Avi Abraham Benlolo
We Cannot Discuss Anti-Semitism Without Noting the Hatred on the Far Left
Like a virus, anti-Semitism mutates and changes continuously. But anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism — let's not leave out any manifestations of this pernicious hatred
Author of the article: Avi Benlolo Publishing date: Jan 29, 2021 National Post
Since the shocking attack on Capitol Hill earlier this month, and as we marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day this week, public analysis of anti-Semitism has turned a blind eye to how the far left has turned Jewish life upside down over the last couple decades.
In Newsweek, Kathrin Meyer, the secretary general of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, wrote a meaningful article, in which she argues that, “Just weeks after right-wing extremists stormed the United States Capitol … it is now our duty to reflect on this event and act on history’s lessons from 1930s Europe, when the world failed to prevent extremist groups from rising to power — with disastrous effects.” Meyer is right that we must stay alert and aware of extremist groups that want to destroy our democracies. We now know that many of the rioters who attacked the Capitol were white supremacists who are a danger to our freedom and our way of life. One of the rioters even brazenly wore a “Camp Auschwitz — Work Makes You Free” shirt — an expression of Nazi ideology. This is abhorrent.
In all this, however, the equal complicity of the extreme left is being sidelined. If we are concerned about extremists attacking democracy, where is the condemnation of the anti-Semites on university campuses, for example, who have spent two decades churning out graduates who hate Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East?
University campuses, a central driver is what’s come to be known as “new anti-Semitism,” have seen Jewish students and faculty victimized by horrible events like Israeli Apartheid Week and movements like the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.
Frankly, it’s offensive that all this hate has been largely ignored recently. The inconvenient truth of this post-truth world in which we are living in is that the rise of anti-Semitism is coming from three spheres: far-left movements, radical Islam and white supremacists. Yet world leaders like U.S. President Joe Biden and UN Secretary General António Guterres have focused mainly on anti-Semitism emanating from the far right.
I was glad that Biden raised the alarm about white supremacy in his inauguration speech. And in a statement released this week marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Guterres, who has spoken out forcefully against anti-Semitism in the past, said that, “In Europe, the United States and elsewhere, white supremacists are organizing and recruiting across borders, flaunting the symbols and tropes of the Nazis and their murderous ambitions.” These are strong and welcomed words, of course, but there was no mention of the other sources of anti-Semitism, which are equally virulent.
In recent weeks, I have received several notifications from Jewish university students who have raised concerns about assignments that seem to distort the truth about Israel and even question historical facts about the Holocaust. Sources also tell me that some NDP members are proposing to put forward a motion at the party’s next convention to oppose the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism. These are but two examples to underscore how the left is plotting against Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people.
The other anti-Semitism that must be talked about, as it is just as complicit in spreading hatred as white supremacism and the extreme left, is state-sponsored and comes primarily from the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian regime continues to peddle Holocaust distortions and promote conspiracy theories against Israel and the Jewish people. It has also been the main moral backer of Al-Quds Day events around the world, which are held in Western democracies to delegitimize the Jewish state.
In a new world in which peace in the Middle East is closer than ever thanks to the Abraham Accords, we are seeing increasing numbers of friendships being made between Muslims and Jews. Incredible relationships are being forged at every level. This may ultimately diffuse the violent anti-Semitism we have witnessed in places like France and the United Kingdom over the last couple of decades. It may prove to be the antidote to the vicious left-wing campaign against the Jews — especially since the Arab world has virtually thrown out the boycott of Israel.
Still, anti-Semitism must be addressed cohesively and in its entirety. One cannot condemn white supremacism without condemning bias and hate against the Jewish state at the United Nations. One cannot memorialize the Holocaust while funding UN agencies that allegedly still utilize problematic textbooks that call for the elimination of the Jewish state. And one cannot say he or she stands against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism while allowing Jewish students and faculty to be subjected to hateful events on campus.
All forms of anti-Semitism are dangerous and pernicious, and far-left anti-Semitism cannot be ignored. It has the best chance of eroding our institutions and the very foundation of our democracy.
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