What the Rush to Defend Farrakhan Reveals about Left-Wing Anti-Semitism and “Israel Criticism”

March 6 2018

On February 25, the leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, delivered a three-hour speech in which he engaged in the naked anti-Semitism that has come to be his trademark. Among those in attendance was Tamika Mallory, a leader of the 2017 Women’s March, who has posted pictures of herself with Farrakhan and praised him on numerous occasions. Mallory was quickly criticized for her association with Farrakhan, but rather than distancing herself from him, or at least from his rantings about Jews, she stuck fast in her support, and was defended by some of her fellow Women’s March leaders. David Schraub comments:

This oddity—defiant refusal to concede any ground on the anti-Semitism count, coupled with no attempt to . . . rationalize the anti-Semitic content [of Farrakhan’s remarks]—demands explanation. My hypothesis is [that] leftists don’t like thinking about anti-Semitism in their own ranks. At the same time, they’d never admit this is so. Fortunately, most anti-Semitism controversies that implicate the left relate to Israel in some fashion, and so [apologists] can respond with their favorite chestnut: “criticism of Israel isn’t anti-Semitic.” On its face, this response assures the audience that [these apologists] do care about anti-Semitism (the “real” anti-Semitism), but that the case at hand doesn’t count as such. (That it never seems to count as such is suspicious in its own right. But leave that aside.)

But Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism isn’t really tied to Israel. Which means that the stand-by response won’t work. And these leftists are left flummoxed, because they don’t really have another thought on anti-Semitism beyond “criticism of Israel isn’t [anti-Semitic].” Forced into a situation where it seems necessary to say something else, they find themselves at a loss. Suddenly, they can’t play their get-out-of-talking-about-anti-Semitism-free card.

And this is revealing. If the problem really were Israel, the Farrakhan case shouldn’t present any difficulty. But if the problem is that these leftists just don’t want to have to reckon with anti-Semitism in their community (and Israel is a convenient but ultimately epiphenomenal factor), then Farrakhan presents a huge problem.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Leftism, Louis Farrakhan, Politics & Current Affairs

 

Zionists Can, and Do, Criticize Israel. Are Anti-Zionists Capable of Criticizing Anti-Semitism?

Dec. 12 2018

Last week, the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg defended the newly elected anti-Israel congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, ostensibly arguing that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism aren’t identical. Abe Greenwald comments:

Tlaib . . . has tweeted and retweeted her enthusiasm for terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh, who murdered two American students in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969. If Tlaib’s anti-Zionism is of the Jew-loving kind, she has a funny way of showing it.

Ilhan Omar, for her part, once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And wouldn’t you know it, just because she believes that Zionist hypnotists have cast global spells masking Israeli evil, some people think she’s anti-Semitic! Go figure! . . .

Goldberg spends the bulk of her column trying very hard to uncouple American Jewishness from Israel. To do that, she enumerates Israel’s sins, as she sees them. . . . [But] her basic premise is at odds with reality. Zionists aren’t afraid of finding fault with Israel and don’t need to embrace anti-Zionism in order to [do so]. A poll conducted in October by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that a majority of Americans Jews have no problem both supporting Israel and criticizing it. And unlike Goldberg, they have no problem criticizing anti-Semitism, either.

Goldberg gives the game away entirely when she discusses the discomfort that liberal American Jews have felt in “defending multi-ethnic pluralism here, where they’re in the minority, while treating it as unspeakable in Israel, where Jews are the majority.” She adds: “American white nationalists, some of whom liken their project to Zionism, love to poke at this contradiction.” Read that again. She thinks the white nationalists have a point. Because, really, what anti-Semite doesn’t?

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