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Two Bigotries That Are One

For ten years, I was married to an abusive woman who had grown up in apartheid South Africa, a country she had emigrated from at twenty-one out of disgust at the racist government, or so she said. She was very proud of siding with Black South Africans and African Americans. But whenever she mentioned South Africans of Indian extraction, she described them as “smelly.” Nor did she bother hiding her contempt for Arabs, and she almost wrecked my relationship with my best friend, a gay man, because, she said, I had to stay away from him as he must have AIDS, and anyway homosexuality is a mental illness. I don’t think many people would contradict me if I say that she is not an anti-racist with a couple of unfortunate blind spots, but a deeply prejudiced person who uses her professed love for Black Africans as camouflage.

The same is true of the legions of Western progressives who profess anti-racism as their religion, yet hate Israel and wish to see it destroyed, professedly out of love for the Palestinians. It is not too much to say that this love is fraudulent, since in a time when one Arab state after another is establishing normal relations with the Jewish state, it is these Western progressives and the Iranian regime who are chiefly responsible for prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They do this by encouraging the latter never to compromise but to hold out and “engage in armed struggle” until every last Jew in the “Holy Land” is killed or driven into exile.

I was a peace and civil rights activist when I lived in Israel, and my loathing of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is one of my political lodestars, although I have revised my views on many other things over the past quarter century. I have cousins who live in the West Bank who I believe should move within Israel’s pre-1967 borders and stop propagating dangerous blood-and-soil-and-God nationalism, although you’ll pardon me if I demur from wishing them harm. As such, I refuse to relitigate the tiresome claim among left-wing anti-Israel activists that the dreaded Zionists are unfairly tarring “all criticism of Israel” as Jew hatred. This is mere gaslighting, as the popular term has it. Most Jews know Jew hatred when we encounter it, just as most Black people know very well what skin color prejudice is when it is hurled at them. That there are minorities of these minorities who attach themselves to their haters is a complex psychological and spiritual problem that I have discussed before in this blog, but it is not the point of this post, and it is not the alibi that people who hate Jews and Blacks believe it is.

CNN just ran a special on rising antisemitism in America, starting out rightly by examining the intense and violent antisemitism on the MAGA right that has led to gun attacks on Jewish worshippers in California and Pennsylvania, but not neglecting the “progressive” side of the phenomenon, although the program did not engage in any self-examination of the network’s own history of news coverage slanted against Israel. Jew hatred is a complex phenomenon with a history stretching back more than two thousand years, but at the risk of oversimplification, it was Christian animosity against the “mother religion” that entrenched this prejudice over the centuries, though this hostility proved fully transferrable to Muslims and followers of any and no religion. Both the right- and left-wing “brands” of modern Jew hatred are ultimately traceable to Christian so-called theological loathing of Jews and Judaism, though the connection is often deliberately obscured. The trope of Jewish greed, for example, is traceable to early Church prohibitions on Christians charging interest, leading a tiny number of wealthy Jews to become moneylenders, a profession from which many were muscled out when Italian Christians got into the business in the late Middle Ages. Other wealthy Jews who had offered loans to kings found the latter inclined to stiff them by suddenly “finding God” and expelling all Jews from their territories. This sorry history finds echoes today when “progressive” provocateur Ilhan Omar blames American support for Israel on Jewish money, and MAGA provocateur Marjorie Taylor Greene blames California wildfires on space lasers supposedly owned by the European Jewish Rothschild banking family. In truth, the former accusation is scarcely less hallucinatory than the latter, and both of these Congresswomen are dangerous antisemites no matter how vehemently they deny it. That Greene received a standing ovation from her Republican colleagues, whereas Congressional Democrats were only able to muster a meaningless condemnation of antisemitism and other prejudice while not mentioning Omar by name, is proof enough that the entire American political system is becoming contaminated with Jew hatred.

For MAGAs to deny their Jew hatred on the grounds that they “love” Israel is as absurd as it is for progressives to profess their love for Jews at the same time that they are calling for what amounts to a second Holocaust in Israel. The MAGA accusation that progressive anti-racism is a sham is all too close to the truth, so long as Israel and Jew hatred continues to rise on the American left.

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