I have a low regard for the alphabet soup of organizations that claim to speak for the Jewish community. They do far more harm than they do good. And it’s not even close.
What these comments really reveal is how bad things have gotten.
Antisemitism in the United States is even more pervasive than it appears, Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Monday…
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is the umbrella body on international and national issues for 52 US Jewish organizations.
“Antisemitism has really shaken up our community,” Hoenlein emphasized. “The sense of insecurity is pretty widespread, even among sectors that felt that they were not vulnerable to what Orthodox Jews were subject to, in terms of attacks on them because they were visible. Now we’ve seen it everywhere, people being stopped and asked, ‘Are you a Jew?’”
Calling it “pervasive across the country,” Hoenlein said that he is seeing the effects of antisemitism and hatred of Israel in academia, in politics, and in the media.
“We have Jewish members of faculties who are finding themselves and their jobs being put in danger because of being identified as pro-Israel, or not joining the anti-Israel onslaught,” he said.
These comments are not entirely shocking from
Hoenlein has been somewhat more willing to be critical of the Left. Especially during the Obama era. The Left repeatedly attacked him for being open to talking to Republicans.
More notably though…
Dianne Lob, Conference of Presidents chair, said much of the recent rise in antisemitism comes from the discourse on the left wing of the US political spectrum.
“I think we can’t underestimate the intersectionality piece,” she said.
“The language is very parallel to the Black Lives Matter language.”
It’s a pretty short excerpt from what were presumably more extensive remarks, but you may recall reading my attacks on Lob. She came to this job from HIAS. And HIAS is part of the leftist bloc within the organizational sphere. Expectations for her were very low.
I wouldn’t set them much higher, but there is a spectrum of leadership that seems cautiously willing to talk about what’s going on.
That doesn’t suggest that they’ve changed. It shows how bad things are.
“We have seen how Black Lives Matter and others have been turned through intersectionality into anti-Israel movements, which have strong anti-Semitic components,” said William Daroff, Conference of Presidents CEO. “I think we have to separate the two but recognize the interrelationship between them.”
That’s very belated.
Hoenlein agreed, and argued that the recent Gaza fighting marked an inflection point in using ideas around intersectionality against Jews. “I think it’s a very serious moment. I think it represents a shift in the tectonic plates. It’s a fundamental shift,” he said.
“I have to say they did a good job of it, through intersectionality, building it up over time; it’s not that it just happened. We saw it in Ferguson, we saw it in other places where they made the link. But the war gave them an opening to portray Israel in this very negative way, and to hold to account people who would speak up for Israel even to the degree that they qualified what they could say on antisemitism.”
There were a whole bunch of people, Jewish and non-Jewish, who were ringing alarm bells about this for years. Including yours truly.
The Conference and others were warned in no uncertain terms about what would happen if they embraced BLM.
Now it’s bad enough that they’re willing to cautiously talk about it, what do they propose doing? They’re not going to actually oppose BLM or wokeness.
There’s some talk about campus outreach and media messaging. Those aren’t bad things, but they’re the same bunch of ideas that the same organizations and leaders have been throwing around since the 70s. That and references to the civil rights movement.
None of those have worked. And they’re at best defensive.
Going on the offense would require fundamentally rethinking providing support to antisemitic movements and causes.
This conversation reminds me of how European Jewish leaders talk about antisemitism, cautiously and carefully, glancing over their shoulders, occasionally venturing into politically incorrect territory, but offering no solution because that would be too dangerous.