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Jewish leaders in North Carolina betray Jewish interests

Why is a new “Jewish caucus” refusing to fight anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party?

Lapel buttons with stylized Democratic Party donkey symbol. Credit: U.S. Consulate General Barcelona.
Lapel buttons with stylized Democratic Party donkey symbol. Credit: U.S. Consulate General Barcelona.
Josh Ravitch and Amy Rosenthal
Josh Ravitch and Amy Rosenthal

The deadliest forms of anti-Semitism are often the result of politics organized against the Jewish community and Israel, the world’s only Jewish state. Here in North Carolina, anti-Semitism has been found in our universities and cities like Durham. Alarmingly, it is now also being promoted by the North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP). Worse still, this is supported by local Jewish leaders who are so dedicated to progressive ideology that they are willing to sacrifice Jewish concerns to advance a partisan political agenda.

A number of Jews in the NCDP have decided to ignore vicious anti-Semitic sentiments, resolutions and activities in order to prioritize electing Democrats. These Jews were even arrogant enough to express this in writing.

In June 2022, the NCDP tabled three anti-Semitic resolutions, two of which were adopted. Israel was falsely accused of harming Palestinian communities in every imaginable way: violence, ethnic cleansing, land expropriation, apartheid, ghettoization, targeting civilians and so on. The authors of the resolutions outrageously accused Jews of racism, claiming that Jews conspire with the Israeli government to maintain Jewish-only communities. These assertions are heinous and unfounded.

The incendiary resolutions echo the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews maintain a powerful global cabal to dominate and abuse others. In short, Democrats in North Carolina portrayed Jews as sinister, evil and greedy—age-old anti-Semitic tropes that have been used to incite hatred and violence against Jews for centuries.

The reaction of Jewish clergy leaders in North Carolina (North Carolina Jewish Clergy Association) was tepid, characterizing the resolutions as “not thoughtful nor balanced.” The Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary called them “troubling.” The Charlotte Federation stated that the resolutions “do not align” with Democratic Party positions. Neither Federation had their statements available on their websites at the time this article was written. (One wonders why.) To our knowledge, only our group, the North Carolina Coalition for Israel (NCCI), explicitly called the resolutions anti-Semitic. We also called for the resolutions to be condemned and rescinded.

NCCI was encouraged to learn that Democrats concerned about the resolutions would be forming a new Jewish caucus. We thought the cavalry was coming to protect Jews from anti-Semitism in the party. We were wrong.

Through email communications, we learned that the primary goal of the new caucus would be to turn North Carolina “blue.” Among the listed goals, none mentioned a candidate’s position on Israel.  Worse still, fighting anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party did not even make the list.

As for the demand that the anti-Semitic resolutions be rescinded, various excuses were given for failing to support it. Dr. David Rubin, Provisional Chair of the North Carolina Jewish Democrats, claimed an executive committee of the Jewish caucus decided, “While we have a case to hold a special parliamentary procedure to force removal of the resolutions, it was decided that this would draw further attention unnecessarily to the brouhaha.”

He also said, “We believe these internal party arguments are distracting and do not allow us to focus on such alarming events as the elimination of women’s control of their bodies and both an insurrection and lie supported by our adversaries.”

Another leader wrote, “There are procedural appeal mechanisms that are possible, but they would be complicated, waste a lot of time and effort and extend public embarrassment.”

For this “Jewish caucus” there are many things more important than fighting against a little “brouhaha” like anti-Semitism. These Jewish leaders prefer to sacrifice Jewish interests for the sake of other causes in order to project “moral superiority” and virtue.

When NCCI published a piece explaining the anti-Semitism inherent in the resolutions, a Jewish leader wrote to tell us that the article was “not helpful,” saying “we are addressing the problem.” We asked what could be done about anti-Semitism under the guise of criticizing Israel. The answer was “good question.” Then they changed the subject.

This new Jewish caucus is simply another Jewish front for Democratic Party policies. Note that the two requirements for membership are 1) being “a registered N.C. Democrat” and 2) “support for a Jewish state of Israel alongside a future negotiated state of Palestine in accordance with the Democratic National Party Platform.” Support for Israel is therefore conditional on there being a “state of Palestine,” which could be a terrorist state. Moreover, one’s stance on Israel is apparently dependent on whatever the national Democratic Party position happens to be.

We know that politics can be a dirty business and often involves making difficult trade-offs. In this case, the trade-off should not be difficult. The indifference of the new “Jewish caucus” and Jewish communal leaders, in general, represents a significant and shameful betrayal. Sadly, we are witnessing too many instances of failing Jewish leadership around the country. We are grateful to the Jewish Leadership Project for its support of local activists like us who are exposing such failures. We hope that such exposure will encourage Jewish leaders to make the interests of the Jewish community their top priority.

Josh Ravitch and Amy Rosenthal are co-founders of the North Carolina Coalition for Israel, a non-partisan, non-political organization that opposes anti-Semitism wherever it exists. If you are concerned about the failure of Jewish leadership in North Carolina, contact or visit the Jewish Leadership Project website.


Editor’s note: This article has been updated due to a mistake in the original version. The Jewish Federations of North America wrote the following response to the characterization of their response to the anti-Semitic resolutions: 

In fact, the Raleigh-Cary Federation said it was “appalled with the offensive anti-Israel and antisemitic language” and called for the resolutions’ removal in a statement that appears on their website. Charlotte used the same language, “anti-Israel and antisemitic,” in a communication sent widely to their community that also called for the resolutions to be removed. The e-mail communication does not appear on their website, but was also not removed as it was never posted there in the first place.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.

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