Leadership With Heart
Today, I had the opportunity to hear David L. Bernstein, author of Woke AntiSemitism, speak after Shabbat services at Downtown Jewish Center Chabad in Fort Lauderdale. He spoke about the radical woke progressives and how they have perverted the civil rights movement and liberalism for their own extreme agenda.
This was an especially timely and relevant discussion in light of the brutal Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and the progressive anti-Semites coming out in droves to rally not around the Jewish victims of the attack but rather to support the Hamas terrorists. We saw this in threatening and sometimes violent protests by Hamas activists in our streets and campuses, stopping traffic, threatening and terrorizing our citizens, chanting for Intifada revolution and murderous Jihad, and burning our flag while hoisting their own over our landmarks and institutions.
Bernstein described essentially how the progressives have hijacked classic Democratic liberalism. They see the world in a narrow binary fashion: You are either the oppressor or the oppressed. This leads them, unfortunately, to miss all the gray in between. Despite their concept of “intersectionality,” progressives lack the intellectual nuance to deal with the fact that people can be oppressed in one way and the oppressor in another.
Moreover, it seems to me that wokeism doesn’t capture the complexity of power dynamics in the real world. While it is true that some Arabs in Israel became refugees upon the formation of the state, others became citizens, and now 20% of Israel is comprised of fully equal Arab citizens, and many others became part of Jordan, which was allocated as part of a Palestinian homeland and is roughly 4x the size of Israel. At the same time, in the “reverse Nakba,” close to a million Jews became refugees from Arab countries but were fully absorbed by Israel.
In addition, the oppression of the Palestinians is manufactured for propaganda effect. Their entire plight resulted from the Arab decision 75 years ago to start a war with Israel from the moment of the U.N. resolution establishing partition. Their oppression persists because the Arabs, and in particular Hamas, ensure it. In addition, it ignores the fact that Palestinians are part and parcel of the much larger Muslim community worldwide. Muslims outnumber Jews by 1000 to 1. They also have 55 Muslim-majority nations, many with vast oil wealth, compared with just one small Jewish State of Israel, the size of New Jersey. The Palestinian victim movement has co-opted and reversed victim and oppressor. It is the very powerful Hamas terrorists and their Iranian supporters who have cast them into this status.
Further, the abuse of rhetoric by woke progressives is typical. They indiscriminately call Israel “occupiers,” “colonialists,” and an “Apartheid state.” This, despite the facts, which include that the Jews were literally there first, that they bought the land, that the UN established the partition for Jewish and Palestinian states, and that the Jews have thousands of years of religious, cultural, and historical claim to the land. In contrast, no nation of Palestine has ever existed in all of human history.
Finally, beyond the Palestinian issue in particular, wokeism enshrines victimhood. It is an industry aimed at gaining power and money through a tyrannical and false hold on the notion of righteousness. By calling their cause “social justice,” they attempt to claim a vast entitlement to dictate everything. They manipulate good people who naturally believe in the values of fairness, equality, justice, and helping others who are disadvantaged.
There are many other problems with wokeism, and this includes progressive policies aimed at addressing inequality, however noble in attempt, which can ultimately undermine traditional values of individual responsibility, hard work, and meritocracy. Also, by portraying the world as a bleak and one-dimensional place of institutionalized oppression, woke progressives pave the way to overturn our democratic institutions and replace them with some form of socialism or communism, and we know how that ends.
While we should continually strive to promote mutual understanding and empowerment, we must also call out the false messiah of wokeism for what it is: a hateful, corrupt, and self-righteous ideology of entitlement and dictatorship. Instead of wokeism endlessly talking about victimhood, trying to turn one against another, and taking “all you can get,” we should instead take a more positive and unifying approach that includes strong individual and family values, hard work, constructive reform, and of course, faith in the One above.