(JNS) One of the key characteristics of our difficult times is the way in which the progressive left has hijacked language. Among other things, progressives have seized the language of bigotry to demonize non-progressives as bigots while engaging in and promoting bigotry themselves.
“Antisemitism” is one of the key terms that has been hijacked. This week, we saw a number of demonstrations of its exploitation at the hands of progressives to demonize those they deem a threat to their political and cultural power.
The most discussed demonstration of how the popular term for Jew-hatred has been weaponized is the pile-on against multi-billionaire and free speech champion Elon Musk by supporters of multi-billionaire and progressive political warfare bankroller George Soros.
Soros funds the progressive camp through his Open Society Foundations. In many respects, Soros should be seen not only as a funder, but as the ideological leader of the progressive revolution because many of its key nodes and organizations are his brain children.
In a series of posts on Twitter, the social media platform Musk purchased last year to promote his freedom of speech agenda, Musk harshly criticized Soros. He wrote, “Soros reminds me of Magneto.” Magneto is a Marvel Comics villain.
Progressive Jewish writer Brian Krassenstein responded, “Magneto’s experiences during the Holocaust as a survivor shaped his perspective as well as his depth and empathy. Soros, also a Holocaust survivor, gets attacked nonstop for his good intentions which some Americans think are bad merely because they disagree with this political affiliations [sic].”
Musk refused to budge. Responding to Krassenstein, Musk wrote, “You assume they are good intentions. They are not. He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity.”
Krassenstein’s insinuation that Musk’s attack on Soros was an expression of antisemitism was quickly followed up by Jonathan Greenblatt, president of the Anti-Defamation League.
Greenblatt scolded, “Soros often is held up by the far-right, using antisemitic tropes, as the source of the world’s problems. To see Elon Musk, regardless of his intent, feed this segment—comparing him to a Jewish supervillain, claiming Soros ‘hates humanity’—is not just distressing, it’s dangerous: It will embolden extremists who already contrive anti-Jewish conspiracies and have tried to attack Soros and Jewish communities as a result.”
Musk responded by asserting that the ADL “should just drop the A.”
Other Jewish leaders, including American Jewish Committee President Ted Deutsch, similarly attacked Musk, as did Israel’s Foreign Ministry, although the ministry’s attack on Musk was disavowed and harshly criticized by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.
Musk is far from the only public figure who has been accused of antisemitism for attacking Soros. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was recently the subject of a pile-on accusing him of Jew-hatred for referring to “Soros-funded DAs” while decrying former President Donald Trump’s indictment at the hands of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Bragg, who campaigned on a pledge to indict Trump, received a $500,000 campaign donation from a Soros-funded group.
Given the way that Soros’s supporters freely accuse his detractors of antisemitism, Soros’s own actions on issues related to Jews and antisemitism are important to consider.
-Soros’s Open Society Foundations have given tens of millions of dollars to non-governmental organizations involved in waging political warfare and lawfare against Israel.
-Soros’s groups reject the Jewish state’s right to exist and its right to defend itself.
-They have sought to undermine its relations with foreign governments and subvert its legal system in order to prevent it from enforcing its laws against Arab Palestinian terrorists and Arab Israelis who break the laws of their country.
-Two Soros-funded organizations, Al-Haq and Al-Mezan, have been identified as fronts for the PFLP terrorist organization. The U.S., the E.U., Canada and Israel all designate the PFLP as a terror group. Israel’s Defense Ministry outed Al-Haq and Al-Mezan as PFLP fronts in Oct. 2021. Rather than abandon their support for the terrorist groups, 20 other Soros-funded organizations signed a declaration attacking the government’s move.
-Soros-funded international, U.S., Israeli and Palestinian groups defame Israel and its supporters by, among other things, falsely accusing the Jewish state of “apartheid".
-They wage economic and cultural warfare against Israel and its Jewish supporters around the world through boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns. Directed against Israel’s Jewish supporters abroad, particularly on college campuses, BDS campaigns aim to deny Jews their civil right to stand with the Jewish state or express support for its existence. These campaigns employ social ostracism, humiliation and harassment.
-Soros-funded groups were the primary engine behind the E.U.’s antisemitic labelling law, which requires Israeli exporters to place warning labels on goods produced by Jews beyond the 1949 armistice lines.
-Soros has spearheaded and funds organizations whose job is to drive a wedge through the American Jewish community. In 2007, he published an article in The New York Review of Books demonizing AIPAC, which he attacked with language redolent of antisemitism. The next year, Soros founded J Street by providing a three-year grant of $750,000. The pro-Palestinian progressive Jewish group supports placing restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Israel. It backs some of the most anti-Israel members of Congress. It advocates on behalf of U.S. appeasement of the Iranian regime, including by facilitating its nuclear weapons program.
