Daniel Markind

When and why did progressivism become so comfortable with antisemitism?

The student editors at the Wellesley College student newspaper are proud Progressives. The all-women’s institution, one of the most prestigious in the world that counts among its graduates Hilary Clinton, recruits from all over the United States and around the globe. It prides itself on educating the world’s future female leaders.

As with so many of American colleges today, the student body is overwhelmingly liberal and “Progressive.”  Numerous articles printed in the school newspaper affirm the need for diversity and equity, one of the main themes of modern Progressivism.

Over the last few weeks the student editors have aligned themselves proudly with another key tenant of modern Progressivism, hatred of the State of Israel.  “We proudly support the BDS movement and the liberation of Palestine,” the newspaper editorialized, “and we call in our fellow students, our professors, Wellesley’s administration and the Board of Trustees to do the same.”

The young women of Wellesley however would not stop there.  They looked for another way to put pressure on both Wellesley and the surrounding community to isolate Israel, which they found in a method they called “Jew mapping.”  Scrapping any pretense that anti-Zionism differs from antisemitism, the Wellesley student newspaper applauded a “Mapping Project” started by BDS supporters that sought to publicize the names and addresses of Jewish people and Jewish institutions like synagogues and day schools, collect information on their finances and activities and force them to cease any activities that could be construed as supporting Israel.

“We believe that the mapping project is providing a vital service,” the newspaper editorialized.  “Collecting data about these institutions, tracing their political and financial activities and publicizing this information is incredibly important.”

That the “Jew mapping” would provide an easy blueprint for Palestinian terror groups like the PFLP (which roundly applauded the project) to target Jewish people and institutions didn’t appear to bother the elite, Progressive Wellesley women, nor did the fact that their mapping project eerily tracks the method used by the Nazis to isolate Jews prior to Workd War II.  Another thing that did not bother the Wellesley students was that fact that this project eviscerated the so-called line between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.  It targeted all Jews, regardless of their feelings about Israel.  To the Wellesley editors, they were upholding a higher cause, international social justice, to which they pledged their solidarity by their adherence to seeking to exterminate Israel, one of the key tenets of modern Progressivism.

Remarkably, the blatant antisemitism of the Wellesley student editors wasn’t even the most extreme recent example of Progressive fealty to antisemitism, regardless of its consequences.  That belongs to the collection of LGBTQ groups that have stayed silent following the murder and dismemberment of gay Palestinain Ahmad Abu Maria, who sought asylum in Israel to protect him from his Palestinian family in Hebron that he feared would kill him over his sexual orientation.  Last week his headless torso and some body parts turned up near the side of a road outside of Hebron.

Despite the fact that deeply conservative Palestinian society remains openly hostile to gay and transgender people, even to the point of killing them, the LGBTQ community, being “Progressive,” feels the need to support those who wish them dead.  This absurd situation manifested itself at the Law School of the University of California, Berkeley, where the school’s “Queer Caucus” was one of nine student groups to pledge not to invite “speakers that have expressed and continued to hold views…in support of Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine.”  The Queer Caucus was joined by, among other groups, the “Women of Berkeley Law.”  Imagine then the position of a lesbian law student at Berkeley.  This student insists on support for a people who wish to kill her, and refuses to accept even listening to other people who might disagree with that student’s support of those who wish to kill her.  Bizarre?  Yes.  But that is where we are with modern Progressivism.

Modern Progressives aren’t even disputing their antisemitism. Rashida Tlaib, the Democratic Congresswoman from Michigan makes no secret of hers.  Last year she stated that the same people who oppose a free Palestine and the “same people who exploit real Americans.”  And just who would those “real Americans” be Ms. Tlaib?  Last month she announced that one cannot be a progressive and support Israel’s “apartheid government.”  As the current Israeli government contains Arab members in its ruling coalition, the only possible inference is that no Israeli government can be supported by Progressives, thus the State of Israel never can be supported.

Ask any Jewish college student these days what it’s like to be on campus, especially at schools that dare to think of themselves as “elite.”  From the moment the student steps on campus he/she is bombarded by an unremitting torrent of anti-Israel and anti-semitic invective, nearly all coming from the Progressive left. The conclusion is obvious. In order to remain Progressive one must denounce support for Israel. As the Wellesley women showed, hatred among Progressives for all things Israel now extends to all things Jewish.

How did this happen?  Why did this happen?  How is it that “Progressive” in its modern form is so comfortable with antisemitism?  How did a movement that claims to be about social justice become one that not only encourages but now seems to demand fealty to the oldest, most insidious race hate the world has ever known?  Why are so many Jews who pride themselves in their adherence to the concept of “Tikkun Olam” so willing to not only encourage but align themselves with a movement that seems to, quite literally, want them gone, if not dead?

We Jews have enough trouble with the race haters on the right.  They come at us directly with claims that we will not replace them.  As we brace ourselves for another resurgence of hatred from the right, we dare not dismiss the perhaps more dangerous hatred now coming from our traditional allies on the left.  After decades of brotherhood these former allies now have made common cause with the rightist race haters, but are careful to disguise that identical ancient race hatred in flowery, modern and yes “Progressive” language.

About the Author
Daniel B, Markind is an attorney based in Philadelphia specializing in real estate, commercial, energy and aviation law. He is the former Chair of the National Legal Committee of the Jewish National Fund of America as well as being a former member of the National Executive Board and the National Chair of the JNF National Future Leadership. He writes frequently on Middle Eastern and energy issues. Mr. Markind lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and children.
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