When faced with a potentially challenging idea or ideology, there are different ways to proceed. I’m the “dive right in and deal with it” type, which makes me a minority, certainly in the Jewish community. Many Jews, particularly on the left, still think the old combo of “demonize, misstate, and ignore” will do the trick.
Enter Benjamin Gladstone, with his piece “Jews should not flee to the alt right”. This is a response to an earlier piece of mine suggesting Jews should see the political left as a greater threat than the alt right. Benjamin attempts to shut my argument down right in his title. Of course, Jews shouldn’t “flee” to the alt right, any more than they should “beg” to join it. These are strawman arguments. As I’ve said before, the alt right isn’t something one can “join”, “beg to be a part of” or “flee to”. What we’re talking about is ideology and its effects, not group membership.
Hate to break it to you, Liberal Jews, but as of now you have no “group membership” anyway. It’s time to get past worrying about what “side” we should “join”, and instead take an objective look at the policy/ideological positions we should be supporting. My argument is simple: these positions, in 2017, should be more to the right than the left.
This brings us back to Benjamin’s piece. He points out that a left which will bend over backwards because a “trans” person is offended thinks nothing of supporting the destruction of Israel. He accurately notes that the left doesn’t care about antisemitism…. And then he says:
We as Jews must be morally upstanding citizens as well as effective advocates for our own needs. That means sticking with the left.
Why is this? Because according to Benjamin, Jews need to support “progressive causes”.
Have you been asleep for the last five years, Benjamin? “Progressive” now means bashing white people, men, Israel, and the ideals upon which the western world is based. It’s now a “progressive” ideal to call the scientific method “racist”. “Progressive” groups like Black Lives Matter have made Israel their only foreign policy focus. Are you against rape on campus? Better be against Israel, too!
And this is where, politically, Benjamin thinks Jewish people should be.
I’m just not getting it, Benjamin. It’s true that Jews should look with concern at the anti-Semitic parts of the alt right. No argument there. Do you really think, however, that the openly racist, sexist, and bigoted rhetoric of the left is somehow “better”? Is it better because they attack White people instead of Jewish people? Many on the left see Jews as White, so their attacks on Whites are also attacks on us. Is it really a Jewish historical value to attack the founding groups of the nations we live in, and their values? Like many Jews, Benjamin can’t see past Nazi Germany and the idea that Jews were persecuted simply for being another race or religion. Persecution of Jews, however, was often seen as an attack upon a privileged group allied with the nobility, which Jews in the Middle Ages in Western Europe typically were.
Sound familiar? The left’s rhetoric of hatred towards anyone seen as White, western, privileged, etc, will inevitably target Jews, and there’s as much a rich history of persecution from this angle as from a nationalist or religiously exclusive one. This is a tough fact for many Jews to swallow, but one we need to confront nonetheless.
Another question: how can Jews on the political Left effectively support Israel? The left’s race obsession, as I pointed out, puts Ashkenazi Jews into the “White” camp. Strong border security, a strong military, a cohesive society; all necessary for Israel’s survival, all seen as contemptible aspects of “White Supremacy”. How can a Jewish person on the political left argue for a “Jewish State” when the very concept is “racist”? Leftists, of course, never call Palestinian Nationalism “racist”. By moving to the right, we jettison this hypocrisy.
I’m sympathetic to Jews like Benjamin, but we need to recalibrate our political leanings. Of course, we shouldn’t be “fleeing” to the alt right, or “begging” to join them, but we do need to move away from a “progressive” movement that is becoming a real threat. Jewish people: We’re not “oppressed” and we have little in common with those who claim to be. Progressive politics is every bit as divisive on race and other identity issues as the alt right. If you reject the racist alt right, you must reject the left. Let’s find a better way.