The past week has seen events which were horrific, outrageous, perplexing and more. And besides the victims in Barcelona, there seem to be no “good guys” anywhere.
I have written countless times on this blog about the vicious anti-Semitism sometimes disguised (and sometimes not) as “merely” anti-Zionism. I have paid rare attention to the antisemitism from the Right for the simple reason that it is much less common and I think in the long run less of a threat that the Far Left.
For this reason the events in Charlottesville were so shocking. As someone who watches the Left’s antisemitism almost obsessively, I was shaken by the vicious racism and antisemitism that was on display.
The Neo-Nazis (or should we say, just plain old Nazis) marching with their Swastika flags, uniforms, weapons and hateful slogans were truly vile. However right (i.e. correct) they think their cause is, however much they feel they need to defend American or “white” culture, there is no excuse whatsoever for parading around in Nazi uniforms, threatening synagogues and churches, and generally rousing up the worst excesses of white supremacy that the US has seen in a long while.
Here is the Atlantic report about the obsessive antisemitism on display at the “Unite the Right” protest:
The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville was ostensibly about protecting a statue of Robert E. Lee. It was about asserting the legitimacy of “white culture” and white supremacy, and defending the legacy of the Confederacy.
So why did the demonstrators chant anti-Semitic lines like “Jews will not replace us”?
The demonstration was suffused with anti-black racism, but also with anti-Semitism. Marchers displayed swastikas on banners and shouted slogans like “blood and soil,” a phrase drawn from Nazi ideology. “This city is run by Jewish communists and criminal niggers,” one demonstrator told Vice News’ Elspeth Reeve during their march. As Jews prayed at a local synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, men dressed in fatigues carrying semi-automatic rifles stood across the street, according to the temple’s president. Nazi websites posted a call to burn their building. As a precautionary measure, congregants had removed their Torah scrolls and exited through the back of the building when they were done praying.
“This is an agenda about celebrating the enslavement of Africans and their descendants, and celebrating those that then fought to preserve that terrible machine of white supremacy and human enslavement,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL. “And yet, somehow, they’re all wearing shirts that talk about Adolf Hitler.”
For these demonstrators, though, the connection between African Americans and Jews is clear. In the minds of white supremacists like David Duke, there is a straight line from anti-blackness to anti-Judaism. That logic is powerful and important. The durability of anti-Semitic tropes, and the ease with which they slide into all displays of bigotry, is a chilling reminder that the hatreds of our time rhyme with history and are easily channeled through timeless anti-Semitic canards.
The white supremacist demonstration was countered by an “Antifa” (short for anti-fascist) protest, and the two groups quickly ended up attacking each other. It didn’t take long for a white supremacist to drive a car into the crowd of leftists, where he killed Heather Heyer, one of the leftist protestors. This man, a terrorist by any measure, should be prosecuted and judged exactly as any other Jihadist. He is not just a criminal. This hate crime has the potential to ignite a civil war and the punishment must be seen to fit the crime.
Insult was added to injury by a lame speech by President Trump who did not condemn the violence on the Right strongly enough. Rather, he condemned the violence “on both sides”, much to the anger of the Left.
For Israel and the Jews, our problems were compounded by the leader of the Alt Right declaring on Israeli TV (yes! He was given a platform on Israeli television!) that he is a White Zionist (!) because he too wants to preserve white culture, just like the Zionists want to preserve Jewish culture.
Israellycool gave Spencer very short shrift as he launched a blistering attack on Spencer’s hypocrisy:
Sure, there are those who think you have a point – even some fellow Jews. But I hate to break it to you – they don’t understand what Zionism – or even Judaism – is truly about.
As someone who does, allow me to educate you.
Zionism is nothing more than the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. You see, since we were exiled thousands of years ago, we never gave up hope of returning. This is expressed in our Jewish prayers and religious observance.
Zionism is not about racial superiority or making life hell for others – despite the claims of your fellow antisemites and ignoramuses (including some of my fellow Jews). It is about our history, our religion, our beliefs. We are taught not to “oppress a stranger” – we are to live in peace with our fellow non-Jewish citizens. Except those who try to kill us – the Torah also gives us the mandate to defend ourselves. After all, the 10 Commandments say “Do Not Murder”, not “Do Not Kill” – an acknowledgement of killing in self-defense.
Sure, your ilk love quoting the fact we believe we are the Chosen People. But this is nothing to do with feelings of superiority over other peoples. It is about spreading the light of morality throughout the world. It is actually a heavy burden, for which we have paid a huge price over the centuries. Given the idea of one G-d and judicial systems is prevalent across the world, I’d say we have achieved this to a large degree. Of course, given the current state of the world – which includes people like you spreading your filth – we still have so much work to do.
