With Pesach (Holiday of Passover) literally just around the corner, should we be concerned that the story of Exodus may very well be the next victim of “cancel culture”.
The story of Exodus tells of the Jewish nation’s departure from Egypt, the revelations at Mount Sinai, and their wanderings in the desert wilderness for 40 years prior to entering the Land of Israel. The central message of Exodus was that the Jewish nation was delivered from slavery to freedom by God, and therefore became the “Chosen People” by the covenant given to the Jewish nation at Mount Sinai.
Early Christians saw the Exodus as a typological prefiguration of resurrection and salvation. The story has also resonated with other non-Jewish groups, such as the early American settlers fleeing persecution in Europe, and African Americans striving for freedom and civil rights. However, this message of liberation from slavery to redemption may very well be nothing more than a hollow manifestation of wishful thinking and a remnant of what was once accepted as progressive thinking.
Today’s progressive movers and shakers, such as Black Lives Matters and their supporters among America’s intelligentsia, academia, and media celebrities, have rendered this interpretation of Exodus no longer valid. With the proliferation of fake news alongside the unparalleled political polarization that has swept America, its makes it nearly impossible to establish an agreed-upon set of historical facts from which to draw conclusions, let alone accept the story of Exodus as a beacon of hope and freedom from slavery.
Current progressive thinking has a wholly different approach and asserts that not only are Jews to be seen as privileged whites, but that being Jewish can be invoked and used to benefit Jews as a way of intensifying someone’s status as being white. This being the case, their argument goes further and claims that essentially Jews have no right to be identified as oppressed and thus cannot claim sympathy for being slaves under Egyptian bondage. Inferred in this interpretation is that Jews should not be viewed in the same way as other minorities who have been freed from slavery. In other words, the Jewish nation's past persecution has been canceled by their present day status as white privileged.
Many liberal Progressive Jewish leaders and Jewish organizations have been unable to remain on the sidelines and have eagerly jumped on the bandwagon to strengthen this cancel culture mentality. They absurdly claim that we must realize that oppression today is as real as it was in Biblical times. They go one step further and state that we have to consider the possibility that we, as white American-born Jews, are the Egyptians of today and must repent for the sin that we are white privileged.
Progressive Jewish thinking blames Jews for moving their Jewish institutions to the suburbs as Jews gravitated out of urban areas. They blame Jews for not investing in their former urban neighborhoods and in non-Jewish residents residing there. They claim that Jews have been warmly welcomed and integrated into their new communities in no small part because of their white skin and have been lulled into complacency enjoying their “insider white” status. The massacre at the “Tree of Life” Synagogue and the thousands of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews everywhere in American, whether in cities or in the suburbs, makes not even a dent in these cancel culture sympathizers and only strengthens the belief that American Jews are no different than White supremacists and can no longer be viewed in the same way as other minorities.
The most insidious aspect about cancel culture is that you don’t even have to support it or actively participate in cancel culture for it to endanger the well-being of American Jews. Due to the impact of social media and mainstream media that do nothing to counter the cancel culture mentality overtaking America, events are driven and amplified by small numbers on social media that shame and intimidate much larger groups into silence and apathy.
This modern day form of ostracism and the current state of cancel culture can be correctly compared to the “Blacklist” period of the McCarthy period in the 1950’s that swept America. Cancel Culture can also be associated as a modern manifestation of the Nazi book burnings campaign conducted by the German Student Union (the Deutsche Studentenschaft) who ceremonially burned books in large bonfires in Nazi Germany and Austria in the 1930s. The first books burned were those of Jewish authors and ideologues such as Karl Marx. The book burning and blacklisting of the past, and the cancel culture of today are two sides of the same coin. Unfounded claims, or guilt by association are sufficient to put American Jews in danger and the escalating acts of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews is proof of this phenomenon.
What cancel culture fails to address in its wider impact is that it is inherently selective in cancelling any manifestation of thinking right-of-center exclusively. The most obvious example has to be with extremism being defined as “white supremacist” beliefs. Nothing about anarchism, nothing about any group that might be found on the left. Advocates of cancel culture refuse to consider antifa as an extreme organization. Even simpler, why is it extremist to attack a Capitol police officer (by white supremists), but not extremist to attack a Portland police officer (by black supremists)?
Cancel culture is not a response to attempts to silence legitimate protests rejecting the racial status quo in America, nor is cancel culture an authentic attempt to right historical wrongs and push for meaningful change. Cancel culture has become an effective societal mechanism to silence dissent, intimidate those who think differently or oppose the progressive side of the political map, and change historical memory such as the story of Exodus.
It was Prime Minister Winston Churchill who stated that "Some people’s idea of [free speech] is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage." Wherever we look, whatever we hear, wherever we tune in; it’s everywhere; cancel culture represents the progressive vanguard dedicated to erasing the origin, the spirit, and the magnificence of Western society.
'The time has arrived to cancel the cancel culture. Only by shining a light on those individuals and organizations at the forefront of cancel culture and holding them accountable for historical homicide that they commit again and again, only then can we regain the upper hand in fighting those that are a modern manifestation of McCarthyism and the burning of books.
Ron Jager grew up in the South Bronx of New York City, making Aliyah in 1980. Served for 25 years in the IDF as a Mental Health Field Officer in operational units. Prior to retiring was Commander of the Central Psychiatric Clinic for Reserve Solders at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring has been involved in strategic consultancy to NGO's and communities in the Gaza Envelope on resiliency projects to assist first responders and communities. Ron has written numerous articles for outlets in Israel and abroad focusing on Israel and the Jewish world. [email protected] Website: www.ronjager.com