The wave of anti-Semitic attacks washing over America is unlikely to ebb soon: We’re drowning in Jew-hatred. The Anti-Defamation League reported that in the first week after the fighting in Gaza erupted, it received 193 reports of possible anti-Semitic violence, up from 131 a week earlier. On Twitter, the group said, it found more than 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase “Hitler was right,” between May 7 and 14 alone. In a letter sent to President Joe Biden on May 21, the ADL was joined by the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union and the women’s group Hadassah, calling on him to “stand alongside the Jewish community in the face of this wave of hate before it gets any worse.”
What “Jewish community” were they talking about?
For simultaneously, on the continent’s Western side, Google CEO Sundar Pichai would receive another letter, sent privately but also made public, from another group that also claimed membership in that community, whose message is altogether different. Jewish Diaspora in Tech (JDT) asks Pinchai and the rest of the “Google leadership to make a company-wide statement recognizing the violence in Palestine and Israel, which must include direct recognition of the harm done to Palestinians by Israeli military and gang violence.” Google is being accused of not being sufficiently anti-Israeli.
But the demands go beyond rhetoric. The signatories specifically “request the review of all Alphabet business contracts and corporate donations and the termination of contracts with institutions that support Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, such as the Israeli Defense Forces.” Given that only last month Google and Amazon were granted a $1.2 billion cloud contract by the Israeli government, this is no idle threat.
Curiously, JDT’s 250 signatories describe themselves as “diverse Jewish and allied Googlers.” Though since the next sentence begins with “We as Jews … ,” the distinction is tantalizingly ambiguous: Are those “allied Googlers also “Jewish,” without calling themselves such? Not Jews at all? Does it even matter?
Its website reveals that the organization supports “dismantling, boycotting, and divesting from all colonial projects,” as well as “reparations and the redistribution of power and wealth.” It also declares itself against fascism, borders on stolen land, imperialism, colonialism, orientalism, anti-blackness and anti-indigeneity, Islamophobia, and sure, “anti-Semitism,” but not—and this is the main point of the letter—anti-Zionism. Does this mean that JDT also opposes Palestinian demands for a nation-state? No such luck.
The Google techies fervently assert their commitment “to act in solidarity with all peoples at the forefront of the fight against white supremacist violence and the carceral state.” (“Carceral state,” for the uninitiated, recalls Michel Foucault’s “carceral archipelago,” a prison consisting of a series of islands.) But how about violence against Jews perpetrated by people other than white supremacists? Silence. And what about the violence against Palestinians perpetrated by their fellow Muslim extremists, such as Hamas, who use them as human shields? Silence on that, too. As for reparations, what about all that property confiscated from Jews throughout the globe throughout the ages, specifically during the last half-century from throughout the Muslim world?
Never mind all those questions; the bottom line is this: JDT has determined that the Palestinians deserve its allegiance, while Israel does not. “Over the past week, hundreds of thousands of Jews across the United States marched in solidarity with Palestinians,” and we were right there, in the streets. So please do not assume that just because we’re Jewish we are loyal to Israel. Don’t blame us for its sins. We are the brave ones, who managed to escape the “environment of propaganda that is deliberately fostered in many American Jewish congregations and communities.” It is they who actually reject the true values of our tradition, by supporting the racist Israeli regime, not us.
On its FAQ site, JDT explains how its members differ from other, less woke Jews. Congratulating themselves for successfully defending their superior virtue against such reactionary onslaught, they underscore the difficulty of that challenge: “Deprogramming ourselves and learning to unpack and see through that propaganda takes a lot of work.” Herculean, really, when you consider that “[m]any have been made to think that in the aftermath of pogroms and genocide, Jews must have a Jewish state in order to be safe.” Imagine that. Such brainwashing requires some truly heavy-duty reeducation.
But the news is good, declares the JDT: history marches on—to the left, of course. The site notes these relevant facts: “In a U.S. context, the idea that the majority of American Jews see Israel as a political priority is a myth, as is the idea that the majority of Jews support the Israeli government. The 2020 presidential election exit poll showed that 82% of American Jews believe Israel should suspend the expansion of settlements immediately. 92% of Jews promote being critical of the Israeli government. Furthermore, over 95% of American Jews say that Israel is not one of their top voting priorities.” [Emphases in the original]
The JDT has a point. The legacy of the New Left of the 1960s, whose demise has been greatly exaggerated, is with us still. The Jews are divided not only among but against themselves. The pathology is profound, beyond easy resolution, if any.
In his 1977 book The Jewish Mind, historian Raphael Patai diagnosed the Jewish leadership of that movement as suffering from Jewish self-hatred. He believed that syndrome had been further exacerbated by the Six-Day War of 1967, as the trauma of seeing Israelis killing people turned some American Jews into virulent enemies of what they considered Zionist imperialism.
But were they self-haters? Echoing the great Bernard Lewis, Patai finds that
… the Jewish members of the New Left (mostly American children of survivors of European ghettos and death camps) unconditionally identified themselves with left-wing Marxism, black anti-Semitism, Arab anti-Israelism, and Russian anti-Zionism. Whenever there was a divergence between a Jewish and an anti-Jewish position, they could be counted on to support the latter. This extreme manifestation of Jewish self-hate provided, or appeared to provide, “an opportunity of freeing oneself from ancestral and, more immediately, parental bonds, and passing from the minority to the majority,” while “the curious phenomenon of Jewish supporters of black anti-Semitism” could be understood as their acceptance, or rather demand, of “a share of guilt for the enslavement of the African in America”—a way in which they “tacitly assert their membership of the dominant even if guilty majority.”
Without further psychologizing, Patai dismisses left-wing anti-Jewish Judaism as no more than a passing phase. Especially after the United Nations’ equation of Zionism with racism, in the fall of 1975, “by a resolution in the global debating society of nations rammed through by the unholy triple alliance of Communist, Arab, and Third World countries,” how could any reasonable person fail to see the truth? Patai was convinced that the relentless campaign against Israel that had culminated in that preposterous resolution inevitably “reinforced Jewish solidarity all over the world and at the same time effectively reduced to insignificance the last vestiges of Jewish self-hate.” Patai had no doubt that by the mid-1970s,“the New Left as a whole, both in America and in Western Europe, was largely a thing of the past.” Wrong. Dead wrong.
These deprogrammed JDT techies appear to reject Israel not so much from self-hatred as its opposite: a self-righteous embrace of left-wing ideology. Indeed, they go one step further, accusing the pro-Israeli Jews themselves of anti-Semitism: “It is anti-Semitic to hold Israel to a different standard than other political states simply because it is a ‘Jewish state.’ ” Both Goebbels and Stalin would have called this the Big Lie, but it looks more like chutzpah on steroids.
And yet there is something to be said for using self-hatred to describe what amounts to pretty much the same thing: the self-erasure, the obliteration of soul, that comes with lying to oneself and God.
Juliana Geran Pilon is a senior fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. Her latest book is “The Utopian Conceit and the War on Freedom (2019.)” She has taught at the National Defense University, the Institute of World Politics, American University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and George Washington University.