It has become a truism that Jews are history’s “canary in the coal mine”. Across cultures and continents, where Jews have flourished, so have the societies around them. Where Jews have faced persecution and expulsion, it is usually a sign that darker forces are taking hold that will degrade, diminish, and often, destroy the broader society.
The examples of this phenomena are numerous and profound. Spain’s golden era of Jewish achievement brought unprecedented success to the Kingdom. Its expulsion of the Jews resulted in the country’s ultimate decline. Jews were central to Germany’s vibrant intellectual, artistic, and economic life in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. Hitler’s evil and irrational hatred not only decimated European Jewry, but it also destroyed Germany, and tens of millions of lives across Europe as well.
With these history lessons in mind, how should we view the rising anti-Semitism in America today? As an inevitable reality that Jews have faced since Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? As a specific threat to our Jewish-American community that we have to fight for our own sake? Or as a danger to America – and the core values that have been the bedrock of this country’s rise?
It is all three of these things, however the most concerning is the last one. We should approach this fight – first and foremost – as Americans concerned about the way in which anti-Semitism reflects broader dangers to our way of life.
History of Antisemitism
The four main drivers of anti-Semitism in America – on the radical right, on the radical left, among radical Muslims, and among black supremacists, such as Louis Farrakhan—all happen to also hate America. These groups and their supporters all seek to undermine its core values of free speech, democracy, individual rights, equality, and religious pluralism. And they all see Jews – who have long championed these values – as easy prey. We are a useful target in their bigger struggle of changing America beyond recognition, in line with their extreme ideologies.
While Jew hatred from Black supremacists is a recent American phenomena, the radical right, the radical left and the radical Muslims have hated Jews for hundreds or thousands of years. Each one of them promoting its own version of classical antisemitism which resulted in blood libels, pogroms, massacres and the holocaust.
Following the Holocaust, Antisemitism was politically incorrect in America for about 30 years, but a new kind of antisemism started originating from Campus leftism of the 1960’s just after Israel’s miraculous victory in the 1967 Six-Day-War and the new military alliance it formed with America, which transformed the Jewish state, in the leftist mind, from David fighting Goliath into a Western imperialist and a colonialist overdog.
From the moment Israel became the Goliath and an ally of America, the left also hated Israel because of its resemblance to America.
The new anti-Western religion
In the 1970s, Radical Left movements started forming alliances with radical Muslims groups because both positioned themselves as fighting against Western values and imperialism.
Despite the fact they are naturally completely misaligned in their belief systems and ideologies, this strategic partnership known as the red-green or Islamo-Left alliance, is based on anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Zionist principles. While it emerged in Europe and the Middle east, this alliance took hold in America in the 1980s, primarily in institutions of higher education.
Critical Race Theory (CRT), rooted in Marxism, began to form around the same time, claiming that white people are inherently and irredeemably racist and benefit from various systemically racist “power structures.
CRT aligned organizations began pushing efforts to erode the core principles that make our country exceptional, replacing America’s commitment to individual rights and equality, meritocracy, rule of law, tolerance, pluralism, due process, freedom of speech, and free-market capitalism with policies centered on a racialized and violent world immersed in conspiracy theories and political polarization.
As a new bedfellows, the Islamo-Leftist alliance joined forces to promote radical ideologies in America including Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the theory of intersectionality, which argues marginalized and oppressed groups must come together to fight against oppressors, which included Israel and the Jews.
The New Antisemitism
The modern rise of antisemitism also known as the New Antisemitism kicked off at the start of the 21st century with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. With the Islamo Leftist alliance behind it, BDS, with its agenda to demonize the Jewish people and destroy the State of Israel, quickly moved from the fringes of our society and into the mainstream. Civil society organizations, American universities, and far-left politicians would come to endorse the BDS ideology.
Behind BDS, there has always stood a burning hatred of America, its exceptional liberal democratic and capitalist character, and worldwide influence, which is why it has been embraced by the far left and radical Muslims.
With American Jews unable to mount an effective defense against BDS due to our small numbers, division, and aversion to conflict, a door was opened for BDS to get incorporated into the Left’s radical ideologies as they have gained popularity over the past twenty years, normalizing antisemitism as an integral part of anti-Americanism.
Antisemism is now part of the Left Radical Ideologies
BDS and CRT are now intimately intertwined through the left-wing theory of “intersectionality”, and are being aggressively implemented in the workplace and school through CRT-adjacent policies like DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and Ethnic Studies Curriculums. Americans from an increasingly early age are being indoctrinated to view America as intrinsically evil that must be totally remade according to racialized and socialist ‘Woke’ standards.
Although Jews are a major target of these groups, the struggle is not really about us—the ultimate target has always been America.
American Jews need to create alliances with other Americans focused on helping the public to understand that anti-Semitism spreading BDS, CRT, Ethnic Studies and DEI are first and foremost a threat to our core American values. Nothing less than the future of America – and the Jewish American community – is at stake.
This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world. Read the previous article by Marc Greendorfer.