Sebastian Gorka and the Truth about Jewish Liberals and American Politics

Sept. 6 2017

In a recent radio interview, the outgoing White House counterterrorism adviser claimed that his pro-Israel positions were the source of much of the criticism directed at him during his tenure. Gorka went on to suggest that the “liberal elements of the American Jewish population have basically become anti-Israeli. It’s the greatest, saddest paradox.” But, writes, Jonathan Tobin, Gorka misunderstands the Jewish left—much as the Jewish left has misunderstood him:

[L]ike all such generalizations, any attempt to describe all liberal Jews as anti-Israel is a slander. Some . . . have turned on Israel and have swelled the ranks of groups critical [of Israel], like J Street, with many others backing anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace that support the BDS movement. But most liberal Jews are still pro-Israel and many play a role in maintaining support for Israel via AIPAC and other groups.

But the avalanche of attacks on Gorka—including many from Jewish sources, some of which were unfair—was real. What was confusing about it, for him, is that he didn’t understand why being pro-Israel cut him no slack from liberal Jews. The reason for their antipathy is no secret. Gorka was an editor at Breitbart.com before his stint at the White House, and he’s returning to the website. . . . Donald Trump’s style is both inspired by and deeply appealing to Breitbart’s readers.

So far as liberals are concerned, that means it’s open season to assail those associated with Breitbart or President Trump. For Gorka, that meant a deep dive into his background as the son of Hungarian exiles. . . . Most of what was discovered was more a matter of guilt by association than proof of anything damaging. . . . The low point was reached when the Forward published a story about his son’s high-school science project. . . . Though the story was withdrawn, the Forward has yet to . . . explain this breach of journalistic ethics. . . .

All liberal Jews don’t deserve to be labeled as Israel-haters, and Gorka’s support for the Jewish state shouldn’t earn him immunity from all criticism. But neither should it have been ignored in a rush to demonize someone who, whatever you may think of his politics, was eager to be an ally of the Jewish people at a time when we can use all the friends we can get. That so many Jews are unmoved by that fact is, as Gorka correctly notes, a sad paradox.

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More about: American politics, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Liberal Zionism

 

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media