Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Recently the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives failed to censure Rep. Ilhan Omar for indulging anti-Semitic tropes like the “dual loyalties” slander. Not long after, the international edition of The New York Times published a vile cartoon caricaturing Israeli Prime Minister as a guide-dog leading a blind Donald Trump, another anti-Semitic lie about the Jews’ malign influence, one popular in Nazi propaganda of the Thirties.
Jew-hatred on the left is becoming more prevalent and bolder, these days nourished by the progressive Democrats’ alliance with traditional Muslims, whose ancient Islamic doctrines have for 14 centuries made Jews the scapegoat of Islam’s ills.
One of the biggest current bipartisan cover-ups is the studied silence about traditional Islamic Jew-hatred. As Andrew Bostom documented in his compendious The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism (and here), from Islam’s birth the Jews have been depicted as the inveterate enemies of Allah’s revelation to Mohammed. In the Koran, they are “laden with God’s anger,” destined to suffer forever “abasement and poverty,” and to be turned into “apes and swine” because they rejected Mohammed–– slurs incorporated into the genocidal Hamas’s foundational covenant. The latter slur about “apes and swine” is a favorite of contemporary Islamists. Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, for example, in 2002 called for jihad against the Jews, “those apes, pigs, and worshippers of calves,” the latter phrase linking the exodus story about the golden calf to modern anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews as greedy money-grubbers and masters of the global financial system.
Modern Muslim clerics and theorists of jihad have regularly repeated these ancient assertions of Jew-hatred. The godfather of modern jihadism, Muslim Brother Sayyid Qutb, wrote about Jews in the same manner as Islamic canonical texts. In his late-Fifties essay “Our Struggle with the Jews,” he blames the troubles of Muslims on “the same Jewish machinations and double-dealing, which discomfited the early Muslims.” He demonizes Jews for “behaving in the most disgusting aggressive manner and sinning in the ugliest way” and committing “unprecedented abominations.” His solution is to “let Allah bring down upon the Jews people who will mete out to them the worst kinds of punishment.”
So too Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who was fond of the staples of Jew-hatred rhetoric: the Jews, Khomeini said, “distorted the reputation of Islam by assaulting and slandering it.” He called them a “cancerous tumor,” a metaphor also used by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who has said the Jews are “a cancer which is liable to spread again at any moment.” Such traditional Islamic rhetoric is still common throughout the Muslim Middle East, frequently appearing in Arabic-language internet and television shows, in state-run newspapers, and in the work of university professors.
The persistence of such hatred vitiates the arguments of apologists who equate contemporary Muslim Jew-hatred with traditional Christian anti-Semitism. The Biblical justifications for anti-Semitism are few, and usually distort the verse’s obvious meaning (e.g. Matthew 27.25). And though Christian theologians over the centuries indulged in anti-Semitism, the Catholic church eventually proscribed it in Nostra Aetate. (1965). We can justly fault the church for its betrayal of its own theology and its tardiness in rectifying its error, but no major Islamic religious leader or institution has officially denounced Jew-hatred, which remains mainstream for a majority of Muslims; unlike Christians, among whom it is the hobby-horse of marginal cranks. Indeed, the oft-derided “fundamentalist” evangelical Christians are today some of Israel’s most loyal and enthusiastic supporters.
In reality, the most destructive expression of modern anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, was not in the main an expression of traditional Christian anti-Semitism, but of modern scientism. In America, Darwinian-inspired “scientific racism” and eugenics provided Nazis with a more respectable modern rationale for protecting the “race” against those inferior peoples like Jews who would degrade it. Popular books endorsing measures to forestall what progressive Woodrow Wilson called “racial disaster,” such as Madison Grant’s bestseller The Passing of the Great Race (1916) ––Hitler called it his “bible” in a fan letter––were hugely influential on German eugenics. American foundations like Rockefeller gave millions of dollars to German think-tanks and researchers like Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, who said eugenics would lead to a “total solution to the Jewish problem,” and later conducted twin-research with Josef Mengele. A modern German historian has argued that ordinary Germans acquiesced or participated in the Holocaust not because they were “following orders,” but “following America,” whose top universities were the centers of research on “racial hygiene” and gave it the patina of objective “science.”
