Human nature requires a belief system to explain the universal questions of why and how? Above all, it rationalizes the question of existence. Whether based in universalism or particularism, the modes of belief vary from fervent orthodoxy to fervent atheism, allowing followers to choose how and when they want to worship.
Since religion is as old as human civilization itself, it has garnered a reputation of being conservative and old-fashioned.
But today, we are observing a rejection of “classical” organized religious constructs in favor of more individualistic beliefs – human social actions that are supposedly based on furthering human contact and kindness – where the higher power/spirituality is removed.
As such, the principle difference relates to worship practices. The classical form is man-to-God vs. the man-to-man interaction in the social action/justice realm.
The “Church” of the day is based on acts of justice rather than on worship or prayer. As Americans, we are used to living in a Judeo-Christian society, where religious liberties have served as the bedrock of our value system. Jews have benefited from this environment going back to the days of George Washington.
Washington expressed this commitment to religious liberty and inclusion of Jews in the new democracy in a Letter to the Hebrew Congregations of Newport in 1790 stating: “Gentlemen: May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants – where everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
May the Father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.
G. Washington” The history of Jewish persecution has always motivated Jews to seek acceptance and inclusion from the communities in which they have lived, and to showcase their normalcy in order to remove the antisemitic stereotypes that have been inflicted upun them. Moreover, so long as Jews were stateless and persecuted, there was an element of sympathy and support for being in that state. Yet, Jews were still accused of being fascist, socialist or any social pariah they could be accused of.
Up until 1948, one could attempt to successfully make the argument that antisemitism and anti-Zionism were two different kinds of hatred. But today, the two are clearly linked and interchangeable.
Case in point: the majority of European Jews consider anti-Zionism to be a form of antisemitism, as illustrated in a recent report published by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency titled, “Experiences and Perceptions of Antisemitism.”
TODAY, JEWS and Jewish Israelis are called upon to demonstrate their “moral fiber” by using their own Jewish identity as a vehicle to question Israel and its legitimacy, thereby using their Jewishness to passionately make pleas for the Palestinian cause, and assert that Jewishness is somehow based on pro-Palestinian beliefs as a “progressive” value. Consequently, for Jews on the far Left, as for Arab Palestinians, the events of 1948 are the original sin.
The late Walter Laqueur explained this phenomenon.
He wrote: “Traditional antisemitism has gone out of fashion in the West, except on the extreme Right. But something we might call post-antisemitism has taken its place. It is less violent in its aims, but still very real. By and large it has not been too difficult to differentiate between genuine and bogus anti-Zionism.
The test is twofold. It is almost always clear whether the attacks are directed against a specific policy carried out by an Israeli government (for instance, as an occupying power) or against the existence of Israel. Secondly, there is a test of selectivity. If from all the evils besetting the world, the misdeeds – real or imaginary – of Zionism are singled out and given constant and relentless publicity, it can be taken for granted that the true motive is not anti-Zionism, but something different and more sweeping.”
All of the above, compounded with identity politics, have mobilized and galvanized the “social justice” congregations led by prophets and practitioners like Linda Sarsour and Keith Ellison, and groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and Black Lives Matter. We see a complete and total rejection of Western and American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. This view only includes some, and above all, excludes Jews who do not express their social-justice Jewishness.
Further, the ideology of many of these groups and individuals is Marxist rather than democratic.
And in Marx’s footsteps, they too, create social revolutions through identity politics. They undermine the American value system, albeit unsuccessfully, given that the US is still grounded in nationalistic anchors that are absent in Europe.
Jews have always had the misfortune of being blamed for political changes on both the Left and Right. They do not get a pass in this dogmatic worldview of identity politics – which more times than not is limited to minorities, or at least those who claim to be minorities – something Jews have a difficult time arguing for, despite the demographics.
Finally, the State of Israel, to the social justice prophets and congregations, is the outcome of all problems that Jews embody.
This is antisemitism to the core.
At the end of the day, the Chosen People have been chosen to be excluded, despite their desire to assimilate. That fate is a clear reminder that Israel and Zionism today are based on the rejection of those very elements which created Israel and the American Jewish community to begin with.
The writer is executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), a senior non-resident fellow at the BESA Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.