Contemporary empirical realities demonstrate one undeniable fact: anti-Semitism is no longer associated prominently with the Right. Instead, the primary source of the hatred of Jews now emanates from the Left. In fact, anti-Semitism has evolved into a cultural code and even a rallying cry for progressive radicals throughout the world. This reality is perfectly illustrated by contemporary efforts to pressure Western universities and institutions to divest from financial holdings in Israel.
What explains this phenomenon of growing Leftist anti-Semitism? Why has contempt for Jews become the mantle of Leftist politics – or was it actually always the case, but just more subtle? To discuss these and other aspects of Leftist anti-Semitism with us today, Frontpage Symposium has aligned a distinguished panel of experts. Our guests today are Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun magazine, www.tikkun.org, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in S.F., and author of eight books including The Politics of Meaning, Spirit Matters: Global Healing and the Wisdom of the Soul, and most recently Healing Israel/Palestine; , a senior associate scholar at the Political Science Department at Rutgers University, Camden, and the author of Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East; Leonard Dinnerstein, a professor of American history and director of the Judaic Studies Program at the University of Arizona. He is also the author of America and the Survivors of the Holocaust and Antisemitism in America; and Jonathan Kay, the editorials editor of the National Post who has written extensively on anti-Semitism and the academic Left.(email@example.com)
 Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Frontpage Symposium. Let us begin with this question: would we agree that the contemporary growth of anti-Semitism on the Left is the result of anti-Semitism now becoming enmeshed with anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism, anti-globalization etc?
Dinnerstein: First, I'm not sure how much leftist anti-Semitism is based on political concerns. The manifestations may be anti-Semitic but political concerns may not have been the cause of the anti-Semitism. Secondly, I'd like to see statistics on how many leftist anti-Semites there are. I am familiar with conditions in the United States. I am not familiar with conditions in other parts of the world.
Having said that, there is no doubt in my mind that the current wave of "increased" anti-Semitic manifestations is driven both by Muslim activists and concerns about Israeli policies.
Kay: Anti-Semitism is, without doubt, an old phenomenon. Nonetheless, it has definitely found many new converts thanks to the rise of the New Left. Arabists and globaphobes are obsessed with "neo-colonialism" and "neo-imperialism" - and throw such epithets around casually to describe both Western trade policies and the Israeli presence in the disputed territories.
The shared ideological bond explains why placards equating Sharon with Hitler are now de rigueur at left-wing anti-trade protests - even though many of the people holding them wouldn't know Gaza from Golan.
On university campuses, where the two movements intermingle most frequently, anti-Israeli attitudes have blurred into anti-Semitism. Typically, Muslim and Arab students are accorded great deference by their white, Christian peers - because it is felt that, since 9/11, these minority groups are on the front line in the battle against racist U.S. hegemony. As a result, there is a tendency for university activists to swallow wholesale the anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic myths that circulate widely in the Arab media and on pro-Palestinian web sites.
Dinnerstein: I would not be so quick as to label attacks on Israeli policies as the equivalent of blistering anti-Semitism. I also want to see statistics on how many people are involved. While I do believe anti-Semitic manifestations are on the rise around the world, the same is not true for the United States. I wish I did know who has become anti-Semitic as a result of the Middle East situation and how many have used the opportunity to express their anti-Semitic views which they had already held.
Lerner: Anti-Semitism on the Left remains a marginal phenomenon, because very few people on the Left would consciously say that they believe that Jews or the Jewish people ought to be treated differently or deserve worse treatment than any one else on the planet. Unlike, for example, those who hold that some people on this planet deserve more wealth and some people less wealth because of their alleged merit (in work, intelligence, or some other feature of their lives), very few Leftists hold that Jews deserve less of the goodies of the planet or the benefits of society than anyone else.