Our non-Jewish citizens in Israel have equal rights. Sure, given the issue that many of them also want us destroyed, it does complicate things. But we continue to seek peace, and do the best we can. Anyone but the Jew hater and intellectually dishonest can see this.
You, on the other hand, have contempt for those you do not define as White. You want the US exclusively for White people. This is racism, plain and simple. Zionism is nothing like this – it is the opposite – but I am sure you are pleased your statement connecting the two is being used against us.
Yair Rosenberg at the Tablet also addresses Richard Spencer’s malicious nonsense:
“As an Israeli citizen,” Spencer told his Israeli interviewer, “someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me who has analogous feelings about whites. I mean, you could say that I am a white Zionist in the sense that I care about my people. I want us to have a secure homeland that’s for us and ourselves just like you want a secure homeland in Israel.”
It’s an analogy with superficial plausibility. It’s also a malicious lie, and a deliberate one.
… Essentially, the alt-right maliciously appropriates the deeply held values of liberals and minorities in order to attack them. This is not because the alt-right shares those values, but because it wants to troll those who do. Thus, it wrenches causes like affirmative action, black pride, and Zionism from their historical and moral context—as defenses of minorities against long-standing majority oppression—and inverts them to serve white supremacist aims against minorities. In this manner, the return of Jews to their indigenous homeland is recast by white nationalists, who are not indigenous to America, to justify kicking Jews and other minorities out of the country.
Now, maliciously lying about Jews and their state is to be expected from Jew haters. Less explicable, however, are those far-left critics of Israel who uncritically accept and amplify these alt-right claims equating Zionism with white nationalism. Take, for example, anti-Zionist Omri Boehm in the New York Times (“an argument that does not embrace a double standard [on Zionism and white nationalism] is hard to come by”) and Jewish Voice for Peace’s Naomi Dann in The Forward (“what’s so chilling about Spencer’s comparison of white supremacy to Israel [is] not its anti-Semitism but the kernel of truth at its core”). These self-styled progressives, who otherwise rightly dismiss and deride everything Richard Spencer has to say, suddenly hold him up as a trustworthy authority when it comes to the Jewish state and its ideological underpinnings. They bend over backward to cast his demonstrably disingenuous fulminations about Israel as an exception to his hate, rather than an obvious example of it.
Such specious conduct raises the question: If you consider everything an anti-Semitic far-right leader says to be vile and hateful, yet nonetheless present him as an honest expositor on the home of half the world’s Jews for your own political purposes, are your moral scruples any less corrupted than his? When you find yourself suggesting that the Nazis are right about the Jews, perhaps it’s time to rethink your life choices.
Or as Honest Reporting put it:
“The American media, and the American political system, and the American Federal Reserve, is dominated by a tiny minority: the Jewish Zionist cause.”
– David Duke, at a far-right rally in Charlottesville.
Whether it comes from the far-right, or the far-left.
Whether it’s a neo-Nazi car ramming in Charlottesville, or a Palestinian car ramming in Jerusalem.
Whether the hate is targeted at diaspora Jews or Israeli Jews, against Jewish people or the Jewish state:
Terror is terror, and anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism. Both must be exposed and fought – without double standards.
It is not ok only to protest against neo-Nazis and swastikas on the one hand, while advocating for the destruction of the Jewish state on the other – that’s still anti-Semitism. Likewise condemning terror attacks around the world except for Palestinian terror against Israelis, and instead blaming Israeli victims of it, as though their lives don’t matter – that’s also anti-Semitism.
And it has to stop, all of it.
The danger of the Alt Right, or White Supremacists “co-opting” Zionism for their own malign ends, can be seen in a Guardian article written by Giles Fraser which attacks Zionism for having admirers like Spencer – as if any movement or individual can prevent someone from admiring them. Fraser (who has a record of anti-Israel articles), deliberately misreads Spencer’s “admiration” as Yair Rosenberg warned. Read UK Media Watch’s report which describes how Fraser compares white supremacism with Zionism:
But with all this condemnation of the American Alt Right and their White Supremacist cohorts, let us not be swept into thinking that the Antifa demonstrators were a bunch of saints. Far from it. The JTA gives us an overview of who or what Antifa are:
Like the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter, antifa has no institutional structure or unified plan of action. …
Antifa tends to align with the left — and some members are anti-Zionists.
Because antifa is so loosely constructed, it has no formal ideological agenda beyond opposing fascism. But the movement has roots in left-wing movements like socialism or anarchism. Bray said that members may be part of other left-wing activist groups, like the Occupy movement, and subscribe to ideas popular in progressive circles.
The Torch Network, a group of antifa chapters, includes in its “points of unity” opposition to “all forms of oppression and exploitation.” That includes fighting “against racism, sexism, nativism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination against the disabled, the oldest, the youngest, and the most oppressed people.” The group is also pro-choice. Unlike the Movement for Black Lives platform, it does not single out Israel or Zionism.
