In the wake of the overwhelming victory by Conservatives in the United Kingdom’s elections, American progressives need to be careful not to fall into the plight of the British Labour party. Among worthy causes, antisemitism festered in the party, initially cloaked under the guise of being “critical of Israel” (often with inaccurate information or vague charges of what Israel is doing wrong or realistically could do differently) but eventually embracing beliefs fervently held yet so divorced from facts as to be rivaled only by the anti-vaxxer movement.
Among these beliefs:
- “Israel is an apartheid state.” (Arabs in Israel are full citizens, or in Palestinian Territories governed by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas — where a future Palestinian state, by the way, will never allow Jews to live, let alone have rights.)
- “Jews are committing genocide.” (The Palestinian population is growing exponentially, literally the opposite of genocide.)
- “The Jewish state should be boycotted due to the occupation.” (Israel unilaterally ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005 only to be met with unending aggression, most notably rocket attacks indiscriminately fired at civilians on a constant basis, and therefore needs security guarantees from a Palestinian government as part of a peace agreement to end the West Bank occupation, where suicide bombings are the more preferred terror tactic.)
- “Israel’s settlements are an illegal confiscation of land.” (The land is indigenous to Israel, lost by Arabs as territorial concessions in the 1967 war that attempted to destroy Israel, and in any event settlements are housing blocs that are expected to be swapped as part of adjusting final status borders in any peace agreement.)
The last stand is to embrace all of these erroneous beliefs but to still claim, in some form, to “allow” the State of Israel to merely exist, but in a timid and vulnerable state that would cause its demise (ex: ending U.S. aid to Israel, which among other things funds Iron Dome, a defense shield that intercepts Hamas rockets in the sky otherwise landing on an Israeli school or home).
Eventually, even that pillar falls and, among hard core leftists and their enablers, Israel does not even have so much as the right to exist. “Anti-Zionism is not Antisemitism” and Jews should go back to roaming from place to place, with constantly undulating safety and security, just 80 years after Germany — the place they once felt most safe and welcomed — attempted to exterminate them.
The harm to the welfare of world Jewry by undoing the one self-determined safe haven for Jews on earth might be motivated by naivete or well-meaning progressive virtue signaling as much or if not more than intentional malice, but antisemitism works in many forms and the outcome (placing Jews in a state of peril) is the same.
The United States, on a brief holiday from history (until recently), is often cited as a new place of refuge for Jews, ignoring political realities (six million Israelis whose families know no other place as home, half of whom are not Ashkenazim but with heritage in neighboring Arab lands they were kicked out of, and a recent spike in US antisemitism again proving the need for Jewish self-determination).
Israel is not a perfect actor. But look at how other countries are criticized for various social problems, police actions, and unrest with bordering countries, and no other country has its very right to exist put in question.
Jewish UK Labour activists and their allies broke with their own party, and convinced others to do so, in the Dec. 12, 2019 election. Progressive policies are all well and good, but if Jews’ safety and security is put in the crosshairs, people will break rank.
The Democratic Party in the United States is on this same faux-intellectual glide path at the moment. It needs to wake up and stamp out cloaked antisemitism before there is a similar break by people who otherwise want to remain in the party.
Matthew Taub is a reader who lives in Milwaukee.