Are We Ever Going to Learn?
Back in 2013, Hen Mazzig, after completing a five year stint in the IDF, went on a speaking tour of the United States. Predictably, he was verbally attacked by Israel haters. As Mazzig then wrote:
When I served as a soldier in the West Bank, I got used to having ugly things said to me, but nothing prepared me for the misinformation, demonization of Israel, and the gut-wrenching, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hostility expressed by many students, professors, church members, and even some high school students right here in the Pacific Northwest.
I was further shocked by how unaware the organized Jewish community is and how little they are actually doing to counter this rising anti-Semitism, which motivated me to write this article.
This new form of bigotry against Israel has been called the “new anti-Semitism,” with “Israel” replacing “Jew” in traditional anti-Semitic imagery and canards, singling out and discriminating against the Jewish state, and denying the Jewish people alone the right to self-determination.
Notice he mentions that the organized Jewish community was unaware and doing little to counter the rising anti-Semitism. I think the organized Jewish community has been aware of the rising anti-Semitism for a long time, but had depended on wishful thinking, self-deception, and futile outreach to ignore the problem.
Here we are, five years later, and the organized Jewish community is still trying to ignore the problem. Mazzig was attacked by self-described anti-Zionists, people who will denounce anti-Semitism in the same breath in which they denounce Israel. Sadly, some of them are Jews. And they are lying out of both sides of their mouths. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
Today, Israel-hatred, along with Jew-hatred on the Left has grown. It's spread from the fringes to infect mainstream left-wing, progressive thinking. Jews who see themselves as proud progressives, when not actively working for Democratic candidates with troubling views on Jews, have helped this infection spread due to their inaction.
How bad has the Democratic party gotten?
A Democratic candidate for the California State Assembly said Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians and offered her support for anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Maria Estrada, who is running in a district representing suburban Los Angeles, finished second in the June 5 primary with 28 percent to qualify for the November election. She will be vying for the seat against the incumbent, fellow Democrat Anthony Rendon, who also serves as the Assembly speaker.
In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center noted that Estrada posted last year on Facebook: “Democrats turn a blind eye to the genocide against Palestinians and justify it by bringing up the Holocaust. As if what happened 70 years ago justifies it. Anyone who believes they are one of ‘God’s chosen people’ automatically feels superior and justified in all they do. Religious fanaticism is used to justify apartheid and crimes against Palestinians and no one should be okay with it. #FreePalestine”
On Tuesday, Estrada posted a screenshot of a dictionary definition of the term genocide and wrote: “Because some people are unsure of the meaning of the term genocide because the number of people being murdered isn’t enough for them. #FreePalestine.”
She added in a comment: “The argument from Zionists is that the number of Palestinians has grown. Apparently they aren’t killing enough Palestinians for them to consider it a genocide.”
Is Estrada an anti-Semite? Not in her mind.
In a statement to the Forward regarding her social media posts, Estrada said: “To be clear, I am anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitic. Listening to Farrakhan doesn’t equate to being anti-Semitic. There is no doubt he is wrong on many issues, including Judaism. Listen to him speak on the American media, imperialism and several other issues.”
To be fair, there has been some concern by Jewish Democrats in California. But is that enough? Especially when high-profile Jewish Democrats like Bernie Sanders have come down solidly against Israel?
Meanwhile, in other parts of the country:
If so, that future appears to include the kind of sharp criticism of Israel once considered taboo in both major parties.
Ocasio-Cortez ran on a platform of Medicare for all, fully funded public schools and a universal jobs guarantee. But she has also been critical of Israel, calling its military’s killing of Palestinian protesters in May a “massacre.”
The Democratic Socialists of America, of which Ocasio-Cortez is a member, supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Ocasio-Cortez has remained silent on the issue.
In Minnesota, Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar calls herself an “intersectional feminist” and Israel an apartheid regime. In Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, Democratic nominee Leslie Cockburn is the co-author, along with her husband, of “Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship,” a scathing 1991 attack on the Jewish state.
So, what are Jewish Democrats going to do? Will they continue to separate themselves from the world's only Jewish nation in hopes that if they appease their colleagues they won't be marginalized because they're Jews?
Or, will they come together, stand strong, and demand that their party not be a place for Jew-hatred?
Linden said that the Jewish community in Charlottesville is a progressive one, and many attendees seemed satisfied with her answers, particularly when she pointed out that her views on Israel align with J Street, the liberal pro-Israel organization.
Even before her nomination and the Republican attacks began, Linden took part in a smaller meeting with Cockburn, where she discussed her book.
“I’ve never seen her show that kind of passion,” Linden said. “I’ve been around a lot of politicians and I think I know when someone’s being authentic. I came away thoroughly satisfied with her response. I don’t have any worries at all and I hope to hell this doesn’t become an issue.”
J Street? That doesn't give us much hope for progressive Jews.
In fact, it's only going to get worse.