What irks many on the Left is when Jews take a larger portion than others relative to their proportion in the population of the world’s wealth (e.g. by being disproportionately represented in the elites of the most piggy society on the face of the earth which has 5% of the world’s population but consumes 25% of the world’s wealth) or when the Jews benefit from the support of colonial or imperial ambitions of, first Britain, and then the U.S., in the Middle East to establish a society benefiting as the single largest recipient of U.S. aid, and then using those benefits to create a society which oppresses Palestinians. Here, a small percentage of people on the Left single out the Jews and Israel for special, and in my view anti-Semitic attention, allowing what could be legitimate criticisms were they spread to all beneficiaries of an unjust global system to be focussed illegitimately on critique of the Jewish people and on Israel, and by ignoring the vicious and immoral acts of terror committed against Israeli civilians by some who advocate the Palestinian cause. Moreover, some groups on the left deny Jews the same right to have national self-determination (and with it all the attendant distortions that nationalism frequently produces) that they champion when it comes to other historically oppressed groups.
Klinghoffer: I do not believe that anti-Semitism on left is either new or marginal. It is and has always been enmeshed in the wedge issues of the day. Thus, in the Thirties it became enmeshed in the Stalin –Trotsky power struggle. In the nineteen sixties it became enmeshed with the Vietnam and the Six Day wars and when the left lost the Vietnam war as a mobilizing issue, it increased its focus on the Palestinian one. Trotsky compared the Moscow trials to the Dreifus one and in the mid-Sixties, the editor of the American Jewish Yearbook Milton Himmelfarb noted: “Internationalism is less automatically and o.k. word or idea that it used to be. What is internationalism today, who is internationalist? Nasser? Nasser called for genocide. Old fashioned pro-Sovietism? The Soviets were disgusting in the UN. Cynical, even anti-Semitic.” “Our disillusionment,” continued Himmelfarb, “is greatest with our old idea that our enemies aren’t on the left.” As the Haggadah says, “in every generation . . .” Only the excuses are different.
Kay: The fact that Lerner chooses to say that the United States "consumes 25% of the world's wealth" instead of, more accurately, "produces 25% of the world's wealth" unwittingly exposes how outdated Marxist theories of class struggle remain central to the left's view of the Jewish question. (Similarly, Jews do not "take" a larger portion than other groups, except to the extent they "earn" a larger portion.)
If Israel were poor, backwards and repressive — like, say, the Palestinian Authority and all of Israel's Arab neighbours — it would qualify for the left's sympathy under the theory that poverty is a symptom of capitalist exploitation and, therefore, signals moral virtue. It is only because Jews have built a wealthy, technologically advanced and militarily powerful nation that Israel comes in for scrutiny and loathing from the hard left.
I would also like to get back for a moment to Prof. Dinnerstein’s point about how he needs to see “statistics”.
It's hard to measure any form of hatred with statistics -- because most people deny their prejudices in surveys. That's why discussion of rising anti-Semitism is mostly based on anecdotal evidence. But that anecdotal evidence is fairly compelling -- especially for journalists (like me) who often report on the world of academia, where opposition to Israeli policies is starting to blur into something more disturbing.
Let me focus on one example to illustrate my point: Concordia University in Montreal, where Benjamin Netanyahu was recently prevented from speaking by student rioters. Concordia has a large contingent of militantly pro-Palestinian students, some of them Arab-born, who have taken a leading role in university politics.
In late 2001, as the current murderous intifada was building to its crescendo, the student union distributed over 20,000 copies of a student handbook/agenda full of anti-Israel material. The editor of the publication contributed a poem praising the Palestinian uprising as a metaphor for class struggle. May 15, Israel's Independence Day, is marked on the calendar as "Al-Nakba". Laith Marouf, a Syrian citizen then acting as the student union's VP Internal, contributed a long essay complaining that "The majority of Canadian media is owned by two Zionists."
There was also a cartoon depicting Israel's military as a drooling bird of prey threatening a small Palestinian child. (You can see the cartoon by clicking here) Note the text underneath, which accuses Israel of wanton extermination of Palestinians. Dinnerstein may claim that such cartoons are merely anti-Israel, not anti-Semitic. That is an arguable position. (And I am certainly not accusing the artist of anti-Semitism. For all I know, he or she is Jewish.) But I think *many* Jews would see the cartoon as conveying hate.
