was told that his safety would be at risk if he delivered the speech as is. He was asked to talk only about anti-Semitism in the city where the event was taking place and not about a more general history of Jewish persecution. He was not specifically asked to remove references to Israel and anti-Zionism, but to David the implication was clear.
David had a choice. He could either decline to make the speech or he could change it and deliver an updated version. He decided that he could not miss this opportunity to speak about anti-Semitism to an audience that needed it more than most others. So he quickly made changes to the speech, and he delivered it in front of the left-wing audience.
He still mentioned the rise of anti-Semitism on the left, but without explaining the reason for that rise. He still challenged his audience to examine their own biases and to acknowledge the problem, but without explaining the biases or the problem.
The positive reaction to the updated speech shows that at least some of the modern left still agrees that anti-Semitism should be rejected. The left has not become the Nazi party. Jews are still welcome on the left.
Unfortunately, the fact that David was forced to change his speech indicates that while the left is not anti-Jews, it is virulently anti-Israel. The left tolerates and even welcomes Jews as long they do not do what all other peoples on earth have the right to do: pursue self-determination. The left accepts Jews as long as Jews renounce their connections to their past, to their present, and to the land that has always been at the center of their religion and culture.
In other words, the left accepts Jews as long as they are no longer Jewish. It is a form of “Jew-friendly” anti-Semitism, which is a contradiction in terms.
Left-wing activists like to present themselves as spokespeople for minorities, but when it comes to Jews, they are failing miserably because they refuse to see that the anti-Semitism of today is mostly disguised as anti-Zionism.
By refusing to boldly stand for the right of self-determination of the Jewish people, the left is marching hand-in-hand with anti-Semites. Unlike more traditional anti-Semites, they do not see themselves as anti-Jewish, which makes them incapable of seeing their own biases and their own problem.
Consequently, the left’s anti-Semitism is likely the most insidious and the most resilient antisemitism of all.