Monday, March 26, 2018

The New Antisemitsm

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman (WJD)
How right he is! From the World Jewish Daily:
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told a global antisemitism conference in Jerusalem that the "new antisemitism" is more dangerous than the old. 
“The new antisemitism worries me a bit more,” the ambassador said. 
“It is the irrational, deceitful, and insidious vilification of Israel and its supporters under the guise of political commentary. It is just a cleverly repackaged form of hatred against the Jewish people.” He noted that this new antisemitism is not stigmatized like the old. 
“There are places in Manhattan—where I worked for 35 years—where if you attended a cocktail party and said ‘I hate Jews,’ then you would be politely escorted to the door. 
“But if you said, ‘Isn’t it a shame that after Jews survived the Holocaust, they turned into Nazis themselves against the Palestinians,’ if you said that, you might be offered another drink and invited to hold court on your interesting point of view.”
This attitude can be found among the ‘enlightened’ liberal left. Which is the political philosophy of the Democratic Party in the US and the Labour Party in the UK.

My how times have changed. Both of these groups have been the home of the Jewish voters for longer than than I have been alive. And for good reason. It was the liberal view that championed our cause. Liberals are less ideologues and more pragmatists. They look at the problems of the here and now and ask, what can we do about it. 

During the Holocaust, it was the liberals that championed our cause. Political blue blood conservatives tended to be more isolationist and prejudiced against those that were not of their kind - Jews being among them. Political liberals on the other hand welcomed all comers, Jews included. When Jews were being slaughtered in Europe, it was the liberal left that took up our cause. It is therefore only natural that we have always found a home among them.

Case in point. Hollywood is notoriously liberal. To the point of being so far to the left, that many prominent Hollywood figures were suspected of being closet communists. They were persecuted and blacklisted by the conservatives of the time  - led by Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy. 

But it was also liberal Hollywood that was in the forefront of activism on behalf of Holocaust victims. They were involved in many protests and pageants organized by Hillel Kook (Peter Bergson), a Zionist Revisionist who came to America during the war years to stir up public support for Holocaust victims. 

But things have now changed. Liberals that supported Jews during Holocaust are today the ones that may say the kinds of things Ambassador Friedman has noted. And be welcomed by their peers as individuals with interesting views.

This has translated into how politicians on the political left deal with known antisemites like Louis Farrakhan. Illinois Congressman Danny Davis has publicly praised him for the positive values he preaches and has instilled in black youth. That Farrakhan has said some vile things about Jews is shrugged off. While Davis does not agree with Farrakhan about Jews, he shrugs off such comments – saying that many leaders have some views that we don’t support but one has to look at all the good they do and ignore the bad. 

That’s almost like saying that Hitler was as a great leader of the German people even though you don’t agree with his antisemitism. Which is in fact one of the vile things Farrakhan has said. 

The recent Women’s March in Washington had the same problem. Some of its leaders refused to condemn Farrakhan and instead accepted his support of their movement.

The same thing is happening in the UK. Only there the problem seems much worse. Apparently even Jews that are die-hard members of the liberal Labour Party have had enough. From Ha’aretz
The Crisis Between Jeremy Corbyn and British Jews Has Reached Boiling Point. Corbyn’s support of anti-Semitic mural in 2012 has come back to haunt him, and the Jewish community has had enough of the Labour Party leader’s tolerance. 
Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn
This is quite a damning article in a newspaper whose views ares probably the most liberal/left in Israel. Realize that Corbyn was elected Labour Party leader by a wide margin. Labour is one of England’s two major political parties. Corbyn therefore stands poised to become the UK’s next Prime Minister. 

While he has to the best of my knowledge never personally said anything that was antisemtic, it is clear for the that he has tolerated it from his supporters.  His rhetoric has mainly been anti Israel. Not anti Jewish. Although being anti Israel does not necessarily equate to being antisemitic. But often it is used as a cover for that. That Corbyn tolerates and accepts support of antisemites, and sometimes takes his time condemning it, it makes one wonder whether he actually is  a closet antisemite. Protestations by Corbyn to the contrary  not withstanding!.

It boggles the mind how any Jew can be part of a political group that tolerates this kind of thing. Even if they are liberal – as most non Orthodox and some Orthodox Jews are. That is the way it still is here in the US. But in the UK the liberal left is finally being challenged it seems. What will it take to get politically liberal Jews to do that here?

By contrast, political conservatives are the ones that most openly and loudly condemn the antisemites of the world today. And they don’t need the Jewish people to tell them to do it either. Today’s conservatives are not yesterdays’s conservatives. They are not the blue blood Republicans of yesteryear that had discrimination codes against the Jews. As former President Ronald Reagan once said about switching parties: ‘I didn't leave the Democratic Party.’ ‘They left me!’

The Republican Party, where most conservatives reside now embraces us. They wish we would come over to their side. I think many of us already have. At least those of us that are Orthodox. While there are still many Orthodox Jews that remain loyal to liberal views that are espoused and promoted by liberal Democrats - the trend is away form the left and toward the right.

I’m not saying that politically conservative values are identical to the biblical values that are so important to us. Far from it. But at the same time, I think that on the whole, a conservative ideology places a higher value on the bible than liberals do. Which if you think about it, makes sense. A liberal interpretation of the bible is a lot different than a conservative interpretation.

The bottom line for the Jewish people is to see the reality of antisemitism in our day and see where it has  now found a respectable home. One might want to counter by saying that the neo Nazis, KKK, and White Supremacist groups are found almost exclusively on the conservative right. That is true. 

But they are openly antisemitic and do not disguise it as just being anti Israel. These groups are also a fringe that are not welcome anywhere in conservative circles. Conservatives across the board condemn them. Not so with the the more nuanced antisemites of the left. Which was exactly Ambassador Friedman’s point. Only he had the tact not to lay the blame where it belongs: On the political left where they are tolerated as people with interesting views.