The new kind of bigotry growing among progressives - opinion

“A climate of punishment, heretic hunting, recurrent feature of left-wing politics has set in, enforced in some places, through workplace discipline, including firings.”

Demonstrators hold up signs during a Black Lives Matter protest in Whitehall, London, on June 7. (photo credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS)
Demonstrators hold up signs during a Black Lives Matter protest in Whitehall, London, on June 7.
(photo credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS)
‘Black Lives Matter” was one of the more effective and justified slogans in the American anti-racist protests, even prior to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But what started out as no more than a slogan and a genuine cri de coeur of the black community has meanwhile morphed into an organized movement with political aims that veer far from the legitimate issue of combating racism, turning into a full-fledged leftist opposition group, some of whose activists interpret its name to mean that ONLY black lives matter
Nor have antisemitic slurs about Jews purportedly having supported slavery been absent. This has now brought about a much-needed wake-up call to at least parts of the Jewish community and to liberal Americans who most of the time prefer to close their eyes and ears and not react.
So we saw renowned Jewish-American author and journalist Mitch Albom in his blog rebuking NFL star DeSean Jackson, who had pasted several antisemitic messages on Instagram, including a quote (wrongly) attributed to Adolf Hitler, claiming Jews will “extort America” and that they have a plan for world domination. 
Jackson also quoted Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has called Jews “satanic” and likened them to termites. Jackson was supported by other black sportsmen, including former NBA player Stephen Jackson, who said that DeSean was “speaking the truth,” and who added several other defamatory claims straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. What especially drew Albom’s ire, however, was what he called the “tepid reactions,” including in the media, to these antisemitic statements – as if anti-Jewish racism does not count.
As Albom remarks, “Antisemitism doesn’t cause the same fury as other prejudices. There is rarely as loud or sustained an outcry when a synagogue is attacked or a Jewish person is killed for his faith, or when the entire Jewish population is slandered.” 
But the general trend of intolerance has wider implications: A palpable hint of antisemitism hovered over last month’s “resignation” of the Jewish New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss, although the official reason was that she had published articles that did not accord with the present “politically correct” (i.e. pro-left) slant of The New York Times (a month ago the editorial page editor was dismissed for the same “sin”). 
Weiss, however, also had to suffer snide remarks by some members of the paper’s staff because she “wrote a lot about Jews” (Weiss did indeed write about antisemitism but also about discrimination against other groups). The Bari Weiss affair wasn’t an isolated occurrence but symptomatic of a much wider threat to freedom of expression.
As New York Times op-ed writer Michelle Goldberg wrote in her column: “a climate of punishment, heretic hunting, recurrent feature of left-wing politics has set in, enforced in some places, through workplace discipline, including firings.” 
Another target of the leftist “cancel culture” was famous Harvard professor and popular author Steven Pinker, whom more than 550 academics in a public letter demanded to be removed from the list of “distinguished fellows” of the Linguistic Society of America because he had allegedly “minimized social injustices and drowned out the voices of those who suffer sexist indignities.”
Pinker’s “crime,” apparently, was that he was too upbeat about the decline of violence in the US. Pinker, by the way, is a life-long Democrat and contributor to the party. 
Another case was political scientist David Shor who was fired after tweeting about a study suggesting that violent street protests had tipped the 1968 election to Nixon, thus supposedly implying that the present street demonstrations might act similarly. 
DEFINITIONS AND ideologies change, but repressive actions are the same, whether the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch trials, Nazi book-burnings, Zhdanovism, McCarthyism, or now “cancel culture,” which ostracizes anybody who doesn’t agree with the present trend of so-called progressivism. 
In response, more than 150 writers and thinkers protested in a letter published by Harper’s magazine against “a climate of intolerance in public discourse, and weakening norms of open debate in favor of ideological conformity.” This is exactly the kind of atmosphere that also breeds antisemitism.
Antisemitism has always existed in America – a few decades ago there still was a numerus clausus to bar Jews from enrolling at US schools of medicine – though not of the same scope as in some European and Arab countries. And it thrives best in an atmosphere of social breakdown and blurring of the edges of traditional values and mores, as in present-day America.
If ever Jewish leadership was needed in America it is now, not only because of antisemitism, but also because the current fissures in the American political scene and their potential impact, among other things, on US-Israel relations, need to be addressed without delay. 
The latest report of the Anti-Defamation League notes that the wave of antisemitism sweeping through America in 2019 was the worst it has been for the past 40 years. And there’s a reason for this: Besides the often violent Jew-hatred of the far Right – neo-Nazis, the KKK and similar organizations – today a no less and perhaps more perilous trend is spreading on the far-out Left, which is more organized and has a political agenda that in addition to the usual slurs about Jewish control of the world’s money, of the media and of politics, is often coupled with anti-Israel slogans, delegitimizing the Jewish state’s very right to exist.
This is abetted by pro-Palestinian propaganda disseminated by organizations such as the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and by the so-called “progressive” members of Congress. The common denominator of the extreme Left and the extreme Right is hatred of Israel. The anti-Jewish, anti-Israel trend is growing exponentially especially at US universities, with their growing number of leftist professors. As a result, expressing a pro-Israel viewpoint has become a serious academic and even physical hazard. 
In this connection, the liberal British Economist has warned (although not specifically in a Jewish context) of anti-liberal tendencies spreading in American universities in a highly dangerous situation that defines individuals and groups chiefly by racial affiliation. This is a tendency that may penetrate into everyday life and that is trying to take control via threats and silencing other views. “If it supports liberal views, then intimidation will chill open debate.” 
With regard to Israel and Israelis, it already has, with Palestinians being depicted as victims similar to American blacks. Their conclusion: Israel and the Zionist dream must be uprooted. 
Recently joining the chorus was Jewish journalist and self-styled intellectual, Peter Beinart, who while often criticizing various Israeli policies, had still defined himself as a Zionist. Now, in a lengthy manipulative article on The New York Times’ front page, he debases the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. In other words, he denies the very right of Israel to exist. With the flourish of his pen, he makes light of the dangers that Israel faces from its enemies, including Iran, while ignoring Israel’s spectacular achievements by methodically negating Jewish history and retroactively denying the justification and the rationality of Israel’s existence. 
Jewish history knows more than a few cases of apostate Jews becoming enemies, and this apparently is also true for renegade Zionists. Beinart received an appropriate and immediate response from veteran diplomat Dennis Ross, who in a joint article with David Makovsky, faulted him for his falsehoods and prejudices. However, Jewish public opinion as a whole must be alerted in order to fight the present wave of antisemitism and anti-Israelism before it is too late.