Waking Up to a World Where Political Allies Hate the Jews
JNS.org – It isn’t easy for some Jewish liberals, but many of them are waking up to a world that doesn’t neatly conform to their existing prejudices.
The event that really set off alarms took place last month, when a gay pride parade expelled LGBT Jews who carried rainbow flags with a Star of David emblazoned on them. The reason for their ouster was that the Star of David offended the left-wing parade organizers, who felt “triggered” by anything that reminded them of the “racist” country of Israel, and Zionism.
Much like the statements of Linda Sarsour, who has said that Jews must choose between their support of Israel and feminism, the Chicago Dyke March organizers claimed that the Jewish star made “people feel unsafe” at an event that was avowedly “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian.”
It didn’t matter to the march’s organizers that the overwhelming majority of American Jews support gay rights, or even that the State of Israel is one of the world’s most gay-friendly nations. Nor were they interested in the fact that Palestinian LGBT individuals must either stay in the closet, or flee to the Jewish state in order to live freely (or to live at all).
Why? Because Israel’s support for LGBT rights counts for nothing when weighed against “intersectionality,” which means — to some — that the fight for gay rights is indivisible from the efforts of Arabs and Muslims to eradicate the one Jewish state from the planet.
The one element that lends an element of logic to the Dyke March’s ironic stand is antisemitism. To those who hate Jews, any inconsistency is permissible. But this series of events has been difficult for many Jews to understand — because it doesn’t conform to their pre-existing worldview, in which enemies are on the Right, and allies are on the Left.
We saw how that worked earlier this year, when mainstream liberal Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others were quick to blame President Donald Trump for a surge in antisemitic incidents in the US, which were largely centered on a series of bomb threats at JCCs around the country. Trump’s volatile rhetoric and other actions were assumed to be part of the source of the trouble. But it turned out that the culprits of some of the threats were a left-wing American writer, and an Israeli teen with a mental health condition. Yet some embarrassed liberals still refused to apologize.
This doesn’t mean that right-wing antisemitism doesn’t exist. But the neat lines in which political foes must somehow always be antisemites — and sympathetic allies must always be friends of the Jews — don’t exist anymore, except in the minds of liberals living in a dream world.
One such dreamer, who may be slowly snapping out of it, is ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt, whose recent article in TIME carries the headline, “Anti-Semitism Is Creeping Into Progressivism.” But to claim that it is “creeping” into the landscape of the political left is shockingly ignorant. In my view, it has been an integral part of the Left for decades.
Unfortunately, many decent liberals have turned a blind eye to left-wing, anti-Zionist agitation — which is often indistinguishable from antisemitism. Those who say that they wish to deny Jews statehood, the right of self-defense or the ability to live in peace in their homeland are practicing discrimination against Jews. This is the definition of antisemitism. And it is on the Left, not the Right, where support for such hatred — whether in the form of backing the BDS movement or cultural boycotts — is growing.
But unfortunately, all too many liberals would still rather believe that Trump — their main political foe — is the real reason that antisemitism is growing.
It’s long past time for the Jewish community to understand that its best allies in this struggle are conservative Christians, with whom they disagree on social issues, while it is their alleged friends on the Left who are preaching intolerance for Jews. That doesn’t obligate them to abandon their political principles, but they need to understand that the world is a complicated place, where Jewish safety can be endangered by solidarity with the Left.
Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of JNS.org and a contributing writer for National Review. Follow him on Twitter at: @Jonathans_tobin.