Posted tagged ‘Far left’

A Test for the Anti-Trump Movement

February 28, 2017

A Test for the Anti-Trump Movement, Tablet MagazineBari Weiss, February 28, 2017

(Please see also, Perez, Ellison and the Meaning of Anti-Semitism. — DM)

A movement that has so much to say about the value of black lives, of transgender lives, of women’s lives, of Latino lives, of Muslim lives, of the lives of the disabled and the poor and the weak, but becomes mealy-mouthed and contingent about the lives of Jews when those Jews happen to live in the land of Israel should make any person of conscience question the sincerity of that movement.

Indeed, what’s perhaps even more disturbing is the increasing tendency on the part of Jews to silence themselves on these fundamental moral matters to fit in or to avoid accusations of being soft on Trump. On this, our leaders must do better, even though it will surely mean fewer likes and retweets from popular progressives. It’s incumbent upon those who assert themselves as representatives of the Jewish community not to paper over this disturbing hypocrisy—especially if what they are trying to do is convince amcha that it’s still in their best interest to be at the anti-Trump table.

Somehow it seems that Jews are always the ones being asked to check their identity at the door in movements driven by identity politics. We may assiduously follow the “two-thirds and 51 percent” rule, but our partners often do not. If asking for something so minimal—to disassociate and condemn a woman who murdered innocent Jews—seems impolite or greedy, then perhaps the compromise we have made is rotten.

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In the week leading up to the presidential election, like hockey players who refuse to shave during the playoffs, the women of the Weiss family lived in their “Pussy Grabs Back” T-shirts. For months, our family texts had buzzed day and night with emoji-laden reactions to the latest Trump outrage, while my mother waged a very personal campaign against the Republican candidate. When the first Tuesday in November was upon us, my dad, who has a giant poster of William F. Buckley in his office, bowed to shalom bayit and wrote in Steph Curry.

All of this camaraderie put me in a strange position. Since the crucible of my college years—in which being an outspoken Zionist made you fascist, supporting the war in Iraq made you an imperialist, and believing that some cultures are indeed more enlightened than others a hegemon—I’ve gotten used to feeling politically homeless. I’m typically the hardass among the squishes. All of a sudden, I found myself making common cause with those whom I disagree with vehemently on, say, the Iran deal (bad), the necessity of teaching Western Civ. (good), and most certainly Israel. It is the difference on the Jewish state that has been the starkest and the most painful, as anyone who has paid any attention to the increasingly leftward tilt of the Democratic Party will not be surprised to learn.

One of the rising stars of this new generation of progressive politicos is Linda Sarsour, who was honored as a “champion of change” by the Obama administration and is now one of the anti-Trump movement’s most visible leaders. Sarsour, a longtime Arab-American community organizer, was one of the heads of the Women’s March in Washington and is the named plaintiff in the high-profile lawsuit against Trump’s immigration ban. The image of her, hijab-clad and flashing a defiant smile, rivaled the pink knitted hat as the unofficial symbol of the march.

She is also a proudly outspoken supporter of BDS. “Nothing is creepier than Zionism,” she has tweeted, a remark that, along with the fact that in December she posed for a photo with a former Hamas operative, stirred a series of critical pieces on right-wing websites in the days following the march on the capital. Within hours, Sarsour’s newfound friends and supporters—do I even need mention that Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon were among them?—burst forth with a social-media-driven campaign dubbed #IMarchWithLinda, in which the stories about her background and views were presented as vicious hatchet jobs by pro-Trump legions determined to slow the momentum of the anti-Trump brigades. Indeed, how could a woman who last week made headlines for organizing a fundraising drive that raised more than $56,000 to repair the desecrated Jewish cemetery in St. Louis harbor hostility to Jews?

Among those who have pledged allegiance to Sarsour are prominent Jewish leaders and rabbis. Criticism of the Muslim activist was nothing but “a deliberate smear campaign from the far right to delegitimize the march itself,” said Los Angeles Rabbi Sharon Brous, expressing the view of many other anti-Trump Jews. “This is a time for serious coalition-building, for standing beside other minority populations that are targeted. It is time for people to stand for and with each other. There will be in the mix a number of different perspectives. I don’t feel at all uncomfortable about that,” Brous has said. “A much greater problem would be if the Jewish community stepped out of activism because we’re afraid that someone on the stage has a position on BDS different than our own.”

