Critical Race Theory Poses a Threat to Jews, and Not Only Because of Its Use by Anti-Zionists

Yesterday, Iowa passed a law aimed at keeping schools from teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT)—a congeries of ideas about racism that took shape in academia and has gained much purchase on the American left. Several other states are considering similar legislation. As Pamela Paresky writes, much Critical Race Theory, and the more general notions of social justice that undergird it, opens the door to anti-Semitism, and sometimes leads directly through it.

CRT relies on narratives of greed, appropriation, unmerited privilege, and hidden power—themes strikingly reminiscent of familiar anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. To make matters worse, the expectation of solidarity between social-justice allies allows anti-Zionists to use the latent anti-Semitic themes of CRT to propagate a false narrative about Israel without opposition from within the movement. This magnifies the existing anti-Jewish nature of the social-justice project.

In the critical-social-justice paradigm . . . Jews, who have never been seen as white by those for whom being white is a moral good, are . . . seen as white by those for whom whiteness is an unmitigated evil. This reflects the nature of anti-Semitism: no matter the grievance or the identity of the aggrieved, Jews are held responsible. Critical race theory does not merely make it easy to demonize Jews using the language of social justice; it makes it difficult not to.

One “critically informed” social-work curriculum teaches that the notion of Jews “pulling themselves up by their bootstraps” is a “myth.” Instead, having “become white,” Jews benefited from federal programs that allowed “Jews and other European immigrants to be recognized or rewarded.” In other words, these social-work students are not taught that anti-Semitism is a conspiracy theory about Jews gaining unmerited success and power. They are taught that Jews, having been initiated into whiteness, have gained unmerited success and power.

According to Ibram X. Kendi, the leading scholar of antiracism, “racial inequity is evidence of racist policy,” and “racial inequity over a certain threshold” should be “unconstitutional.” This obviously presents a particular problem for Jews, who represent roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population. A much higher proportion of Jews than non-Jews attend college. Jews represent an outsize share of winners of major awards, like Nobel prizes. As of 2020, seven of the twenty wealthiest Americans were Jewish. In virtually every major American industry and institution, Jews hold leadership roles disproportionate to their overall demographic numbers.

Applying the thinking of Kendi and like-minded writers to these statistics leads to the unavoidable conclusion that, as Paresky puts it, “Jewish success can be explained only by Jewish collusion with white supremacy.”

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Sapir

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Critical race theory, Education

Gaza’s Quiet Dissenters

Last year, the Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya, the Times of Israel, and several other media organizations worked together to conduct numerous interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip, taking great pains to protect their identities. The result is a video series titled Whispers in Gaza, which presents a picture of life under Hamas’s tyranny unlike anything that can be found in the press. Jeff Jacoby writes:

Through official intimidation or social pressure, Gazans may face intense pressure to show support for Hamas and its murderous policies. So when Hamas organizes gaudy street revels to celebrate a terrorist attack—like the fireworks and sweets it arranged after a gunman murdered seven Israelis outside a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night—it can be a challenge to remember that there are many Palestinians who don’t rejoice at the murder of innocent Jews.

In one [interview], “Fatima” describes the persecution endured by her brother, a humble vegetable seller, after he refused to pay protection money to Hamas. The police arrested him on a trumped-up drug charge and locked him in prison. “They beat him repeatedly to make him confess to things he had nothing to do with,” she says. Then they threatened to kill him. Eventually he fled the country, leaving behind a family devastated by his absence.

For those of us who detest Hamas no less than for those who defend it, it is powerful to hear the voices of Palestinians like “Layla,” who is sickened by the constant exaltation of war and “resistance” in the Palestinian media. “If you’re a Gazan citizen who opposes war and says, ‘I don’t want war,’ you’re branded a traitor,” she tells her interviewer. “It’s forbidden to say you don’t want war.” So people keep quiet, she explains, for fear of being tarred as disloyal.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian dissidents, Palestinian public opinion