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How the Most Recent Progressive Madness Has Led Jews to Embrace Anti-Semites

June 19 2017

The Arab-American activist Linda Sarsour has recently become a darling of the progressive left—treated to fawning magazine profiles, chosen to lead the anti-Trump women’s march, and invited to speak at academic and leftist events even while defending Saudi Arabia’s shameful record on women’s rights, insulting feminists who don’t share her opinions, singing the praises of Shariah law, and dilating on the alleged evils of Zionism. To James Kirchick, the ability to ignore certain forms of bigotry, especially anti-Semitism, typifies a certain kind of distorted thinking increasingly prevalent on the left:

For Sarsour and others of her ilk, it is crucial to claim that Jews can’t be real victims of discrimination because they are “white,” and in the world of [these] progressive activists, there’s no such thing as anti-white racism. . . . But to tribalist progressives like Sarsour, Jews are more than simply another flavor of “white.” The investiture of Jews, as a people, with moral authority derives from a sense that their long history of oppression has endowed them with an almost mystical power. . . .

Anguish over the fate of the Jews is . . . considered a parochial, bourgeois concern that unfairly competes with the proletariat for the sympathy of enlightened mankind. The fate of the Jews is an obnoxious, even perfidious diversion, particularly as it relates to Muslims—reigning champions in the progressive hierarchy of victimhood for reasons that are hard even for progressives to explain with any reference to liberal values like free speech, LGBT equality, or women’s rights. . . .

This worldview, Kirchick continues, has seeped not only into fringe Jewish organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace but even into mainstream agencies like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL):

[In a recent poll of European opinion] asking respondents about the prevalence of anti-Semitism on the political right and left, the ADL left out the third, and deadliest, form of Jew-hatred in Europe today: Muslim anti-Semitism. Instead, the ADL reverses the clear link between Muslim anti-Semitism and murderous violence against Jews in France and other European countries and claims instead that “not surprisingly, there are strong ties between anti-Semitism and prejudice against Muslim refugees.” The ADL comes to this . . . conclusion by conflating agreement with the statement that countries have “let in too many immigrants” with “anti-Muslim prejudice.” . . .

In fact, the ADL also found that majorities of Europeans in all three countries associate Muslim immigration with increased anti-Semitism, a not unreasonable conclusion given the ADL’s own public-opinion surveys in the countries from which these people are emigrating; 74 percent of those living in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the ADL, hold anti-Semitic views.

Read more at Tablet

More about: ADL, Anti-Semitism, Jewish Voice for Peace, Political correctness, Politics & Current Affairs, Progressivism

A New Book Tries, and Fails, to Understand the West Bank’s Jews

Aug. 22 2017

In City on a Hilltop, Sara Yael Hirschhorn seeks to explain Israel’s settler movement, rejecting the common misconception that its members are fanatics uniformly motivated by religious zeal and ferocious nationalism. Nonetheless, writes Evelyn Gordon, Hirschhorn fails to look past her own political assumptions:

[R]eaders emerge from [the book] with no clear understanding of what drives the settlement movement. This isn’t surprising, since Hirschhorn admits in her conclusion that she herself has no such understanding: “After discussions with dozens of Jewish-American immigrants in the occupied territories, I still struggled to understand how they saw themselves and their role within the Israeli settlement enterprise.”

Consequently, she’s produced an entire book about settlers that virtually ignores the twin beliefs at the heart of their enterprise: Israel has a right to be in the territories, whether based on religious and historical ties, international law, or both, and Israel has a need to be there, whether for religious and historical reasons, security ones, or both.

This glaring omission seems to stem largely from her inability to take such beliefs seriously. In one noteworthy example, she writes, “While their religio-historical claims to the Gush Etzion area are highly contentious, many settler activists over the past 50 years have asserted Biblical ties to the region.” But what exactly is contentious about that assertion? No serious person would deny that many significant events in the Bible took place in what is now called the West Bank. . . . One could argue that this doesn’t justify Jews living there today, but if you can’t acknowledge that this area is Judaism’s religious and historical heartland, and that many Jews consequently believe that giving it up would tear the heart out of the Jewish state, you can’t understand a major driver of the settlement movement.

Similarly, Hirschhorn pays scant attention to the security arguments for retaining the West Bank, and none at all to Israel’s strong claim to the area under international law. . . . The result is that while most of her settlers don’t come off as fanatics, they often do come off as simpletons—people who became “colonialist occupiers” for no apparent reason, without ever really thinking about it.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Israel & Zionism, Settlements, West Bank