(September 7, 2022 / JNS) Two years ago, the Abraham Accords showed the world that history is no prison—even in the Middle East. Today, we have a similar opportunity in America to discard conflict and fight for the right to be seen as individuals.
American Jews and Muslims are under threat from a bizarre partnership between radical progressives and Islamists: the “Red-Green Alliance.” This movement was named in Europe—“red” for socialism, “green” for Islam—and has since gained a firm foothold in the U.S. Despite vast disagreements on everything from women’s issues to religious pluralism, these strange bedfellows have managed to unite around a commitment to values including anti-Zionism and anti-capitalism. This partnership has developed to the extent that Islamist organizations and leaders in the U.S. are increasingly seen as an integral part of the progressive movement.
Progressive movements categorize every demographic group as either oppressors or oppressed based on class and skin color. They erase those they classify by ignoring the individual, thus denying people’s right to define themselves and their challenges. This simplistic illiberal binary has dangerous implications for Jews in America.
Jews are often painted as white, privileged oppressors—an allegation that should offend anyone familiar with Jewish history. Within this framework, anti-Semitism becomes a trivial problem and Jews lose the legitimacy to talk about the discrimination they face.
Erasing Jewish identity and excluding Jews from the social justice movement is dangerous. Blunt anti-Semitism by Islamists has sometimes elicited insufficient condemnation because many fear being labeled an Islamophobe. The result is that Jews are the targets of more than half of the religiously-motivated hate crimes in the U.S., despite being only 2% of the population.
Jews need friends in the fight against anti-Semitism, and other victims of the false oppression binary are natural allies. In its rush to generalize, progressive categorization often fails to capture the lived experience of individuals within ethnoreligious communities.
The Red-Green Alliance promotes a distorted perception that Muslims are a homogeneous group with a monolithic political and religious ideology. And while most American Muslims have experienced religious discrimination, that doesn’t mean they approve of Islamists speaking on their behalf.
In pretending to speak for American Muslims, the Red-Green Alliance leaves American Muslims who aren’t Islamists without strong institutional voices, erasing their perspectives and experience. Moreover, the alliance enforces its dogma by excluding alternate points of view, even in academia.
So how can Jews and Muslims oppose the Red-Green Alliance and win back the right to define ourselves and our struggles? Ironically, the Middle East shows the way. The Abraham Accords demonstrate that historical enemies can put aside their differences in service of shared prosperity.
Jews, Muslims and other minority groups have an opportunity to create a Coalition of the Erased that will confront the Red-Green Alliance by promoting intercultural understanding without dogma or false characterizations.
Reut’s Strategy Summit, which takes place September 14 in Washington, D.C., will address how to form this coalition, assess challenges and set goals. Our participants include diplomats from the Abraham Accords countries, as well as a range of Jewish and Muslim experts from across the political spectrum.
The White House is building toward its own summit on September 15, where it intends to “counter the corrosive effects of hate-fueled violence … and put forward a shared, bipartisan vision for a more united America.” I sincerely hope that they hold true to their word and identify the Red-Green Alliance as a threat to both Jews and Muslims.
It’s easy to shoehorn complex groups into simple categories, especially when you need villains to blame for the plight of whoever you define as victims. That strategy will always fail, however, because it doesn’t match reality.
The Abraham Accords showed that parties need not agree on every issue if they are willing to focus on the future. Whatever your identity, please join us in building that future together.
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