Betwixt and Between

Events are moving faster than I can keep up.  Not a few weeks ago, I wrote that Rep. Omar’s apology for her antisemitic comments was heart felt, but (quoting myself) said, “I cannot help but believe there is an undercurrent here that has nothing to do with knowledge and understanding.  I hope I am wrong.”

Damn it, I was not wrong.  More recently, she suggested that “pro-Israel activists were pushing for allegiance to a foreign country.” And she is supported by some of the progressive left’s newest darlings, including Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Tlaib.

The progressive left’s mouthpiece, Jeremy Scahill (founder of The Intercept) said last Tuesday on Twitter, “The Democratic Party’s throwing of @IlhanMN under the bus is an (unfortunately unsurprising) disgrace. She raised entirely legitimate concerns about US support for the murderous apartheid government of Israel & the subservience of US politicians to the agenda of a foreign power.” (The New York Times) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/05/us/politics/ilhan-omar-israel.html

I don’t know if Mr. Scahill is antisemitic. But would you care to place a bet?  He is, however, very explicit about being anti-Israel and reflects how the progressive left feels.  The accusation of apartheid is ridiculous as a full 20% of the Israeli voting public consists of non-Jewish Arabs with full citizenship rights.

As an aside, the South African Jewish community was in the forefront of white support for the destruction of apartheid.  No good deed goes unpunished. Calling Israel apartheid is just another attempt to delegitimize the state of Israel by asserting that they are “colonizers” with no ties to the land.  And to be sure, anti-Zionism is antisemitism – denying the world’s only Jewish state its right to exist (and thus denying its existence) is inherently antisemitic.

By the way, Mr. Scahill’s publication, The Intercept, is funded by Pierre Omidyar (the eBay co-founder and no fan of Israel) and co-edited by Glen Greenwald, a notably anti-Israel journalist.

Now, I am a firm believer that there is a clear and obvious separation between criticism of Israeli policies and elected officials, and antisemitism.  I have some serious criticisms of Mr. Netanyahu’s policies and have let various support organizations like AIPAC know about my objections.

With that, let’s parse Ms. Omar’s comments and others with an eye to what it tells us about the progressive left, given the support she is enjoying from that quarter.

  • Accusing American Jews of having a loyalty confusion is an old, old trope. Used against Jews and Catholics (e.g., would JFK report to the Pope?), this red herring has absolutely nothing to do with the character of Israel and everything to do with Jews in America.  Hence, this is not a disagreement with Israeli policy but rather a disagreement with U.S. support of Israel and a questioning of American Jews – can they be both loyal to America while wishing to maintain American support for Israel?
  • The Boston Herald’s Jeff Robbins wrote, “The Women’s March The leaders of Women’s March fancy themselves as “progressives” at the same time that they have defended and promoted antisemitism. Tamika Mallory, its co-president, has posted pictures of herself with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whose record of loathsome, gutter anti-Semitism includes praising the Holocaust and references to “satanic Jews” and Jewish “termites.” “Thank God this man is alive and well,” the progressive Ms. Mallory proclaimed. “He is definitely the Greatest of All Time.”
  • “According to March organizer Linda Sarsour, you can’t be a feminist if you are a Zionist. American Muslims, she instructed them, should never “humanize” Israelis. And here is Sarsour on the historic Jewish quest for self-determination and self-preservation, a cause no less legitimate, say, than Black Lives Matter: “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.” Then there is Carmen Perez, who according to numerous firsthand accounts, announced at a Women’s March organizational meeting that Jewish women were not welcome.” (Boston Herald)
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor Party is seeing members resign due to the institutional antisemitism of the Party.
  • “Progressive icon Alice Walker was recently asked by the New York Times to cite her favorite bedtime reading. She enjoyed “And the Truth Will Set You Free”, by antisemite crackpot David Icke, she said, because the book was “brave enough to ask the questions others fear to ask” and was “a curious person’s dream come true.” (National Review).

