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Progressive Antisemitism


Progressivism, like so many of history’s ideologies, has carved out a special niche for the Jews. In the most successful and pervasive of all progressive fabrications, the Jews emerge as a unique source of historic evil. Understanding the progressive war against the Jews is central to understanding the entire progressive war plan.

Jew hatred has a long history. It’s a history distinct from the broader history of bigotry or discrimination. Standard bigotry involves relegating a disfavored group to the periphery of society. Second-class citizenship, ghettoization, commercial and professional restrictions, incarceration, exile, and even slaughter are typical weapons of standard bigotry.

Some Jew haters, like those who practiced American country club antisemitism through the mid-twentieth century, are content to hit the Jews with such run-of-the-mill discrimination. Many Jew haters, however, take their bigotry up a notch. Their venom extends beyond mere Jews to target some “Jewish idea” they find particularly offensive. The Jewish covenant, Jewish law, Jewish rituals, Jewish scholarship, the Jewish gene, “international Jewry,” and the Jewish state have all been targeted. Unlike nearly any form of bigotry, Jew hatred begins with the conspiratorial belief that some Jewish idea is corrupting society, elevates anti-Jewish activities as acts of self-defense, and seeks to eradicate the offending idea. If you’re familiar with the Passover Seder, you might recognize the refrain “not only one arose and tried to destroy us, rather in every generation they try to destroy us.” Note the verb: not mistreat, oppress, or even enslave. Destroy. Jew hatred has a nasty habit of devolving into extermination of the sort rare among other hatreds.

If you’re more at home with popular culture than with Passover, the 2018 blockbuster film Black Panther provides a useful way to highlight the unique character of Jew hatred. The movie tells the story of Wakanda, an African nation that long ago discovered the element Vibranium. Mastery of Vibranium catapulted Wakandan technology well ahead of that of the rest of the world. Rather than engaging in conquest, Wakanda chose to keep its advances secret, cloaking the country to appear as but one more poor, troubled African nation. From time to time, Wakandan emissaries would wander outward solving dire problems for their neighbors, seeking justice and doing good (as they themselves saw it) — but never sharing their secrets.

Black Panther was a great action film that did well at the box office. Many members of America’s black community found it empowering. Its message of a black nation poised to teach the world about both technology and morality was a neat inversion of the White Man’s Burden that had run through so much nineteenth and early twentieth century literature. Absolutely no one — from the film’s biggest fans to its harshest critics — saw the film as an expression of anti-black racism.

What does Black Panther have to do with conspiratorial antisemitism? At face level, nothing.

Now dig a bit deeper, and imagine a movie, much like Black Panther, about the Jews:

Back in antiquity, the Jews discovered a system called Torah. Mastery of Torah catapulted Jewish learning and capabilities well ahead of the rest of the world. Rather than engaging in conquest, the Jews chose to keep their advances secret, cloaking themselves as a poor oppressed people. From time to time, Jewish emissaries would wander outward solving dire problems for their neighbors, seeking justice and doing good (as they themselves saw it) — but never sharing their secrets.

Has your flesh begun to crawl? There is zero chance that any Jewish organization, any segment of the Jewish community, or any Jew would find this story empowering. They would deride it as a popularization of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Czarist forgery telling the tale of a secret Jewish cabal operating behind the scenes to control the world’s nominal “leaders.”

When it comes to antisemitism, there is indeed nothing new under the sun. While certain defamations recur and the theory of Jew hatred changes from era to era, the end result is always the same: the Jews are uniquely culpable for violating the most important moral imperative of the dominant culture. For centuries, Christians heaped scorn on the Jews for having rejected the Son of God, while Muslims did likewise for their refusal to accept the Prophet. In modernity, socialists despised the Jews as capitalists; capitalists mistrusted them as socialists; anti-Christians blamed them for Christianity; nationalists derided them as rootless cosmopolitans; citizens of the world decried their nationalism; and eugenicists despised their corruption of the human gene pool.

The last of these theories of Jew hatred, grounded as it was in the finest racial science of its time, seemed distinct enough to earn a new name: antisemitism. The man who coined the term — Wilhelm Marr — wore it proudly. He personally founded the League of Anti-Semites. Antisemitism remained quite fashionable until the Nazis gave it a bad name. Today, the only Americans who describe themselves as proud antisemites belong to a deadly lunatic fringe detached from the nation’s broad political spectrum. Everyone else at least claims to oppose antisemitism. Still, Jew hatred persists. In the progressive twenty-first century, the offensive Jewish idea is the Jewish State; anti-Zionism is little more than the contemporary manifestation of classic, annihilationist, conspiratorial Jew hatred.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) has developed a working definition of antisemitism: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The blessings of the progressive Obama/Clinton State Department notwithstanding, progressives systematically run afoul of the IHRA definition and most of its examples. This progressive antisemitism exploded onto the front pages in 2018, courtesy of the UK — one of the countries that has officially adopted IHRA. Since the ragingly antisemitic progressive Jeremy Corbyn had assumed the helm of the Labour in 2015, the Party had found itself embroiled in a series of antisemitic scandals. Finally, in an effort to dispel the charges, non-antisemitic forces within the Labour Party moved to have the Party adopt IHRA. Corbyn and his progressive followers balked. They insisted on removing several of the examples that would have clearly cast their own behavior as antisemitic.

Corbyn and his progressives eventually caved, but not before the damage had been done. Labour’s many Jewish members abandoned the party in droves — along with most of the decent Labourites. Corbyn retained a far smaller, deeply progressive, deeply antisemitic Labour.

