Battling antisemitism with 21st century technology.
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Last week I received a report that anti-Israel propaganda was being handed out at an IRT Subway stop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Let it be clear from the outset – in today’s world, “anti-Israel” is, always and without exception, a synonym for “antisemitic.” Those who feel moved to espouse this particular form of racism attempt to couch their hatred by cloaking it in anti-Israel rhetoric. They claim that Israel is the oppressor of Palestinians. For most of these antisemites, the best solution to the issue is for Israel to disappear.
The Upper West Side is a vibrant, eclectic, New York community. It is also a social anomaly. It is a bastion of Jewish liberalism. It is also a huge center of support for Israel even among liberal Jewish members of the community. The organized liberal Jewish community is deeply, severely, cuttingly, critical of Israel – but they are still supportive of Israel’s right to exist. I call them “Haaretz Jews.” They get their information and assume stances from the liberal Israel daily newspaper Haaretz. Often, in discussions, they will assert that their point of view is not anti-Israel, in fact cannot possibly be anti-Israel, because they are admittedly mimicking Haaretz.
Last week’s appearance at the IRT Subway stop was not the first time an anti-Israel group used the Upper West Side as a forum to spread their lies about Israel. What defines it as a watershed event, however, it that these particular disseminators of hatred and vitriolic disinformation took up their position in one of the most popular and preferred venue of politicians.
This space, this subway station, is visited by more politicians than any other single place in all of New York City. There’s a reason for that. It’s because of the people who move in and out of those subway turnstiles – especially the Jews who use those turnstiles. This locale has the distinction of having the highest voter turnout numbers of any polling station in the entire city of New York. They are active, political, citizens who even vote in local primaries.
The anti-Israel propagandists did not get the warmest welcome, but neither were they ousted. The sad truth is that they are becoming more and more at home in Jewish areas and centers. Their demonstration was peaceful and they had the right to speak their minds and disseminate their material – even if it is lies.
The most concerning issue is that these haters of Israel have an advantage in today’s market of ideas – and that is because Jews in general and Israel in particular are perceived as oppressors.
In concrete terms, it is hard to imagine how Jews and Israel can be seen as oppressors. The Jew is the greatest victim in all of history. The word “scapegoat” comes from the Bible and was brought into language as a way to describe Jewish existence. The word “ghetto” was created to describe the place where Jews were forced to live. The concept of racism was created to justify the modern hatred of Jews and it is those racists who created the word “antisemite.”
Even the word “Holocaust” was created in order to describe the greatest organized murder of a people in all of history. The world is a different place today because of the Holocaust – when the unfathomable became a reality. A plan was set into action to murder an entire people and before they were stopped, the Nazis succeeded in murdering six million Jews.
But time marches on and memories fade – even global memory. As of late, ideas and thinking have shifted. Past realities are less important. A new way of thinking has emerged and today Jews are perceived as oppressors. This new perspective is called inter-sectionalism. The idea is extremely powerful among young people specifically at university and college campuses and among liberals. Even among Jewish liberals on the West Side of Manhattan.
Inter-sectionalism is based on the view that all the abused share a common abuser.
It’s a game of connect the dots and that explains how Jews were transformed from victim to oppressor. Israel is oppressing the Palestinians. Israel is the Jewish state. All Jews are oppressors. Add to that the fact that Jews are almost exclusively white and the dots are all lined up and the link is secure.
Just as the oppressors are all linked, so too are the oppressed all linked. So Palestinians are directly linked to Black Lives Matter – even though there is no connection at all between the groups. Not demographically, not ideologically, not at all.
It is almost impossible to convince intersectionalists of Israel’s rights or that Jews are actually victims. They cling steadfastly to their belief and will find satisfaction only if more Jews die.
The writer, a political commentator, hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern.
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