By far the majority of Jews consider themselves “progressives” and supporters of the left. At least 64 percent vote Democrat in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center, and in Canada, most vote Green, NDP, or Liberal. Many Jews in both countries support leftist causes such as Black Lives Matter riots, abortions, and open borders. But more than half of U.S. Jews—58 percent according to a Pew survey—feel some attachment to Israel, which they see as the homeland of Jews and the port of last resort when genocide for Jews returns.
For the left, Zionism equals racism, as the UN General Assembly once said, and causes the racist oppression of Palestinians, a favourite “victim” of the left—in spite of the hundred years of terrorism by Palestinian terrorists against Jews and explicit commitment in the Hamas Charter to destroy Israel and murder all Jews. Even now, the Biden administration gives dollars for daggers to the Palestinians. But for Jews, Zionism is the national liberation movement of Jews. And Israelis are an ingathering of a forcibly dispersed and ill-treated people.
Long History of Persecution
Throughout the last 2,000 years, people have always found reasons to dislike Jews.
For their religious “sins,” Jews have been the subject of laws that restricted their lives and professions; have been repeatedly forced to work for others; and have been forcibly converted, attacked, robbed, raped, and murdered, and in some cases totally expelled from countries for being Jewish.
Ignoring religion, the German Nazis found a new reason—race—not only to dislike but to exterminate all Jews, German citizens, and other Europeans alike.
In America, some claimed that Jews owned all the banks and so were economic exploiters. Some African Americans, following the Nation of Islam and its fanatically antisemitic leader Louis Farrakhan, have made a practice of attacking orthodox Jews, especially in New York.
Modern Politics Against Jews
When it comes to reasons for vilifying Jews, creativity never falters. There has emerged a new reason for hating Jews: the Jew among nations, Israel.
The entire political left, those self-proclaimed champions of minorities and social justice, has joined an anti-Israel bandwagon and condemns Jews who support Israel as traitors and oppressors. This alliance includes the U.S. Democratic Party and Canada’s NDP and Green party, the legacy media in the United States and Canada, the cable news channels including the CBC, Big Tech and its social media platforms, and just about every college and university in both countries.
The anti-Israel left has been bolstered by the far-right Islamists in a red-green alliance, personified in the United States by House of Representatives “squad” members Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib. The Democrats in the House could not bring themselves to rebuke the antisemitic attacks of Omar and Tlaib.
The Green party has been split by antisemitic assaults on its Jewish party leader and her Jewish adviser.
As Paul Estrin, previously president of the party, puts it in a National Post article, “The turmoil that results from allowing space within the Green party for outbursts of Jew-hatred is an example of the violent attitudes that pervade the human rights and environmental communities. … When hate is allowed to fester, it further normalizes antisemitism, and is repeated by associations, unions, student groups and in society in general.”
The NDP has for many years had an anti-Israel and arguably antisemitic lobby.
This was reflected in their April 2021 policy convention, where, according to a Canadian Press story, proposals included “a half-dozen that articulate solidarity with Palestinian causes or call for sanctions and stronger condemnation of Israel. More than 40 NDP riding associations have endorsed a particularly contentious resolution that opposes a working definition of antisemitism set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), arguing it is used to chill criticism of Israeli policy.”
The IHRA definition includes denying Israel’s right to exist and holding Israel to standards to which no other country is held. Critics of Israel never bring their microscopes to examine China’s occupation and oppression in Inner Mongolia, Tibet, and Chinese Turkistan; or Iran’s treatment of political dissidents and homosexuals; or Syria’s war against its citizens in which almost a half million were killed; or ISIS’s systematic enslavement and gang rape of “infidels” or its maximally brutal murders of opponents.
The accusations against Israel are so crude as to be laughable: “Genocide” against the Palestinians is refuted by the growth of the Palestinian population from around 1.03 million in 1970 to some 4.55 million in 2014. In search of intersectionality, the claim about racial supremacy of the “white” Israelis over the “people of colour” Palestinians is vitiated by the multi-colours of Israelis and the lack of racial differences between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.
The argument that Israelis are “colonial settlers” ignores the fact that Jews were the indigenous population of ancient Israel when the Romans arrived (with the Arabs invading hundreds of years later), and that those forcibly expelled by the Romans 2,000 years ago and who settled in the Middle East and North Africa were expelled from their Arab home countries when Israel was founded and came to Israel as refugees. You cannot be a “colonial settler” in your own homeland, and when you represent no imperial country.
Rejected by Chosen Reference Group
“Progressive” Jews have now been banished and excommunicated from leftist demonstrations, which fly the Hamas flag and chant “Palestine from the river to the sea,” a formula that dictates the final destruction of Israel. Israeli flags are no longer allowed in “progressive” venues.
Jewish university students face hostile student governments and pro-Palestinian student activist groups, which lobby for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel and which treat Jews who do not denounce Israel and Zionism as enemies. Intimidation against Jewish students is common and goes unchallenged by university administrations.
Jews who refuse to denounce Zionism are no longer welcome in “progressive” circles, no matter how committed they are to “anti-racism,” socialism and communism, LGBTQ++ rights, feminism, abortion, and open borders. They have been rejected by their chosen reference group, and their “virtue” is no longer recognized. Their pain replicates the pain of Jews throughout the history of the diaspora. Perhaps they should have chosen a different reference group.
Philip Carl Salzman is professor emeritus of anthropology at McGill University in Quebec.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.