The progressive takeover of the Democrats that first became evident when Howard Dean became DNC Chair in 2005 continues to accelerate. The 2018 midterm elections brought a new class of deeply hateful Democrats into Congress — young “women of color” who like to call themselves a “Squad.” The 2020 Presidential elections will be critical. If the Democrats win — or even if they lose while turning in a credible performance — they will take it as confirmation of their progressivism, their radicalism, and their antisemitism. Commentators on both sides of the Atlantic now routinely discuss the Corbynization of the Democrats.

All of which begs the question: Why does progressivism so despise the Jews? Setting aside the timeless question “Why the Jews?” the answer here is easy.

Progressives despise all forms of nationalism and national identity, and disdain God as a dangerous vestigial relic. It’s hard to think of anything less progressive than a nation, forged and defined around a unique divine connection, with a demonstrated penchant for surviving distinct as all around them assimilate. If your goal is to rewrite society from scratch, untethered to the traps that have confounded mankind throughout history, eliminating the Jews is a fine place to start. And if you’ve got a particular distaste for Western civilization — as progressivism does — the Jewish God is perhaps the deepest of the roots you consider diseased.

Progressive Jew hatred is thus grounded in the fundamental goals of progressivism. It is, as befits a new movement, a new variant of Jew hatredProgressivism seeks to eliminate the Jewish collective. Progressivism is at war not with Jews, but rather with the Jews. In fact, Progressivism has so much room for individual Jews that it’s assigned them an important task. Progressives who self-identify as proud Jews provide the front line of attack against the Jewish collective, and its most important manifestation, the Jewish State of Israel. Among the progressives who like to deny their antisemitism, the new defamation is critical. In their fabrication, the Jews are the worst of all imperial colonialist oppressors of an indigenous people. These progressives proudly deny their antisemitism while promoting — with equal pride — their anti-Zionism.

Bingo! The anti-Zionist Nakba myth cast Jews seeking self-determination in their historic homeland as a foreign colonial power — just as the world turned away from colonialism. It cast as privileged White Europeans the oppressed Jews that Europe had sought to exterminate for being non-Europeans. It cast as invaders the Jews that Islam had relegated to second-class citizenship and then expelled. It cast as a long-captive proud nation the Arabs living in Palestine, who had never before seen themselves as an entity distinct from the other Arabic speakers of the Levant. It leveraged a recurrent them of Jew hatred, namely that whatever property the Jews hold must be stolen from their more righteous neighbors. The Nakba myth depicted the Jews as an invading white horde suppressing the legitimate self-determination of a downtrodden brown people and stealing their home. It’s hard to think of a defamation more damning in the progressive moral universe.

Though the Nakba fable predates contemporary progressivism, its target audience was always Western Jew haters. Arabs and Muslims didn’t need it; they remain more than comfortable with their traditional theological and tribal approaches to Jew hatred. The Islamist Hamas charter squelches the Nakba myth directly: It repeatedly asserts that there are no distinct nationalities within Islam, that Palestine is an administrative unit of Islam, that there is no Palestinian nation, and that the liberation of Palestine is a religious, rather than a nationalist, duty. The secular PLO charter addresses the fabrication more subtly. It describes the need to cultivate the Palestinian identity as a necessary tactic in the war to liberate land rightfully belonging to the Arab nation. Only Westerners needed a narrative rooted in colonialism and the denial of indigenous rights to defame the Jewish State. Progressivism thus appropriated the Nakba as the narrative defining conventional wisdom about the Middle East.

A movement that sees racism behind every expression of national identity, from Judea to Brexit, from Warsaw and Budapest to President Trump’s American nationalism, practically worships at the altar of Palestinian nationalism — the national liberation movement of a nation that never before existed. The only nation progressives love is the one that — as the PLO charter proudly explains — was invented for the sole purpose of denying Jewish rights. That affinity is hardly coincidental.

Progressivism has developed Palestine to the point that it has leapt out of the story in which it arose to assume a life of its own. Progressivism has wrested ownership of the Palestine myth from the Arabs who created it. As more and more Arab states come to appreciate Israel as a potentially valuable ally in their own struggle for survival, they find themselves trapped by a monster they created but can no longer control.

The Palestinian Authority — which no one in the Middle East other than Israeli progressives wants to see legitimized as a national government — has a de facto veto on the foreign relations of the Arab states. Part Pinocchio, part Frankenstein, the fictional Palestinian nation has become the primary impediment to Arab advancement, development, and self-improvement. The Arab states need Western help to slay their monster; progressives are hellbent on ensuring that no such assistance arrives. To date, few Western leaders have been willing to provide the assistance they need. At least, that is, until President Trump traveled to Riyadh in 2017 — his first trip abroad as President. He spoke to them candidly, as a friend, about the need to “drive out” the radicals from their midst. Part of that deradicalization, they understand, will involve reconciliation with Israel — not love for the Jews, but the ability to deal with a bordering country whose interests, at least at times, align with their own.

Progressivism has thus taken the world to a point that few anticipated even a decade ago. Western progressives have replaced Arab leaders as the primary source of twenty-first antisemitism.

*Contributed article by American Restoration Institute

Bruce Abramson

Bruce Abramson

Bruce Abramson has over thirty years of experience working as a technologist, economist, attorney, and policy analyst. Dr. Abramson holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Columbia and a J.D. from Georgetown. He has contributed to the scholarly literature on computing, business, economics, law, and foreign policy, and written extensively about American politics and policy.