By Susan Weintrob
Nov. 7, 2018
Politics has entered the blame game with the devastating tragedy at Pittsburgh’s Etz Chaim 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
Many in the media and politics ignored the decade-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 dialoging. 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.
A non-Jewish colleague, who asked not to be identified, remarked to me that, at her university, support of non-feminist causes would delay or prevent tenure, promotion and friendship in Women
Studies Programs. The “non-feminist” cause she mentioned—support of Israel. Another colleague, while finishing her doctorate, stayed away from any political comment that would show she was a
conservative or pro-Israel.
Long established feminists worry about these attitudes. Alice Sparberg Alexiou of Lilith told me a number of years ago in a telephone conversation that Lilith, a Jewish feminist magazine, had noted this
trend for more than a decade. She stated that one of the reasons the magazine was founded was to counter these ideas.
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, but we are too afraid to stick up for ourselves, to march for ourselves.”
Often media doesn’t report about the Left’s anti-Semitism. 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.
Ignoring anti-Semitism works even in Starbucks, not collaborating with the ADL for minority training because Tamika Mallory, a Woman’s March leader, protested. Brooke Goldstein commented on a radio
show this year that Mallory is a “notorious anti-Semite” and a “huge fan of Louis Farrakhan.” She noted that Mallory is “attempting to direct the [Starbuck] corporate policy…that they cannot hire one of the
country’s oldest civil rights groups…because they are Jewish.…That is racist. That is bigoted.”
She continued, “Progressive space is now becoming a very regressive space and being taken over and hijacked.”
In a March column Ben Shapiro wrote, “Just weeks ago, we found out that Farrakhan met with the members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2005, including then-Sen. Barack Obama; 21 current
members of Congress were at that meeting. None of them have denounced Farrakhan.” He added, “The sin of intersectionality lies in the willingness of its devotees to discard virtue for identity politics.
Anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism, no matter who purveys it. If only the members of the Democratic Party and the media felt the same way.”
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 the Tree of Life synagogue, 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.
Susan Weintrob is a retired educator who writes full time in Charleston, SC.