Dinnerstein: I have to admit that I am only familiar with anti-Semitism in the United States. What I know about the rest of the world, and that includes Canada, is only what I read in the newspapers. So I would not like to put my views in print about other countries.
I do know, though, that the ADL in 2002 found less anti-Semitism, and more opposition to Israeli policies, on college campuses in the United States than amongst any other segment of the population. 3% of students and 5% of faculty, according to their findings were hardcore anti-Semites. On the other hand, 65% of the faculties at the different colleges opposed the policies of the Israeli government.
One more point. Anti-Semitism always arises in times of crisis. It does not matter which country has a crisis. What I think, therefore, is that the crisis of the moment does not cause anti-Semitism but increases the manifestations of anti-Semitism. In other words, people who contain their prejudices in ordinary times really let it go when they become upset about something.
 Could it be argued that leftwing anti-Semitism is the Left’s desperate attempt to find meaning in the post-communist world? What I mean is that the Left always needed to admire a Stalin, a Mao, a Castro, the Sandinistas etc. But the delusional glory of doing all that is gone now. So is part of this phenomenon the reality that championing the Palestinians fills the void of communism’s death -- and anti-Semitism is the result?
Kay: I think it's important to understand how recent developments have changed the intellectual terrain. Marxism appealed to Western intellectuals because it purported to legitimize the emotional loathing they felt for their own capitalist societies. Though Marxism has been discredited, hard leftists retain that core societal self-hatred, and so are desperately casting about for some new intellectual framework to legitimize it. Their problem is that the main ideological force opposing the United States is now militant Islam, which is fascistic in its outlook and seeks to oppress women, homosexuals and religious minorities - groups that the left has historically championed.
Criticizing Israel is the left's way of squaring the circle: By obsessing over the Palestinians (plus the suffering of Iraqi children), leftists can feel themselves part of the Arab world's anti-imperialist struggle, while at the same time politely ignoring all of the illiberal baggage - be it Koranic or Arabist - that generally comes with it.
Dinnerstein: The sweeping generalizations are too strong for me to swallow without more data about Mr. Kay's assumptions. On the other hand I agree with Mr. Kay's position and description of militant Islam. I find even moderate Islamic practices anathema and certainly do not respect that religion's positions on treatment of women.
In terms of the first question about anti-Semitism being about the Left looking for meaning, my answer is no. To the second question in this section we have to recognize that there are some legitimate concerns about Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians. One should not necessarily label everything anti-Semitic. The rest of the question, about the Left needing to fill the void of communism's death by championing the Palestinians is far beyond my comprehension. It sounds like someone's fantasies.
Kay: Obviously, Prof. Dinnerstein is correct to say that you can be anti-Israel without being anti-Semitic. The problem is that in Muslim countries, which have supplanted the West’s racist right as the leading producers of anti-Semitic propaganda, the distinction has been entirely blurred. Islamic religious authorities increasingly cite anti-Jewish hadiths and Koranic passages in their anti-Israel screeds.
In Pakistan, to take one example, Michael Kamber of the Village Voice reported last year that his interviewees made no distinction between Jews and the Jewish state, slipping casually in their poisonous criticism from one to the other. “Anti-Semitism flows as easily as water,” he wrote. “In interviews conducted while I was there, government officials would occasionally veer off into long diatribes about the Jews; fundamentalist religious leaders, who educate hundreds of thousands of children in the country's madrassas, spoke of little else.” This hateful conflation would be a worrying phenomenon even if it were confined to the Muslim world. But it’s not. As I noted above, anti-Semitic hatreds are being imported into the Hard Left protest movement through Western-based pro-Palestinian activists and Web sites.
Dinnerstein: I agree with practically all that Mr. Kay has written in the above paragraph. But anti-Semitic hatreds being manifested now may have been simmering for a long time for other reasons and the current controversy concerning the policies of the government of Israel has given bigots an opportunity to speak out, ostensibly because they are concerned about the Palestinians. Of course, some people are concerned about the Palestinians.
