(November 29, 2020 / JNS) Over the past week or so we have been witnessing the emergence of a new sort of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. The new form of Jew-hatred is a combination of anti-Zionism and identity politics. It is convoluted and hard to follow. But contradictions and all, it has arrived. And Jewish Americans, sensing the partisan disposition, are adapting themselves accordingly.
The first place to look for the new Jew-hatred is in Joe Biden’s appointments. Most of the attention this week has been focused on Biden’s senior appointments. Biden appointed Tony Blinken, who is Jewish, to serve as his secretary of state. As John Kerry’s deputy, Blinken played a major role in crafting the nuclear deal with Iran which, while billed as a non-proliferation agreement, gave the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism an open path to a nuclear arsenal. Like his former boss, Blinken is faithful to the view that the Palestinians are the strategic nerve center of the Middle East. That without their agreement, it is impossible—or if possible, wrong—for Arab states to make peace with Israel.
Blinken is considered an establishment figure rather than an ideologue. But since he is a Jew, party ideologues view him as suspect. For instance, Rep. Rashida Tlaib responded to the news of his appointment with an anti-Semitic tweet. Responding to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ praise for Blinken’s appointment, Tlaib averred, “So long as he doesn’t suppress my First Amendment right to speak out against Netanyahu’s racist and inhumane policies.”
Two other appointments announced this week certainly were more to Tlaib’s liking.
Biden appointed Reema Dodin, a Palestinian American, to serve as the deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. As the pro-Israel website Elder of Zion reported, in 2002, as a student at the University of California Berkeley, Dodin was the head of the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Muslim Students Association. In that capacity, she gave a speech at a church in Lodi, California, where she justified suicide bombers. In her words at the time, “The suicide bombers were the last resort of a desperate people.”
After her remarks were reported by Fox News, the Biden campaign issued a defensive response. Notably, the campaign made no effort to either deny or distance itself from Dodin’s justification for the mass murder of Israelis by Palestinian terrorists. Instead, the campaign response read, “Reema is the first to tell you she has grown from her youth in her approach to pushing for change.”
In other words, Dodin continues to justify the mass murder of Jews. But now that she’s a grown-up, she presents it differently.
Multiple media outlets reported this week that Karine Jean-Pierre, Sen. Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, is the frontrunner to serve as White House spokesperson. Jean-Pierre has a rich record of anti-Israel statements and activism. Reportedly an enthusiastic supporter of the anti-Jewish BDS campaign, last year, Jean-Pierre led a successful effort to embarrass Democrat presidential primary candidates into boycotting the AIPAC’s 2019 annual convention. In a column in Newsweek at the time, Jean-Pierre warned, “You cannot call yourself a progressive while continuing to associate yourself with an organization like AIPAC.”
In the same article, Jean-Pierre accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of committing war crimes and accused the Trump administration of anti-Semitism.
Jean-Pierre’s behavior is seemingly inconsistent. On the one hand, she engaged in anti-Semitism. She called for the ostracism of a Jewish organization for the “crime” of supporting the U.S.-Israel alliance and used slander to demonize Israel’s prime minister. On the other hand, she presented herself as a champion of the Jews by calling President Trump an anti-Semite. Unfortunately, this simultaneous embrace and condemnation of anti-Semitism is a primary characteristic of the Democrats’ new anti-Semitism.
Perhaps its most outrageous current expression is found in an online advertisement for an upcoming panel discussion that is being organized by the viciously anti-Jewish group Jewish Voice for Peace. Over the past decade or so, JVP has served as a “Jewish” fig leaf for campaigns to boycott Israel, its products and representatives, its Jewish supporters, and their businesses and organizations. Over the past several weeks, JVP has aggressively advertised a panel discussion it will be hosting with other “Jewish” groups that support anti-Jewish boycotts. The discussion is titled, “Deconstructing Anti-Semitism, Winning Justice.”
The panel will feature four speakers who support Israel’s annihilation: Tlaib, Peter Beinart, who called for Israel’s destruction in a New York Times article in July, former CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill, who called for Israel’s annihilation in a speech at a conference at the United Nations last year, and Barbara Ransby, an outspoken supporter of anti-Jewish boycotts who has defended calls for the mass murder of Israeli Jews.
How can these self-evidently anti-Jewish speakers credibly participate in a discussion about anti-Semitism?
Well, it’s actually very simple. Like Jean-Pierre, they will argue that anti-Semitism is a synonym for the Republican Party, or the conservative movement, or the political right, or Zionism.