This was something of a dodge, because, as Brous and others must know, Sarsour’s odious views aren’t limited to BDS, and stretch particularly into issues that directly relate to the systemic oppression of women. “You’ll know when you’re living under Sharia Law if suddenly all your loans & credit cards become interest-free. Sound nice, doesn’t it?” Sarsour tweeted about the Islamic law code that justifies beating women and considers the testimony of a woman half that of a man. She has also denigrated the anti-Islamist feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali in astonishingly vulgar terms, insisting that Hirsi Ali is “not a real woman” and joking that she wishes she could take away Ali’s vagina—a particularly vicious bon mot, given that Hirsi Ali was well-known as a victim of genital mutilation in her native Somalia.

Still, anti-Trumpers argued, Sarsour’s personal imperfections didn’t come close to forcing Jews to disavow her and her movement. Echoing Brous, Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, pushed back against those who use support of Israel as a single-issue litmus test. In a piece in the Jewish Journal, he made the case that American Jews should stick to what he dubbed the “two-thirds and 51 percent” rule: “We identify in political communities, or organize for particular causes, with people who share, or at least do not operate in contradistinction to, two-thirds of our core moral imperatives, and with whom we agree on a minimum of 51 percent of our moral concerns,” he writes. By this standard, Sarsour’s leadership role is not a deal breaker. “Rotten compromise, the kind we must not do,” wrote Kurtzer, “entails making common cause with evil.”

So what does boundary-crossing evil look like? Is it OK, for example, to support the civil rights of Palestinians, undocumented immigrants, and women who wear hijab while also calling for the denial of the national and indigenous rights of Jews, and rejecting the rights of women in Muslim-majority countries to control their own bodies? Is that a fair definition of Kurtzer’s 51-percent rule? If you call for the death of Zionists but support Palestinian nationalism, is being against Donald Trump the moral tie-breaker that makes you a legitimate ally of American Jews like me—and immune from our criticism? Kurtzer doesn’t say, but the assumption was that nothing had thus far emerged in the anti-Trump movement to meet the rotten compromise test.

That logic resonated with almost all the anti-Trump Jews I know, who either actively rallied around Sarsour, or—like me—held their tongues. I justified it by telling myself that no political movement is perfect, no coalition entirely pure. Opposing this president, I reasoned, is too critical a priority.

Now, unhappily, the anti-Trump movement has produced a leader far worse than Sarsour: a woman whose actions must surely qualify as evil. If they don’t, the problem doesn’t belong to Zionists or Jews, but to the movement itself—and even more so to the spiritual health of the political party angling to benefit from it.

***

The names Leon Kaner and Edward Jaffe are now lost to history, but Rasmea Odeh surely remembers them well. Kaner and Jaffe are the 21-year-old and 22-year-old who went to a Jerusalem supermarket on Feb. 21, 1969 to pick up food for a trip and were blown up thanks to a bomb that Odeh and an accomplice had placed there. Nine others were injured in the blast. Four days later, a second bomb that the duo planted exploded at the British Consulate. Odeh was sentenced to life in prison by Israel but was released in a prisoner exchange in the early 1980s.

This convicted terrorist has surfaced since the march on Washington as a new leader of the women’s movement, announcing its next global action in the pages of the Guardian: a worldwide women’s strike on March 8. Along with Angela Davis and several others, Odeh called for a day of “striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions.” And the organizers of the Washington March followed Odeh’s lead, recently announcing their participation in this international “day without women.”

The political stupidity of embracing Odeh is plain. What better ammunition could there possibly be for a White House all too keen to dismiss a genuine grassroots movement as paid professional protestors and anti-American anarchists than the public participation of a bona fide terrorist? If the anti-Trump movement is going to stand for tolerance, genuine liberalism, civility, and decency—everything we disdain Trump for disdaining—Odeh and her ilk can have no place in it.