Lerner: Left-wing anti-Semitism remains a marginal phenomenon within the circle of those who have significant critiques of the globalization of capital or the unfair distribution of the wealth of the planet or of the destructive role of corporate power in America’s democracy and in its capacity to develop sane ecological policies. Anti-Semitism is barely present in most of the people who are engaged in raising or struggling against the abuses generated by the global system of capital. However, where it finds most consistent articulation is in some ultra-left sectarian groups whose vulgar Marxist idiocies seem so irrelevant that no one would pay any attention to them were they not able to generate some heat through anti-Semitic rhetoric, and by those on the Left who are genuinely outraged at Israeli behavior and then stupidly allow that outrage to slide into a vulgar assault on Jews or on the fundamental legitimacy of a Jewish state.
If we want to reach to unconscious dynamics, then as I have explained in my book The Socialism of Fools: Anti-Semitism on the Left, an important underlying issue is what I call Surplus Powerlenssness. People who feel that they are powerless to challenge those with real power often deflect their anger on to those who have marginally more power than they. The rapid transformation of Jews from an oppressed group to a beneficiary of global capital has given rise to the essentially false perception that the Jews are really a powerful part of the world’s ruling elites, and the correct perception that they can be fought more successfully than the rest of those elites.
Klinghoffer: In her recent perceptive book, World on Fire, Amy Chua describes the hatred generated by market dominant minorities and analogised that Israel functions as a market dominant minority in the Middle East and the U.S. functions as a market dominant minority in the world. Indeed, it is possible that the edition of military power to the economic one may not help matters. What is most disheartening is that the very people who claim to care about the poor are the ones most ready to exploit their instinctual feelings of envy, an exploitation that only serves to make the poor poorer.
Dinnertsein: I don't think the "market economy" has much to do with anti-Semitism but I do think that those who are hurting economically will often blame the Jews for their plight.
Klinghoffer: What bothers “indigenous” majorities is not necessarily economic hurt than being outperformed economically. The addition of ethnic difference to economic differences seems to produce the explosive mix Chua details. As she explains, the hostility generated by Jewish economic success in far from unique. Such hostility (at times accompanied by pogroms and expulsions) is experienced by other market dominant minorities, be they the Chinese in Southeast Asia, the Lebanese in West Africa, or the Indians in East Africa. It should be noted that the expulsion of these market dominant minorities often devastates the economies of the expelling countries, as the eviction of the Indians from Uganda demonstrated. On the other hand, the arrival of market savvy minority can do wonders for a country. Thus, within two hundred years of their expulsion from Spain, the Jews who settled in Amsterdam played a major role in the construction of the Golden age of the Dutch commercial empire. But, then, logic is rarely the strongest suit of the resentful.
Lerner: Being resentful of the people who hold disproportionate wealth while others starve is an essential element in the prophetic tradition—not because the prophets wanted the wealth for themselves, but because they resented the way that some Jews were ignoring the injunction of torah to care about “the other” and had turned our religion into a celebration of the powerful. It is that distortion, what we call idolatry, which is characteristic of too many Jews in America today. The stark contrast between the righteous vision of the torah tradition and the actual abandonment of that tradition so that they could indulge themselves in the ethos of materialism and selfishness of American life, forms one reason why those who hope for a world of kindness and love and social justice feel particularly angry at some Jews. But when they then allow that anger to be directed against Jews as a whole, rather than only at those Jews who have betrayed Jewish ideals, they become anti-Semitic. Moreover, to hold Jews to our own high standards can become anti-Semitic by people who do not hold themselves to those same standards.
 What do you think about the effort in the United States and Western Europe to pressure universities and other institutions to divest from financial holdings in Israel? What is the significance here?
Kay: The central conceit of Edward Said and the rest of the pro-Palestinian propaganda corps is that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is no different from 19th-century colonialism. And because Western intellectuals see colonialism as the ultimate sin, they focus on Israel while ignoring far bloodier conflicts in places like Algeria. Gretta Duisenberg can no doubt rattle off the name of every Palestinian "martyr" killed by Israeli troops. I wonder if she could estimate to within an order of magnitude the number felled in Sudan's ongoing civil war. (Hint: It's approximately 1,000 times as many as have been killed in the latest intifada.)
