I am getting tired of being called a racist, an epithet hurled at me simply because I am an unabashed lover of Israel.
The term, the word, the slur “racist” has become an automatic response for a large swath of America. It has become an automatic invective. One can be a liberal (small “l”) in so many ways, but loving Israel makes you a racist.
And it’s not just limited to loving and standing up for Israel.
Non-male members of this knee-jerk movement call all men sexists and/or racists. They call all white people oppressors and/or privileged. I consider it a lazy person’s way of addressing issues and trying to understand the thoughts, opinions and behaviors of those whose thoughts, opinions and behaviors do not mirror yours.
Just pick a label and pin it on the other.
We have entered a new era in US politics. You see it when watching cable news outlets. You hear it not only when attending rallies and protests, but also school board and local library meetings. It is an automatic condemnation of entire swaths of US voters.
Online it is gruesome. A new vocabulary has sprung up to accommodate the movement. There is a strategy of “doxing” (searching for and making public identifying information about a person through the Internet for nefarious reasons) and “canceling” (used on social media when you dislike someone or something and try to make them irrelevant) people.
Entire movements – like the Republican Party – have been canceled. Think about it, and you’ll realize how counterproductive (and futile) that is.
The gubernatorial elections in the states of Virginia and New Jersey should be seen as a foreshadowing of things to come. It was a shoe-in for Democrats – but that wasn’t the end result. “Woke” (a holier than thou attitude that includes staying alert to, and angry about, perceived injustice) won’t work. Woke will, according to several polls, probably turn around and continue to hurt liberal causes at the voting booth.
But those who compose woke’s message do not seem too concerned. They are digging in, they are not pivoting. Rather than trying to work with those not aligned with you, in today’s woke world, woke leaders believe that they are right and that they must attack those who disagree. And anyone who does not agree with their entire, A to Z, script, is the enemy.
And that’s how Israel turned into the standout. It is why Israel turned into the problem.
I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat. I am a registered Independent. The world has changed and that is where I now feel most comfortable. I am a centrist because I am a Maimonidean. I believe that the center is the best place for everyone. I believe that the center allows for the best solutions and the best thinking.
I also believe that disagreements make for interesting conversation – they certainly used to. But those were the days when we discussed, not just labeled. I am in the minority. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not indecisive, not wishy-washy. But politics has become so fraught with anger, has moved from civil disagreements to disputes, that I share my leanings with only a select few.
To win an election – a democratic election anywhere in the world – the parties must grab swing voters. Those are the people in the middle. And they are becoming fewer and fewer.
In US politics, I firmly believe that both parties – both Democrats and Republicans – must have a strong pro-Israel plank in their platform. And on the part of voters, it is simply a bad strategy to alienate any party when it comes to Israel. Israel and the Jewish community are too important to be reduced to a party line. This was, by the way, one of the mistakes that Benjamin Netanyahu made. He alienated too many Democrats.
In real terms, that means that there must be a resurgence of proud, card-carrying, Democrats who love Israel. It does not matter that, for years, these self-identified liberals fought tooth and nail to advance liberal causes. But it doesn’t work that way nowadays. Because they are Zionists, and because some are also Jewishly traditional or Jewishly observant, they are outsiders and even oppressors. Actually, to the woke Left, observant Jews are deemed Neanderthals.
Israel used to unite the Jewish community. And non-Jews supported Israel. Liberals and conservatives, old and young, rich and poor. Loving Israel was a very large tent. Only the Neturei Karta were outside the tent. A small, unimportant group, they made the news because it was a situation of “man bites dog” or should I say “person bites dog.” They were newsworthy because it was expected that everyone, especially every Jew, would support Israel. They were the exception and hence in the news.
Israel is not perfect. The Jewish state has made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. But the Jewish state is the homeland for Jewish people. It is the protector of Jews when no one else will stand up and protect us. Israel is the heart and soul of Jewish creativity and productivity.
Call me a racist. It’s annoying, but I’ll wear that title proudly because today it means I stand up for what I believe. And I believe in Israel. That belief will never change. I hope those who call me racist will.
The writer is a columnist and a social and political commentator.