This is the logical consequence of leftists repeatedly silencing Jews when they talk about the inconvenient truth of anti-Semitism in their ranks. And the hysterical defense of Rep. Omar’s bigotry by depicting her as a victim. The next step is to do what Nylah Burton does, appropriate Jewishness to defend anti-Semitism and denounce Jews as racist. She’s hardly the only identity politics extremist playing this game. Just the most obnoxious one.
Burton has gone pro with this, after being trotted out by The Nation to whitewash the anti-Semitism of Women’s March leaders. The subheader for that one, which declares that, “It’s time to fracture the white lens through which people have framed, and attacked, the co-chairs”, is enough.
Nylah Burton begins with the bizarre claim that The Forward, a radical anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic online site, is guilty of what lefties call, ‘bothsidesism’ (a term they use to dismiss any attempt to hold them accountable for racism, anti-Semitism or any bad behavior) because there was a fitful effort to criticize Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism.
Then she transitions to identifying her real agenda. Shutting down any discussion of anti-Semitism on her side.
“In the midst of all this, the Forward sent their readers a fundraising email praising Ungar-Sargon’s response to Omar as “ fighting the new antisemitism.” As I pointed out on Twitter, the email is teeming with anti-Blackness and Islamophobia.”
“As I pointed out on Twitter” is the new Tumblr. And “anti-blackness” is a term used by black nationalists. A movement whose leading figures have been rotten with anti-Semitism.
The phrase “new antisemitism” is a racist dog-whistle, as seen in this December 2018 Detroit News op-ed claiming that the new antisemites are “increasingly black.”
The term predates 2018 by quite a while. It didn’t originate in the Detroit News.
If Nylah Burton’s argument were any dumber, they would be pointed out on Twitter.
The “New Anti-Semitism” was coined to refer to leftist anti-Semitism that masquerades as anti-Zionism.
Black nationalist anti-Semitism, the thing that Nylah Burton writes about, is fairly traditional anti-Semitism. Take Amiri Baraka, the poet of the movement,
“I got the extermination blues, jew-boys. I got the Hitler syndrome figured… So come for the rent, jewboys, or come ask me for a book, or sit in the courts handing down your judgments still I got something for you, gonna give it to my brothers, so they’ll know what your whole story is, then one day, jewboys, we all, even my wig wearing mother gonna put it on you all at once.”
Baraka did try to claim that, “A favorite game of Zionists is to drop the label ‘anti-Semitic’ on anyone who opposes Zionism or upholds the Palestinians’ right of self-determination.”
But that’s even less convincing than Alice Walker, whose anti-Semitism Nylah Burton managed to defend and condemn at the same time.
In 1967, Alice Walker married a young Jewish civil-rights lawyer named Mel Leventhal. Their interracial marriage — the first such legal union in the state of Mississippi — was still illegal in Walker’s home state of Georgia at the time. Leventhal’s mother was also deeply opposed to the union, and his other family members didn’t allow Alice to attend family events. “Leaving no question about how she felt about her son’s marriage to a shvartse (a pejorative Yiddish term for a black person), Miriam Leventhal sat shiva for her son, mourning him as dead,” Evelyn White writes in Alice Walker: A Life. A source who knows the family told me that Mel preferred to ignore rather than confront his family’s bigotry. This caused Walker to feel increasingly isolated and resentful. The marriage ended in 1976, after the pair had one daughter together, named Rebecca.
When writing of Mel in her essays, Walker links him inextricably to his Jewishness, as well as his occupation as a lawyer. Even when they are not arguing (frequently, according to her) about the abuses against Palestinians, each mention of him is some variation on “white Jewish lawyer husband.” Perhaps Walker is combining those disparate words — each a piece of his identity, yet each reductive — to make sense of his contradictions: How could he fight for the dignity of black people while allowing his white family to deny dignity to his wife and daughter? How could he be white, and yet not fully welcomed by white gentiles in Mississippi? How could he crusade for justice at home and dismiss her concern for Palestinians abroad?
White racists don’t have these excuses made for them. Black racists do. That’s real privilege. And it does, undeniably, help lubricate elements of the New Anti-Semitism when they are justified through the victim privilege of identity politics.