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March 21, 2019 4:33 am

The Young Insurgents and the Antisemitism Crisis in the Democratic Party

avatar by Alexander Joffe


Executive director of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition Abbas Hamideh poses with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) at a swearing-in ceremony and private dinner in Detroit on Jan. 12, 2019. Photo: Abbas Hamideh/Twitter.

With astonishing rapidity and cravenness, the US Democratic Party has succumbed to Corbynization. Tweets and other statements by a few newly elected members of Congress have asserted that American Jews are disloyal, support for Israel is bought, and accusations of antisemitism are used as weapons to silence dissent over Israel and the role of Jews.

The potential transformation of the US political scene has global ramifications. The three principal figures of the American crisis, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar, personify its logic and trajectory, which is comprised of three dimensions: socialism, Palestinianism, and Islamism. They are the red-green alliance come to America.

Ocasio-Cortez is the socialist — blithe, ignorant, media savvy, and media-anointed face of a generational rebellion against the aged Democratic leadership. A true representative of her generation, she is defiantly unaware of economics, history, and politics, and is protected by an equally defiant attitude of entitlement that repels criticism, converting policy disagreements into putative attacks on her gender, “woman of color” status, and “life experience.”

Tlaib, a Palestinian American, is the Palestinian part of the equation. She is essentially a one-issue person – “Palestine” – and as such, her bona fides are unassailable. But by “Palestine” she means not support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but Israel’s complete dismemberment. Like many American supporters of “Palestine,” her articulation of that state is vague. But Tlaib is the vital bridge to the “most important issue of our time,” which motivates minorities, Muslims, and, increasingly, millennials, via “intersectionality.” To be against “Palestine” is to be against justice itself.

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Representing the minority plus ultra is Omar, a Somali Muslim from Minnesota. Her antipathy toward Jews, disgust with the US, and conspiratorial worldview are products of her religious and cultural backgrounds. Indeed, it was her eagerness to express her negativity about American Jews and the US that precipitated the current party crisis. But any criticism of her is automatically an attack on all women, all “people of color,” and all Muslims. Therefore she can, and does, say anything at all, with near impunity. And with support from CAIR, the Muslim Brotherhood’s arm in the US, she is linked to that organization’s global aims, if not methods.

Some of the women are also disciples of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and veterans of the Women’s March, which has crumbled under the weight of their antisemitism, corruption, and mismanagement. They learned that Jew-baiting by a minority is not cost-free, but assembles a bitter hard core of followers surrounded by a softer layer of supporters who are cowed into submission and compelled to support “women of color” at all costs. Allegations of racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia are absolutely central to their methods.

Three otherwise unexceptional characters have thus come together to form a so far unstoppable force.

So hollowed out as an intellectual and moral force is the Democratic Party that House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and all the current presidential candidates have fallen in line with the rebels. This craven collapse is motivated by fears that the insurgents will channel millennial support and seize the party organs. Sinecures aside, their paralysis is also driven by their profound loathing for President Trump.

President Obama came into office seeking to put “daylight” between the US and Israel, and his supporters were behind the creation of new organizations such as J Street to destroy the American Jewish consensus on Israel. This helped create an interlocking structure of party, state, and media, who demonized Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters at every opportunity in order to cripple liberal Jews and diminish American public support for Israel.

The short-term effects of this process are already clear, including legitimizing the worldview in which “the Jews” are central and where their loyalties and “influence” are legitimate topics for debate, along with a reassessment of US policy toward Israel, not as one of several special relationships but as a unique and spectral one.

For American Jews, the situation is suddenly dire. The political party where a majority of them have found a home for a century has repudiated their concerns and fears, relegating them to the bottom of the heap. Their votes, too, no longer seem to matter. They are, after all, a shrinking minority soon to be outpaced by Muslim Americans. Their celebration of Democratic values for generations has brought them little loyalty, or even forbearance.

In the longer term, the global consequences of American socialism and a triumphant red-green alliance — still unrealized and avoidable — are grim. For the world, the possibility of real isolationism from America’s global security commitments is a serious danger. NATO and Chinese expansionism are remote issues for the insurgents, while Islamic terrorism in Africa, Europe, and elsewhere could eventually be condoned, as it is by the UK Labour Party. A French cycle of strategic irrelevance and permanently high social spending, and hence unemployment, against a background of spreading Islamic insurgency and electoral paralysis may be a best-case scenario.

With the exception of socialist Bernie Sanders, none of the prospective Democratic candidates has weighed in on these critical issues. Instead, dragged left by the insurgents, some of them have expressed support for harebrained schemes to throw open the borders to millions of migrants, spend trillions “greening” the US economy, disarm police, lower the voting age to 16, and provide socialist-level healthcare to 325 million people by taxing corporations and the wealthy at gargantuan levels.

If Labour is any guide, the predictable exception to this isolationism will be an obsessive focus on Israel.

The goal of some of the millennial insurgents is socialism, in which the totality of the US economy is controlled and directed by the government toward “virtuous” ends. In the most dystopian conception, American Jews, as the newly appointed quintessence of “whiteness” and “privilege,” appear destined to become the new kulaks, stripped of power and castigated as wreckers, unless they get in line. Israel, as the home of “International Jewry,” is to be isolated, marginalized, and, if possible, destroyed.

Fortunately, the self-correcting features of American politics are still in play. Polls indicate that support for Israel remains strong, at least among Republicans and the broader population. At best we may hope for a rapid reclaiming of the Democratic Party by its centrists, who have been horrified by the takeover. Another likely scenario is that the insurgents will tighten their grip, but, in the fashion of Labour, expose their antisemitism over and over again, leading to a loss of public support. But barring a difficult to imagine reclamation, Labour’s indecency is now permanent, much as it is for red-green alliances across Europe. The red-green alliance in the US is now a permanent threat as well.

The future of American politics, and the American experiment, is not yet written, but the script has become far darker.

Alex Joffe is an archaeologist and historian. He is a senior non-resident fellow at the BESA Center and a Shillman-Ingerman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

A version of this article was originally published by The BESA Center.

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