Monday, April 08, 2024

Will Antisemtism Decrease While Anti Zionism Does Not?

Rabbi Michael Broyde’s op-ed in Ha’aretz (available at this link in PDF) about antisemtism versus anti Zionism struck a chord with me. I agree with what he says about antisemitism in this country. But not necessarily with his view of anti Zionism 

Rabbi Broyde believes that the current atmosphere of antisemitism will eventually decrease. Mostly because of the nature of a liberal democracy like ours having no tolerance for discrimination of any kind based on externals. This is why, for example,  the majority of Americans favor LGBTQ rights. They see these people in the same light as Jews, Blacks, Muslims, migrants ...and what have you. 

That is this nature of our liberal democracy.. It was in fact Americans with that liberal ethos that held rallies during the Holocaust demanding the US do something about Jewish suffering in Europe. It was the liberal ethos that championed the creation of the state of Israel after the Holocaust – as a haven for Jewish refugees.  

It is that very liberal ethos taken to the extreme that has today - turned the left against Israel. The same sympathy they had for Jewish refugees of the Holocaust they now have for Palestinian refugees. (Whether that is right or wrong is beyond the scope of this post.) 

It is Rabbi Broyde’s contention (and I agree) that it is tolerance of all peoples that defines a liberal democracy. Antisemitism cannot in good conscience be tolerated for long. Eventually - to whatever  extent it exists now, it will dissipate to the point it was before the war in Gaza. 

But I’m not sure I agree with contention that anti Israel sentiment is here to stay in any large measure. I do agree that it will still exist. But I don’t think it will be mainstream. 

That being said - even though antisemitism cannot be justified or sustained in a liberal democracy like ours, anti Zionism has no such protection  The evidence for this is based on what is going on in college campuses all over the world. Which seems to have increased exponentially since the war with Hamas began. 

I believe that those who hate Israel the most are on the extreme left of American society. They can be found mostly among hardcore leftist academics. And they see Israel only as a colonialist nation that subjugates indigenous peoples with an inhumane occupation. I would contend that these are the same people that hate the US for similar reasons. Only instead of Palestinians being mistreated, it is Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities that have always been mistreated and still are.  

But I also believe this hatred is limited to a left whose ascendancy has peaked and is now in decline. As is their influence on the mainstream media. It sill exists now while Israel is at war with Hamas. But that war will not go on forever. The left  will not always be the dominating influence on American culture that it is now. Once the war is over and sufficient time passes, Israel will no longer be seen by the typical American in a negative light.

Rabbi Broyde takes note of the fact that Evangelicals are very pro Israel too. Their numbers are not insignificant. 

Even elected officials (most of them at least) that tend to be liberal nonetheless understand Israel's strategic value to the US. They will not abandon it.That message will not go unnoticed by Americans that pay any attention to world events. 

There is also the fact that - looked at objectively - Israel is still a shining democracy in a neighborhood of dictators. A democracy where Israeli Arabs can vote and have representation in government. Even to the extent of joining a ruling coalition.  

There is also the fact that Israel is a nation that has given so much to the world in terms of medicine, science, economics, and literature. Things which have not been ignored by the mainstream media.

Public opinion on just about any issue does not remain stagnant. The pendulum swings both ways over time. Right now it is tilted toward the left. But in my view, its direction is towards the right. It is not that the country is becoming radicalized in that direction. But Americans are tending to vote for more conservative candidates than they used to. 

Even if they have some differences with them on some issues (like abortion rights) the trend is definitely away from the freefall into moral depravity the left is so willing to tolerate if not entirely support. The typical American does not not tolerate belittling our founding fathers and they reject the notion that Israel is a colonialist oppressor nation that ought to be dismantled.

It might be hard to see this now, but after the war is over (God willing - soon!) Israel will eventually go back to being seen as a nation whose democratic values are the same as those of the US. The only people that will continue to hate Israel will be the same people that continue to hate the US.

That being said, I agree with  Rabbi Broyde that no one can predict the future. He may be proven right  But that possibility exists for me in equal measure, I think. 

I don’t know. Maybe I am just a hopeless optimist. But I still believe that at the core the majority of the American people are neither antisemitic nor anti Israel. That they will eventually return to the  respect and even admiration for a country that has given so much for the world. 

On that score Israel needs to do a much better job of making their contributions to the world better  known . It may not be possible now during  a war with so many civilian casualties, But once the war is over, I think  (or at least I hope) faith in the innate goodness of the Israeli people will be restored.