The progressive ‘woke’ movement may not be a fitting home for Jews
I empathize with Neta Meltzer (“An open letter to progressives: It’s time to speak out,” Dec. 16) on her frustration that “major progressive groups and organizations” have remained “disconcertingly silent” about the shocking rise in antisemitism. But, unlike Ms. Meltzer, I am not surprised.
Progressive “woke” ideology has significantly contributed to the shocking rise in antisemitism. Jews are seen as white and privileged. We are not included in the intersectional “community” of oppressed victims. We are rather seen as part of the problem. In the woke view, we are the oppressors. Why denounce acts against the oppressor?
Furthermore, anti-Zionism has become a major trigger for antisemitism and it predominates in progressive circles. In a recent speech, leading woke congressional representative, Rashida Tlaib declared, “I want you all to know that among progressives it has become clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel’s apartheid government, and we will continue to push back and not accept this idea that you are progressive except for Palestine any longer.”
The progressive woke community stands united with BDS and the Palestinian Arab narrative against Israel and Zionism. That movement is undeniably antisemitic; the fact that it has been accepted into progressive circles just might indicate an antisemitic proclivity by those who have so readily welcomed it.
Recall how progressive voices responded to the hostilities between Israel and Hamas in May 2021. They reached a state of unified hysteria in support of Hamas despite the intentional shooting of thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians in clear violation of international and humanitarian law. As one progressive individual framed it: “Who are we to decide how the oppressed should fight their oppressors?”
Ms. Meltzer is a leader in the Zioness movement that advocates for both progressive ideology and Zionism. She admits that in her various progressive circles “I was told my identity didn’t qualify me to join work groups focusing on diversity, solidarity and inclusion. I was called a Zionist (I am one — they meant it as a slur). Assumptions were freely and unapologetically made about my political leanings, my perspectives and my general pleasantness based on the fact that I was born in Israel and that I am a Jew.” I would ask Ms. Meltzer, “Is this not progressive antisemitism? Do you really expect the antisemites to denounce their antisemitism?”
The woke commitment to cancel culture and its aversion to questions and challenges to its ideology indicate a disconcerting totalitarian disposition. Totalitarianism is not good for anyone, especially not for the Jews.
While I am not suggesting that all progressives are antisemites and recognize that the vast majority are well-meaning, kind and decent people, the ideology that drives the progressive woke movement, as led by its gatekeepers, is a rigid, unforgiving, neo-Marxist ideology.
Jewish progressives might want to ask themselves if the progressive movement can really be an ideological home for the Jewish community. Perhaps it’s time to return to the principles of liberal democracy and away from neo-Marxism.
Not optimistic about Biden’s antisemitism task force
I don’t hold out much hope for meaningful work by this task force (“Biden task force to draft strategy for fighting antisemitism,” online, Dec. 13). The mention of Islamophobia alongside antisemitism concerns me. It smacks of Speaker Pelosi’s bill condemning hate speech in a resolution originally intended to censure antisemitic remarks made by Rep. Ilhan Omar. Furthermore, I find it ironic that the announcement of the planned task force was made by the White House’s official spokesperson,
Karine Jean-Pierre, whose resume includes service as national spokesperson and senior adviser for MoveOn.org, a group that challenged anti-BDS legislation and called for a boycott of AIPAC, which MoveOn.org characterized as a racist group. Nor is Jean-Pierre the only Biden appointee with ties to antisemitic groups. For example, Maher Bitar, whom Biden put in charge of intelligence on the National Security Council, formerly worked for BADIL, a group which demands a “right of return” to Israel of the Palestine refugees (6 million people claiming descent from Arabs who fled Palestine during 1940’s Arab-initiated violence aimed at preventing the emergence of a modern Jewish state in the Jews’ ancestral homeland). These “refugees” have been raised in societies that honor and reward Palestinians for killing Jews. Israel’s taking them in would be the death knell for the nation-state of the Jews.
Toby F. Block