But there is a deeper, darker point here beyond strategy: It concerns the alarming cheapness of Jewish blood. A movement that has so much to say about the value of black lives, of transgender lives, of women’s lives, of Latino lives, of Muslim lives, of the lives of the disabled and the poor and the weak, but becomes mealy-mouthed and contingent about the lives of Jews when those Jews happen to live in the land of Israel should make any person of conscience question the sincerity of that movement.

Indeed, what’s perhaps even more disturbing is the increasing tendency on the part of Jews to silence themselves on these fundamental moral matters to fit in or to avoid accusations of being soft on Trump. On this, our leaders must do better, even though it will surely mean fewer likes and retweets from popular progressives. It’s incumbent upon those who assert themselves as representatives of the Jewish community not to paper over this disturbing hypocrisy—especially if what they are trying to do is convince amcha that it’s still in their best interest to be at the anti-Trump table.

Somehow it seems that Jews are always the ones being asked to check their identity at the door in movements driven by identity politics. We may assiduously follow the “two-thirds and 51 percent” rule, but our partners often do not. If asking for something so minimal—to disassociate and condemn a woman who murdered innocent Jews—seems impolite or greedy, then perhaps the compromise we have made is rotten.

Perez, Ellison and the Meaning of Anti-Semitism

February 28, 2017

Perez, Ellison and the Meaning of Anti-Semitism, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, February 28, 2017

perez

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

While America as a whole will suffer from the radicalization of the Democratic Party, perhaps no group will suffer more from the far Left’s takeover of the party than the American Jewish community. The vast majority of American Jews give their partisan allegiance to the Democratic Party and their ideological allegiance to the Left.

With each passing day, the Left becomes more open in its embrace of anti-Jewish voices. If Sarsour’s leadership role last month in the anti-Trump women’s protests constituted a new low in progressive politics, a month later the bar has dropped even lower. At the next round of women’s protests, Ramsea Odeh is one of the announced organizers.

Whereas Sarsour simply supports the terrorist murder of Jews, Odeh is an actual terrorist murderer of Jews. Odeh participated in a PLO terrorist attack at a Jerusalem supermarket in 1970 in which two Jews were murdered.

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Was former secretary of labor and assistant attorney-general Tom Perez’s victory over Congressman Keith Ellison over the weekend in the race to serve as the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee a victory of centrist Democrats over radical leftists in the party? That is how the mainstream media is portraying Perez’s victory.

Along these lines, Prof. Allen Dershowitz, a lifelong Democrat who promised to quit the party if Ellison was elected due to his documented history of antisemitism and hostility toward Israel, hailed Perez’s election. Speaking to Fox News, Dershowitz said that Perez’s election over Ellison “is a victory in the war against bigotry, antisemitism, the anti-Israel push of the hard Left within the Democratic Party.”

There are two problems with Dershowitz’s view. First, Perez barely won. Ellison received nearly half the votes in two rounds of voting.

Tipping his hat to Ellison’s massive popularity among the party’s leadership and grassroots, Perez appointed the former Nation of Islam spokesman to serve as deputy DNC chairman as soon as his own victory was announced.

There is a good reason that Perez is so willing to cooperate with Ellison in running the DNC. And this points to the second problem with the claim that Perez’s election signals a move toward the center by Democratic leaders.

Perez is ready to cooperate with Ellison because the two men have the same ideological worldview and the same vision for the Democratic Party. As Mother Jones explained, “There’s truly not much ideological distance between the two.”

Far from being a victory for the centrist forces in the party, Perez’s win marks the solidification of the far Left’s control over the party of Harry Truman. Only hard leftists participated in a meaningful way in the race for leadership of the second largest party in America – a party that less than a decade ago controlled the White House and both houses of Congress.

The implications of this state of affairs are disastrous for the US generally. It is inherently destabilizing for a nation when one of the parties in a two-party political system is taken over by people who have a negative view of the country.

While America as a whole will suffer from the radicalization of the Democratic Party, perhaps no group will suffer more from the far Left’s takeover of the party than the American Jewish community. The vast majority of American Jews give their partisan allegiance to the Democratic Party and their ideological allegiance to the Left.

