When Jews find common cause with movements that hate Jews

Do the Jews who join anti-Semtic movements know something that the rest of us don't?

Steve Apfel

OpEds Jewish supporters of Black Lives Matter movement in New York
Jewish supporters of Black Lives Matter movement in New York

A thousand rabbis sign a petition to bring refugees from Jew hating backgrounds into America. Communal bodies kept liquid by Jewish money embrace groups that exclude Jews of the wrong type. Jewish leftists fill a BDS event to hear the Holocaust confused with thriving self-governing Palestinians.

The counter-intuitive Jewish mind is an ancient marvel. Who knows that better than the Almighty. In one breath the Jews are warned against carving graven images, next they are instructed to carve graven images for a tabernacle that will contain the Almighty. It must be in the Jewish DNA to be contrariwise.

Are the rabbis and communal bodies and BDS clique being contrary? Is there smart logic buried in their paradoxical ways, if one could only figure and ferret out their logic? The Jews that find common cause with anti-Semitic movements – do they know something we don’t?  Are we the dumbos?   

More important than what they know, the answer may lie in what contrary Jews feel. More than anything a Jew likes to feel that she or he is a notch above the norm. “Never underestimate the power of feeling good about yourself,” writes a critic of rabbinic support for bringing refugees into America. “It feels very good for these Jews to say: ‘Look, world, you abandoned us in the 1930s, but we’re better than you.’


Or it may be that motive which bigots love to hate: Jewish capital. Communal leaders follow the money; and the money follows recognition. Enthusiasm for donor dollars may go a long way to explain the attraction of voguish causes: refugees, Black Lives Matter, Transgender rights, Islamaphobia, BDS and more. These without exception are movements where no love is lost on the Jews and their bitty country. The progressive element is very prone to overlooking this unlovely aspect. In their activism on behalf of a trendy cause, Jews more than join forces with anti-Semites; they defend them, or turn a blind eye. Ally support takes precedence over ally bigotry. It’s the cause that counts. And what recognition, progressives would like to know, will fighting for a Jewish cause bring? Anti-Semitism on campus appears nowhere on the trendy billboard. The mass media won’t give pro-Israel activists a look in.

One therefore had no right to be shocked when Jonathan Greenblatt took over the ADL and announced that the younger generation in the ADL’s constituency were liberal, secular Jews, not terribly interested in anti-Semitism. They wanted the ADL to focus on oppression more generally. Greenblatt listened. He issued two press releases on transgender issues and three on President Trump’s immigration cut off. Remember the wave of attacks on transgender people? Neither do I. Remember how the Muslim world set the example for helping Muslim refugees? Neither do I. Yet the ADL plumped for those voguish causes and ignored pressing Jewish causes; maybe Greenblatt felt uncomfortable knowing that fellow leftists were driving anti-Jewish bigotry on campus.

There is a yet more un-Jewish gameplay called ‘follow the trend’. Whatever is trending, there go the progressive rabbis and communal leaders and cliques. Not smart at all. Not like a Jew to go with mob-think and fail to comprehend that political terms are in utter disarray. For if truth be told, political language has been stood on its head. Supporters of Israel are accused or suspected of bigotry while BDS supporters bathe in the glow of human rights. People who voted for BREXIT are called ‘authoritarian’ while those who voted to remain in Europe are called ‘liberals.’

Do you see why a liberal would defend wheeling and dealing by unelected elite? Neither do I. Do you see why an authoritarian would reject a Byzantine bureaucracy, while a liberal would embrace it? Neither do I. But progressives are trendy if nothing else. There are “isms” and “phobias” for a Jew to stand with anti-Semites rather than quarrel with them over “creepy” Zionism.

Hero worship is another thing in disarray. The Jews who clambered for Hilary Clinton look upon themselves as moral dissenters – embedded Hilary Clinton, the candidate who propped up the old order and held the promise of business as usual. Dissenting: not to assent, or to think differently...Mirror, mirror, who fits the term better? Were dissenters the people who defied the mass media and celebrity icons and peer pressure, and voted ‘Yes’ to Trump? Or were the dissenters those who mourned and threw their toys when Clinton lost? I think they know.

What shall we say? When a Jew finds common cause with anti-Semites the immediate and incapacitating casualty is the clear thinking Jewish “kop”. Rabbis for Refugees, Jews for Women against Trump, Jews for this right and that right; Jews for any right so long as it is not a Jewish right; they ought to be warned of the risk before allies bend them like a reed into mob thinking and behaviour.

The author is indebted to Judy Moritz who made this work possible, while the views expressed are entirely the author’s.