For the hard left, writes Bret Stephens, any occasion seems appropriate for fomenting hatred of the Jewish state. But more disturbing still is that animus toward Israel is becoming increasingly de rigueur in the Democratic mainstream, as a recent vote in the Senate demonstrates:
Ostensibly on free-speech grounds, progressives—including the presidential hopefuls Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren—[recently] united behind Vermont’s Bernie Sanders in a failed bid to block a Senate bill, passed on Tuesday, that includes a . . . measure prohibiting federal contracts with businesses that boycott Israel. One wonders how these same Democrats feel about, say, championing First Amendment protections for bakers who refuse to make cakes for gay couples. . . .
What’s unsettling is that the far-left’s hostility is now being mainstreamed by the not-so-far left. Anti-Zionism—that is, rejection not just of this or that Israeli policy, but also of the idea of a Jewish state itself—is becoming a respectable position among people who would never support the elimination of any other country in any other circumstance. And it is churning up a new wave of nakedly anti-Jewish bigotry in its wake. . . .
[T]he most toxic assumption is that Jews, whether in Israel or the U.S., can never really be thought of as victims or even as a minority because they are white, wealthy, powerful and “privileged.” This relies on a simplistic concept of power that collapses on a moment’s inspection. Jews in Germany were economically and even politically powerful in the 1920s. And then they were in Buchenwald. Israel appears powerful vis-à-vis the Palestinians, but considerably less so in the context of a broader Middle East saturated with genocidal anti-Semitism. . . . The Jews of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh are almost surely “privileged” according to various socio-economic measures. But privilege didn’t save the congregants of the Tree of Life synagogue last year. . . .
None of this should be hard for most progressives to understand. . . . Yet it seems that a movement that can detect a racist dog-whistle from miles away is strangely deaf when it comes to some of the barking on its own side of the fence. And even when it does hear it, it doesn’t have the sense to banish it.