In the spring of 2000, I was friendly with a nice man, the father of my son’s
friend. He was apolitical really, but his father had been a very high official
of the Israeli Zionist-Marxist party (MAPAM). He had regularly voted for MAPAM
or the Communist Party. By coincidence, we once ended up sitting next to each
other on a flight.
I thought it would be interesting to discuss politics
with him. After all, the Camp David meeting had failed (Yasser Arafat had
refused the two-state solution and Israeli intelligence had recordings
demonstrating that he would never accept), and the violent second intifada was
launched by Arafat with a Fatah-Hamas alliance of terrorism.
surprise this soft-spoken real estate agent started screaming: “Only [Ariel]
Sharon! Only Sharon can save the country!” That year I heard that a lot.
Sometimes, as the British philosopher Samuel Johnson said, “When a man knows he
is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” That’s
the difference with direct engagement with an issue.
A great number of
Middle Eastern Arabs and Muslims (perhaps 85 percent) who think about this issue
at all want to destroy Israel – far fewer Germans wanted to kill the Jews even
in 1932, and that is an undeniable fact.
The second fact is that American
public opinion, serious Christians, and absolutely shocked congressional
Democrats (and Republicans) who don’t feel comfortable with President Barack
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s policy are the main supporters of
Israel. It will be interesting to see if and when the Democrats have to choose
between Israel and real dangers to Israel.
The third factor was that such
a large number of pro- Obama and radical or even some anti-Israel activists are
Jews – an incredible proportion in some cases, to be honest.
surprising but also not really so surprising. It must be confronted; and it need
not be answered by more words but by political movements and by
Why are Jews so far to the Left in general? Historically, it is
no mystery. Many Jews in the 19th century were modernists, especially in the
West, supporters of change and development, because, after all, traditional
society did not really have a place for them. Second of all, the Democratic
Party made a serious effort to get immigrant and other urban ethnic
Third, the New Deal was very good for Jews and was strongly
supported by them; many government agencies were first staffed by Jews at that
time. Also many academics, journalists and other service professions and trade
unions were working government-created jobs.
Fourth, of course, was the
fight against fascism led by the Democratic Party in that era. You would think
that the Democratic view is out of date, but of course it is not, for example,
because of cultural trends. It is just unfashionable to be Republican, whereas
Liberal Democratic politics are associated with all that is smart, good and
It is equally important to keep in mind that Jews are very
sensitive to racial and religious discrimination. So why is anti-Semitism that
is connected to popular liberal politics so easily overlooked, exploited by the
modern Left into the notion that a minority can do no wrong? Let’s look at
Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Despite the fact that Reverend Wright was obviously
involved in potent anti-Semitism, saying in a 2011 speech in Baltimore, “The
state of Israel is an illegal, genocidal... place,” then continuing to state
that “to equate Judaism with the state of Israel is to equate Christianity with
[rapper] Flavor Flav.”These comments, however, were forgiven because of his
connection to Obama’s campaign. Crime, never punishment.
Today, there is
a very bizarre division among Jews in the United States. There is a serious lack
of Jewish causes among leftist Zionists. Namely, activists are either pro-Israel
and traditional liberals or moderates, or they are leftists that belong more to
the extreme left wing – which is unfortunately disproportionately common. I
should think the historical far-left communist experience should be sufficient
to scare Jews (remember the oppression of Soviet Jewry).
The fact is that
the academics, journalists and public advocates who are involved are more often
than not Jewish.
I actually fear reading the bylines and quotes in
publications, because I know that they are so often attached to “progressivism.”
Yet why is this? Some causes may be obvious. Both fascists and extreme
nationalists have of course been hostile to Jews, even for example as far back
as the Dreyfus affair. Yet you would think that these Jews were knowledgeable
about history. Naturally, Jews are historically sympathetic toward minorities
and more sensitive toward racism. And yet why do some Jews automatically think
that the state is their friend? The state has often been helpful but has also
often been the enemy.
Still, many Jews tended to be directed to
professions and high-level academic achievement, which tends to focus on
Actually there is no question that there is
still anti-Semitic bias in the US, most often seen among the Left, with its lack
of sympathy for Jewish causes and its dishonesty in dealing with Israel policy,
often with anti-Israel bias. Israel is by far the country that others are the
most unfairly biased toward – higher than any bias against Muslims. Yet this is
not recognized by Jews, because it makes radicals look better. And, of course,
if this is a real bias, then the fact that some Muslims want genocide is not
taken seriously, especially in university classes.
Let’s look at the
facts. FBI statistics report that in 2012, 62.4% of hate crimes in the United
States were against Jews, who make up about 2%-3% percent of the US
Close to two-thirds of the 1,340 religious hate crimes were
thus anti-Jewish. In other words, a Jew is 40 times more likely to be persecuted
for his religion than any other group in the US.
Muslims were the second
most targeted group victimized on a religious basis, with 11.6% of hate crimes
being anti-Islamic. Although the statistics available on Islam are not detailed,
Muslims make up roughly 1% of the population (the 2010 Pew Report estimated the
Muslim population in the United States at 2.9 million, and the numbers have
In other words, Jews–who are not easily identified except
for the 10 percent of which are Orthodox– are about 40 times more likely to be
victims. Of course only claims that are reported to the FBI are published.
Incidentally, the intermarriage rate of Jews is also now over 70%.
question then is: Is anybody going to wake up to this or not? Are Jews going to
realize that the two-state solution is only desirable if it really brings full
peace? If so, the Jewish Democratic vote would change drastically.
peace were achieved, would Middle Eastern Arabs no longer want to try to wipe
out Jews and Israel? But have no doubt that many public officials, journalists
and especially academics will as a priority or out of ignorance place Jews and
Israelis in jeopardy.
The author is director of the Global Research in
International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC)
Herzliya and is editor of The Middle East Review of International Affairs
(MERIA) journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition),
The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East
(Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave- Macmillan).