My spouse has always thought I was paranoid.  Not about everything, but definitely when it came to how the world reacts to Jews.  Even after her conversion to Judaism, she thought me a bit overblown when it came to my attitude that “it isn’t paranoia if they really are out to get you.”

That is, until the age of Trump.  Before the yellow vests in France.  Before Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor Party.  Before the Polish whitewashing of the Holocaust.  Before the Aalst carnival float in Belgium.  Before the anti-Soros campaign in Hungary.  Before the University of California-Berkley student government rejection of Jewish student candidates.  Before Charlottesville and all of its “nice people”.  Before October 27 (Pittsburgh).  Before Representatives like Ilhan Omar, Rashid Tlaib, James Clyburn, and Danny Davis on the left and Jim Jordan, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and Matt Gaetz on the right, among others from both parties, began to speak their minds.

And on and on.  Meanwhile, the antisemitism of the US left is just becoming better known to the majority of Americans. Some of us already understood. No surprise, just following the antisemitism of the left in the UK, Soviet Union/Russia, France, and elsewhere.  And, we have always known about the antisemitism of the right.  Our paranoia, it appears, was absolutely justified.

My spouse has changed her mind.  I’m not just paranoid.  I am seeing the world as it is.  My beloved country, the United States of America, the country that provided refuge for my grandparents as they fled pogroms in Eastern Europe, the country that I always believed represented a unique Jewish experience seems to be headed in the same direction as Europe.

In more immediate terms, I am (and perhaps we are) betwixt and between.

The question is, as 2020 approaches, how do you think the Jewish community will vote?  What do “we” do if the Dem candidate has to move so far to the left to win the nomination that she (or perhaps he) has to adopt an anti-Zionist agenda with all the undertones that carries? Half the Democrats in the Senate voted against the anti-BDS bill (which, by the way, would have done nothing to stop individual boycott action, but would have stopped governmental support of companies participating in the boycott). And Rep. Tlaib is on record being in favor of the “one-state solution”, aka the destruction of the state of Israel and all that implies for Jews everywhere, including America.  The social justice aspects of the likely Dem platform will be appealing for the Reform community, but the socialist leaning, antisemitic tinge will be off-putting to more conservative Jews.

“We” know Trump…he’s pro-Israel to protect his evangelical base (now, that logic is twisted, ain’t it), but we also know, despite the fact that his daughter married one, that Trump is an anti-Semite, and worse, he’s bad for America.

Here’s another comforting thought:  the strongest block of non-Jewish support in the US for Israel comes from evangelicals.  But not because they like Jews or like Israel, but because a Jewish homeland is a requirement for the second coming.  In which, by the way, all the Jews will die.  Odd bedfellows, indeed.

So, on the right we have Israeli-supporting Republicans who seem to have lost their moral compass on just about every other issue and of whom a significant minority expect us all to die in order to prepare for the return of their messiah; and on the left we have a Democratic party preoccupied with a socialist, progressive left who are institutionally antisemitic and anti-Israel, a Democratic party who would, without a balance in government, abandon both Jews and Israel while bankrupting the nation.

And now the massacre in Christchurch. This is not going to stop.  In a world where a conspiracy-theory-driven right buys, virtually de-facto, into irrationality that cannot be combated by education nor facts, and where the factions of the left are competing for championship victimhood which essentially denies any group the left doesn’t like a unique claim for understanding, the stage is set for an ever spiraling set of violence, denunciation, and denial.

Yes, the Jews will be first (in Europe and the US), but don’t worry – Muslims, and Hindus, and Sikhs, and African-Americans, and Latinos and immigrants and everyone else who is dark or different will come under fire. It will be intersectionality turned inside out…. any connection with those who don’t look “like us” (the right) or think “like us” (the left) will be the targets.  You can bet on it.

Trying to make some sense of it all,
But I can see that it makes no sense at all,
Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor,
‘Cause I don’t think that I can take anymore
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

               — Gerald Rafferty/Joe Egan

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