Over the past election season and into the new presidency I have been hearing a lot of concerns about alt-right hate and anti-Semitism. Just this past week, my children’s synagogue school was evacuated because of a bomb threat. Swastikas have appeared locally, Jewish cemeteries are being desecrated, and a Chapel Hill elementary school was even planning to allow several 8-year-olds to dress up as Hitler in school until a teacher complained. These are deeply troubling times to say the least.
While the left is eager to point out right-wing hate, I am concerned that the left is very reluctant to consider its own problems with intolerance, bigotry and anti-Semitism. Here are a few examples to consider.
The Women’s March and other groups are promoting “A Day Without A Woman,” scheduled for Wednesday, March 8, billed as “an international strike against male violence and in defense of reproductive rights.” One of the organizers of this strike is Rasmea Yousef Odeh – a convicted terrorist. Odeh was convicted of taking part in a bombing that killed two students in Israel who were grocery shopping. Odeh has been charged with immigration fraud for concealing her terrorism-related conviction in Israel from the United States. It is hard for me to understand how standing in solidarity with Odeh is good for women or good for anyone.
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Keith Ellison was recently appointed deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) after narrowly losing the race to be chair. Ellison is a past supporter of the Nation of Islam (NOI), which is a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mother Jones, a politically left publication, referred to Ellison as a past “defender” of Louis Farrakhan and cited sources which claimed that Ellison was a past member of the NOI. Farrakhan, leader of the NOI, is notorious for saying hateful things about the LGBT community, Jews and others.
Tablet Magazine, an American Jewish publication, explained: “It is clear that Ellison trafficked with incredibly virulent, open anti-Semites and supported and defended them until it became politically inconvenient. Then he lied about it – and once in office, he decided to target the Jewish state.” In December the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying Ellison made remarks about Israel in 2010 that “are both deeply disturbing and disqualifying.”
How exactly is it “progressive” for the DNC to appoint such a person to be their deputy chair? How would the left feel about a former member of the KKK being appointed deputy chair of the Republican National Committee?
In August, The Movement for Black Lives included in its platform a call to divest from “any government with human rights violations.” The only country specifically mentioned by name for divestment was Israel. One writer in the Jewish Daily Forward asked, “Why single out and bash Israel and no other country?” Israel is, of course, the only country in the world which has a majority Jewish population.
Alan Dershowitz, the famous civil liberties lawyer, has correctly stated, “Israel is among the freest and most democratic nations in the world (and)] it is certainly the freest and most democratic nation in the Middle East.” Yet the Movement for Black Lives demonizes Israel (a world leader in human rights) without specifically mentioning for possible divestment other far, far worse governments such as Syria, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya just to name a few.
The platform of The Movement for Black Lives makes the repugnant claim that the United States and Israel are “complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.” It is inflammatory, grossly inaccurate and anti-Semitic to accuse Israel of genocide. How exactly does demonizing Jews and Israel help black lives?
By demonizing Israel, a majority Jewish country, the Movement for Black Lives makes this world more hateful, more bigoted, and more unsafe for my Jewish family. I support civil rights, human rights, and the dignity and rights of people of color. However, I reject the anti-Semitism and bigotry that the Movement for Black Lives has chosen to embrace.
When Democrats, liberals and progressives circle the wagons around left wing causes which tolerate and embrace anti-Semitism, the left is standing in solidarity with hate. It is time that Democrats and “progressives” reject the intolerance, hate and anti-Semitism of the alt-left.
Peter Reitzes lives in Chapel Hill.