Can It Happen Here?
An email from the founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values
Over the weekend, I received an email from a reader responding to my most recent conversation with John McWhorter, in which we discussed antisemitism at length. Given the history of antisemitism, when one contemplates its emergence in force within a society, the mind goes to terrible places: mass expulsions, pogroms, the Holocaust, and so on.
But, as David Bernstein points out, there are less dramatic ways that antisemitism can repress Jews and Jewish life without rising to the level of attempted genocide. In David’s email, which I submit below with his permission, he suggests that the “woke left,” while not antisemitic by definition, is more hospitable to antisemitism than its purported commitment to “diversity” might lead one to expect. I thank David for his thoughtful comments and look forward to reading yours.
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Glenn and John,
Thank you for your recent discussion on antisemitism on The Glenn Show. I am a long time Jewish professional leader and the immediate past CEO of the umbrella organization overseeing mainstream Jewish advocacy organizations across the country. I left nearly two years ago amid the growth of woke ideology in mainstream Jewish life and started a new organization called the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values devoted to viewpoint diversity in the Jewish world. I’m also the author of the recently released Woke Antisemitism: How a Progressive Ideology Harms Jews.
I thought John gave a perfectly well-reasoned critique of the overblown response to Kanye’s cartoonish behavior. I do think John got it wrong, however, when he suggested that Jewish sensitivity to antisemitism is primarily animated by the trepidation that “it could happen here.” I happen to agree that it’s very unlikely that growing antisemitism in America will culminate in another Holocaust. But there are many dystopian scenarios well short of genocide.
The white nationalist variant of antisemitism has already resulted in distortions to Jewish life. Jews can no longer safely go to synagogue without an elaborate set of security arrangements. This threat has added tens of millions of dollars annually to Jewish organizational budgets (causing already financially stretched Jewish organizations to go belly up) and is further exacerbated by the threat emanating from radical Muslims against American Jewish institutions (Jewish organizations get regular briefings from the FBI and Homeland Security about threats of terrorism emanating from the Middle East). Imagine if the number of domestic shootings triples in the next few years. Such an outcome would render Jewish life unlivable for many Jews.
When you combine the threat from the white nationalist right with the growing ideological antisemitism on the left, it’s understandable why many Jews—even the less hysterical among us—are beginning to feel besieged. Woke ideology is the perfect accelerant of antisemitism on the left, as it neatly divides the world into oppressed and oppressor and conflates success with oppression. The concern about the left is less about violence against Jews than it is political disenfranchisement. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt aptly compared antisemitism on the right to a hurricane and antisemitism on the left to climate change (he fails, however, to identify the “CO2 emissions” on the left—woke ideology—producing the change in climate).
Take a look at this report about rising antisemitism at the University of Toronto medical school. I spoke to a progressive Jewish law professor at the same university last week who feels he now works in a hostile environment. This may not be happening everywhere to the same degree, but it is happening in more places, more often. It could be a precursor of things to come in growing swaths of the US.
Another result of wokeness is declining American support for Israel (see our recent poll). Granted, deteriorating fealty to the Jewish State does not by itself constitute antisemitism. But the corrosion of support for Israel certainly impacts the sense of place of many liberal Zionist Jews in the Democratic Party and, by extension, in the broader society. Along with this diminution in support comes growing anti-Zionism and grotesque characterizations of Israel as a “settler-colonialist state.” I agree with Glenn that anti-Zionism is not ipso facto antisemitism, but it often does come packaged with demonization of Jews and the Jewish state. While I don’t think that the Democratic Party is on the precipice of “Corbynization” (becoming like Jeremy Corbyn’s hostile Labour Party in the UK), who knows what another ten years of this untamed ideology might bring?
Last but not least, the biggest fear of Jews and others ought to be the undermining of liberalism and the sense-making institutions in American life coming from both ends of the ideological spectrum, further polarizing our already polarized society. I can imagine it getting much worse. Such a dystopia would affect everyone, but surely Jews will feel it earlier and more acutely than most, and who knows what atrocities might come about in the chaos?
Anyway, I enjoy and learn from your discussions. I believe I will be seeing you at a convening in London in a few weeks. Many thanks.
Founder, Jewish Institute for Liberal Values
"Institute" means school. There is no "institute." He made it up. This guy David Bernstein is a con man. I'm a real Jew. David Bernstein and Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL cover up anti-Semitic violence coming from the Far Left. They sold us out. Greenblatt was complicit in hate hoaxes. The Lincoln Project staged a neo-Nazi march said to raise awareness of where Trump's policies could lead. The Lincoln Project are left wing. Greenblatt blamed Trump supporters and there were other times, other anti-Semitic hate crimes with Greenblatt's fingerprints all over it. Now, do you see who Jonathan Greenblatt is? He says he is for the Jewish people and he is fomenting anti-Semitism to terrorize us with.
This David Bernstein is not telling the whole story, about how Gov. Gavin Newsom is drilling Jew-hatred into the minds of impressionable students. He doesn't tell you that Randi Weingarten is in on it, how she teaches kids Jew-hatred as in the Hitler Youth camps and throws it in our faces a la Yedolph.
Jonathan Greenblatt has never once in his life ever defended the Jewish people. He repeats anti-Semitic false accusations and he leaves them unchallenged, spreading rumors. He platforms the alt right in order to blane them on Trump, helping them recruit. Greenblatt makes us look bad and he is doing it on purpose.
Jonathan Greenblatt endorses CRT, the same anti-Semitic quota system discrimination Jews were historically persecuted with under the May Laws and Nuremberg laws. Jonathan Greenblatt supports a policy that discriminates against Jews, asians, and white people. Tucker Carlson calls it racist and Greenblatt tries to cancel him.
Before the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt worked for the most anti-Semitic president in US history, Balak Hussein Osama. Every Jewish Democrat in Washington voted with Obama to pit Iran against Israel in a nuclear showdown. They gave Iran the Big One after they said they wanted to wipe Israel off the map. That is what the Democrat Party thinks of Jewish people and our allies Israel. Jewish lives don't matter to them. Iran stands no chance against Israel, who they hate for being allied with us and non-Muslim. The real danger is in terrorist attacks in the West against innocent Jewish civilians. Open borders undermines Jewish American security and as a house Jew of the Democrat Party, Jonathan Greenblatt accuses America first patriots of being white supremacists. He is an extremist leftist who works with Rev. Al Sharpton, the swindler who led the anti-Semitic Crown Heights race riots that left one innocent man dead. The race hustlers joined forces to malign Bret Kavanaugh as a "violator of reproductive rights." Abortion is against the Jewish religion. In demonizing the pro-life viewpoint, Greenblatt is vilifying orthodox Jews.
David Bernstein and Jonathan Greenblatt are covering up the fact that the great hero Zellenskyy is a Jew who thinks he is a Nazi. Zellenskyy collaborated with the neo-Nazis. I saw him on TV seig heiling. Greenblatt defended Azov. Democrat Gov. Cathy Hochul passed gun control legislation disarming synagogue security as they beef up in anticipation of terrorist attacks. Jonathan Greenblatt is a threat to the Jewish community.
What went unmentioned was the distortion of the Black Hebrew Israelites in the discussion. Bernstein was being polite, but it shouldn't go unremarked when a violent hate group that has inspired a number of murders of Jews gets white-washed as colorful eccentrics.