Columnist J.M. Sorrell: Antisemitism accelerant


Published: 06-04-2024 6:54 PM

Antisemitism joins racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny as features of the far right. It is easy to spot when white supremacists claim that Jews are working with people of color to destroy the white race. Most people find their jokes about Nazi gas chambers deeply offensive.

While I always had an uncomfortable feeling that antisemitism on the left was lurking and sometimes present, I failed to recognize the depth of its development and success until recent months. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement — with ties to Hamas and other “by any means necessary” pro-Palestinian organizations — nearly 20 years ago laid the foundation for the current crop of students and professors who believe Israel is an evil empire with Jews at the helm.

BDS was created with the South Africa anti-apartheid playbook. This partially explains the lazy conclusion that Israel is an apartheid state with racist subjugation akin to the old days of South Africa.

Israel is a democratic state with over 9 million people — 74% Jews (the majority are not white in origin), 21% Arabs and 5% defined as Other. All have equal rights. During apartheid, South Africa was run by a white government and had 76% Blacks and 13% whites in its population — with a lack of legal rights for Black people in areas such as voting, education, housing and employment; thus, a small minority ruled over the majority. Apartheid.

No other country in the Middle East has any rights including same-sex marriage for LGBTQ people. Street signs in Israel are written in both Hebrew and Arabic. In 2020, the third largest party in the Israeli electoral system was an Arab party. When a 2020 University of Haifa survey showed that over 77% of Arab Israeli citizens living in Israel do not wish to move to a Palestinian state should one be formed, that should serve as a clue that Israel is not an apartheid state.

By contrast, the Hamas doctrine professes to end Israel by any means, no peace, and Sharia law. Contrary to the belief that Israel is “colonizing” Gaza, Hamas took it over from the Palestinian Authority in 2006, killing its professed enemies in the process. Ever since, Gaza has been under siege by Hamas, not Israel. They have used billions of dollars in aid to build tunnels and amass weapons rather than to improve the lives of Palestinians under their charge.

After the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7, 2023, rather than sticking to their story about being a non-violent “social justice” movement, the BDS campaign stated that the “justified use of armed resistance against the oppressors’ military and civilians” was to be celebrated. The largest BDS promoter on college campuses, National Students for Justice in Palestine, responded in kind by producing a toolkit for organizing demonstrations in support of Hamas!

Noa Tishby has written that “BDS demonizes Israel and Jews … by presenting the country as a warmonger monster” while every bordering Arab country has tried to eliminate Israel at one time or another. She writes, “Israel is surrounded by some of the most vicious, theocratic, autocratic, dictatorial, oppressive Islamist regimes and a bunch of failed states, yet BDS singles only Israel out.”

The propaganda shift to “justice” and “human rights” from “death to Israel and all Jews” has been an unfortunate success. College campus students and faculty were poised for this moment. It matters not that Hamas has fired many thousands of rockets and mortar shells into Israel since 2006 and that they started the current war where they continue to use civilians as human shields. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is not blameless and the vast majority of Israelis want Netanyahu out of power. Racism exists in Israel as it does in all democracies including ours. On the other hand, does anyone know of a military operation that sends flyers and issues press releases to give people days and weeks of warning to get out of an area where they will next attack? Could it be that Hamas prevents mass movement as they disregard Palestinian lives?

Contemporary antisemitism accelerant is all about Israel and the refusal to accept self-determination for Jews. Leftist anti-Zionism is hypocritical. Zionists created the Kibbutz movement with core socialist ideals in progressive agricultural communities for their homeland. What does anti-Zionism mean today? That an entire country should not exist? Should the same standard be applied to other people who return to their homeland?

Dara Horn wrote the acclaimed book “People Love Dead Jews” in 2021. The idea is that people seem more comfortable with the mythologized dead Jew than, say, the living Jew next door. After the bizarre and deeply disturbing global response to the Oct. 7 massacre somehow blaming Israel for it, I am afraid those people no longer like any Jew — dead or alive.

J.M. Sorrell is a feminist at her core. She believes what Gideon Frieder, a Holocaust survivor, wrote: “Evil will only triumph when good people remain quiet.”