Bray said that while anti-Zionism is not a focus of antifa, many members tend to be anti-Zionist as part of their far-left activism. Anti-Racist Action groups, he said, had taken part in anti-Zionist events in the past. […]
… but has been criticized for its violent tactics.
… “They’re troubling tactically because conservatives use antifa’s violence to justify — or at least distract from — the violence of white supremacists, as Trump did in his press conference,” the liberal Jewish essayist Peter Beinart wrote Wednesday in The Atlantic. “They’re troubling strategically because they allow white supremacists to depict themselves as victims being denied the right to freely assemble. And they’re troubling morally because antifa activists really do infringe upon that right.”
The JTA is too generous in its description of Antifa. In their partnership with the far left, Black Lives Matter, the Occupy movement and others, they are at the very least enabling if not actively participating in vicious anti-Israel and therefore antisemitic activity. Thus we see the “no-platforming” of Israeli or Zionist speakers on campus, the banning of Jewish participants at the Dyke March, the ejection of Zionist feminist marchers at the Slut Walk last week, and many more.
This is what is commonly known as intersectionality – a code word for antisemitism according to Adv. Alan Dershowitz.
Antifa cannot wrap themselves up in the flag of tolerance and diversity if they cannot tolerate Jews or Zionists, and consider diversity to stop at the door of the Jewish state.
Prof. William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection describes how anti-Israel pro-BDS professors are organizing the Antifa campus network:
In an extremely dangerous development, anti-Israel pro-BDS faculty are organizing a nationwide campus Antifa network.
… Palumbo-Liu and Mullen, the organizers of the campus Antifa network, are two of the most aggressive anti-Israel pro-BDS faculty members in the country. They each have long histories of demonizing Israel and supporting the academic boycott of Israel.
This fits a pattern of anti-Israel activists co-opting and hijacking other movements, something we explored in If you are surprised #BlackLivesMatter joined war on Israel, you haven’t been paying attention.
Under the leadership of anti-Israel, pro-BDS faculty, expect the campus Antifa network to be re-directed against Israel, Israelis and Jews. We’ve seen this in Chicago, where Jewish symbols were banned at an LGBT event, and Jewish LGBT groups have been attacked.
Melanie Phillips helps us understand this whole American madness, a symptom of this totalitarianism which is affecting the entire West. She starts – astonishingly – by paying tribute to the Atlantic (not always known for its pro-Israel stance) and Peter Beinart (a very harsh critic of Israel and right-wing Zionism):
Credit to the left-leaning Atlantic magazine for running a piece by Peter Beinart, who has actually looked at what is happening in American society and reached an uncomfortable conclusion which would be hard to find elsewhere in the media – and which is all-too pertinent in the wake of Charlottesville.
For Beinart warns that the left is lurching into totalitarianism and violence. “Antifa” purport to be anti-fascist. But they define as fascist anyone they disagree with including mainstream conservatives. Hence their violent suppression of commentators and scholars such as the conservative columnist Ann Coulter, the Breitbart controversialist Milo Yiannopoulos and the political scientist Charles Murray.
What Antifa most certainly do not do is defend democracy, freedom and liberal values. As Beinart observes:
“Since antifa is heavily composed of anarchists, its activists place little faith in the state, which they consider complicit in fascism and racism. They prefer direct action: They pressure venues to deny white supremacists space to meet. They pressure employers to fire them and landlords to evict them. And when people they deem racists and fascists manage to assemble, antifa’s partisans try to break up their gatherings, including by force.”
If this was just a bunch of anarchists, the problem wouldn’t be so bad. What takes this onto a different level altogether is the fact that the mainstream left does not disavow Antifa but tolerates, sanitises and condones it.
“The violence is not directed only at avowed racists like Spencer: In June of last year, demonstrators – at least some of whom were associated with antifa – punched and threw eggs at people exiting a Trump rally in San Jose, California. An article in It’s Going Down celebrated the ‘righteous beatings.’”
As I wrote in The Times (£) yesterday, this has produced an unholy alliance between the left and the far right:
“A white supremacist called Richard Spencer invented the blanket term ‘alt-right’ to associate his ilk with conservatives seeking merely to defend American identity and core values. Through this tactic, Spencer intended to boost the far right and simultaneously smear and thus destroy regular conservatives.
“The left has seized upon this smear with unbridled joy, routinely using the ‘alt-right’ term to try to destroy the national identity agenda by bracketing it with white supremacism. The result is a powerful boost for the far right. From deserved obscurity, they suddenly find the left are transmitting their every utterance to the world. The phrase “useful idiots” comes inescapably to mind.”
With this chaos swirling around the West’s greatest bastion of democracy one can be forgiven for feeling that we’re going to hell in a handbasket.
As to the extremists on all sides, “a pox on all their houses!” I say.