Anti-Semitism now thrives within the Democratic Party, representing a normalization of Jew-hatred not previously seen in the U.S. political mainstream. The progressive Left’s socialism, devotion to intersectional ideology, and defense of Islamism have incubated and birthed this reality.
Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (the socialist), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (the Palestinian) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (the Islamist) — three “women of color” who are “untouchable” in the identity politics of the Left — have changed the conversation regarding anti-Semitism and Israel. As Omar recognized, it is now “OK” to discuss anti-Semitic slurs such as Jewish dual loyalty and Zionist influence-peddling. As Ocasio-Cortez put it, support for Israel today should be equated with support for the Iraq War.
According to the Democratic Left, American Jews, quintessentially “white” and “privileged,” must be stripped of their power in order to isolate, marginalize, and destroy Israel — the proxy for capitalism and colonialism. Normalizing anti-Semitic slurs seems a small price to pay for a sea change in American foreign policy.
The nineteenth-century socialist movements in Europe often exploited the anti-Semitic stereotype of the Jewish capitalist as a tool to target the entire mercantile class. They used the same arguments to critique capitalism as anti-Semites used to attack Jews. Socialist Charles Fourier portrayed the Jews as evil moneylenders and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon considered them the embodiment of corrupt commerce.
Karl Marx echoed those sentiments. Professor Robert Wistrich observed, “The net result of Marx’s essay ['On The Jewish Question'] is to reinforce a traditional anti-Jewish stereotype — the identification of the Jews with money-making — in the sharpest possible manner.” Some of Marx’s followers used anti-Semitism to introduce anti-capitalism to the public. Hate the Jewish merchants and you’ll come to hate the non-Jewish ones.
Members of today’s Left view the state of Israel as an integral part of the Western imperialist power structure that continues to exploit and oppress the rest of the world — including, most particularly, the Palestinians, whose land the Left claims Jews have colonized. Medieval usury stereotypes and socialist capitalist antipathy have expanded to include anti-nationalism. Zionism, as a nationalist movement for Jewish self-determination, is therefore rejected out of hand. The BDS movement is the weapon of choice to destroy the Jewish nation-state.
March into the mix the grievance-peddlers of intersectionality. Their binary paradigm divides the world into good (powerless) and evil (powerful). Originally a theory adopted by postmodern academics, intersectionality now consumes left-wing activism.
Its foundational tenet is that all outcome inequality results from power inequality. If one identity group is more successful than another, the former has benefited from power at the expense of the latter. According to intersectionality, all struggles against injustice share a victimhood identity and have equal validity. Feminist and gay groups coexist with fundamentalist Islamic groups because all claim victim status, binding them in an unlikely coalition.
The intersectional movement’s goal is to destroy the West’s power hierarchy, which it claims is based on rich, white, straight, male power.
Socialism’s poor workers’ struggle against rich capitalists has been transformed into “people of color” versus the “privileged whites.”
Progressives view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a racial prism, placing Muslims — considered victimized people of color — high above the “privileged” Jews. Intersectional theory and anti-Semitism merge. The Left condemns power while anti-Semites posit a cabal of all-powerful Jews who insidiously influence world events.
Intersectionalists refuse to accept Jews as victims, despite their centuries of persecution and dislocation. To do so would be to legitimize the need for safe haven in a Jewish state. The Zionist dream of restoring sovereignty and security to the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland is incomprehensible to those who champion the Palestinian cause.
So the Left condemns Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East, while ignoring or whitewashing the crimes of its Islamic enemies. Similarly, when Rashida Tlaib was asked why some Democrats were unhappy with Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic slurs, she insisted that the problem is instead “Islamophobia.”
The nexus of socialism, intersectionality, and Islamism has radicalized the Democratic Party. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at AIPAC’s recent annual policy conference, insisted that Democrats oppose anti-Semitism and support Israel. These are the empty words of a leader who has, in practice, permitted the radical Left to take control of her party. As soon as the words left Pelosi’s mouth, Rep. Omar attacked the Speaker for stifling freedom of speech.
Sadly, what we are witnessing is the Corbynization of the American Democratic Party. History will not look kindly on this development.
Ziva Dahl is a senior fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center.