Explaining the Resurgence of Left-Wing Anti-Semitism

Sept. 28 2018

While the rising tide of anti-Semitism on the European left is most evident in the British Labor party, whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is an Israel-hater in the old Soviet mold, it is apparent elsewhere in Western Europe as well. Furthermore, writes Alex Joffe, there are disturbing signs that the U.S. is not so far behind. Joffe asks why it is that these hostile attitudes toward Jews and the Jewish state, long present on the fringes of the left, are now moving to the center:

Coupled with the burgeoning of racialized identity politics and “intersectionality”—localized versions of Third Worldism and the “red-green alliance” [between socialists and] Islamists—traditional anti-Semitism has been updated. Jews are suddenly called upon to [make a familiar false choice]: reject their identity and join the vanguard, or become an enemy of the people. . . .

Another explanation for the current explosion of deep-seated anti-Semitism is [that] Jews are simultaneously the most assimilated Western minority and the one that remains demonstrably—even uniquely—grateful to host nations and to the idea of the nation-state and its opportunities. This is intolerable to left-wing positions that reject the nation-state, national identity, and national pride. Jewish attachment to Israel compounds the transgression against post-nationalism, and this connection to a unique and cosmic evil positions the attitude firmly as old-new anti-Semitism. . . .

This sort of reasoning generally appeals most to members of the educated elite, but they have given license to popular outbreaks of what might be called middle-class anti-Semitism, expressed most vividly by hundreds if not thousands of British Labor-party members. A sudden eruption of mostly traditional anti-Semitism from the public was waiting for its moment, with oddly familiar rhetoric: Jews as disloyal, greedy, alien, clannish, manipulative, and conspiratorial. This is merely 19th-century anti-Semitism updated, no longer theological but not yet racial.

But anti-Semitic attitudes also refract another phenomenon: the unrootedness of a broad swath of the British populace from Britishness. Few nations have repudiated their histories with the speed and anger of Britain, and post-imperial and post-colonial Britain possesses a deep self-loathing of its history and culture. Few cultures are so explicit about guilt and repudiation, although this is matched by the American far left, which sees the country’s founding as Original Sin. These are elite formulas that have been disseminated to the middle class through the educational system and media.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Jeremy Corbyn, Politics & Current Affairs


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