While Perez made a name for himself by fighting the enforcement of US immigration and naturalization laws against illegal immigrants, and Ellison rose to prominence for his activism in radical African American and Islamic circles, thanks to the so-called intersectionality of the far Left, that makes the cause of one faction the cause of all factions, today Perez is as much an apologist for Israel bashers as Ellison.

Perhaps in response to the danger that the far Left’s takeover of the Democratic Party represents, Malcolm Hoenlein, the long-serving professional head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called on Sunday for the convening of a global conference on antisemitism. In a meeting with The Jerusalem Post’s editorial board, Hoenlein said that one of the goals of the proposed conference would be to reach a universally accepted definition of antisemitism.

At the same meeting at the Post, Hoenlein insisted that “we can’t afford a split” on Israel among the Republicans and the Democrats.

On the surface, Hoenlein’s position makes sense. Israel and the Jewish community in the US are both endangered by the partisan split. If a broad consensus can be reached on the definition of antisemitism, in theory, such a move could force the radical Left, which now controls the Democratic Party, to eschew Jew hatred.

The problem with Hoenlein’s view is that to get everyone on board, it is necessary to pretend that even antisemites oppose antisemitism.

This sad state of affairs has been on prominent display in the wake of the recent spate of antisemitic attacks against Jewish cemeteries in the US. Muslim Americans with records of antisemitism have been quick to condemn the attacks.

On the face of it, statements by Ellison, Hamas supporter Linda Sarsour and others condemning the attacks on Jewish cemeteries are welcome. Sarsour’s support for Palestinian mass murderers of Jews and open calls for Israel’s destruction have been ongoing for more than a decade. It’s nice that she is suddenly raising money to repair broken Jewish graves in St. Louis.

The problem is if Sarsour and her Jew hating comrades are viewed as legitimate partners in fighting antisemitism, when they themselves are abetting and popularizing antisemitism, then the notion of fighting antisemitism is destroyed.

If Sarsour, who wrote in 2012 that “nothing is creepier than Zionism,” is a legitimate voice in the fight against anti-Jewish discrimination and violence, then the fight against anti-Jewish discrimination and violence is reduced to farce.

Sarsour, like Ellison, is no fringe figure on the Left. She has become a major mover and shaker in the second party in America. Sarsour was one of the organizers of the anti-Trump women’s protests the day after the president was inaugurated.

Sarsour’s rising prominence in progressive and Democratic circles despite her open support for Hamas shows why it is important today to draw a line in the sand and reject the notion that antisemites can suddenly become defenders of Jews.

With each passing day, the Left becomes more open in its embrace of anti-Jewish voices. If Sarsour’s leadership role last month in the anti-Trump women’s protests constituted a new low in progressive politics, a month later the bar has dropped even lower. At the next round of women’s protests, Ramsea Odeh is one of the announced organizers.

Whereas Sarsour simply supports the terrorist murder of Jews, Odeh is an actual terrorist murderer of Jews. Odeh participated in a PLO terrorist attack at a Jerusalem supermarket in 1970 in which two Jews were murdered.

According to Politico, the radical Left’s takeover of the Democratic Party apparatus through Perez and Ellison isn’t enough to satisfy the party’s young activists. They also want for long-serving Democratic lawmakers in Congress to retire and clear the path for their takeover of the Democratic congressional roster.

Following my column last week, where I harshly criticized Senator Robert Menendez for questioning the loyalty of David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador designate to Israel, a number of prominent American Jews insisted that in asking the question Menendez was not embracing the antisemitic dual loyalty slur. He was trying to protect Friedman from his more radical Democratic colleagues.

There is good reason to accept their argument. Menendez has a long record of standing up for Israel and he has paid a political price for that support.

The problem is that such justifications of Menendez’s actions indicate that American Jews have already lowered the bar on what constitutes antisemitism too far and made defending their own interests all but impossible.

The Democrats are in a dangerous place for themselves, for the US and for the American Jewish community. They will not move back to the center if standards for judging what it means to be antisemitic are lowered. The only chance that they will return to their senses is if they are made to choose between the Sarsours of the world and the Dershowitzes. And this cannot happen by looking for a consensus on what antisemitism means. It can only be done – if it can be done at all – by drawing a line and demanding that it be respected.