Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Zionism has always appealed to two kinds of Jews: those who are running to it and those who are running away from something. Jexodus, meaning a Jewish exit from under the shadow of the donkey, also has those who are running away from something, usually anti-Semitism, and those who are running toward something, a better vision for the country, for their community and for their families.
The negative Jexodus will be the aftermath of a radicalization that splits the Democrats, as it did Labour in the UK along dividing lines of militant socialism, Islamism, and anti-Semitism. These three ‘isms’ will split Jewish Democrats alone those same lines leaving the radicals on the inside and moderates outside. Those Jews who remain will be required to prove their loyalty by denouncing Jews and Israel. These demands will be put forward in the stridently anti-Semitic tones commonplace on the fringes of the Left.
The 2020 season is just getting started and the Sanders campaign’s deputy press secretary, an illegal alien, already accused Jews of being disloyal, and Elizabeth Warren issued a statement in defense of Rep. Omar accusing Jews of inventing anti-Semitism accusations to silence criticism of Israel. It’s no coincidence that these overt shows of anti-Semitism are coming from the leftiest figures in the race.
And it will only get worse.
Jewish lefties have a high degree of tolerance for anti-Semitism. But ultimately the only Jews who will be able to remain in the Dem ranks will have very thick skins and career ambitions, like Chuck Schumer, harbor a complicated mix of shame and hatred for Jewishness, like Bernie Sanders, or have no connection to anything Jewish beyond their last names, like your average millennial Obama official.
The Democrats have shown no ability to moderate their extremist drift. The movements pushing them leftward are, like the Democratic Socialists of America, openly supportive of anti-Semitism.
That’s the easiest case to make for Jexodus because the Democrats will be the ones to make it.
Jews will exit the Dems voluntarily or they will be forced out. What’s left will be the rabble that protests outside synagogues and sounds like the Soviet or Iranian spokespersons for the Jewish community.
But a negative case for Jexodus isn’t enough.
Jewish Democrats have responded to the outbreak of anti-Semitism with the usual nebbish excuses, blaming Israel, Netanyahu, and the ‘politicization of anti-Semitism”. But socialist movements were anti-Semitic before Zionism and Jesse Jackson was slurring Jews as ‘hymies’ long before Netanyahu.
Israel is a convenient excuse for anti-Semitism, not only by anti-Semites, but by their Jewish apologists who are eager to exercise a sense of control over a hatred that cannot be controlled, by taking the blame. And then placing it as far away as possible, on another country thousands of miles away.
The anti-Semites blame the Jews. The Jews blame Israel. And nothing is learned from the experience.
The case for Jexodus, like the case for Zionism, must be built around a positive vision for what the country should be, and on a reasoned understanding of why everything fell apart around them.
The negative and the positive case for Zionism split the country between Jewish lefties, who fled the anti-Semitism of socialist movements in Russia, but wanted nothing more than to build a socialist system, and Jewish nationalists who wanted to build a nation based on their beliefs and heritage.
When their socialist project began to collapse, leftists turned on Israel and are trying to dismantle it.
The Democrats are not a political movement with good ideas that happens to be troubled by anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism is the direct result of those ideas on the domestic and foreign policy front. Rep. Omar sits on the House Foreign Relations Committee spewing anti-Semitism because the Democrats believe that Islamic terrorism is justified. Anti-Semitism, in Omar’s case, is the symptom of an Islamist hostility that does not limit itself to Israel, but encloses America and much of the free world.
Anti-Semitism is only one of the prejudices and the destructive consequences resulting from that view. Otherwise why would Americans spend all this time debating Israel: a tiny country located far away?
The debates about Israel aren’t really about a country smaller than New Jersey. Israel is a symbol. The symbol represents what America should or shouldn’t be. Those who love Israel, Jewish or non-Jewish, are traditionalists, nationalists and liberals who believe that countries should have the right to maintain their identities and protect their values by defeating terrorists without having to apologize for it.
Islamists hate Israel because it’s a nation of ‘infidels’ that freed itself of the tyranny of Islamic law. They believe that non-Muslim societies are inherently wicked and must be brought under Sharia supremacy.
Rep. Omar’s infamous tweet, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,” expressed a religious sentiment in a religious struggle. The Jews in the Koran are enemies of Allah. Their lack of obedience to Islamic law leads them to oppress Muslims. The solution is for Muslims to mobilize, with Allah’s guidance, and wage an apocalyptic war on Israel.
The Islamist final solution, in Israel or America, is to impose Islamic law on the infidels. By any means.
Leftists hate Israel because it is a microcosm of everything they hate about America. The Israel that they hate, a country of factories, tech stocks, religious fundamentalism, with babies and soldiers everywhere, embodies what they hate about America. Socialist anti-Semitism used to be anti-capitalism dressed up in medieval stereotypes. It’s now also anti-nationalism, hatred of religion, in anti-Semitic garb.
The distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has never mattered much. Leftist anti-Zionism and leftist anti-Semitism both use Jews as symbols in a debate about America and Europe. It was this sort of debate in the Dreyfuss case, where Jews were objects not subjects, a shorthand of stereotypes in an argument about what France should be, that motivated Theodore Herzl to support Zionism.
Subtract Israel from the equation and the problem doesn’t go away.
Socialism was rife with anti-Semitism because Jews were a useful stereotype when inveighing against capitalism.
They still are.
“Zionist Jews,” a man at a Bernie Sanders event asked the candidate. “They running the Federal Reserve, they running Wall Street, they’re running everything.”
“What is your relationship with your Jewish community?” he demanded.
Bernie Sanders replied by condemning Israel. The anti-Semites blame the Jews. The Jews blame Israel.
Jews have done really well under meritocracy and capitalism. Any sustained attack on either one eventually devolves into anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories about Jewish influence.
When Jews defend themselves against anti-Semitism, they feed into those conspiracy theories. Rep. Omar revived the same trick that had been pulled on Jews throughout the twentieth century.
This is the negative case for Jexodus. It’s also the alternative to a free enterprise liberal meritocracy.
The case for Jexodus must be based on the inescapable fact that anti-Semitism isn’t something that accidentally happened to the Democrats. It was the inevitable outcome of their bad ideas.
The Democrats can’t be reformed with pleas and arguments about tolerance. Expecting them to disavow anti-Semitism is also a demand that they abandon their domestic and foreign policy ideas.
And that won’t happen.
The case for Jexodus must also be based on the positive vision of what America can be. Rising anti-Semitism isn’t the fault of any single politician, but of the abandonment of traditional American values.
Jexodus must be based on a fight to repair this country by restoring its values and its truths.
The anti-Semitism tearing apart the Democrats is a cautionary tale about what happens when America’s traditional commitments to individual freedom, religious liberty, free enterprise and tolerance are undermined by utopian extremists who want to save us by taking away our liberties and beliefs.
The easiest case for Jexodus will be made by the Democrats. The hardest case has to be made by Republicans.
Jexodus should not just be about what we are leaving behind. But where we are going.
* * *