Don’t Stand in Solidarity With Hate
Throughout the past election season and the beginning of the Trump presidency, I have heard a lot of concerns about alt-right hate and antisemitism. Just this past week, my children’s synagogue-based school was evacuated because of a bomb threat. Swastikas have appeared throughout the country; Jewish cemeteries are being desecrated; and a Chapel Hill, North Carolina, elementary school was planning to allow several eight-year-olds to dress up as Hitler until a teacher complained. These are deeply troubling times, to say the least.
While the Left is eager to point out right-wing hate, I am concerned that it is very reluctant to consider its own problems with intolerance, bigotry and antisemitism. Here are a few examples to consider.
The Women’s March and other liberal groups promoted the March 8 “A Day Without A Woman” as “an international strike against male violence and in defense of reproductive rights.” One of the organizers of this strike was Rasmea Odeh — a convicted terrorist. Odeh took part in a bombing that killed two students in Israel, and has been charged with immigration fraud for concealing her conviction when emigrating to the United States. It is hard for me to understand how standing in solidarity with Odeh is good for women, or good for anyone.
Keith Ellison was recently appointed deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) after narrowly losing the race to lead the group. Ellison is a past supporter of the Nation of Islam (NOI), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group. Mother Jones, a politically liberal publication, said that Ellison was a past “defender” of Louis Farrakhan, and cited sources claiming that Ellison was a past member of the NOI. Farrakhan, the leader of the NOI, is notorious for saying hateful things about the LGBT community, Jews and others.
Tablet magazine explained, “It is clear that Ellison trafficked with incredibly virulent, open antisemites and supported and defended them until it became politically inconvenient. Then he lied about it — and once in office, he decided to target the Jewish state.” In December the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying that Ellison’s 2010 remarks about Israel controlling US policy were “both deeply disturbing and disqualifying.”
How exactly is it “progressive” for the DNC to appoint such a person to be its deputy chair? How would the Left feel about a former member of the KKK being appointed deputy chair of the Republican National Committee?
In August, the Movement for Black Lives included in its platform a call to divest from “any government with human rights violations.” The only country specifically mentioned by name for divestment was Israel. One writer in the Jewish Daily Forward asked, “Why single out and bash Israel and no other country?” Israel, of course, is the only country in the world with a majority Jewish population.
Alan Dershowitz, the famous civil liberties lawyer, has correctly stated that “Israel is among the freest and most democratic nations in the world [and] it is certainly the freest and most democratic nation in the Middle East.” Yet The Movement for Black Lives demonizes Israel (a world leader in human rights) without promoting divestment from far worse countries, such as Syria, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya — to name a few.
Furthermore, the platform of the Movement for Black Lives makes the repugnant claim that the United States and Israel are “complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.” It is inflammatory, grossly inaccurate and antisemitic to accuse Israel of genocide. And how exactly does demonizing Jews and Israel help black lives?
I support civil rights, human rights and all the rights of people of color. Yet I reject the antisemitism and bigotry that the Movement for Black Lives has chosen to embrace.
When Democrats, liberals and progressives circle the wagons around left-wing causes that tolerate and embrace antisemitism, the Left is standing in solidarity with hate. It is time that Democrats and “progressives” reject the intolerance, hate and antisemitism of the alt-left.
Peter Reitzes lives in Chapel Hill.This article was published on March 6 in the Chapel Hill News & Observer.