(May 31, 2021 / Jewish Journal) Israel-hatred is very much like Jew-hatred—the haters will always find new ways to hate.
If you have any doubt about the irrational hatred for Israel, just consider the United Nations. According to UN Watch, since 2015 there have been 112 General Assembly Resolutions against Israel, compared to a grand total of zero for countries like China, Cuba, Venezuela, Libya, Turkey, Qatar and Pakistan.
Even Israel’s sharpest critics must admit this is an extreme case of discrimination and selective prosecution of the world’s only Jewish state.
Here in the United States, the latest tactic of the anti-Israel movement is to connect the Jewish state to the racist sins of white supremacy. As Thomas Friedman wrote this week in The New York Times, there is “a rising chorus of progressives who increasingly portray the Israeli army’s treatment of Palestinians as equivalent to the Minneapolis Police Department’s treatment of Black people or to the treatment by colonial powers of Indigenous peoples.”
In marketing, this is called building on brand equity: Take something credible and connect it to a new target. As the Black Lives Matter movement has become a cultural juggernaut, making Israel its global target turns that cultural equity squarely against Israel.
Making such connections is hardly new. “Intersectionality”—the idea that we all have overlapping identities that affect how we are seen and treated—has often been used against Jews in progressive circles. The intersectional turn against Israel has been around for a while, but Israel’s recent war with Hamas has taken the phenomenon to a whole other level.
A recent piece in The Washington Post, titled, “‘From Ferguson to Palestine’: How Black Lives Matter Changed the U.S. Debate on the Mideast,” began as follows:
“Black Lives Matter activists recently took to the streets of Indianapolis to protest for Palestinians. In Congress, a lawmaker who cut her teeth as a Black Lives Matter organizer and who has compared her clashes with police to those faced by Palestinians tweeted Friday, ‘A cease-fire ends the bombardment—not the violence.’ And during the height of the recent Gaza hostilities, the official Black Lives Matter organization called for ‘Palestinian liberation,’ six years after the group’s early leaders took a trip to the Middle East that planted the seeds for the current alliance.”
Why is this such a disturbing development in the long and ancient history of Jew-hatred?
First, because it’s disingenuous. Israel, and Jews for that matter, are hardly “white.” Israel is home to over 100 different nationalities, of all races, colors and creeds. More than half of Israeli Jews hail from Arab and Muslim countries. If anything, it is multicultural supremacy that reigns in Israel.
Second, framing Israel as a target of a movement that so many Jews, especially younger Jews, support and admire threatens to turn more and more socially conscious Jews against the Jewish state. Because of the dichotomy created by BLM, progressive Jews are often forced to choose between support for Israel and support for social justice causes.
If you think Israel is like Derek Chauvin and the Palestinians are like George Floyd, what is there to discuss? Israel’s guilt becomes incontrovertible. There’s no wiggle room.
For many Jews who don’t care to delve into the complexities of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, that simplified narrative sounds believable. Fair or not, this is the new reality: America is going through a powerful racial reckoning moment, and Israel’s detractors are sucking it into the movement.
This is an old and proven tactic in antisemitism—making Jews the enemy du jour, forever guilty of the most despised crime of the moment, be it capitalism or Marxism or being anti-Christian or, now, the implication that the Jewish state is a racist state.
Third, the hyper-focus on Israel inevitably ends up hurting Jews. As Bret Stephens wrote recently in The New York Times, “In recent years it has become an article of faith on the progressive left that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism and that it’s slander to assume that someone who hates Israel also hates Jews.”
But not everyone, he writes, got the memo:
“Not the people who, waving Palestinian flags and chanting ‘Death to Jews,’ according to a witness, assaulted Jewish diners at a Los Angeles sushi restaurant. Not the people who threw fireworks in New York’s diamond district. Not the people who brutally beat up a man wearing a yarmulke in Times Square. Not the people who drove through London slurring Jews and yelling, ‘Rape their daughters.’ Not the people who gathered outside a synagogue in Germany shouting slurs. Not the people who, at a protest in Brussels, chanted, ‘Jews, remember Khaybar. The army of Muhammad is returning.’”
There’s always been a transcendent difference between criticism of Israeli policies and undermining the Jewish state. Natan Sharansky’s Three D test for knowing when anti-Zionism bleeds into antisemitism—delegitimization, demonization and double standards—is as relevant as ever.
The progressive anti-racist movement in America could have picked a slew of horribly racist and murderous nations to go after. Instead, it chose a multicultural Jewish state. Intentionally or not, they have declared open season on the Jews.
David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp, and “Jewish Journal.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.
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