In an examination of the growing presence of anti-Semitic currents in American left-wing social and political movements, Sylvia Barack Fishman outlines the underlying problem:
Today, anti-Semitic tropes are repeatedly articulated by celebrity public figures. . . . And yet, in academic settings, despite the realities of the Holocaust in which Jews were massacred as an inferior “race,” anti-Semitism is not included in many definitions of “racial hatred,” because Jewish socioeconomic success—according to . . . academic theories—obliterates the position of Jews as a minority; [instead] they are portrayed as a mere subset of the privileged white majority.
Such assumptions then give free rein to a vocal anti-Israel movement that leaves many on the sidelines with the vague impression that the Jewish state is especially brutal or immoral. And often members of this movement ensure that their anti-Semitism is not mistaken for mere criticism of Israel. Take, for instance, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which Fishman calls one of the “most virulently anti-Semitic and destructive groups today.”
In addition to being extremely well-organized, SJP utilizes propaganda techniques that emphasize shock and emotion, rather than factual coherent dialogue. Some of SJP’s dramatic methods are described by a Jewish student at Rutgers University, who recalled, [referring to the seven-day orgy of anti-Israel propaganda that takes place on many campuses]: “During apartheid week the SJP club stood in front of the dining hall wearing white shirts with red ‘blood’ spatter [with] signs saying, ‘This is what the Jews did to us.’ . . . I saw complete hatred.”
Fishman also notes the variety of Jewish organizations that in one way or another give oxygen, and grant legitimacy, to the anti-Israel movement, ranging from the moderate and respected New Israel Fund to the fanatical Jewish Voice for Peace, which is neither peaceful nor especially Jewish. She notes the cumulative effects on a generation of young American Jews, many of whom are susceptible to the argument that Jews are “privileged” and that anti-Semitism is not “in the same category” as racism, sexism, and other ills:
A majority of younger Americans have no memory of Jews as a disadvantaged and persecuted minority. They have broad lacunae in their knowledge of world history in general and the evolution of modern Zionism in particular. They have no memory of a world without a strong Israel, and little sense of how tiny the worldwide population of Jews is compared to other ethnic and religious groups.
[Some] American Jews distance themselves from the sins of white privilege not only by declaring themselves to be “allies” of “minoritized” non-white populations but also by condemning other, less “woke” Jews. In its most extreme guises, it is as if Jews who wish to distance themselves are saying to anti-Semites: “Don’t hate me—I’m not that kind of a Jew.”