As antisemitism rises, a campaign heats up to discredit the term

by David Suissa
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The progressive campaign to delegitimize the very idea of antisemitism is just another way of telling Jews to stay in their oppressor lane.

(JNS / Jewish Journal) “The callousness, dehumanization and targeting of Jews on display at last night’s protest outside the Nova Festival exhibit was atrocious antisemitism—plain and simple,” the Democratic congresswoman tweeted. “Antisemitism has no place in our city nor any broader movement that centers human dignity and liberation.”

Those words came from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a notorious critic of Israel and leading light in progressive circles.

What was most noteworthy, though, was the response from her fellow progressives. They accused her of selling out, of providing a fig leaf to the Jewish establishment. Some accused her of “getting a visit from your AIPAC babysitter.”

What’s going on?

“The blinding rage directed at AOC for daring to utter the word ‘antisemitism’ in relation to the pogromist mobs outside the Nova exhibit is something to behold,” tweeted Izabella Tabarovsky. These responses from progressive-Islamist friends, she added, “tell us something important about this moment.”

One thing it tells us is that just as antisemitism is reaching alarming levels, an even more alarming movement is afoot to discredit the term.

“Over the last few years there’s been a campaign going on to disarm, distort and discredit the very term antisemitism,” Tabarovsky writes. “One time-tested technique here is to create so much confusion & controversy around the term that people would feel too hesitant to condemn antisemitism or speak of it all.”

She lists a series of examples, as in 2021, when Bernie Sanders’ national surrogate, Amer Zahr, called on activists to stop condemning antisemitism: “Don’t condemn sh**, we have a cross-sectional, intersectional movement that is winning…Stop it. Stop it. Stay focused. Say free, free, Palestine and nothing else.”

Another instance was when Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) mobs forced Rutgers to withdraw a statement condemning antisemitism. Rutgers complied, promising to be more “sensitive & balanced” in the future.

She also cites the case of April Powers, a Black Jewish DEI professional who had to resign from her job after she put out a statement condemning antisemitism.

Back in 2021, Tabarovsky writes, “this all seemed shocking. Today it’s become completely normalized. Constant claims that antizionism is not antisemitism are playing a massive role in creating confusion and intimidation around the issue.”

That’s why any clear evidence that antisemitism is real, like the hatefest at the Nova exhibit that AOC condemned, must be attacked at once. The very notion of antisemitism must be delegitimized as a Zionist conspiracy, another nefarious Jewish attempt to shut down critics and control events.

Why has the term become such a growing threat to progressives?

For starters, it disrupts the oppressor/oppressed narrative that is their ideological lifeblood. Jews are stereotyped as white, Western and powerful, the ultimate exemplars of oppressive white privilege. They must never be allowed to be victims.

We saw this at work dramatically right after Oct. 7, when progressives came down hard on Israel and the Jews even though 1,200 Israelis got massacred by Hamas. The mutilation, the beheadings, the rapes, the burning alive of bodies were so staggering, it presented a nightmare scenario for progressives used to bashing the Jewish state as a genocidal, imperialist and colonialist bad actor.

Suddenly, these powerful Jews looked like victims, victims of the most savage Jew haters imaginable.

This new victim status for Jews was unacceptable, even if it was so blatantly justified—especially since it was so justified. It had to be nipped in the bud.

The progressive campaign to delegitimize the term antisemitism, then, is just another way of telling Jews to stay in their oppressor lane. Bashing a warring Israel is now the easiest way for the left to bash Jews.

But there’s something even bigger at play: The war against Israel is also a war against everything progressives hate about the West. That’s why the term antisemitism must be discredited. Bad guys can never be victims.

The leftist media, which consistently downplay antisemitism from the left, have become the great enablers.

“The New York Times has published countless stories about the rhetoric of participants in the 2017 ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Christine Rosen wrote in Commentary in a piece titled, “Why the Media Ignore Anti-Semitism.”

“Where are the big-think pieces and deeply reported stories about the organizations and funders behind the anti-Jewish groups staging protests outside synagogues and other Jewish institutions?”

As Rich Lowry writes in National Review Online, “every day is a Charlottesville now, but hardly anyone notices…The antisemitic rhetoric and menacing nature of that event—in a different, left-wing form—are being replicated all over the country in openly hateful pro-Hamas protests.”

If white supremacists were showing up all over the country and agitating against Jews and vandalizing property, he asks, “Can you imagine the headlines and nightly news reports?”

We’re left with this bizarre landscape where, on one side, Jewish activist groups are exposing the spooky rise of antisemitism from the left, while on the other side, progressive groups are undermining the very idea of antisemitism, encouraging people to disregard the whole thing as a Jewish-Zionist con.

Meanwhile, Jewish progressives must be disillusioned to see how so much of the Jew hatred these days is coming from inside their own house. Will they walk on eggshells so as not to alienate their progressive comrades, or will they have the courage to tell it like it is, even if it hurts their team?

When even AOC rings the alarm, you know we’ve entered new territory.

Originally published by The Jewish Journal.


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