By Susan Weintrob
Nov. 7, 2018
For decades now, the media, universities and feminists have been working in tandem. The results are now becoming evident
Politics has entered the blame game with the devastating tragedy at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.
As mourners had the heartbreaking task of planning multiple funerals, the Left wing was busy blaming Donald Trump. That was far easier than recognizing the several thousand-year-old history of anti-Semitism, the radical Left’s rising hatred of Jews, academic bias against all things Israel, and social media’s ability to target Jews.
Far more convenient to blame Trump, the most supportive President of the Jewish people and Israel that the US ever had, as Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer characterized him.
Many in the media and politics ignored the decades-long rising rate of anti-Semitism on college campuses and in politics. Dangerous alliances exist on the Left, the media, universities and feminists. They ignore, misinterpret or support anti-Semitism and Israel’s disenfranchisement.
Ruth Wisse and Julius Lester wrote about it 20 years ago. We see tacit acceptance with anti-Semitic Women’s March leaders Linda Sansour or Tamika Mallory or even Jewish JStreet or Bernie Sanders.
Anti-Semitism is not a new phenomenon. Conservatives condemn anti-Semitism on the right; what’s problematic is that too many liberals stay silent when the hatred is on the left.
In 2002, I took a brief survey of Jewish professors about the pervasive acceptance of anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-conservative ideas on campus. I had encountered these attitudes at a woman’s conference where I presented a paper. I wanted to know if this was an anomaly or common.
The responses were disturbingly confirming. They clearly brought into focus what has occurred in liberal circles over the last three decades.
“I have given up. I used to believe in dialoguing. Our great experiments haven’t amounted to much. I am disillusioned,” a former UN staff member said to me in 2002. “The left is popularly anti-Semitic. When I go to left wing circles, I don’t tell them that I am Jewish or I couldn’t do my work.” This person, who requested anonymity, worked at the UN from 1982 to 2001.
A former member of Pittsburgh’s NOW told me the organization was taken over by, in her words, radicals. “The final straw, for me, was when NOW marched with Palestinians to protest some Israeli activity. I sent in a letter of resignation. I am talking at least thirty years ago. The feminist movement has been taken over in universities and in general.”
Academia is increasingly infused with an open anti-Israel/anti-Semitic agenda and a lack of respect for divergent ideas influencing a generation of students. Opposition has swelled into angry and violent speech, campus and public riots, and media and political hatred.
Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project recently discussed this trend with me. “Jews must stop expecting other people to advocate for their own civil rights. Jews are wonderful for other communities, such as the ACLU or the NAACP, but we are too afraid to stick up for ourselves, to march for ourselves.”
Often media doesn’t report about anti-Semitism on the Left. At the 2016 Democratic Convention, the DNC sponsored a BDS event where American and Israeli flags were burned. There, in a speech supporting BDS, Georgia Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat, called Jews “termites.” This occurred two years before Farrakhan’s recent rant. Although Johnson later said his word choice was “poor,” he was not asked to step down nor was he censored. There was no outrage or even coverage outside of Jewish media.
Goldstein explained, “It’s ironic that in the traditionally progressive space, freedom of speech and ideas are made uncool. The Left pretends to support women and children’s rights. It has become inconvenient to criticize the Left. We are not going to see criticism from traditional NGO’s, such as Amnesty International, NAACP, or ACLU, for example, which used to support those freedoms. Their silence only hurts the very groups they say they are helping.”
Goldstein revealed, “There is a hidden â€˜Memo of Understanding’ to allow a pro-Islamic view within a school, even when that view promotes terrorism in the West Bank. There is a silencing of public opinion. Follow the money.”
Complicit was Obama, Goldstein notes, whose administration rejected a theological motivation behind Islamic terrorism. That anti-Semitism is part of radical Islam needs to be understood and acknowledged, if these crimes are to be prevented. “Obama denied this.
In fact, Obama fired FBI agents who were deemed Islamophobic. Muslims who had been under surveillance had their records destroyed by Obama when he left office,” Goldstein said.
Intelligent and polite dialogue seems on the endangered species list. Last month, through a Facebook gardeners’ group, I offered to share perennials for a communal garden.
The person arrived at my home and immediately began complaining that conservatives don’t like gardens. I said that I was a conservative and a garden lover. She condemned me for having conservative views, even though we had only just met. “You are smart and educated. How can you be conservative?”
After I gave her some bulbs and plants, she climbed into her CRV. “I just can’t talk to people I don’t agree with,” she said to me out her window.
I disagreed. “We can learn from those we disagree with and continue to seek common ground, like our gardens. This is what happens in a democracy.”
“Can’t do it,” she said and drove off.
This disturbing groupthink weakens our democratic open society. Together, we need to condemn hatred wherever we find it, right or left. We must realize the decade long rise in anti-Semitism is fueled by anti-Israel distortions and traditional hatred of the Jews, not by the 2016 Trump election, as claimed by the progressive Left and their backers.
As we mourn the murdered in Tree of Life, we are struck that the Left has failed to protect their ideals when it comes to the Jews. And on this count, we must judge them.