Unsurprisingly, today’s Muslim Jew-haters spice their Koranic anti-Semitic rhetoric with tropes and metaphors from Nazi-era propaganda. Holocaust deniers are welcomed to state-sponsored conferences, and the Russian forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is widely available, as are translations of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Modern Jew-hatred today permeates the left, and increasingly is colonizing the Democrat Party. Traditional Marxism, like its founder, scorned religion as an “opiate” and creator of “false consciousness,” perforce making Israelis and observant Jews objects of scorn for the secular left. Modern versions of Marxism have also, like Nazism, made Jews the embodiment of capitalism’s excesses and vices, such as greed, the fetishizing of money, lust for global domination, and a dehumanizing fragmentation of society and culture. The capitalist arch-sin of colonialism is represented by Israel, deemed a neo-colonialist capitalist outpost reprising all the sins of imperialism: invasion, occupation, appropriation of resources, and oppression of the conquered peoples.
Thus anti-Zionism has become the new face of Jew-hatred, which explains Omar Ilhan’s rhetoric of a sinister “Jewish lobby” that corrupts and controls American politicians with money (“It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” as Ilhan tweeted.) Globalists, just as Marxist anti-nationalists do, who tout the post-nationalist “rules-based international order” likewise resent the Zionists’ fierce patriotism and affection for their nation and its particular history, religion, and culture. Especially in Europe, tolerance of violence against Jews and a rote condemnation and demonization of Israel are commonplace.
What we are witnessing today is the fusion of the ancient and modern varieties of Jew-hatred, the ancient Muslim version melding with the modern leftist one, a tactical alliance in which each side seeks to achieve its aims with the support of the other: For radical Muslims, the weakening of liberal democracy and its replacement by a government and society embodying illiberal sharia law; for far-left progressives, the creation of a socialist government run by a technocratic elite that centralizes power and weakens individual freedom and autonomy.
Moreover, Muslims are now recognized by the left as an identity-politics cadre “of coloer” based on their superficial appearance and status as victims of “Islamophobia,” colonialism, and continuing “oppression” and “occupation” by Israel. Like most official victims of identity politics, someone like Omar Ilhan, with her exotic head-gear and looks, is catnip to the multicultural left, who harbor a sentimental, very un-Marxist attraction to the non-Western “other of color” and their quaint folkways and customs so superior to “white culture.”
However, like the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between Nazi German and the communist Soviet Union in 1939, this alliance is fundamentally incoherent. A secular, hedonistic, feminist progressive ideology that mocks religious faith as atavistic superstition, and promotes homosexuality, public sexual license, on-demand abortion, and multiple sex-identities, cannot coexist for long with a traditional, patriarchal faith that subordinates women, practices polygamy and honor killings of women, stones homosexuals, oppresses other faiths, executes apostates, accepts violence as a religious obligation, and is fiercely religious to a degree seldom seen any more in the West, even among church-goers.
For now, however, the Democrat leadership has to accept these contradictions as a necessary price to pay for holding together their “rainbow” coalition. And Jew-hatred, which in all its historical variations ultimately relies on the unfortunate human habit of scapegoating others to explain failure, is one of the glues holding together this unlikely alliance of self-proclaimed victims, just as Nazi Germany and communist Soviet Union’s shared hatred of liberal democracy and free-market economies held them together until Hitler invaded Russia in his bid for world domination.
Such an outcome is at present unlikely in America, given how small is the number of Muslims living in the U.S.–– 3.4 million, barely one percent of the total population. But that’s a million more than ten years ago. Don’t forget, in October 1917, 10,000 Bolsheviks engineered a revolution that seized power over 126 million Russians, and engineered the murder of 100 million people in Russia and its global imitators. In Europe, despite Muslims comprising a mere 5% of the population, we are witnessing a progressive, globalist elite facilitating more Muslim immigration, studiously obscuring the Muslim perpetrators of crimes and terror attacks, and winking at the creeping Islamization of public spaces and institutions. It is a stark warning of how much damage to our politics and culture can be wreaked by such an alliance between progressive globalists and Islamists.
Such disasters are always possible when “the best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Jews and Israel have always been the canaries in the coal mine, the early-warning sirens of impending disaster. It behooves us to take seriously Jew-haters like Omar Ilhan, shame the Democrats who indulge and enable their hatred, and elect leaders who will give no quarter to those indulging of the world’s oldest hatred.