David Bernstein
David Bernstein
Free speech proponent in the Jewish world

Two Studies Highlight Dangers for Jews of Critical Race Ideologies

For the past seven months, the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values has been calling attention to how critical race ideologies inflame antisemitism and endanger Jews. Two new studies hammer the point home. 

The REUT Group, an Israeli based “think and do tank,” issued an important report called “The Red Green Alliance is Coming to America.”

The REUT report argues that identity politics and progressive discourse categorize groups as either privileged or oppressed. The binary structure of the discourse, it contends, results in “Jewish-Israeli erasure.” This variety of progressive discourse fails to capture the complexity of Jewish identity and communal life and thus downplays the threat of antisemitism. Likewise, Israel is reduced into a white European colonial enterprise and the Palestinians the perennial victims. 

Here’s the kicker: this discourse has been exploited by radical Islamists forces who use it to influence American foreign policy in the Middle East. The “red-green alliance”–the coalescence of Islamist forces and political progressives–which originally took shape in Europe with an agenda that includes clear anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Zionist elements, has now firmly planted itself in the US. 

REUT points out that in the U.S. this cooperation is accelerated by a process of “progressivization” of Muslim Brotherhood organizations, which are gradually adopting the rhetoric of progressive politics. Parroting the rhetoric allows them to brand themselves as a progressive force and make common cause with progressive activists. The red-green alliance has increasingly adopted a coherent perception of American foreign policy, resting on America’s commitment to liberal democratic values and an emerging consensus in the U.S. on restraining American military engagement in the world. The red-green alliance, however, focuses its criticism almost exclusively on the pro-Western axis of countries, which are the ideological enemies of the Muslim Brotherhood axis led by Qatar and Turkey. The Isalmist-Progressive alliance also actively undermines US support for the Abraham Accords. 

So in addition to fueling antisemitism on the left, critical race ideologies provide fertile ground for Islamist organizations to increase their influence over US foreign policy in the Middle East.

A second report, “Inclusion Delusion: The Antisemitism of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Staff at Universities” by Jay P. Greene and James D. Paul of Heritage, shows how the increase in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) staff at universities (the average University now has 45 such professionals on staff) likely does not bode well for Israel and Jews. The authors argue that the extent to which DEI staff at universities express anti-Israel attitudes is so out of proportion as to constitute antisemitism. To measure antisemitism among university DEI staff, they searched the Twitter feeds of 741 DEI personnel at 65 universities to find their public communications regarding Israel. For comparison purposes, they looked at the same set’s Tweets about China. 

The report found that “Those DEI staff tweeted, retweeted, or liked almost three times as many tweets about Israel as tweets about China.” Of the tweets about Israel, 96 percent were critical, while 62 percent of the tweets about China were favorable. There were more tweets referencing “Apartheid” in Israel than those expressing anything favorable. The authors assert that “Frequently accusing Israel of engaging in genocide, apartheid, settler colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and other extreme crimes while rarely leveling similar criticisms toward China indicates an irrational hatred that is particularly directed toward Jews and not merely a concern for human rights.” The report concludes that “university DEI staff are better understood as political activists with a narrow and often radical political agenda rather than promoters of welcoming and inclusive environments.”

After posting the study on social media, I was asked if all the Tweets critical of Israel came from the same few DEI staffers. I spoke to Jay Greene, one of the authors, who indicated that the Tweets, while somewhat concentrated, came from a high percentage of Twitter accounts. In other words, the Israel bashing was not an isolated phenomenon. The authors do not claim that this study proves “beyond a reasonable doubt” that DEI promotes antisemitism. Rather, they suggest it’s indicative of attitudes many of us have already observed. We would do well to take note 

What these two reports have in common should be obvious by now: an ideology that claims to know exactly how the world works, holds itself above scrutiny, castigates anyone who disagrees with it, and divides the world into good guys and bad guys, is practically built to harm Jews. Some argue that this ideology is primarily problematic in how it erases Jews. True enough. I contend, however, that it is problematic in how it portrays society more generally, which is especially bad for Jews.

Many Jews have come to know this. Some have spoken out. Others still need to muster the courage.    

About the Author
David Bernstein is the founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values and is a former CEO of Jewish advocacy organizations.
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