The United States has been a politically charged country for quite some time now. How long this has been the case is up for speculation. Right now it is very clearly visible thanks to our current President. The Jewish people like every other group in this country have been affected in many ways. And also like every other group in this nation, we seem to be forced to pick sides on an issue. It would be much healthier to come to an actual conclusion.
One of the issues facing Jews in the United States is the fact that Antisemitism is on the rise. Also not helping are other minorities. Some disenfranchised groups seem to be using the Jews as scapegoats to help solve their own needs. This is nothing new of course. Antisemitism has always been about blaming the Jewish people for problems that its impossible to actually prove we are responsible for.
Another problem with Antisemitism is that there is no politicalideology that is currently safe for the Jews. The hatred on the far right is quite obvious for any to see. Nazi and White Supremacy Rallies are becoming more common The hate crimes associated with these individuals are also on the rise.
But today I want to talk about the Antisemitism coming from the far left. For it is the Liberal Jew that I am trying to talk about. Notably, this is because I am one of them. From the left, one will notice that there is a lot of hatred towards Israel. The Israeli Palestinian Conflict is about as polarizing a conflict as one can find. In fact, this is a by design in my opinion. It has been made so that one is forced to pick a side. Staying neutral is not an option.
For example, using the words Judea Samaria and Israel means that one has chosen Israel over the Palestinians. When confronted by others with a differing view, one will quickly be labeled as a "Child Killer" and "Global Imperialist". The inverse is also true. Using the words West Bank and Palestine means that one has chosen the Palestinians over Israel. When confronted by others with a differing view, one will quickly be labeled as a "Child Killer" (again) and "Terrorist Sympathizer".
Discounting the fact that it's incredibly twisted to use children as a means of Pathos to manipulate people, there is one other issue. There are no other names for these regions! To even talk about the area forces you to pick a side! No neutrality here!
But wait! I know what you are thinking (and yes I am a mind reader): What about people who combine the terms like someone who uses both Israel and the West Bank? In fact, I am one of those people most of the time. Except when I look at the company I am around and decide to use Judea and Samara instead. That alone should give the answer. If you combine the terms, then both groups will come after you. You have made enemies with both.
Now, what does any of what I said about the Israeli Palestinian Conflict have to do with American Jews? Especially the left-leaning ones? I am glad you asked. It means everything. To the Jewish people, Israel and ourselves are one and the same. This is at its core why Antisemitism and hatred of Israel to the extreme are one and the same. Which is where many of the problems I want to get at lie.
Remember how I mentioned polarizing already? The entire right and left of the United States tend to take similar stances against each other. I am firmly convinced that the main reason so many on the left have problems with Israel, is because the right is supporting it. The fact that in the not so distant past, the right was anti-Israel and the left was pro is not lost on me. In fact, there are Nazis on the right. Clearly, they do not support Israel. Libertarians don't support Israel either and there are many who consider them almost all the way on the far right.
However, I can attack the right until I am blue in the face. I once again digress and will talk about the problems of my own political ideology in this realm. What makes this difficult and thus almost impossible to adequately put into words, is that I am forced to point out the flaws in my own ideological group. In social psychology, this marks me as an out-group member. Also thanks to tribal mentality, the opposing side is going to jump all over this. Again, thanks to tribal mentality, many on my own side will be attacking me as soon as they read this article. Just like they are attacking Natalie Portman at the moment.
You see, the problem with Tribalism is that everything becomes black and white. With us or against us is not a mentality that does anyone favors except for the most radical. And let's be real, those people are nuts regardless of their ideology. At the risk of committing a horseshoe logical fallacy, I'll make the claim that when you are that much of an extremist, your ideological reasoning becomes pointless because your opponents believe the same stuff you do.
Speaking of Natalie Portman, her "crime" was refusing to go to an award ceremony. She does not support the actions of those endorsing the ceremony. Unfortunately, because this ceremony was in Israel, and she also happens to be an Israeli citizen, many different groups began spinning this for political advantage. Many Jews on the right are calling her a traitor and accusing her of turning her back on Israel. Meanwhile, groups on the left such as Boycott Divest Sanction, or BDS for short, made use of the situation to attack the Israeli government.
Go to a comments section on any of the articles talking about the Natalie Portman incident and one can see just how crazy this tribalism is. It puts American Liberal Jews in a tough place. Speaking out against Israel has benefited Antisemites time and time again. Equally troubling is the ire drawn from Right Wing Jews. I personally have been called derogatory names such as "Judenrat" by mostly right-wing Jews. It's another word for race traitor. They simply call me this because they are convinced that by being Liberal and thus having different opinions than them, that I pose a threat to Judaism.
This problem has become ever increasingly troubling too. Many Jews were kicked out of a pride rally in Chicago for displaying Stars of David. As it turns out, people assume the Star of David is in reference to the Israeli Flag. The reality is that the symbol is significantly older and is one of the most well-known symbols of Judaism of all.
Also not helping things are Feminists such as Linda Sarsour and her ilk who have added ideas to Feminism that do not belong in the movement. Ideas such as being Jewish and being Feminist being mutually exclusive. Even recently here in Central Florida, there was a speech that had heavy Antisemitic remarks, cleverly veiled but noticed by those with an ear. This was not at a white supremacist rally. This was the Lake Eola Women's March that happened after Trump was elected president. I was personally at this event, and almost left in disgust when I heard my people being blamed for violence against women.
As a Liberal Jew, I have no idea what to do. If I call out problems, I risk the wrath of the people who should be my friends. There is a fear that has been ingrained in me since a child that one day America would not be safe for Jews anymore. Already this danger is happening in Europe and the Far Right has already added it to its list of "failings of the left" I personally fear that Trump will make this country unsafe for Jews. And he will do it in the way that many have done it before him, by turning the Jewish people against each other. This paradox makes speaking out even deadlier.
I feel trapped as do so many Liberal Jews who feel that our voice is being cut off. Not helping things is this idea is the fact that other minorities do not think we suffer. I do not want to list my specific grievances with minorities because me attacking them would make me no better than them. And it would contribute to the infighting that Trump and his ilk ultimately want.
Writing this is a hope that I can interrupt the suffering in silence that is shared by so many like myself. That this piece can offer the uninformed a window into a conflict they do not even know is happening around them. Perhaps nothing will happen as a result of me speaking out. Perhaps, I'll just make more enemies and wish I had stayed silent. My hope is that like Natalie Portman, I can draw attention to something important. There is nothing wrong with criticizing allies. Not thinking someone or something is perfect does not make them an enemy.