While anti-Semitism exists everywhere, and the U.S. has never been an exception, writes Ross Douthat, what has made America stand out is its persistent strain of philo-Semitism. He sees in the left’s response to the Ilhan Omar controversy an abandonment of this attitude:
This is what the left seems to want, . . . and what I suspect it will eventually get: a left-of-center politics that remembers the Holocaust as one great historical tragedy among many, that judges Israel primarily on its [supposedly] conservative and nationalist political orientation, rather than on its status as a Jewish sanctuary, and that regards the success of American Jews as a reason for them to join white Gentiles in check-your-privilege self-criticism, ceding moral authority to minority groups who are more immediately oppressed. (This last shift was helpfully distilled by James Clyburn, the Democratic House whip, who defended [Ilhan] Omar last week by basically saying that the Holocaust was a long time ago and her personal experience as a refugee and Muslim immigrant was more immediate and relevant.)
The shifts here would not just be, as is sometimes suggested, a reaction to Israeli politics [or] to the right-wing Netanyahu government. . . . If the occupation [of the West Bank] ended tomorrow, Israel would still have a nationalist and religious identity at odds with the left’s broadly post-nationalist and post-religious vision. Secularization would still be separating the left from any specifically Christian sense of guilt over the Holocaust—which was an important spur to postwar philo-Semitism. Many American Jews would still enjoy advantages that expose them to the left’s intersectional critiques, and the Orthodox Jewish population (growing apace relative to more secular and liberal forms of Judaism) would still have religious beliefs and practices that are the very opposite of “woke.”
Finally, a great deal of the new anti-Semitism—from the recent wave of hate crimes in New York City to the anti-Jewish violence befouling Europe—would still be coming from minority and immigrant communities that are seen as essential to left-of-center and especially radical-left politics going forward, making them more difficult than right-wing anti-Semitism for the left to full-throatedly condemn.