Social media is filled with the testimonies of progressive American Jews expressing bitterness about the abandonment and betrayal of Jews by their progressive allies.
I will argue that these allies did not betray them and that progressive indifference toward the crimes of Hamas on October 7th is just an extension of progressive indifference toward all crimes and abuses committed in the name of "resistance against oppression."
At the height of the 2020 riots triggered by the murder of George Floyd, hundreds if not thousands of honest people lost everything they had devoted years of hard work to build. I do not remember progressive Jews shedding tears or sympathizing with their pain. Neither do I remember progressive Jews defending the reputation of the thousands of cops who every day and every night put their lives on the line to protect inner-city residents.
On the contrary, progressive Jews were some of the loudest voices pleading for police forces to be defunded, promoting the libel that racism in America is an epidemic and arguing that white supremacy pervades every aspect of American life.
Progressive Jews voted en masse for politicians undermining the rule of law by encouraging illegal immigration and donated generously to organizations like the BLM movement that never hid their disdain for everything that makes America successful.
In addition, progressive Jews spread many of the lies that justify and strengthen anti-Israel feelings. They told their progressive Gentile friends that Israel's rightwing governments don‘t want peace, that Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are thieves and hooligans, and that as enlightened Jews they feared and loathed Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich more than Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Why are they so surprised and disappointed that their friends took their words at face value?
In Israel, politicians have long labeled each other "extremists“, "fascists,“ and even "Nazis“.
None of them really believe this is true, because at the end of the day they all know that everyone is a Jew.
But when a Jew tells a Gentile that a given Israeli leader and politician is a fascist, the Gentile doesn‘t merely think this is true. The Gentile assumes that if a Jew admits that a given Israeli politician is a fascist, then the politician is in truth a Nazi.
In front of outsiders, the nations of the world understate the flaws of their kin and coreligionists. They do not to overstate them, as Jews readily do. One cannot blame progressive Gentiles for not being privy to this quirk of the Jewish national character.
It is true that the Gentile left has behaved disgracefully in recent weeks. Yet despite the fact a few scumbags openly celebrated October 7th, most progressives were saddened by the crimes of Hamas. If they now demand a ceasefire and blame Israel for the hatred and fanaticism that led to October 7th, this attitude is in essence the same attitude as that of progressives vis-à-vis the violence that ravaged American cities after the death of George Floyd.
Just like Palestinian Arabs blame an imaginary Jewish oppression in Gaza for the violence of Hamas, progressives blamed an imaginary white oppression for inner-city poverty and violence. When conservatives pointed out that broken families, poor academic performance, and bad role-models are the root cause of most social problems in America, progressives claimed this amounted to "blaming the victim.“ And this is exactly what progressives claim Israel does whenever it points out that Arab local mismanagement, corruption and religious fanaticism are the root causes of Arab problems.
"Colonialism,“ the "Nakba,“ and the "Occupation,“ play the same role in justifying Palestinian Arab failures and shortcomings that slavery, segregation, and redlining play in exonerating minorities in America for any responsibility for their problems.
The parallels between America and Israel are stunning.
Just like progressives in America portrayed a handful or less of rotten police officers as representative of the whole police force and turned the junkie and felon George Floyd into an international martyr, so do progressives now see every IDF soldier as a criminal and every terrorist in Gaza as a helpless victim of "structural racism“ and "systemic oppression.“
Why are progressive Jews so upset when the sloppy logic and demagogic arguments they employed to rationalize and condone violence in America are now used to rationalize and legitimize violence against Israelis?
Let it be clear that I am not equating the BLM movement with Hamas or progressives who support the BLM movement with Hamas sympathizers.
I am simply highlighting that man of the differences between the two movements are quantitative - not qualitative. I am not comparing BLM violence and vandalism with the depravity of Hamas' barbaric atrocities on October 7th, but the progressive justifications of .both are the same.
Both movements exploit real problems to fan resentment and hatred. Both movements condone and abet violence. And both movements have amassed wealth and power while ruining millions of lives, first and foremost the lives of the people whose interests and historical rights they purport to defend.
In fact, it is not progressive Jews who should feel betrayed by their allies, but their allies who should feel surprised by the fact so many progressive Jews apply a double standard:
I have scoured the internet for "tikkun-olam" initiatives fundraising for inner-city shopkeepers and residents whose stores and livelihoods were destroyed by the violence that the BLM movement stoked. I have found none.
On the other hand, the internet is littered with the soundbites and quotes of progressive Jews praising the BLM movement and defending its most absurd demands.
Progressive Jews who feel bitter and betrayed today, now feel and understand the bitterness and betrayal that law-abiding residents and shopkeepers in America‘s inner cities felt when most progressive movements and activists claiming to fight racism, defend human rights, and champion racial equality left them in the lurch three years ago.
Rafael Castrois a Yale- and Hebrew University-educated political analyst based in Berlin. Rafael can be reached at [email protected]m