Mayor de Blasio doesn’t understand antisemitism

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio just doesn't get it.

By "it," I mean the reality of contemporary antisemitism.

On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio said that anti-Semitism is a “right-wing movement," and denied that there is antisemitism on the left.

“The violent threat, the threat that is ideological is very much from the right...I think the ideological movement that is anti-Semitic is the right-wing movement,” de Blasio said, referring to the increase of hate crimes in New York City.

Hate crimes against all minority groups are up 64% compared to this time last year. Antisemitic incidents have spiked by 90%.

The mayor is a little bit correct, and very much wrong.

True, antisemitic violence has come from the right. The murders at Tree of Life Synagogue, the synagogue in Poway, the antisemitic chants at Charlottesville ("The Jews will not replace us!") -- all have come from the right.

But, how is he wrong?

"The threat that is ideological" does not only come from the right.

It comes from the left as well.

Consider the new book by Deborah Lipstadt -- Antisemitism Here and Now.

She is very clear: "I think sometimes people on the political right only see it on the left, and sometimes people on the political left only see it on the right."

Consider the twin ideologies: Trumpism, on the right, and Corbynism, as in Jeremy Corbyn, on the left.

Trump has made antisemitic ideas and statements. He has mentioned the supposed Jewish proclivity in business and making deals. He engages in antisemitic dog whistles about globalists. He refuses to condemn white supremacists and antisemites. Just recently, he said that "the Jews always flip."

Corbyn, for his part, engages in deliberate baiting of Jews and Israel. He defends known terrorists.

[Corbyn has] sympathy for anyone who is or appears to be oppressed or an underdog. Those who fight with rocks are always preferred to those who use tanks…anyone white, wealthy, or associated with a group that seems to be privileged cannot be a victim. Anyone who is or claims to be victimized by those who are white, wealthy, and/or privileged deserves unequivocal support. It is doubtful that Corbyn deliberately seeks out antisemites to associate with and to support. But it seems that when he encounters them, their Jew-hatred is irrelevant as long as their other positions — on class, race, capitalism, the role of the state, and Israel/Palestine — are to his liking.

Corbynism is now the dominant ideology of the British Labor Party.

It is also becoming the dominant ideology of the far left in the United States.

You do not have to look very far to see this.

Take the Dyke March in Washington, DC.

Organizers of the march are forbidding any flags with “national symbols,” including “flags that resemble Israeli flags, such as a pride flag with a Star of David in the middle.”

In other words, the Jewish star/Magen David/Star of David is now strictly a national symbol, because it adorns the flag of Israel.

This ignores the historical reality: The star was a Jewish symbol for quite a long time before the State ever came into existence.

A cruel irony.

The Nazis compelled the use of the star. Because Jews did not belong.

The organizers of the Dyke March forbid the use of the star. Because demonstrative Zionist Jews do not belong.

To quote my colleague, Rabbi Rachel Timoner:

Sometimes people oppose Israel’s right to exist by saying that they are against nationalism. But you can’t be against nationalism when it comes to the Jewish people and in favor of nationalism when it comes to the Palestinian people. [The DC Dyke March organizers] say that they stand with the Palestinians because they are a displaced people. A cursory study of Jewish history would demonstrate that the Jewish people have been displaced over and over again, all around the world.

Once upon a time, homosexuality was called "the love that dare not speak its name."

Now, the only national love that dare not speak its name -- is a love of the Jewish nation, and of the Jewish state.

Consider, also, the parallels between the Jewish historical experience, and the LGBTQ experience.

  • A shared history of persecution.
  • A shared history of hiding one's identity.
  • A shared history of needing to "pass."
  • A shared history of internalizing the messages: "Don't appear too Jewish." "Don't appear too gay, effeminate, butch."
  • A shared history of "Did you know that [name of celebrity] is...?"
  • A shared history in the Shoah.

On the far left, you are free to be proudly Jewish -- as long as you are not "that kind" of proudly Jewish.

Your Jewish pride must end at the shores of the Mediterranean.

It is another way of saying that there are good Jews, and bad Jews.

That is the antisemitism of the left.

You will say, echoing Mayor de Blasio: but, at least the contemporary antisemitism of the left is not violent.

You would be right.

For now.

History shows that antisemitic rhetoric has a tragic record of leading to antisemitic violence.

In a culture of hyper-sensitivity; in a culture where it seems that everything requires a trigger warning; in a culture that now understands inherited trauma...

  • Where is the sensitivity for Jews?
  • Where are the trigger warnings for Jews?
  • Where is the understanding of the trauma that Jews have inherited?

Or, don't the Jews count?

That's not "woke."

That is antisemitism.