Malcolm X’s Legacy of Anti-Semitism Persists

February 17, 2021 | Jake Wallis Simons
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When rioting and unrest swept through American cities last summer, it was accompanied by some troubling displays of anti-Semitism. Jake Wallis Simons comments:

During the Los Angeles riots over the killing of George Floyd, Jewish shops were destroyed, synagogues were sprayed with “free Palestine” graffiti, and a statue of a Swedish diplomat who had saved Hungarian Jews from the Nazis was defaced with anti-Semitic slogans. In France, a Black Lives Matter rally descended into cries of “dirty Jews,” echoing the anti-Semitic chants that filled the same streets during the Dreyfus affair a century ago. Shortly afterwards, the #Jewishprivilege Twitter hashtag sought to lump Jews together with the forces of oppression.

This anti-Semitism is hard to countenance in light of the historic bonds between Jewish Zionists and parts of the black community. . . . Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, had vowed: “Once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.” The animating spirit of Zionism—to replace centuries of meekness with self-actualization and national dignity—shared a common denominator with the civil-rights movement.

Why have some activists turned their backs on this tradition? The answer may lie in the figure of Malcolm X. . . . Throughout his life, [Malcolm X] attacked what he called “Zionist-Dollarism,” deplored Israel, and cast Jews as a race of white oppressors. In his autobiography—which contains examples of the crudest anti-Semitism—he poured scorn on the bond between Jews and the civil rights movement.

History has told us that if you want to know a person’s truest nature, examine his attitude toward Jews. If you find this to be malign, be on your guard; as the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks put it, “the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.”

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