Never again... sometimes

One need not be a seer or prophet in training to see the self-destructive-to-suicidal future that this selective condemnation of unacceptable behavior will lead to.

December 12, 2018 21:11
3 minute read.
HAND-CRAFTED Jewish stars from volunteers around the globe have been hung up around the city of Pitt

HAND-CRAFTED Jewish stars from volunteers around the globe have been hung up around the city of Pittsburgh. (photo credit: MINDY FENSTER WEINER)


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In the increasingly Orwellian language of current political and social discourse, we are now being treated to the sanctimonious condemnation of a reprehensible and completely unacceptable antisemitism – except when it isn’t.

Thanks to the post-modern breakdown of moral absolutes, antisemitism’s red lines have become purple.

What does it say about us when we are willing to ignore, if not outrightly excuse, a hatred so toxic and demonstrably horrific in its application? How is that we can we pound the table – and our chests – with righteous indignation when a white neo-Nazi kills Jews, and then go radio silent when a black left-wing social activist defaces several synagogues, or when a Muslim runs down Jewish worshipers?

The answer is that antisemitism is just one of a basket of hatreds, and its reprehensibility has to be viewed through the prism of who is expressing it. So goes the logic of intersectionality, in which oppressions are weighed, rated and scored for their critical significance.

Once upon a time, this was called hypocrisy. As we learned in grade school, if something is wrong, it’s wrong no matter who is doing it.

Sadly, those days are over. In the fashion of the storied Queen for a Day game show in which the audience applause meter would determine which contestant had the most pathetic life situation, we now have groups vying for ordained victimhood.

Astoundingly, such anointment as a permanent and perennial victim also absolves one of responsibility for oppressing the less oppressed.

This basically turns the Golden Rule on its head, and replaces something of a civilizational race to the bottom.

But there it is. Not only are the hard-core oppressed not encouraged to feel empathy for those who also have suffered from civilization’s slings and arrows, such as Jews, but rather feel entitled to join the pile-on against them.

This is the mind-bending reality behind the perception that antisemitism is increasingly a left-wing phenomenon, and that extremists on both sides of the ideological spectrum can at least agree on their contempt for Jews.

American Jews are just beginning to wake up to this state of affairs and wonder where it came from. The  answer is fairly simple: what started as politically driven anti-Zionism has morphed into good old fashioned existential antisemitism.

Those who thought that somehow there could be a viable distinction made between the two were, at best, naïve.

Sadly, Jews have played a leading role in this clueless hairsplitting, and continue to throw not just Israel, but ultimately Jewry under the bus, when Breaking the Silence “testifies” about IDF war crimes to the European Parliament, or B’Tselem opines about Israeli crimes against humanity to the United Nations.

Do we really think that most people have the slightest interest in making these excruciatingly fine distinctions? All these groups succeed in doing is to provide a rationale for Jew hatred in general, empowering the inner antisemite in all too many people.

One need not be a seer or prophet in training to see the self-destructive-to-suicidal future that this selective condemnation of unacceptable behavior will lead to.

Much as was said about not condemning antisemitism in pre-WWII Europe because one was not a Jew, inevitably the fickle finger of fury will turn and point to you and you, and especially, you.

In other words, like the Jacobins, who basically collapsed the French Revolution with a mad condemnation of anyone for any imagined crime of omission or commission, selective intersectional judgments about what is unacceptable will end up devouring most everyone.

It is intellectually unfashionable today to bemoan the loss of consistent standards. The postmodern knee-jerk reaction is to see these as constructs of control imposed by white European males seeking to maintain their vise-like grip on society.

Fair enough, but that way lies madness. If we cannot agree that so serious, self-evident and perniciously persistent a hatred as antisemitism cannot be tolerated on any level by anyone whatsoever, then I fear greatly for the consequences.

The treatment of the Jews has traditionally been seen as a barometer of the health of a society, and Jews have always been the proverbial canary of civilization.

We are in such a moment right now. It has nothing to do with any particular politician or leader. The winds of hatred are blowing.

People of good will who care about the health of their society need to assert themselves and demand moral consistency and accountability.

What starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews.

The author is chairman of the board of Im Tirtzu and a director of the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at

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