Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Quick Note to a Non-Jewish Left-Leaning Friend

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under and the Times of Israel.}

Nirenberg.jpg - image uploaded to Picamatic A buddy of mine recently forwarded a very interesting book review by Michael Walzer of David Nirenberg's Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition in the New York Review of Books.

This was my brief response:
Hi Justin, 
thank you for this. 
From my perspective the most prevalent form of anti-Jewish racism in the world today, outside of the Muslim Middle East, comes from the western progressive-left, which is why Walzer's review begins with a discussion of Marx. 
The very political movement that the Jewish diaspora has done the most to bolster is also the political movement that does the most in the west to provide venues and support for anti-Semitic anti-Zionists. 
Diaspora Jews have spent most of the last fifty years supporting the efforts of non-Jewish minorities to attain full and equal civil liberties and I am very proud of Jewish participation in efforts such as the Civil Rights Movement.   
However, I am convinced that it is now time for the Jewish people to look out for the well-being of the Jewish people.  What that means is opposing BDS, the movement to boycott the Jews of the Middle East, and what that means is confronting the western left. 
There is simply no way around it.
We do not need to oppose western-left notions of universal human rights and social justice.  On the contrary, the Jewish people throughout the diaspora over the last one hundred years have done as much, if not more, than anyone in promoting such values that, in the United States, primarily came out of the progressive-left and the Democratic party.

Sadly, the progressive-left and the Democratic party are vacant shells when it comes to universal human rights and social justice.  The reason for this is because they refuse to champion their own values because those values conflict with the multicultural ideal and because conflicting with the multicultural ideal automatically opens one to charges of racism.  Thus the progressive-left has virtually nothing to say about Islamic imperialism throughout the Middle East, or the 5.5 million dead in the Congo, or the millions in the Sudan who in recent years were slaughtered or displaced from their homes, or the hundreds of thousands dead and displaced in Syria, or the ongoing Chinese occupation of Tibet.

The progressive-left does not care about any of that, but they still claim to stand for human rights.

They do not.

At this point, unfortunately, to support either the progressive-left or the Democratic party is to support a vastly hypocritical and toxic political movement that provides encouragement, financial and otherwise, to enemies of the Jewish people, while doing nothing for victims of genocide and aggression throughout the world.

Jews support the Left and the Left supports the enemies of the Jewish people.

The Left, via the offices of Barack Obama, even support the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent organization of al-Qaeda and Hamas, and the movement for political Islam throughout the Middle East, more generally.

Perhaps it is time to think in creative ways about reorienting diaspora Jewish political inclinations.  We should continue to support social justice and equality of rights, but we must not continue to support political parties or political movements that undermine the well-being of the Jewish people or that undermine the very universal human rights that they pledge to uphold.

We are taken for granted by our false friends on the Left and it is long past time that we make them aware that taking the Jewish people for granted is a significant mistake.  We need to tell them this directly and we need to make them understand through our behavior at the ballot box, in our volunteer activities, and in our donations and fundings.

Ultimately, we need to put our allegiance to the Jewish people above our allegiances to political movements, like the progressive-left, that hold no friendship or allegiance to us.


  1. I would agree that the New Antisemitism, for example in the form of BDS and antisemitic 'anti-ZIonism,' is today's most prevalent form of explicit, mainstream Jew-hatred, and its home is mainly on the political left.

    I would also argue, however, that we need to be vigilant in looking out for all forms of antisemitism, including the 'old' form of same which emanates from the rising Paulite wing of the right.

    Me, personally, I feel no allegiance to any 'political movement,' in and of itself. Though I consider myself a liberal, and most other people I assume would consider me one as well; and I'm a registered Democrat who's never voted Republican (I've voted for some left independents before, though, including a certain Green Party presidential candidate in 2000 which is still the only vote I regret - I was only a 21-year old kid, is my defense!), I zig and zag on many issues and do not buy my politics wholesale. When hearing my thoughts on guns, for instance, I imagine most mainstream liberals would consider me to be of the far right, though on economic and labor issues I'd be quite to the left of many of those same people.

    I don't really know what to make of this argument, though. Me, personally, I would tend to prefer fighting antisemitism wherever it shows up, in any form, but I surely understand what you're getting at here, too.

    Sometimes I just wish we could all get along, and focus on the real enemy, whatever their political self-identity. ;)

    1. Jay,

      most left-wing liberal Jews, and that includes me, have been put into an exceedingly untenable position. We are essentially forced to choose between our old political home and the Jewish people. Sadly, given this moment in history, we cannot support both in any meaningful manner.

      G-d knows that we have tried, but the fact of the matter is that the western left has made its choices and among those choices was the organic decision to accept anti-Semitic anti-Zionism as part of the larger coalition. Jews who care about the well-being of their fellow Jews in the Middle Easet thus have two choices. We can walk out, as I have chosen to do, or we can stay and fight.

      BUT, if one chooses to stay and fight that means that the political betrayal of the Jewish people by the Left must be acknowledged. A person cannot in any meaningful way combat a problem if he or she refuses to acknowledge the problem.

      The truth of the matter is that you are one of the few people that I am aware of that has managed to walk this tightrope, although ideologically blinkered partisans have, in the past, given you lumps for daring to do so.

      btw, the very word "luncheonette" makes me hungry for meat loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy!