In one important respect, the US presidential election did not make any difference: Iran’s mullahs and America’s woke leftists still think alike.
The clerics of Tehran’s theocratic police state lead mass rallies shouting “Death to the Little Satan, Death to the Great Satan!” The former is Israel, the latter the United States. Such domestic political cheerleading also expresses the regime’s strategic aspirations.
A central belief of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and current Supreme Leader (Farsi for der Fuehrer) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been a religious-like imperative to cleanse the earth of “pollution” represented by the West in general, the United States and Israel in particular. Hence Iran’s 20-year drive for nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
This perspective differs little from that of woke leftists in the United States. They simply replace the ayatollahs’ “Crusader America” and “infidel Israel” with “systemically racist” America and “racist Zionist” Israel.
Like all authoritarians, American anti-liberal leftists reject Enlightenment-derived conventions such as diversity of opinion, freedom of religion, free speech, civil debate and voluntary consensus. If Voltaire showed up today asserting “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” he’d be cancelled faster than you can say guillotine.
Like pro-Israel speakers on US college campuses. Like anyone pointing out that systemic racism in the United States was outlawed more than half a century ago and today three-fourths of African American respondents tell pollsters they think race relations have improved. If this country were systemically racist, the socio-economic successes of Asian Americans and consistently high levels of immigration from non-European countries would be impossible to explain.
The left against empiricism
But in the catechism of the woke, the United States is axiomatically (Buzz words alert!) a white, racist, colonial imposition on indigenous peoples of color. And so is Israel.
Never mind that Israel, with Jews from scores of countries, speaking dozens of languages and including black and Asian as well as white Jews represents the world’s only case of a displaced ancient people returning to a portion of its ancestral soil and there reestablishing its long-lost sovereignty. Or that it is the Middle East’s only real democracy, in which the Arab minority exercises the same civil rights as the Jewish majority.
For all its incantations of “believe the science,” the left’s anti-Zionism and its anti-Americanism are profoundly anti-empirical. That’s partly because these entwined hatreds share a taproot.
Karl Marx echoed Martin Luther’s antisemitism. Marx basically recast Luther’s satanic, anti-Christ Jews as capitalist worshippers of Mammon. If Jews weren’t blocking the Second Coming, then they were obstructing the workers’ paradise. The early Bolsheviks, despising religion and detesting small national minorities, targeted Jews on both scores.
Today’s woke anti-Zionism bleeds easily into Jew-hatred. It takes as scripture the 1975 UN General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. That resolution originated in Soviet propaganda and was adopted by the Arab League after Israel, with American resupply, defeated Kremlin clients Egypt and Syria in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
This psychological warfare inversion became gospel in Western academia with the publication of Edward Said’s 1978 book Orientalism. Intellectually dishonest in its avoidance of contrary sources, Orientalism spawned an entire field, post-colonial studies.
Uncritical racialist dogma
Critical race theory does to America what the “Zionism-is-racism” resolution (repealed in 1991, to little effect) did to Israel. It brands the United States as “systemically racist.” Another superstition of the post-liberal left, it’s now enshrined in many American schools via the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project.
So, it was nearly inevitable that Black Lives Matter’s 2016 manifesto would, in addition to its anti-white, anti-capitalist, anti-nuclear family, anti-“hetero-normativity” positions—some portions recently scrubbed online—parrot the old Soviet-Arab League “racist Israel” boilerplate.
But boilerplate can incite. A BLM demonstration in Los Angeles after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis last May climaxed with the looting of stores and vandalizing of synagogues in the Jewish Fairfax-LaBrea neighborhood. An anti-police protest in Washington, DC during the summer included a group led by a Harvard University student, marching up Constitution Avenue shouting “We know you, Israel, you kill children too!” This apparently echoed a progressive canard that Israeli counter-terrorism training for U.S. law enforcement actually teaches suppression of blacks.
The campaign to delegitimize Israel as racist and its parallel to do the same to the United States are not, in essence, about race. Israel rescued tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews. Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls America, flawed as it is, the best place in the world to be black.
Rather, these intolerant assaults manipulate identity politics to replace the world’s leading liberal society with one of illiberal conformism and to destroy the world’s one Jewish state.
The writer is author of Jewish Make the Best Demons: “Palestine” and the Jewish Question, on which parts of this commentary are based.