Tolerance for Some: Antisemitism in the Age of Social Justice
Victims of injustice have long found hope in the story of the Israelites. The Jewish journey from enslavement in Egypt to liberation and serving God in the land He promised them is one with which the oppressed of the world have often identified.
It would make sense that those concerned with issues of justice today would ally themselves with the Jewish community in their own struggle against bigotry. Strangely, they don’t.
Many social-justice-oriented individuals and entities associate Western Jewry with Whiteness, capitalism, and colonialism—unforgivable sins in their eyes. Because of this viewpoint, they not only fail to fight Jew-hatred but traffic in it themselves.
Ground zero for much of this animosity is the secular college campus. Many U.S. colleges and universities permit the discrimination of Jews as long as it’s couched in the geopolitical framework of the Middle East conflict.
Last August at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Law, nine student law associations amended their bylaws to prohibit the invitation of speakers “that have expressed and continued to hold views . . . in support of Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine.”
This move clearly singles out Jewish speakers, leading some to label these student associations “Jewish-free zones.”
The school’s Jewish Student Association noted that the fact that its organization was not asked to adopt the measure demonstrates its anti-Jewish bias. Further, it said, the measure puts Jewish people “in a position all too familiar: deny or denigrate a part of their identity, or be excluded from community groups.”
Across the country in New England, an activist group is even more blatantly targeting Jewish organizations and those with whom they partner.
The Massachusetts-based Mapping Project identifies Jewish communal organizations—synagogues, schools, and federations—and places them on a virtual, color-coded map. It seeks to identify pro-Israel “entities and networks that enact devastation, so [they] can dismantle them. Every entity has an address, every network can be disrupted.”
In a post subsequently removed from their website, the Project’s activists stated, “We have shown physical addresses, named officers and leaders, and mapped connections. These entities exist in the physical world and can be disrupted in the physical world. We hope people will use our map to help figure out how to push back effectively.”
If this sounds chillingly familiar, it should. The Nazi regime did the same thing when it enacted the Judenboycott (Jewish boycott) in April 1933. The boycott, like that of the Mapping Project, began by identifying Jewish-owned businesses. Later, Nazis painted graffiti on the storefronts, such as Stars of David and Jude, German for “Jew,” and carried signs throughout Germany that read, “Germans! Defend yourselves! Don’t buy from Jews!”
The Mapping Project may veneer its bigotry with social-justice terminology, but its campaign would make Nazi Germany proud.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has taken aim at the Jewish people too. Though originally centered on furthering civil rights for the Black community, some BLM proponents have engaged in discrimination against the Jewish community by tying their own struggle against perceived systemic racism to the conflict the Palestinians have with Israel.
In 2015, BLM-affiliated groups released “When I See Them, I See Us,” a video comparing Black Americans’ fight against police brutality to the Palestinians’ fight against Israel. The video paints an emotionally evocative picture of suffering Palestinians but excludes the perspective of suffering Israelis and fails to provide any context for the Middle East conflict.
Clearly, many groups motivated by social-justice ideology have an antisemitism problem. In their quest for societal equity and the fall of presumed systemic oppression, they perpetrate the very crimes they advocate against.
These groups need to take a good look in the mirror. Then they will find to be true what God said centuries ago: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).