Dinnerstein: People generally focus on the issue du jour. There is no doubt that other nations tyrannize and torture their citizens but the media focuses on one or two issues at a time. Whatever is "news" gets more attention.
We must also acknowledge, no matter what we think about the virtues of Israel and its right to be recognized as a nation, that it is an outpost of western imperialism. The United States had to twist many arms (cf. what it is doing with security Council members today in regard to resolutions concerning Iraq) to get the necessary votes in the UN to establish the state of Israel.
Similarly Americans would not want to defend their position in regard to American Indians and how their lands were taken. On the other hand, I am not aware of too many people in the United States wanting to give back parts of Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, etc. to Native Americans.
Thus, while I am opposed to divesting financial holdings from Israel. At the same time, when people have huge concerns and few weapons, they seize whatever weapons they think appropriate.
Kay: I completely disagree with Prof. Dinnerstein’s comment that Israel is an "outpost of western imperialism." But rebutting this would require a whole new symposium and would take us far field from the subject of anti-Semitism. So I will resist the urge to digress but would like my profound disagreement on the record.
Let me ask this: Doesn’t it seem odd that the university-based boycott organizers seem to reserve their “huge concerns” for the Jewish state? As I noted in a National Post column a few months back, in Chechnya, many times more Muslims have died at the hands of Russians than Palestinians at the hands of Israelis. In Sudan, more than a million Christians and animists have been killed by a genocidal government in Khartoum. But last time I checked, Europe's profs weren't targeting Russian chess players or Sudanese mullahs.
Dinnertsein: Outbursts are usually targeted toward whatever issues seem to get a following. Genocide in Khartoum has not been made into a major issue by the media.
Lerner: Israel’s behavior toward Palestinians is outrageous and immoral. As a Jew, I have every right to focus on it with far greater intensity than I would any other outrage on the planet—this is my people, my son served in the Israeli army (with my written consent), and this is a country which claims to speak in my name and in the name of the tradition of which I am a rabbi.
But when others (either non-Jews or Jews whose only interest in their Jewishness is to find what is bad about it) single out Israel for critique and negative attention, they are in fact engaged in an anti-Semitic activity. For that reason, I oppose divestment campaigns against Israel, though I would not oppose them if they were explicitly part of a divestment campaign that was linked to China (for its behavior in Tibet), Russia (for its behavior in Chechnya), Iraq, Saudia Arabia and Egypt (for their undermining of human rights in their own countries), etc. There is nothing morally wrong with the tactic of divestment, and there is nothing wrong with attempts to non-violently pressure Israel to change its policies, but there is something wrong with a world using moral standards and moral strategies to condemn Israel while not simultaneously taking the same stance with regard to far worse human rights abusers.
Klinghoffer: The divestment movement against Israel is another cynical mobilization tactic. I would not be surprised if the European left would start a similar movement against the US. Israel’s behavior towards the Palestinian is neither outrageous nor immoral. Indeed, Israel’s behavior towards its Palestinian citizens is nothing less than amazing. Despite the growing evidence to the growing involvement of these citizens in suicide bombing, there has been to mass retaliation against them. As for the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, they were one of the fastest growing economies before Arafat, not to mention the amazing advances in their health and education. Post Arafat, and most especially post suicide bombings, is another matter. War is cruel though Israel is doing its best to retain its soul.
Lerner: Israel would have a far better chance of retaining its soul if it stopped tearing down houses of Palestinians, stopped torturing Palestinian civilians and then later releasing them because they had committed no crime, stopped punishing the families of people who do engage in horrible acts of terror (the torah explicitly forbids punishing person x for the sins of person y), and started modeling the non-violence that all of us want to see from the Palestinians. A first step might be to unilaterally end the occupation.
