The Jewish far left has become a more frequent and increasingly louder voice in the growing chorus against Israel within the growing extreme liberal camp.
The following illustrations hardly tell the whole story.
Last month’s protest two days before Passover by a Jewish anti-“occupation” group IfNotNow at the offices of the Anti Defamation League in New York and AIPAC in Boston netted 23 arrests. Protesters wore T-shirts which read, “No liberation with occupation.” In total, about 500 participated in “Liberations Seders” around the country.
Two Jewish members of the far-left
CODEPINK unfurled a banner at the Western Wall reading “American Jews Support BDS.” In a statement, the two blamed the violence in the region on the “occupation.”
There are Jewish professors and students who are joining in the attacks against Israel on college campuses. Some, although a smaller minority, have even aligned with the Palestinian advocacy group, Students for Justice in Palestine, which bears responsibility for much of the anti-Israel activity.
Another group, Jewish Voice for Peace, which regards itself as the Jewish wing of the Palestine solidarity movement, supports BDS and the Palestinian claim of the right of return.
The New Israel Fund dispenses funds to fringe groups in Israel that defame the Jewish state. Some call for economic boycotts.
Leaders of the Reform Movement call for the end of the “occupation.”
In a column in Haaretz, a former president of NFTY, the Reform Jewish Youth Movement, compared opposition to the “occupation” with the fight against “segregation” in the 1960s.
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently inflated numbers of Palestinian casualties in the most recent Gaza war and accused Israel of a “disproportionate” response.
Past chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Seymour Reich, in an article highly critical of Israel entitled “Israel’s Assault on Democracy: Time to Speak Out,” referenced Sanders’s absurd comments and noted how they were “greeted with enthusiastic approval by the mostly young audience, many of them Jewish.”
American Jewish author Michael Chabon referred to the “occupation” as “the most grievous injustice I’ve ever seen.”
What is needed here is far more than a basic history and current events lesson.
Unlike so many American Jews who are simply distant from Israel because of decades of assimilation, this is beyond the usual detachment. The growing chorus of Israel’s Jewish American detractors not only represents the divide among American Jews and Israelis but also a trend in America among some young millennial away from Israel and toward the Palestinians.
Sixty-eight years after the birth of Israel, Jews on the far left along with fellow leftists are standing with Israel’s opposition. Are they all blind?
Do they not see what is happening? Who perpetrates the violence and who acts in response? Do they not see the rejection of Israel by its detractors? How does the Jew respond to the vilification of Israel?
What does the Jewish leftist see when he/she looks in the mirror?
Today’s Jewish leftist position toward Israel is a response to the collective Jewish experience of persecution and isolation over the millennia. Despite their denials, they sense the anti-Semitism from their camp. They want to impart to their fellow leftists that it is the others, those Zionists, who are contemptible, but they are worthy of admiration even though they are Jewish. They believe that by joining the anti-Israel feeding frenzy by endorsing the views of the enemies of Zion they can walk the halls of the college campuses, the far-left gatherings, and be impervious to the hate because they too stand with the BDSers. Then they can face their friends because they, too, harshly condemn Israel or even disavow the existential rights of the Jewish state.
Such abandonment is not a new phenomenon. There are many precedents.
After struggling for decades to achieve full emancipation in 19th-century Prussia, multitudes of Jews took it to the next step and sought baptism as a bridge to society. Then, they would achieve the equality for which they had so fervently hoped. As Jewish poet and author Heinrich Heine put it, “The baptismal certificate is the ticket of admission to European culture.”
In Russia, Jewish thinkers of the enlightenment mocked and ridiculed the rabbis, blaming them for the difficult circumstances of Russian Jewry within the Czarist empire. If only the Jews modernized themselves, they would be better respected! Such hopes, however, were followed by vicious Czarist pogroms and severe discriminatory policies. By November 1917, when radical change came to Russia in the form of communism, the Jewish communists’ organization, known as the Yevsektsia, which saw Judaism as a barrier, sought to unite with their fellow Soviets and called for the complete dissolution of Jewish communal organizations. However, that did not assuage the coming tidal wave of Soviet anti-Semitism.
Once again, history repeats itself. Today it is Israel and its policies that are blamed. Some claim: If it was only we who changed! If only we accommodated! But such words have no meaning in the context of Jewish history, past or present. In today’s Middle East, it is the evil of others, not the behavior of the Jews, that causes mayhem.
Jewish leftists! When you slam Israel you do not act out of ideology which defies all reason. You act out of fear—out of your yearning for acceptance in a world where the scourge of Jew hatred so often rears its head. Know that Zionism is beautiful. It is the liberation movement of the Jewish people, and it has been an overwhelming success. Zionism has brought light into darkness. It has set the bar on what can be accomplished in the face of adversity.
Most importantly, know that “a Jew is a Jew” and there is always a path back home.
By Larry Domnitch