The Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory Thatat Shall Not be Named
“I am concerned that many of my good friends in the American Jewish community who for all the right reasons want to be part of the human rights and social justice movements of their time, do not fully recognize the danger of this ideology, both in how it will impact the US and how it will influence attitudes towards Jews and Israel.”
It should surprise no one that an ideology that views success as oppression would foment antisemitism. Jews, on average, succeed above the mean in just about every category and in every profession.
In this ideological framework, white Jews (we are deemed white by deriving benefit from whiteness) are told that they’ve been “complicit in white supremacy,” in holding down marginalized communities. By
the same token, Israel, the state of the Jewish people, is automatically blamed for the conflict with Palestinians because it is the stronger party. The weaker party cannot be held culpable.
Because this ideology is becoming more popular, more widely embraced in progressive “justice” movements and more ingrained in American institutional life in the form of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) trainings and initiatives, we are seeing rapidly growing antisemitism on the left. That the ideological underpinnings of left-wing antisemitism are so hard to talk about should be considered very strange. When we speak of rightwing antisemitism, we talk about the growing popularity of “replacement theory” in rightwing politics, which holds that ordinary Americans are being replaced by immigrants (which Jews are orchestrating); when we speak of Muslim antisemitism, we talk about the role of the “infidel” Jew in the radical Muslim imagination oppressing Islam. Yet when we speak of progressive antisemitism, we are expected to talk about a symptom without a cause.
Wokeness has spread like wildfire precisely because it demands that we not challenge it. Anyone who even uses the term “woke”can be labeled a bigot. And because we cannot speak about it we cannot effectively counter it.
Indeed, woke antisemitism is too hot to handle for even many Jewish professionals whose job it is monitor and counter antisemitism in all its manifestations, too hot to be named by numerous Jewish leaders whose job it is to warn of the threats facing the Jewish people and to prepare our community to face them down.
Yet if we don’t name the problem — if we continue to pretend that unlike every other form of antisemitism the leftwing variant has no underlying ideology — how will we ever fight it?
David Bernstein is the founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal