The Left claims that fighting injustice, taking to the streets, and elevating voices of the marginalized is its specialty. Unfortunately, one group is always absent from the Left’s justice crusade. Today’s social justice warriors are wholly unconcerned with the discrimination faced by Jews. In fact, much of the anti-Semitism American Jews experience comes from the SJWs themselves. The Left pretends to battle hate of all kinds, but Democrat politicians hypocritically elevate some of America’s most famous Jew-haters.
For example, the Left embraces Rev. Al Sharpton, despite his repeated anti-Semitism. Sharpton, who has referred to Jews as “bloodsuckers” and “diamond merchants,” infamously ginned up tensions that led to the 1991 Crown Heights Riot and the death of a Hasidic Jew. In the lead up to the three-day-long riot, Sharpton was quoted saying “[i]f the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.” Despite these very public comments, Democrats rushed to his aid when he had a back and forth with President Trump. Elizabeth Warren praised Sharpton for fighting for “justice.” Kamala Harris claimed that Sharpton has “spent his life fighting for what’s right.” Joe Biden referred to Sharpton as a “champion in the fight for civil rights.” This shouldn’t be a surprise. Sharpton is a good friend of former President Barack Obama. Sharpton even campaigned for Obama during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
Sharpton, who has referred to Jews as “bloodsuckers” and “diamond merchants,” infamously ginned up tensions that led to the 1991 Crown Heights Riot and the death of a Hasidic Jew… Joe Biden referred to Sharpton as a “champion in the fight for civil rights.”
Another example of anti-Semites being beloved and protected by the Left is Louis Farrakhan. As the leader of the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan has spent decades in the spotlight slinging hateful and dangerous comments at Jews—thereby promoting many anti-Semitic conspiracies. Farrakhan publicly claims that Jews control Hollywood, the banking industry, and all aspects of the media. Like Sharpton, Farrakhan has added to the already prevalent tension between Black and Jewish Americans. In 2010, he claimed that “[t]he Black man and woman have always been looked upon as the ‘property’ of White America; and particularly, members of the Jewish community. They’ve always looked at you as ‘belonging’ to them.” Despite this inexcusable commentary, Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism hasn’t hurt his relationships with members of the Democrat party. As Kevin Williamson from the National Review once reported, “California Democrats Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters attend Farrakhan’s public events, and Obama-administration veteran Eric Holder recently posed for a picture with him.” Prominent Democrats have no problem hobnobbing with Louis Farrakhan.
Furthermore, Democrat Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D., Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Michigan), the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress, have spent much of their terms spouting anti-Semitic ideas. Both women have supported the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement against Israel (BDS), which seeks to undermine Israel through economic pressure. In 2019, the Congresswomen were controversially banned from entering Israel, due largely to their support of BDS. Israeli law prohibits individuals who support the boycott of Israel from entering the country. During this same 2019 trip, Omar and Tlaib’s itinerary included meeting with Palestinian activists and visiting the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif, which is a place of significance to both Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem. The location is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Miftah, the group that organized the Congresswomen’s trip, has pushed the blood libel, the idea that Jews use the blood of Christian babies in their matzah. Nancy Pelosi, who called BDS dangerous and bigoted, still endorsed the Congresswomen and continues to assist their reelection campaigns.
The Left’s anti-Semitism has bled over into the Black Lives Matter movement. Synagogues in Los Angeles, CA were vandalized during BLM riots. The phrase “Kill the Jews” was reportedly yelled by rioters in Fairfax, CA, a historically Jewish L.A. neighborhood. Additionally, leaders of both BLM and BDS have formed an alliance. The Jewish Star reported that “[t]he BLM-aligned group ‘Dream Defenders’ traveled to Israel on a Palestinian solidarity mission in 2015.” During the group’s time in Israel, it “visited Israeli Arab cities such as Nazareth, where [the group] underscored support for BDS.” The group then went one step further, “calling for the ‘liberation’ of pre-1967 Israel, the West Bank, and the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip.” Not only was BLM leader Patrisse Cullors on this trip, but the Women’s March co-chair Cameron Perez also attended.
The Left’s anti-Semitism has bled over into the Black Lives Matter movement. Synagogues in Los Angeles, CA were vandalized during BLM riots. The phrase “Kill the Jews” was reportedly yelled by rioters in Fairfax, CA, a historically Jewish L.A. neighborhood.
A look into Patrisse Cullors’ stances is illuminating. She is the co-founder of BLM and has described herself as a “trained Marxist.” Cullors has referred to Palestine as “the new South Africa,” implying that Israel is an apartheid state. This conflation is nonsensical. Arabs make about one-fifth of Israel’s population and are afforded all the same rights and protections as Jews. Israeli-Arabs serve in the Knesset, Israel’s legislature. And Israel is one of the only places in the Middle East that allows Arab women to vote. The only legal distinction between Jews and Arabs in Israel is that Jews are required to serve in Israel’s military, while Arabs are not.
The Left’s anti-Semitism is usually kept quiet, but the mainstreaming of Jew-hatred in the aftermath of BLM protests should have awakened many Americans to the problem. An analysis of recent history clearly illustrates that the Left remains unjustifiably friendly with both anti-Semitic individuals and movements. However, the question remains as to how American Jews will react. The likely answer is unfortunately that American Jews will not shift their political stances. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, since 1968, 71 percent of American Jews vote Democrat, compared to 25 percent who vote Republican.
The fact is, for many Jews in America, their connection to Judaism is fraying. According to Pew Research Center, only 26 percent of American Jews say “religion is very important in their lives.” Further, only 19 percent of American Jews say that observing Jewish law is “an essential part of what it means to be Jewish to them personally.”
However, it should be noted that Orthodox Jews observe strict adherence to Jewish law—and they vote very differently from the rest of American Jews. The New York Times reported in 2016 that “[i]n Brooklyn’s 48th Assembly District, which encompasses most of Borough Park, Mr. Trump got 69 percent of the vote, while Mrs. Clinton got 27 percent.” According to the Times, this neighborhood has a large population of Orthodox Jews, who were motivated to vote for Trump by their support of Israel, border security, and law and order.
To Jews who consider Judaism extremely important, the Left’s anti-Semitism is disturbing and dangerous. But secular Jews often care more about politics and Leftism than religion—and they’re less phased by the Left’s unspoken anti-Semitism.
To Jews who consider Judaism extremely important, the Left’s anti-Semitism is disturbing and dangerous. But secular Jews often care more about politics and Leftism than religion—and they’re less phased by the Left’s unspoken anti-Semitism. After all, it’s far easier to turn a blind eye than to critically analyze the American Left. For this reason, the Left’s anti-Semitism problem isn’t going away. Until the Democratic establishment stops associating with the Farrakhans and Sharptons of the world, and until Jewish Americans stop supporting the people who hate them, it is here to stay.
Hi Rachel, thank you for this article. As someone on the left who fights against anti-Semitism, I do see some of what you describe in the left. But I think it is more in the corners than in the mainstream. That said, it is something I do rail against when I see it. And it is something that the left can do better. I do think that the principles of the left are anti-anti-Semitism, but as you note we still have a ways to get there.
And I realize you’re writing this for a right-leaning publication, but I think we share a goal to end anti-Semitism across the spectrum.
Hi Ken, Rachel here!
First of all, I want to thank you for both reading the Chicago Thinker and specifically my piece! Communication and understanding across the political aisle are vital for productive discourse, and I do my best to consume both right and left-wing content.
While we may differ on policies and parties, the fight against anti-Semitism is going to take people from all political leanings, and I always applaud when people of the left call out bigotry within their circles, just as the right must call out bigotry within ours.
If you want to continue talking about this, feel free to email me anytime at email@example.com.
I take issue with many of the points in this article (primally, one can be against Israel while not being antisemetic), but the thing that rankles me the most in it is the assumption that Orthodox jews are in some way “more Jewish” and the true yardstick by which we should measure what the nonmonolithic Jewish community should believe—reform or even agnostic secular but still cultural Jews have a equal right to the claim (speaking as a secular jew who does not, say, keep kosher, I still try to follow Rabbi Hillels guidance about the Torah).
Hi Levin, Rachel here!
I think there may be a bit of a misunderstanding as to why I included inti-Israel sentiment as proof of anti-Semitism. Being against policies of the Israeli government is not anti-Semitic, and I have many issues with specific policies. When anti-Israel positions bleed over into anti-Semitism is when Israel is held to a standard you would never hold another country too, which is what BDS does.
In regards to Orthodox vs secular Jews, my point was not to claim which group is “more Jewish”, it was simply to showcase the differences in political leanings within the Jewish community. Jews in America by-and-large support democrats, but if you break down that demographic into more specific categories (like the level of religiosity) it is clear that there is not a consensus amongst all Jews.
I am conservative, and while I am not fully Orthodox yet, I am working to become it. From what I gather, you are a secular Jew, and on the left. I would never argue that one of us is “correct” in our Judaism, and I consider every Jew a valued member of our community.
Lastly, even though you disagree with my article, I want to thank you for reading it. Anytime we attempt to learn about what people on the other side of the political aisle believe, our country becomes a little less divided.