If you not only read The New York Times but still consider it the authoritative news source, then you are aware of a growing problem associated with anti-Semitism. By that, I’m not referring to the fact that it’s been open season on attacking Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn and other parts of New York City with the preponderance of hate crimes being directed at them and, as Tablet recently reported, only a single perpetrator spending even a day in prison for their crimes.
That doesn’t fit in with the newspaper’s idea of anti-Semitism, which is limited to the activities of white supremacists on the far-right and fallacious attempts to link such attacks to their preferred political foes, like former President Donald Trump. So, there hasn’t been much of anything about this epidemic of hate crimes or the way woke “bail reform” laws and prosecutors who aren’t interested in prosecuting criminals (funded by billionaire leftist George Soros) are giving them a pass, in the Times.
On the contrary, as far as the Times is concerned, the problem with the discussion about anti-Semitism is not too little focus on such violence or the growing volume of Jew-hatred on college campuses and elsewhere in which Jews and Israel are falsely branded as oppressors and beneficiaries of “white privilege.” According to the Times, the problem is that those who seek the destruction of the one Jewish state on the planet—something that could only possibly be achieved by the genocide of its 7 million Jewish citizens, presumably through the efforts of the Islamist and Palestinian nationalist terrorists who seek this outcome—are being wrongly accused of anti-Semitism.
That’s the conceit of a recent broadside published in the Times by Peter Beinart. A frequent contributor to the paper, Beinart is an ex-liberal Zionist turned opponent of Israel who edits the far-left Jewish Currents and teaches at the City University of New York. According to Beinart, the fact that even liberals think Israel-haters are engaging in anti-Semitism is the real scandal. Beinart is angry that many Jewish liberals are, albeit reluctantly, denouncing those groups who masquerade as advocates for human rights, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and those who promote the BDS movement are falsely accusing Israel of apartheid and support efforts to wipe it off the map.
The willingness to discuss the existence of left-wing anti-Semitism has been slow and grudging among liberals. But Beinart is slamming even the likes of the Anti-Defamation League and historian Deborah Lipstadt. The ADL, which has become a partisan hack when it comes to attacking conservatives, and figures like Lipstadt, a professor at Emory University who was rewarded for her approval of the outrageous smearing of the Trump administration as the moral equivalent of the Nazi Party, was appointed by President Joe Biden as the U.S. State Department’s envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, have their faults. But even they are still prepared to occasionally address the threat to Jews from the left.
Indeed, even CNN was willing to recently acknowledge how those who wish to destroy Israel engage in anti-Semitic actions that target Jews in a recent special report, even if the same show downplayed its significance while granting far more attention to dishonest attempts to connect Trump to anti-Semitism.
Using the bully pulpit granted him by the Times, Beinart was able to use one of the most read publications in the world to argue that anyone who defends Israel against the apartheid lie or points out the way those who wish to eliminate it (as opposed to merely criticizing some of its government’s policies) are engaging in discrimination against Jews are the real problem. According to Beinart, the mere existence of one Jewish state is a form of racism and “Jewish supremacy” that should be opposed. In his eyes, the century-long Palestinian war on Zionism and opposition to a Jewish state, no matter where its borders are drawn, is a righteous cause. More than that, he argues that the willingness of Jews to defend their state, even while often criticizing it, as the ADL and Lipstadt do, discredits efforts to oppose anti-Semitism.
Like his Palestinian terrorist allies, Beinart is especially angry at those Arab and Muslim states that have made peace with Israel—either overtly via the Trump administration’s Abraham Accords or quietly, as is the case with Saudi Arabia—and thinks links to these admittedly authoritarian governments also discredits Jews. That his cause is discredited by the fact that those who agree with him among Palestinian groups or their Iranian allies have consistently rejected compromise and peace—and seek Jewish genocide—is a minor detail that he ignores.
Beinart’s own embarrassing history of wanderings from a neo-liberal supporter of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq to a virulent opponent of both it and U.S. foreign policy during his time as editor of The New Republic, then as a liberal Zionist supporter of Israel and advocate of a two-state solution to his current position in which he supports Israel’s dismantlement, makes it hard to take him seriously. He has always been an intellectually shallow writer whose willingness to spout his opinions is only matched by his often-breathtaking ignorance of many of the subjects he discusses, of which Israel is the most conspicuous example.
Yet Beinart, who was once included by Foreign Policy magazine on its list of 100 top global thinkers, is not only someone that is regularly given access to one of the largest publishing platforms in the world for his hateful views. He’s also a reliable weathervane that can usually tell us which way the wind is blowing among the left-wing elites who have such a stranglehold on control of the major institutions of journalism, academia and popular culture.
So it is significant that Beinart is not only venting his resentment at the way the overwhelming majority of Israelis, as well as most American Jews, haven’t taken his advice about surrendering to those who would endanger their existence. He is now embracing the intersectional narrative in which the effort to destroy Israel is identified as a cause that lovers of freedom should support.
The not-so-subtle warning implicit in his article is that the overwhelming majority of Jews who are Zionists—even liberals like the ADL and Lipstadt—are discrediting the Jewish people and leaving themselves open to what are, in his opinion, justified attacks from the left.
And lest one think this Beinart article is an isolated instance, it’s telling that the same week in which it was published, the paper’s news division weighed in with its own version of the same argument in which it depicted a dissident employee of Google as a martyr to Zionist plots.
The same paper that cannot find space to report the growing number of hate crimes against Jews in New York (such attacks make up the vast majority of all reported hate crimes in the city), including the most recent in which three Chassidic Jews were assaulted in separate instances, was willing to devote considerable space on the front page of its B section to the complaints of a Jewish anti-Zionist named Ariel Koren working at the Big Tech giant who objected to the fact that Google had entered into a contract with the State of Israel to provide it with artificial intelligence and computing services.
According to Koren, Google retaliated against her for organizing efforts to protest the company’s connection to Israel though the National Labor Relations Board ruled against her complaint. Though she claims Israel is using Google to help oppress Palestinians, the contract appears to only cover giving Israeli government agencies access to its Cloud platforms and isn’t involved with classified or military operations. But that doesn’t matter to a BDS activist like Koren, who believes that anything the Jewish state does is inherently oppressive and therefore a reprehensible crime.
This implicit defense of BDS boycotts of Israel and Beinart’s article sends a powerful message. The Times, which has a long and dishonorable history of downplaying anti-Semitism and biased reporting about Israel, is not only making it clear that it’s not going to cover attacks on Jews except from people it can identify as political opponents. It’s also increasingly invested in a campaign to legitimize left-wing anti-Semitism, and it has willing allies in the Jewish community like Beinart, who often speaks of himself as an observant Jew, who will assist in this effort. The decision of the Times to engage in this sort of a campaign against Israel and the Jews is one more wake-up call for liberal Jews who don’t understand that the left is coming for them just as much as it is for conservatives and Israelis.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.
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