If George Orwell is spinning in his grave these days, he’s likely rolling so hard with laughter that it’s bringing him and the rest of us to tears. An upcoming webinar on Jew-hatred is but one of many recent examples of phenomena that even the prescient social critic, whose essays and novels predicted with chilling accuracy the world that has unfolded since World War II, couldn’t have anticipated.
The Dec. 15 event—called “Dismantling Antisemitism, Winning Justice”—is being hosted by the left-wing, anti-Israel NGO Jewish Voice for Peace, and moderated by JVP and JVP Action deputy director Rabbi Alissa Wise.
Its equally radical co-sponsors are JVP Action, If Not Now, United Against Hate, Jewish Currents, Foundation for Middle East Peace, Arab American Institute, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, the Jewish Vote, and the People’s Collective for Justice and Liberation.
According to JVP, anti-Semitism “is used to manufacture division and fear, [and] while anyone can fuel it, [it] always benefits the politicians who rely on division and fear for their power.”
The group didn’t have to specify which “politicians” it has in mind, but it’s obvious that they are in the camp of U.S. President Donald Trump. The stated aim of the online happening is to “explore how to fight back against anti-Semitism and against those that seek to wield charges of antisemitism to undermine progressive movements for justice.”
Again, the reference is clear: Trump’s team and voters are simultaneously guilty of anti-Semitism and of hurling false allegations of anti-Semitism at innocent progressives, whose only wrongdoing is to seek peace and justice.
To engage in this “discussion,” whose purpose is to reach a foregone conclusion—namely, that anti-Semitism is spread by the Republican right—the sponsors of the conference enlisted four apt anti-Israel panelists: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), columnist Peter Beinart, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill and University of Illinois at Chicago academic Barbara Ransby.
Each of these participants protests against being labeled anti-Semitic, while steadfastly singling out Israel for condemnation—a key component of the “working definition of anti-Semitism” formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, of which the United States is a member.
In addition, all the sponsors and panelists, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, engage in “intersectional” activism that involves supporting the BDS movement and siding with the worst elements of Palestinian society. The irony of their shunning of a democratic Jewish state on behalf of an entity with an appalling human-rights record that includes the abuse of women and gays doesn’t seem to register with, let alone bother, any of them.
In general, and through this anti-Semitism conference in particular, these paragons of “peace and justice” embody and purvey Orwell’s “doublethink” and “newspeak”—terms he invented for the dystopian and totalitarian universe he so deftly portrayed in his 1949 novel, 1984—are alive, well and kicking with a vengeance.
Let’s start with Tlaib, a member of the notorious “Squad” of young female Democratic congresswomen. The progressive from Michigan, a socialist of Palestinian descent—there’s an oxymoron for you—has many claims to fame. Among these is a T-shirt she proudly sported with a drawing of a map of “Palestine” completely covering the entire state of Israel. It’s an unmistakable message: that the Jews don’t belong anywhere in the Jewish state within any borders. In other words, Zionism in her eyes is illegitimate at its core.
Then there’s Beinart, author of The Crisis of Zionism. A self-described “proud Jew” who was recently hired by The New York Times as a contributing opinion writer to further the paper’s anti-Israel agenda, he recently went so far as to bash the Muslim-majority countries who signed the Abraham Accords. Yes, the symbol and darling of the anti-Israel left, who has renounced the Zionism he never possessed, penned a lengthy piece in Jewish Currents about the normalization deals, which he titled “Israel’s Repressive Diplomacy.”
Hill—author of We Still Here: Pandemic, Policing, Protest, and Possibility—told TMZ earlier this month that anyone who voted for Trump is a racist. The scholar and TV analyst was fired two years ago from CNN, of all places, after he delivered a speech at the United Nations in which he called on the international community to boycott and divest from Israel.
“We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words, but to commit to political action, grass-roots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” Hill said, during the U.N.’s “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”
Like Tlaib’s map-of-Palestine T-shirt, Hill’s use of the phrase “from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea,” is code for the elimination of the Jewish state.
As for Ransby, well, her anti-Israel credentials are just as impressive as those of her fellow panelists. An open champion of BDS, she has called Israel a “project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing,” and praised terrorists who slaughtered Jews.
For this collection of haters to hold and take part in a panel on combating anti-Semitism is, as U.N. Watch director Hillel Neuer tweeted on Sunday, “like asking Nicolás Maduro to discuss how to fight narco-tyranny.”
Neuer, whose monitoring of the United Nations stands him in great stead to see and point out the ludicrousness of this kind of endeavor, is absolutely correct. Orwell’s summation of the phenomenon, however, explains how such unflinching audacity is made possible in the first place.
In the words of 1984 protagonist Winston Smith, the process of doublethink is: “To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it … .”
Comfort can be taken in the far-reaching ridicule that the ad for the anti-Semitism panel elicited on social media, and the extensive coverage of its peculiar makeup in the mainstream press. By the time that the Zoom conference actually occurs, it will have been talked about ad nauseam, rendering it even more predictable and pointless than it was certain to be.
Orwell would be pleased to know that not everybody has succumbed to what his main character referred to as the “act of hypnosis,” whereby “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength and 2 + 2 = 5.”
“Anti-Israel” may be the new “pro-Israel,” but proponents of the bait-and-switch don’t seem to be camouflaging their Jew-hatred as well as they’d hoped.
Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”