Seeing Illusory Anti-Semitism While Ignoring the Real Thing

July 14 2017

The campaign to reelect Viktor Orban, the current prime minister of Hungary, has put up posters across the country depicting the Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros with the words “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh.” Orban has repeatedly attacked Soros’s support for efforts to liberalize Hungary’s immigration laws. As Soros is Jewish, the Israeli ambassador to Hungary, the country’s Jewish Federation, and even an EU official have condemned Orban’s rhetorical attacks on Soros as anti-Semitic. Yet, writes Evelyn Gordon, there is no clear evidence of anti-Semitism here: Orban has made no mention of Soros’s Jewishness, and hundreds of millions of dollars have in fact been directed by Soros’s foundation to political causes in Hungary that Orban opposes. Gordon contrasts the reaction to the posters with reaction to actual clear-cut cases of anti-Semitism:

Some attacks on Soros are anti-Semitic, like when someone at an anti-refugee rally in Poland in 2015 set fire to an effigy of an Orthodox Jew which he said represented Soros. That’s classic anti-Semitism; it implies both that the real problem is Soros’s Jewishness rather than anything he did, and that all Jews are responsible for Soros’s actions.

The Hungarian campaign, however, targets Soros not for his Jewishness, which it never even mentions, but for his actions: specifically, the fact that he is one of the main financial backers of pro-immigration organizations in Hungary. . . . Yet both Jews and non-Jews have risen up to declare such criticism “anti-Semitic” solely because he happens to be Jewish. . . .

Now contrast this with, say, what happened at last month’s “Chicago Dyke March,” when three people carrying rainbow flags with Stars of David on them were kicked out of the march because the flag was “pro-Israel,” and therefore unacceptable at a progressive demonstration. The Star of David is the most recognizable Jewish symbol in existence; . . . that’s precisely why Israel put it on its national flag. That’s also why the so-called “Jewish pride” flag has a Star of David on its rainbow background—not to represent Israel, but to represent the marchers’ Judaism. . . .

In other words, these marchers were expelled solely for carrying an obviously Jewish symbol at a progressive event. This is classic anti-Semitism: Jews are welcome only if they divest themselves of anything that could identify them as Jews. Yet in the progressive world, such anti-Semitism is deemed perfectly acceptable so long as you claim, as the march organizers did, that the victims were expelled for being “Zionists.”. . . .

[Thus, for] the progressive left . . . targeting people for being Jewish is no longer anti-Semitic, but targeting people for being progressive activists is. . . . [I]nstead of being a shield to protect Jews, charges of anti-Semitism have become a shield to protect leftists. And thereby the left has completed the process of redefining anti-Semitism to its own benefit, to the detriment of the Jews.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hungary, Jewish World, Progressivism

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