Oct. 7 Sparked a Shift in Global Antisemitism
Let’s face it. Israel under PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi), isn’t helping the fight against global Antisemitism, and is fueling the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) Movement. The war crimes in Gaza have been augmented by a recent conference led by Bibi, to re-colonize Gaza with renewed Haredim settlements. It featured National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir telling the crowd, “They (the Palestinians) must be encouraged to leave voluntarily.” That is a euphemism for repeatedly bombing civilians out of their homes, while killing over 26,000, and inflicting life-altering wounds on thousands more. Before being elevated to Bibi’s government, Ben-Gvir was a member of outlawed Kach Party, the Israeli equivalent of the Proud Boys. The audacity of timing is shocking, just days after the International Court of Justice (The Hague) handed down a preliminary injunction against Israel for war crimes in Gaza, and the start date for Bibi’s criminal trial – a bloodier form of Bread and Circus.
Bibi’s war crimes have fueled an explosion in global Antisemitism on the Left, while Donald Trump stokes it from the right. Most of the world, including many Jews; don’t distinguish between Zionism as a mutated political philosophy from Judaism, the religion. Now the American material and financial support of the Israeli war machine is deeply hurting President Joe Biden’s re-election bid. The US has enabled Israel since it supplanted Great Britain and France as Israel’s protectors after the failed 1956 Suez invasion. The unwillingness of the US to divorce itself from Israel, and many Jews to divorce Judaism from Zionism, is strengthening Antisemitism. It is also inadvertently helping Trump’s bid to re-take the presidency.
Antisemitism has been a social disease for about 2,024 years, if not longer. In the wake of Trump’s presidency and metastasizing political movement, it is globally stronger and more visible than any time since WWII. His leadership has empowered not only Fascists in the US, but authoritarian dictators and movement globally. Most destructive is how Trump and Bibi have cross-promoted one another’s quest for fascist dictatorships.
At the same time, Jewish Americans have been subjected to the “Great Replacement” Conspiracy Theory. Some on the MAGA far right have adopted it. At Charlottesville, pro-Trump Neo-Nazis chanted “Jews will not Replace us.”
As Juan Cole wrote recently, “In 2021, [Rep. Elise] Stefanik began taking up the talking points of the Great Replacement Theory. It holds that wealthy Jewish businessmen are bringing in immigrants from the Global South to replace white workers, since the immigrants will work more cheaply. Stefanik perhaps did not utter the phrase, but she appealed to all the dog whistles of this odious theory. Marianna Sotomayor noted last year at the Washington Post that Stefanik put out campaign ads saying, “Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION . . . Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.” Guess who the “radical Democrats” might be, to which she refers? Could they possibly be people such as, oh, I don’t know, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and other Jewish American legislators who have worked for immigration reform?”
Antisemitism has also become a 3rd Rail in American politics, with many elected officials intimidated from weighing in either way. That’s the case in the City of Oakland, where I live. The Mayor’s Office, City Administrator, HR Division and City Council members have all ignored a week’s worth of inquiries, requesting to discuss the visible rise of Antisemitism in City government and the Oakland Unified School District. Dozens of Jewish families have withdrawn their children in response to hostility. Some people on the fringe left, including public employees in Oakland are arguing that, “the October 7 attack was a ‘false flag’ staged by Israel – likely with help from the Americans — to justify genocide in Gaza.” This is a gross characterization born out of willful ignorance.
The new Antisemitism from the left may actually be more dangerous than the traditional, garden-variety brand, embraced by the far-far right. October 7 denial is more dangerous than Holocaust denial, which has fueled Antisemitism on the extreme right for decades. Cyber-Well, a non-profit devoted to countering Antisemitism online cautioned, “Whereas Holocaust denial at its height was limited to fringe academic circles and extremist hate groups who gained a limited following through traditional media, conferences, and papers, today social media platforms provide an algorithmically enhanced stage to disseminate the Antisemitic narrative of October 7 denial directly into the mainstream from a select few influential accounts.” The denialist POV is ignorant about some very important things: 1.) Hamas is NOT Islam and indeed committed atrocious war crimes that violate Islam’s Shari’a code. 2.) Zionism is NOT Judaism, but a mutant ideology that strayed far from its secular, agrarian ideals under a series of corrupt politicians. The Gaza War crimes are afoul of Halacha (Jewish law), as Hamas is of Shari’a.
Counterintuitively, the compulsion for unquestioned American support for Israel is now driven more by US Evangelicals than Jews, as more Jews turn away from Zionism. To many Jews, the Temple Sunday School myth that Israel MUST be a central focus of Judaism is invalid. Since October 7, more Jews than ever have stopped supporting Israel. Anti-zionism, as the concept has evolved, does not mean dismantling the State of Israel, but demanding a Palestinian State alongside it. Zionism began as a non-nationalist, secular agrarian movement, without any rhetoric about Jewish Nationalism or fulfilling Biblical prophecy.
October 7 denialism is not so different from January 6 denialism. One promotes and advocates violence against the US government, and the other violently marginalizes a vital sector of the American population – Jews in this case. The ugliness of this false narrative resulted in an atmosphere of unfettered anti-Jewish sentiments, clothed in objections to Israel.
Reasonable objectors were shouted down and verbally abused at a recent City Council meeting.
The “false flag” promoted by leftists denies some very obvious war crimes, which have been well-documented in Hamas and Israeli videos, plus independent media outlets. As for validating the horrors inflicted on Israeli women, it’s been well documented, but is somehow ignored even by groups devoted to protecting women. Oakland and all municipalities in the Bay Area make it a priority to protect women, promote women’s safety and services. We can expect city employees to show the same concern for Jewish lives. Decrying the atrocities of the Gaza campaign and standing for Palestinian rights are worthy causes that are cheapened by denying the basic facts of the horrific terrorist attack launched by Hamas militants on October 7.Your support matters…
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