An Open Letter on Israel, Palestine, and Left-Wing Antisemitism

Anonymous, Staff Writer

The views expressed in this opinion are the views of the writer and do not represent that of the Woodside Paw Print.

Dear fellow progressives,

Though the crisis is over, the recent violence in the Middle East has revealed a significant undercurrent of left-wing antisemitism among us American progressives, with antisemitism now entering the progressive Overton Window under the guise of militant pro-Palestine. I plead that we remain strict in our active avoidance of antisemitic tropes, both in their overt and covert forms.

Unlike its right-wing counterpart, left-wing antisemitism seems to be motivated less by malice than by misunderstanding, oversimplification, and laziness. Viewing themselves as champions of the downtrodden, progressives see the clear military advantage of Israel and thus conclude that Israel is a clear imperialist oppressor of an oppressed Palestinian diaspora. This letter does not seek to take a stance on this issue, only to point out that debates over oppressor-oppressed relationships in the American left are slipping into dangerous territory.

To understand why a growing fringe in the left is now embracing antisemitism, even among Jews, we must also examine the general rhetoric of this fringe. To these groups, especially in online forums, Israel represents just another Western imperialist nation, using the Holocaust as an excuse to commit atrocities in Palestine. From here, they conclude that Jews are using their tragic past to justify oppression.

By blending the line between Jews and the Israeli government, the crimes of the Israeli government are now associated with the Jewish people. And so it is no surprise that there has been a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents in America (ADL), including over 17,000 tweets of “Hitler was right,”  and swastikas scratched into a Holocaust museum, nor is it a surprise when Jews are now being beaten in the streets of New York in broad daylight.

Violence and hatred against Jews have been acceptable on the extreme right-wing in America for years- most clearly seen at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017. But this new form of violence and hatred is coming from the left-wing, under the guise of anti-zionism, anti-imperialism, and anti-capitalism. But whether the motivations are different, the result is the same: the Jewish community is in peril.

In many political debates throughout history, Jews and the Jewish people have always been an easy target, an easy explanation for more complicated issues. Understanding this issue is more difficult. It is much easier to embrace a simplified narrative of Jewish hypocrisy without spending the effort of seeking a nuanced understanding.

When American progressives ignore the complexities of this mess and make the easy choice to choose a side unequivocally, they often obtain a less genuine understanding of the real issues. And then, when choosing a side turns into a discussion lacking in nuance and prevalent in the same anti-Semitic diction we’ve heard for 2000 years, then it becomes unacceptable.

This shows that while the left-wing may be right, at least ideologically, in its anti-imperialist view of the world, it undermines its credibility when it chooses to participate in anti-Semitism, creating a false enemy that distracts from the real enemy of power and cruelty. If progressivism in America is ever going to work, then we must choose a universal understanding of human issues and seek real solutions to real problems rather than distract ourselves with divisive and oversimplified antisemitic rhetoric.

Sincerely,

A concerned Progressive Jew, finding himself more and more ideologically isolated.

Written with the consultation and input of both Jewish and Middle Eastern Woodside students.