America’s Progressive Left: The Assault On Israel

Feb 23rd, 2019 | By | Category: Featured Issues, Politics & Current Events

The new term for the left wing of the Democratic Party is “progressive.”  Presumably, this is less incendiary in our political culture than the term “liberal.”  In many of the constituencies of the progressive left, there is a concerted effort to promote an anti-Israel, even a blatant anti-Semitic position.  Columnist Bret Stephens and reporter Elliot Kaufman offer several examples:

  • In January, a pro-Palestinian demonstration seized the stage of the National LGBTQ Task Force’s “marquee conference, Creating Change” and demanded a boycott of Israel. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” they chanted—“the tediously malign, thinly veiled call to end Israel as a Jewish state.”  They were met with sustained applause by the audience at what is the largest annual conference of LGBTQ activists in the US.  Conference organizers did nothing to stop the disruption or disavow the demonstrators.
  • The Jewish organizers of the 2017 Women’s March were deliberately sidelined, excluded and attacked by some of its founders, at least one of whom, the activist Tamika Mallory, is an impenitent admirer of Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam’s unapologetically anti-Semitic leader. Indeed, Mallory and the other March leader, Carmen Perez, insist that “Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people” and that Jews were “leaders of the slave trade.”  Vanessa Wruble, a key organizer who is Jewish, told reporters that Perez and Mallory berated her, saying, “you people hold all the wealth.”  Wruble was ousted out of leadership in Women’s March Inc. in late 2017.
  • Congress has also witnessed similar anti-Israel, anti-Semitic expressions with the election of Democratic Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. [Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress; her grandmother lives in the West Bank.  Omar fled war-torn Somalia with her family and is the first Somali-American lawmaker in Congress.  House Democrats changed a 181-year-old rule barring head coverings to allow her to wear her hijab.]  Both women support boycotts of Israel.  Both have written tweets with “distinctively anti-Semitic undertones.  Far from being reproached or condemned by their party, as Iowa’s Steve King was by Republicans, they have become Democratic stars.”  [Omar did finally apologize after considerable pressure from the Democratic House leadership.]  These two Representatives and the positions they advocate expose a growing generational divide within the Democratic Party, pitting the older stalwart supporters of Israel against an ascendant wing of young progressives willing to accuse Israel of human rights abuses and advocating the Palestinian cause through the BDS movement.  As Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights argues, “Palestine is increasingly becoming part of the progressive politics of justice for all.”
  • Presidential candidates Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren united behind Bernie Sanders in a failed bid to block the Senate bill that included an anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) measure to prohibit federal contracts with businesses that boycott Israel, ostensibly on free-speech grounds.

Stephens correctly concludes that the vital center of all this is “that the far-left’s hostility is now being mainstreamed by the not-so-far-left.  Antizionism—that is, rejection not just of this or that Israeli policy, but also of the idea of a Jewish state itself—is becoming a respectable position among people who would never support the elimination of any other country in any other circumstance.  And it is churning up a new wave of nakedly anti-Jewish bigotry in its wake, as when three women holding rainbow flags embossed with a Star of David at the 2017 Chicago Dyke march were ejected on grounds that the star was a ‘trigger.’”

A recent book by Deborah Lipstadt, entitled Anti-Semitism: Here and Now, demonstrates the growing international expressions of anti-Semitism.  A few of her observations:

  • Ken Loach, acclaimed British filmmaker and Labour Party activist, in 2016 refused to condemn the Holocaust, arguing that “history is for us all to discuss.”
  • A 2013 survey by German researchers of thousands of anti-Semitic messages received by the Israeli Embassy in Berlin and the Central Council of Jews in Germany, 60% of which “came from educated, middle-class Germans, including lawyers, scholars, doctors, priest, professors and university and secondary school students.”
  • In 2015 at the City University of New York, Students for Justice in Palestine blamed tuition increases on “the Zionist administration [that] invests in Israeli companies.”
  • Anti-globalist tirades by the “Daily Stormer” are filled with demagogic attacks on immigrants, which take direct aim at “international banks” that “plot the destruction of US sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers.” Lipstadt correctly contends that such tirades play “on traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes of the international Jew.”
  • In a review of Lipstadt’s book, Stephens cites “another guise is anti-Zionism, which pretends that one can malign Israel as a uniquely diabolical and illegitimate state, guilty of Nazi-like atrocities, and still be acquitted of anti-Semitism. The leading Western voice for this view is the British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has repeatedly joined hands with virulent anti-Semites who share his pro-Palestinian, anticapitalistic views—all the while insisting that he opposes racism.”

There is a basic reality that many progressives refuse to acknowledge:  “Israel is now the home of nearly nine million citizens, with an identity that is as distinctively and proudly Israeli as the Dutch are Dutch or the Danes Danish.  Anti-Zionism proposes nothing less than the elimination of that identity and political dispossession of those who cherish it, with no real thought of what would likely happen to the dispossessed.  Do progressives expect the rights of Jews to be protected should Hamas someday assume leadership of a reconstituted ‘Palestine’?  To argue, as many progressives do, that Jews are ‘colonizers’ in Israel is anti-Semitic because it advances the lie that there is no ancestral or historic Jewish tie to the land.  To claim that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, when manifestly it is not, is anti-Semitic because it is an attempt to Nazify the Jewish state.  To insist that the only state in the world that has forfeited the right to exist just happens to be the Jewish state is anti-Semitic, too: Are Israel’s purported crimes worse than those of say, Zimbabwe or China, whose rights to exist are never called into question?”

The prejudice, bigotry and thoroughgoing inconsistency of the progressive left are staggering.  Their language; the subtle attempt to distinguish between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism; and the support of the BDS movement in the name of human rights, all bear a not-so-subtle resemblance to past anti-Semitic movements in Nazi Germany, czarist Russia and the current alt-right in Europe and America.  A Christian seriously committed to the authority of Scripture cannot and must not support any of these movements.   The Bible makes it clear that God has made an unconditional, unilateral covenant with the Jewish people (see Genesis 12:1-7, etc.).  Part of that covenant is the promise God made in Genesis 12:3:  “I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” [ESV].  One of the reasons God has so richly blessed America is this nation has been a haven for Jewish people fleeing the pogroms and horrors of European and Middle Eastern anti-Semitism.  Furthermore, America has supported the re-gathering of the Jewish people to their homeland in fulfillment of Ezekiel 36-37.  If we follow the line of the progressive left, the US will see God turn His back more forcefully against this nation.  From my perspective, the progressive left is leading America toward disaster.  This must be categorically and uncompromisingly rejected and condemned.

See Bret Stephens in the New York Times (10 February 2019) and his review of Lipstadt’s book in the New York Times Book Review (3 February 2019); Elliot Kaufman in the Wall Street Journal (22 January 2019); and Sheryl Gay Stolberg in the New York Times (2 February 2019).

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