May 23, 2024
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When It Comes to Israel, Sometimes the ‘Good Guys’ Aren’t So Great

We’re certainly grateful there was no violence at last weekend’s so-called Unite the Right rally in Washington, D.C.’s landmark Lafayette Square. Indeed, according to media reports there were maybe two dozen supporters of the cause aligning itself with white nationalist extremist groups.

And in Charlottesville, Virginia, the site of last year’s violent and deadly Unite the Right rally, the violence was replaced mostly with demonstrations, some of them pointing anger at the police officials there to keep the peace.

It is in today’s parlance a “no-brainer” to look at the white nationalists with fear and dread, as many openly wear nausea-inducing swastika armbands, wave Confederate battle flags and/or carry torches while spewing their hatred-laced epitaphs.

However, for the Jewish people, and those among our friends who support and love Israel, the growing danger might be emerging from the not-so-obvious—the side that turned out in big numbers and vociferously shouted, carried signs or seemed to be looking to engage in conflict with the Unite the Right group.

Many (certainly not all!) of these individuals are trending toward Antifa or the so-called Raging Against Fascism group, though on Sunday in D.C. there were many area Jews, some painting Stars of David on their faces, wearing T-shirts and carrying signs shouting out opposition to hatred and bigotry.

Unfortunately the lines here are nuanced. And this isn’t even where the battle of intersectionality is tough. The difficulty comes when, like lava oozing from a previously dormant volcano, a group of people congregate near Lafayette Square and shout “We Support the Intifada,” or individuals walk around wearing kafias on their heads symbolizing an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian sentiment. It’s hard to know whether someone who is “raging against Fascism,” which discusses Colonialism in their literature, is also raging against the power principle central to the “resist movement,” which equates “the Israeli occupation” with destructive Colonialism against the Arab community.

According to reports of the Sunday event, there were some Antifa participants there who were as problematic as the white nationalists, seeking confrontation with journalists and even turning eggs into projectiles even when the white nationalists were long gone.

In other words, there are fissures on the so-called side of good. And the cracks in that side are as unwelcoming to Jews and those who love Israel as the hatred coming from the other side of the demonstrations. The enemy of my enemy may not be my friend here.

We urge our well-intentioned Jewish rally-goers to understand that to be truly welcomed, the crowd cannot tolerate anti-Semitism even if it’s hiding in plain sight behind pro-BDS or pro-Palestinian sights and symbols. Because whether they will admit it or not, the only intersectionality happening here is connecting the anti-Semites of one side with the anti-Semites on the other. Some shout “our blood, our soil.” Others shout “from the river to the sea.”

You wouldn’t be fooled by one side.

Don’t be fooled by the other.

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