Klinghoffer: Israel followed Lerner's advice at the beginning of the Intifada and ended up being subjected not only to a barrage of suicide bombing but also to the spectacle of "proud parents" celebrating the "sacrifice" of their children in their new homes. Indeed, young people were encouraged to sacrifice for the benefit of their families who not only were assured of hefty bonuses but their other children earned free college education. As the British Foreign minister noted, I wish we had lived in a different world but, unfortunately, we do not.
Dinnerstein: In the United States I do not think that the divestment is cynical. I think that it is one possible response from people who do not know how else to influence changes in the Middle East. I think that these people are misguided, and I hope that they do not succeed, but I am not so quick to challenge the motives of so many people who differ with me.
Klinghoffer: It is very difficult not to challenge the motives of people who focus on a small vulnerable democratic country populated by the sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors and refugees from Arab lands whose neighbours openly advocate her destruction. Especially when these same critics fail to pay similar attention to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, slavery in Sudan or the Southern African hunger generated by the ruthless policies of Robert Mugabe.
 Ladies and gentlemen, we are running out of time. Would each of you kindly give us some final words of wisdom on anti-Semitism and its growth on the Left?
Lerner: Leftist Anti-Semitism today is a marginal phenomenon uncharacteristic of most of the people in the world who wish to build a world of peace, economic justice, and ecological sanity. But it does exist in a small number of leftist sect groups, and there it is rooted in a psychological dynamic described in my book Surplus Powerlessness. These are people whose actual experience of political powerlessness and marginality make them feel that they dare not seriously struggle against the real institutions of political and economic power because internally they feel too powerless to do so. Hence, they position themselves in ways that guarantee their actual irrelevance on most issues, unconsciously choosing to be self-marginalizing because they don't believe they could actually ever win anything.
However, the anger that they feel at their own marginalization gets directed at people who have marginally more power than they. And this is why Jews are such an attractive target--because Jews are often positioned in Western societies in a particularly dangerous position: we are both prominent as the servants of the truly powerful, yet rarely (except possibly in America) have we actually achieved and maintained real power for any substantial period. Thus, it becomes safe to deflect the legitimate anger that people feel at a social system that has left them feeling frustrated and angry onto the target of Jews who have marginally more power but actually in substance don't have the actual power to repress that misdirected racist anger.
Dinnerstein: I am not an expert in international affairs and therefore my comments must be restricted to what is going on in the United States. According to an ADL survey, done in May, 2002, 3% of students and 5% of university faculty are strong anti-Semites. On the other hand, 65% of faculty have difficulty in accepting some of Sharon's policies.
The divestiture movement, which received great publicity in the United States last year, is going no place in this country. Counter-petitioners who oppose divestiture have gotten more signatures for their position than the ones who want to pull out of Israel have received.
There may be some small link between anti-Semitism and opposition to the policies of the Sharon government but so far I have seen few correlations. Anecdotal material is always important, and in many cases it conveys a sense of what is going on, and I especially appreciate its use by journalists. Anecdotal information, has to be supported by hard data before we jump to too many conclusions.
Kay: The true "psychological dynamic" at work here is far simpler than the one Lerner describes. Simply put, leftists who despise their own capitalist societies inevitably come to sympathize with militants -- communists, Tier-mondistes, Islamists, it doesn't make any difference -- who attack those societies from without.
Right now, the only corner of the world putting up any sort of serious ideological fight against Western-style capitalism and liberalism is the Muslim Middle East. So, just as the left uncritically swallowed Stalin's propaganda in the 1930s, expect the left to increasingly swallow Arabist propaganda in our own era.
And since one of the key elements of Arabist propaganda is a hatred of Israel and a suspicion of Jews, these building blocks of anti-Semitism will become more and more a part of mainstream leftist discourse. As I've mentioned previously, you can already see this phenomenon at work by examining the propaganda distributed at anti-war marches, or at the Durban "anti-racism" conference of 2001, or simply by asking militant leftists where they get their information about the Middle East.
