Following Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, many left-wing Jews responded harshly. Trump’s campaign operated against the grain of typical American political history and at times he blurred the lines between political incorrectness and malicious obscenity. He tapped into the frustrations of many Americans across religious, racial, and socioeconomic lines that felt demonized and deserted by an increasingly smug elite on the political left. He narrowly won the Rust Belt by simply not being an established name in the Democratic Party.
For some time, the American Jewish community hotly debated the merits of both candidates and their respective pitches to both our community and the United States as a whole. Many felt discouraged by both candidates (myself included) and chose not to vote for either of them. A strong majority of American Jews fell into Clinton’s ranks since the majority of the community identifies with the Democratic Party. On the other side of the aisle, many Jews either supported Trump reluctantly or unapologetically. Naturally, American Jews argued about why their candidate would be better for Israel, for Jewish continuity, and for the fight against anti-Semitism across the country.
It is common knowledge that the extremes on both the left and the right hate the Jews. Donald Trump’s unintentional dog-whistling to the alt-right Neo-Nazis resulted in an obscene level of harassment against several Jewish #NeverTrump conservatives and Jewish journalists. Individuals such as Richard Spencer emerged out of the gutter to pledge allegiance to Trump as their “savior” and have no problem displaying Nazi salutes on camera to demonstrate how emboldened they are.
On the other hand, the far-left never stopped showing their true colors. From burning Israeli flags outside the DNC and calling for “intifada,” these individuals continued their same anti-Semitic tropes that have metastasized across college campuses throughout the United States. Even after Trump’s victory, both of these seemingly opposing camps remain more committed than ever to accomplish the same goal: Target the Jews and use them as a scapegoat for all of the world’s problems.
Enter #IfNotNow. The #IfNotNow movement describes itself as the “generation that ends our community’s support for the occupation,” even though there is no “occupation” in Judea, Samaria, or Gaza. They came into existence during Operation Protective Edge narcissistically believing that they could use Jewish values to protest Israel’s right to self-defense against genocidal Hamas terror. Their entire movement bastardizes Hillel’s famous words and preys on the feelings of young Jews who know very little about the conflict but think they know everything by simply going to a J Street event or taking an international relations course by a biased leftist professor. They have also politicized Pesach seders as a means of political protest.
Since Trump’s election, #IfNotNow activists have coined themselves as members of the #JewishResistance and are making a commotion every time they feel microaggressed by the President-elect.
It all started with Steve Bannon’s appointment as Chief Strategist. I will be the first to say that I believe Bannon is not a good person and deserves to be scrutinized for his normalization of the alt-right while running Breitbart News. He is obsessed with power and will do anything to consolidate it, even if it means giving rise to some of the most despicable individuals in the United States a voice. It is important for American Jews across the aisle to hold Bannon’s feet to the fire if he does or says anything that is inconsistent with our values.
That being said, the left’s labeling of Bannon as both an anti-Semite and a white supremacist is absurd. Other than his ex-wife’s testimony in divorce court that painted him as an anti-Semite, there is no legitimate evidence to suggest that he hates Jews. Furthermore, he has not personally stated anything that coincides with a white supremacist view. The name-calling only reinforces the same frustrations with the left-wing elite that elevated Trump as President-elect.
However, that did not stop this so-called #JewishResistance from starting a massive protest at the Zionist Organization of America’s gala in New York City, where Bannon had been invited as a guest.These protests also occurred in other metropolitan cities like Boston and Philadelphia. What messages were these protesters saying? They want to combat anti-Semitism and to stop white supremacy within our country. Combatting hatred remains an important goal of every decent human being.
Unfortunately, the #JewishResistance looks like a bunch of morally narcissistic hypocrites when they claim to oppose any type of bigotry since they have only done so when it caters to their interests.
Ever since this movement came into fruition, there have been at least 1,025 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses. Most of these incidents came from far-left organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The #JewishResistance does not cry foul when their fellow radical leftists bully and harass Jewish students for supporting Israel. Furthermore, #IfNotNow does not have a position on the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which solely focuses on Israel for supposedly violating human rights law within the Middle East. Finally, while #IfNotNow spent an abundance of its time attacking Steve Bannon, they refuse to protest the Democratic Party for considering Keith Ellison as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who has a long history of anti-Semitism that even the Anti-Defamation League believes disqualifies him from the position.
There is a lot of power to a name. When somebody thinks of Jewish resistance, we think of the Maccabees, who defeated the Seleucid Empire and their Hellenized Jewish allies in liberating Judea and reclaiming the Holy Temple. We also think of the Bielski Brothers, who resisted against the Nazis and saved 1,236 Jews in the process. We also think of the Haganah and the Irgun, who fought back against the British colonists and the Arab nations that wished to throw the Jews into the sea and prevent the Jewish state from being established. There is legitimate power, history, and principled purpose to what these Jewish resistance groups did to further the Jewish people despite all the odds against us. Their story deserves to be honored and respected by every member of the Jewish people, regardless of political philosophy or religious denomination.
However, for this “#JewishResistance,” anti-Semitism should be combatted only if they can pin it on the right. If it occurs from their allies on the left, it is not worthy of condemnation. There is no honor, principle, or merit to anything these activists do or say. They do not deserve to be synonymous with true Jewish heroes and warriors who fought against legitimate oppression and near genocidal threats.
If I had to come up with a name for these activists, then I would refer to them as the #JewishCowards. That is all they are and that is the only way we should view them.