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Antisemitism? What antisemitism?

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Why won’t progressives confront anti-Jewish prejudice in our movement? Because, in the prevailing worldview, it doesn't actually exist.

Linda Sarsour says Jews do not experience "systemic discrimination."

Antisemitism is more rampant today than at any time since you-know-when. Statistics indicate that hate-motivated crimes in North America and Europe are directed at Jews in numbers massively disproportionate to their population.

There are rallies where people hold signs declaring “God bless Hitler” and warning “Prepare for the REAL Holocaust.” Dutch soccer fans chant “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the gas!”

Caricatures of hook-nosed Jewish demons are rampant not only on the internet but in erstwhile legitimate media. The entire United Nations exists, it seems at times, solely to single out Israel as a scapegoat. And Jews are targeted worldwide for exclusion, wrath, violence and murder.

Remarkably, huge numbers of people refuse to see this as a systemic problem. There are excuses and obfuscations.

Contemporary antisemitism is dismissed as a serious problem by otherwise serious people. In the ideology of most of the perpetrators, and too many observers, antisemitism doesn’t actually exist.

For those who believe in the existence of antisemitism, there are essentially two streams: “Muslim antisemitism” and “Western antisemitism.”

Muslim antisemitism isn’t really antisemitism at all, in the reasoning of many, because it’s political, not racial or religious – it’s all because of Israel and Palestine. Resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as countless European bien pensants believe, and Jews worldwide will live in something like nirvana. This ignores the fact that the reason for this conflict in the first place was the refusal of the Arab world to abide the existence of a Jewish state and that generations of antisemitic incitement across the Arab world has planted seeds of Jew-hatred that fruit among migrants to the West.

The Western variety of antisemitism has at least two sub-types: left and right. (Though, as the Horseshoe Theory contends, this difference may not be as dichotomous as it seems.)

Far-right antisemitism, especially in European nationalist movements, is a familiar creature.

Leftist, or “progressive,” antisemitism is a different and somewhat (though not entirely) recent phenom. Even among those for whom Marxism is discarded, a Marxian measuring stick remains the arbiter of discrimination. The progressive view of discrimination requires that victims experience economic outcomes that are below average due to current or historical oppressions.

Although there are plenty of economically disadvantaged Jews in the world, a widespread perception of Jewish people is of a group who are economically privileged. In progressive discourse, Jews are not seen as a disadvantaged minority but as an advantaged minority. If economic disadvantage is absent - and in the problematic perception of Jews as a group that is dominant on the left - so must be the discrimination itself. Since the evidence of discrimination is economic, Jews can’t be victims of discrimination.

“I want to make the distinction that while anti-Semitism is something that impacts Jewish Americans, it’s different than anti-black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic,” Sarsour said. “Of course, you may experience vandalism or an attack on a synagogue, or maybe on an individual level, but it’s not systemic, and we need to make that distinction.”

She’s kind of right, although, as one observer commented: if the Holocaust wasn’t the definition of “systemic,” what is? Still, North American and European Jews are not experiencing a holocaust today and they are, Sarsour is correct, not economically discriminated against in a systemic fashion.

But an attack on a synagogue or an individual is not nothing, as Sarsour seems to imply. And “non-systemic” discrimination, like attacks on synagogues and individuals, could reach cataclysmic levels before they meet Sarsour’s definition of systemic.

So, to summarize: Muslim antisemitism is nothing to be concerned about because it is really just anti-Zionism (and we all agree that hating Israel is perfectly fine, don’t we?).

Western antisemitism, in the progressive narrative, has no economic basis and therefore must be an invention of the Jews and Zionists. Why? Again, in the prevailing narrative, as a weapon to “stifle” or “silence” criticism of Israel (because it’s not antisemitic to acknowledge that the powerful Jews can control what we think and say, is it?).

Either way, antisemitism must be a figment of Jewish inventiveness because, if you do not suffer economically – and in a generalization that is itself problematic, this includes Jews as a group – you cannot be a victim of discrimination. Even, according to Sarsour, if they attack your synagogue or beat you up.

Since antisemitism does not exist, every attack on a Jewish person, synagogue or institution is, by definition, a random attack. This is exactly what allowed then-U.S. President Barack Obama to describe the mass murder of Jews in a kosher Paris supermarket as “a bunch of folks in a deli” who were “randomly shot.”

If the Jews who died at Hyper-Cache were randomly shot, it was an incredibly fortunate coincidence for the Islamists.

The upshot is that Obama intended to express sympathy and did not intentionally dismiss antisemitism like Sarsour did. That he could see Jews murdered in a kosher supermarket by Islamist terrorists and interpret it as a random attack indicates how even the best-intentioned, woke progressive can harbour prejudices that dismiss – or outright deny – the existence of antisemitism.

No matter which kind of antisemitism we're talking about - Muslim or Western - we can rest assured that it is either a "political" problem related to the Middle East conflict, and therefore not anything to be concerned about on par with "systemic" prejudice. Or it is a figment of the Jewish imagination unsupported by economic evidence and therefore cooked up as a way to gain sympathy or win points in an argument about, again, a political situation.

Either way, it's clearly nothing to be concerned about. If it exists at all.


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