Over the past five to ten years, writes Zach Goldberg, a new group of liberals has emerged—mostly white, mostly born after 1980, and greatly shaped by social media and Internet reporting—that has altered attitudes on the left. Recently dubbed “the Great Awokening”—after the use of the vernacular “woke” to mean awakened to injustice—the resulting changes in liberal opinion bode ill for Jews and the Jewish state:
[These] seismic attitudinal shifts . . . have implications that go beyond race: they are also tied to a significant decrease in support for Israel and—perhaps more surprisingly—an increase in the number of white liberals who express negative attitudes about the perceived political power of American Jews. . . . Then there is the marked shift in attitudes toward Israel. Between 1978 and 2014, white liberals consistently reported sympathizing more with Israel than with the Palestinians. Since March 2016, this trend has turned on its face: significantly more white liberals now report greater sympathy for the Palestinians than for Israel.
The surveys show that among white liberals, Jews are perceived to be “privileged”—at least in comparison with other historically victimized groups. . . . Jews are no longer the downtrodden collective that white liberals can readily sympathize with. Other groups lower on the privilege hierarchy and less tainted by association with “whiteness” now have priority. So long as anti-Semitism comes from whites, there is no problem here. But if the [anti-Semite is] a member of an “oppressed” or “vulnerable” group, there may be a cognitive dissonance.
To see how this logic extends to Israel consider that the same . . . outrage over the bigoted persecution of the vulnerable by the “privileged” that informs the changing policy positions on domestic issues is applied to the international arena. [In the “woke” view of things], a “white-supremacist” America holds people of color down and keeps the door shut for others, while a “Zionist-supremacist” Israel behaves in much the same way toward its minorities of color. It’s a narrow and warped perspective but one that’s easily assimilated into a broader worldview in which human relations are defined by categories of oppressor vs. oppressed; and where these roles are assigned based on one’s placement in the privilege hierarchy. . . .
As Jews have become [symbols] of “whiteness” in the liberal political imagination—to the point that Israel is considered a white state despite having a slight nonwhite majority—they have come to be associated with an oppressor class. We shouldn’t be surprised then that white liberals are significantly more likely to feel that Jewish groups have too much influence and less likely to say the same with respect to their Muslim counterparts.