The New York Times‘ Jonathan Weisman made the claim in a comprehensive way in his 2018 book (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump. Weisman’s essential argument in his book was that being Jewish means being progressive and everything that isn’t progressive is anti-Semitic. By this definition, Ilhan Omar and Tlaib are Jews, and Trump, the Republicans, Netanyahu and Israel as a whole are anti-Semites.
Jewish progressives have internalized Weisman’s message.
As Trump’s legal challenges to the vote counts in swing states make their way through the courts, attention is now turning to the two Senate run-off elections in Georgia scheduled for Jan. 5. If the Republicans lose both seats, and if, as looks all but certain, Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20, then the Democrats will control both houses of Congress and the executive. Since the Democrats have pledged to use such power to enact major changes to America’s political structure, the stakes in the Georgia Senate races are high.
One of the Democrats’ candidates is Rev. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Martin Luther King Jr. once served. Over the past couple of weeks, a video of one of Warnock’s sermons has been making the rounds. In it, Warnock used anti-Semitic language to demonize Israel just after the administration opened the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
Warnock began, “It’s been a tough week. The administration opened up the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Standing there [were] the president’s family and a few mealy-mouthed evangelical preachers who are responsible for the mess that we found ourselves in, both there and here—misquoting and misinterpreting the Scripture, talking about peace.”
Warnock went on to compare the Palestinians to African American civil rights activists and Israel to animal predators. In his words, “We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey … It is wrong to shoot down God’s children like they don’t matter at all. And it’s no more anti-Semitic for me to say that than it is anti-white for me to say that black lives matter. Palestinian lives matter.”
In 2019, Warnock signed a declaration along with other African American and South African pastors condemning Israel as an apartheid state.
After his statements began circulating, Warnock penned an article expressing deep support for Israel, opposition to boycotts of the Jewish state, and support for military assistance to Israel. And right after he did that, a group of 200 progressive rabbis published a statement expressing their appreciation for Warnock’s “strong support for Israel and his partnership with the Jewish people.”
Ignoring the documented evidence of Warnock’s bigoted hostility to the Jewish state, the rabbis suggested that “baseless claims and attacks” against Warnock were motivated by racism.
Although the rabbis disingenuously claimed they weren’t endorsing any candidate in the race, their message was clear enough. As “religious leaders” they have no problem with Warnock comparing Israel to animals. And anyway, it’s racist to view his statements and action as anti-Semitic. For faithful Jews, what’s most important is that Warnock wins the race so that the Democrats (that is, the Jews), win control of the Senate and the Republicans (aka, the anti-Semites) become an ostracized minority.
The rabbis’ insinuation that it is racist to attack Warnock for his anti-Semitism points to another feature of the Democrats’ new anti-Semitism: the centrality of identity politics. While blacks comprise the most privileged group in the identity politics pecking order, Jews have been placed in the unsavory category of whites. And Zionist Jews are in the equally if not more unsavory category of colonialists. Under the circumstances, it is unthinkable that progressive Jews would criticize blacks. And it is ridiculous to expect for blacks to be upset when “privileged,” “white,” “colonialist” Jews are mistreated. Warnock can attack Jews as “birds of prey” and get away with it because Jews have no right to expect blacks to respect them. Doing so would be racist.
This brings us to another current manifestation of progressive Jewish internalization of the new anti-Semitism.
Last week it was reported that the Holocaust Center in Maitland, Florida, is now featuring a photography exhibit on the anti-police protests that followed the police killing of George Floyd in June. The message of the exhibit is easy to understand: The police are Nazis.
Calling cops Nazis is an egregious form of Holocaust trivialization, to the point of denial. There is no similarity between George Floyd’s death at the hands of a few bad police officers who are being harshly punished for their crimes, and the systematic genocide of European Jewry. Why on earth would the Holocaust Center advance such an offensive claim?
The answer here is depressingly obvious. They are trivializing the Holocaust in the hopes of attracting blacks and other Democrats who are largely indifferent to Jewish suffering. If the message goes out that blacks are today’s Jews and police are today’s Nazis, then maybe progressives—blacks, whites and everything in between—will let Jews join them in their contemporary victimhood even if they like Israel.
Exit polls of this month’s election showed that as always, a large majority of American Jews voted Democrat. The progressive rabbis’ letter absolving Warnock for his hateful statements on Israel, and the Holocaust Center’s Holocaust trivializing exhibition are expressions of progressive Jewish accommodation to their party’s new anti-Semitism. They have agreed to redefine Judaism as progressivism and anti-Semitism as everything that isn’t progressive. And if Democrats express anti-Semitism, and even build themselves up on the basis of such expressions, as Tlaib and Beinart and Warnock do, then that’s a good thing. For by doing so, they are actually dismantling anti-Semitism and winning justice.
Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
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