The explosion of anti-Semitism across the world over the past two months has been of great concern to Jewish communities. The facts speak for themselves. Synagogues, cemeteries and Jewish property have been vandalized, while Jews have been verbally and physically attacked across Europe and the United States, and many more have been targeted online. In the UK, a 250% increase in anti-Semitic incidents has recently been recorded. Similar peaks have been documented in other European countries and the United States, writes the sergeant. General (Res) Sima Vaknin Gill.
The intensity of anti-Semitic incidents has diminished, but no one should be lulled into a false sense of security. Far from there. In reality. progressive circles risk accepting a pernicious “new normal” in which the battle against Jewish hatred is “called off.” As a result, they stoke the fire of anti-Semitism.
There are a lot of painful questions to ask. Why has Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza, unlike any other conflict in the world, become a green light to intimidate and attack a minority community? Why are Jews and Jewish communities only responsible for actions carried out in a decades-long geopolitical conflict thousands of miles away? Perhaps the most disheartening question of all is why the Jews felt abandoned in their hour of need by the very progressives who preach tolerance and social justice?
Part of the answer lies in the dangerously simplistic binary view of the world that has gripped progressive circles. This lens only sees the privileged and the underprivileged (based on race, not wealth), the oppressors and the oppressed. In this context, Jews are unjustifiably viewed as white and privileged, while Israelis are automatically viewed as wicked oppressors. Jews and Israel found themselves on the “wrong” side of the progressive barrier, thanks to a fabricated and downright anti-Semitic stereotype.
We are now witnessing the very disturbing consequences of this deeply flawed group thinking. The past two months have seen not only indifference to Jewish fears among progressives, but hostility towards them. Too often voicing concerns about anti-Semitism is treated as an affront, a sort of threat to other minority groups.
At the end of May, Rutgers University Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy and Provost Marshal Francine Conway issued a brief message expressing their sadness and deep concern over “the sharp increase in hostile sentiments and anti-Semitic violence against United States “. He also made reference to global racial injustices in the United States, mentioning the murder of George Floyd and the attacks on Asian American citizens of the Pacific Islands, Hindus, Muslims and others. Incredibly, just a day later, Molloy and Conway apologized, saying “it is clear to us that the message has failed to communicate support to members of our Palestinian community.” We sincerely apologize for the harm this message has caused. “
Likewise, in June, April Powers, a black Jewish woman and head of diversity and inclusion initiatives within the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) released a straightforward and clearly uncontroversial statement, saying that ” Jews have the right to life, security and freedom as a scapegoat and fear. Silence is often mistaken for acceptance and results in the perpetration of more hatred and violence against different types of people. Lin Oliver, the organization’s executive director quickly backed down, saying: “On behalf of the SCBWI, I would like to apologize to all members of the Palestinian community who felt unrepresented, silenced or marginalized. While Powers resigned because of the “controversy”.
In a twisted logic beyond belief, raising concerns about anti-Semitism or expressing sympathy for Jews facing intimidation and attacks is deemed offensive. We find ourselves in a progressive world upside down. Those concerned with equality and social justice should proudly demonstrate their solidarity with any threatened minority. More and more, what they are doing is worse than simply ignoring anti-Semitism. They censor, “roll back” attempts to stand with Jews facing hatred and fearing for their safety.
Those who genuinely care about the well-being of Jewish communities, who are appalled by the prevalence of anti-Semitism, are too often silenced or forced to “correct” their ways. It is a progressive “totalitarianism” which censors the limits of acceptable thought. In a black and white world, this perspective dictates that Jews and Israel must be placed on the dark side of history.
Unless progressives realize the dangers of such self-censorship, they will facilitate powerful long-tail anti-Semitism. While pretending to defend the cause of equal rights, they instead focus on a single minority that does not deserve solidarity and protection. In doing so, progressives are doing the work of racists for them. They leave the door wide open to an anti-Semitism they claim to abhor.
Brig. General (Res) Sima Vaknin Gill is the former director of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, co-founder of Strategic Impact consultants and founding member of the Anti-Semitism Movement.