Jew-hating has become too normal in America, and liberal Jewry often keeps mum about it. Left-of-center Jews speak out about white nationalists, but where are they on anti-Semitism when it arises from their own side?
Last week, Airbnb announced its decision to remove rental listings in the West Bank. But the apartment-sharing service didn’t touch listings in other disputed territories, like Russian-annexed Ukraine and Turkish-occupied North Cyprus. You would think liberal Jewish outfits would race to call out what lies behind this hypocrisy: anti-Semitism.
You’d think wrong. Anti-Defamation League boss Jonathan Greenblatt, for example, issued a tepid statement saying he was “dismayed” by the move. But he stopped short of calling out the blatant antiSemitism.
This fits a pattern with the former Obama administration official. As Seth Mandel wrote in Commentary recently, Greenblatt “sees right-wing bigotry as a crucial element of conservative ideology,” while viewing the left-wing varieties as “isolated anomalies.”
Under his leadership, the ADL opposed, on the flimsiest grounds, Mike Pompeo’s nomination as secretary of state. The ADL also joined the left’s crusade against Brett Kavanaugh, and it has repeatedly clashed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But the Greenblatt ADL has been far more reluctant to condemn Democratic firebrand Keith Ellison’s long record of Israel-bashing. Indeed, Greenblatt embraced Ellison in 2016, when the Minnesota congressman ran for deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Greenblatt only reversed course when “a tape surfaced of Ellison accusing Israel of controlling American foreign policy,” as Mandel noted.
But other liberal Jews go even further, by defending the haters.
Consider Peter Beinart, the one-time New Republic editor. “No, BDS Is Not Anti-Semitic, And Neither Is Ilhan Omar” was the headline for a piece he wrote in the Jewish Daily Forward recently.
BDS, of course, is short for boycott, divest, sanction—a movement that singles out the Jewish state for such punishment. This, despite the horrors that are routine around the world, from China to Venezuela.
Beinart writes that the “BDS movement doesn’t officially oppose the existence of a Jewish state, but some of its most prominent advocates do.” So leaders of the movement want to destroy Israel, but the movement isn’t tainted by them? Where else would this be an acceptable line of argument? If white nationalists marched for gay rights, which liberal would disregard their outsize hate and focus on the one point of agreement? It’s laughable.
As for Ilhan Omar, she’s the newly elected Minnesota congresswoman who in January will take Ellison’s seat in the House of Representatives. In 2012, she tweeted: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
The notion that Jews have the world under a spell is as classic an anti-Semitic trope as one can find, yet somehow Omar finds a Jewish defender in a Jewish publication.
Then there’s Linda Sarsour. Last week the Women’s March leader called out “folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy.” This was another old Jew-hating trope: namely, that Jews secretly harbor dual loyalty to Israel. And this is just the latest in a long litany of anti-Semitic comments she’s made.
What’s even more odious is that the Sarsours of the country are called on to help heal the hatred they sow. Last year, Sarsour sat on a panel at the New School about fighting anti-Semitism. And just last week Al Sharpton, who has a history of saying heinous things about Jews in the 1990s, was on MSNBC to discuss — you guessed it — fighting anti-Semitism.
It’s like a bad joke. The guy who has referred to Jews as “interlopers” and “diamond merchants” is now the one claiming to fight Jew-hatred. Has he ever apologized? Jews forgive public figures like Ellison, Omar, Sarsour and Sharpton. But they would never encourage other targeted groups to do the same.
Fighting the normalization of anti-Semitism has to begin with Jews themselves speaking out. Now would be a good time to start.