As things stand, anti-Semitism in the West is largely tacit and hardly epidemic. The anti-Semitism statistics Dinnerstein cites -- 3% of students and 5% of faculty -- sound about right to me. But that is beginning to change. Here in Canada, it has become increasingly common for leftists to privately lament the number of media outlets controlled by "pro-Zionist" men -- i.e., Jews -- such as Israel Asper. And, of course, this week, an anti-war Democratic congressman blamed Jews for the U.S. rush to war. (She later apologized -- sort of.) Expect more of this sort of thing. As Dinnerstein says, in times of crisis, people tend to say what they really think.
Klinghoffer: I find very little comfort in Dinnerstein’s statistics since most leftist anti-Semites are hardly likely to openly identify themselves as “strong anti-Semites.” Indeed, they are much more likely to insist that they are merely anti-Zionists (i.e. oppose the existence of a Jewish state) or anti-Sharon. Like all anti-Semites, leftists anti-Semites overestimate Jewish power. That is the reason for the renaissance experienced by the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in leftist demonstrations from Durban, South Africa to Ann Arbor, Michigan. But, unlike the right, which wishes to annihilate the Jews, the left believes that Jewish support is essential to its success.
Hence, Jewish commitment to the well-being fellow Jews is perceived as a major obstacle to securing Jewish loyalty. This was true during the Moscow trials, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and most especially since the aftermath of the Six Day war when Israel inadvertently emerged as an American strategic asset. In 1967 a letter writer to the radical outlet, The Militant, complained: “As the prophetic words were so well expounded by Che Guevara, that we need many Vietnams, the scene of the crisis fluctuates from Southeast Asia to the Middle East. One of the ironies of the situation is that has upset the equilibrium of unity in the anti-war forces is the position of support for Israel many member have taken.”
In the October, 2002 issue of the London Review of Books it was Anatol Lieven’s turn to warn of that Bush’s support of Israel may woo “the Jewish vote away from the Democrats. “ A Jewish desertion of the Democrats, Lieven worries, may lead to the “crippling the Democrats for a generation or more. Deprived of much of their financial support and their intellectual backbone, the Democrats could be reduced to a coalition of the declining unionised white working class, blacks and Latinos.” “Indeed,” Lieven goes on, “it is no exaggeration to say that as a result the internationalist position in the Democratic Party and the US as a whole has been eviscerated.” As Representative James P. Moran Jr. recently noted, "if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this."
The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should," he added. Thus, leftist anti-Semitism gets particularly virulent when Jews put their ethnic interests first as they have done since homicide bombers emerged as the preferred method of Palestinian negotiating tactic.
Lerner: One of the wonderful and truly admirable things about the American people is that they do not like bullies. Thus, they are likely to turn against the indiscriminate killings of Iraqi civilians that the U.S. is currently planning, just as they are increasingly unhappy about the policies of the Ariel Sharon government. I believe that one way we can prevent anger at Ariel Sharon from turning into anti-Semitism is to have a powerful Jewish voice like that of the Tikkun community that is zealously supportive of the state of Israel but unequivocally critical of its current policies. Similarly, the best way to prevent the disillusionment with the war in Iraq turning into a wave of alienation of our own youth from all that is beautiful in America is to amplify voices like those in the peace movement who both critique Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial rule and also critique the planned aggression by the bush administration. As a proud Jew and a proud American, I salute those in both communities who will not let their patriotism and loyalty to our peoples undermine our loyalty to god and to the prophetic tradition’s demand that we learn to replace hatred and domination with love and caring for the other—for it is our insistence on proclaiming the possibility of a world of justice and peace and kindness and generosity that makes Jewish survival so essential.
Klinghoffer: Lerner forgets that the prophetic tradition he claims to espouse sets very clear priorities. First comes "If I am not to myself - who will be for me?" and only second "If I am only for myself - who am I?" When the Tikkun community cooperates with groups who support the destruction of Israel, not only does it not place Jewish survival first but it does not even place them on par with it universal Tikun olam.
Interlocutor: Michael Lerner, Jonathan Kay, Judith Klinghoffer and Leonard Dinnerstein, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium. It was a privilege. We’ll see you again soon. Take care for now.
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