J Street U, J Street’s student group, is anti-Israel. IfNotNow is a BDS group and a spin-off of J Street U. J Street and its aligned groups routinely demonize pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC and the Jewish Federations for their support for Israel. They also seek to subvert Jewish institutions, including day schools and summer camps, by compelling their leaders to accept the dissemination of anti-Zionist curricula and propaganda to their students and campers.
-Soros-funded Palestinian Arab media routinely broadcast antisemitic propaganda.
In short, Soros funds groups that demonize the Jewish state and Jewish people worldwide who support it. He has split the American Jewish community and supports organizations that oppose the right of Jewish people in the United States to defend and support the Jewish state and its right to exist.
There are many definitions of antisemitism, but simply stated, antisemitism is bigotry against Jews, including hatred of Jews and adverse treatment of Jews. This is precisely what Soros advocates and uses his fortune to fund.
Demonizing all of Soros’s critics as antisemites is not only an insult to Jews. It is a way of denying Jews the language to defend themselves against real antisemites like Soros.
This brings us to a second incident this week in which the term antisemitism was appropriated and language was hijacked to advance the political goals of progressives by demonizing their political foes.
The National Conservatism movement held a conference in Britain. The idea of national conservativism is that the nation-state system is the best guard against tyranny at the hands of transnational groups that seek to impose their progressive worldview through quasi-imperialist dictates.
To prevent tyranny and preserve free societies, the national conservative movement advocates for nations to defend their sovereign territory, preserve and strengthen their institutions and teach and cultivate their unique histories and traditions. The conference at Westminster in London this week brought together Britain’s top conservative political and intellectual leaders.
On Tuesday, The Guardian ran a hit-job by Peter Walker on the conference and its participants, demonizing both as antisemitic. How was Jew-hatred advanced by the participants?
As Walker put it, “A conference run by a right-wing U.S. think tank might be expected to feature robust discourse on culture wars and identity. But the National Conservatism gathering has gone notably further: with speeches using terms linked to antisemitism and the far right.”
What are the terms whose use opened two of Israel’s most powerful friends in Britain—Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Tory MP Miriam Cates—to allegations of Jew hatred? “Cultural Marxism” and “globalism.”
To be clear, just as some antisemites attack Soros using antisemitic language, so some critics of cultural Marxism and globalism are antisemites. But this is irrelevant. Criticism of both cultural Marxism and globalists is not inherently or normally antisemitic at all. The progressives’ assertion that use of these terms is an antisemitic act has nothing to do with reality.
Rather, it is a means to stifle discourse by denying their political opponents the means to describe political movements and philosophies that undermine their nations. By falsely asserting that criticism of globalists and cultural Marxism are inherently hostile to Jews, progressives not only block debate on real issues, they use antisemitism as a weapon to demonize anyone who engages in discourse that questions progressive goals, means and dogma.
The ironic aspect of the progressive assault on nationalists is that progressives don’t oppose nationalism per se. The progressive world view that the likes of Soros advance asserts that there is tribal warfare going on all over the world. Some tribes—or nations—are oppressors. Others are victims.
The national identities of the groups defined as aggressors are illegitimate. American identity, for example, is illegitimate. British, Israeli, Indian, Hungarian, Australian, Polish, Italian and French identities are also illegitimate.
On the other hand, Palestinian Arab national identity is great. Chinese identity is fine.
On May 15, American Muslims for Palestine organized a “Nakba Day” rally in Washington. MEMRI posted footage from their rally at the Washington Mall. Among other things, speakers at the rally called for the destruction of Israel, advocated on behalf of terrorism and proclaimed, “The only good Zionist is a dead Zionist.”
AMP is aligned with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who held her own “Nakba Day” event sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy cancelled her planned Nakba event at the Capitol Visitor Center.
In 2021, AMP organized a webinar with Tlaib co-hosted by IfNotNow. Last month, IfNotNow activists stormed a stage at an event for Gov. DeSantis and accused him of antisemitism for speaking out against “Soros DAs.”
For Soros and his fellow progressive antisemites, the only time you’re permitted to point out that someone is Jewish is when they are progressive. And any attack against them is anti-Semitic.
The same ADL President Jonathan Greenblatt who accused Musk of antisemitism for his attack on Soros never spoke out against the progressives who attacked the late conservative and pro-Israel Jewish philanthropist Sheldon Adelson with nakedly antisemitic rhetoric. As a conservative, pro-Israel Jew, Adelson was a legitimate target for progressive antisemites.
The left’s assault on language is a means to assert control over societies. If you cannot describe your reality, then you cannot influence it. As George Orwell explained it in 1984, “The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.”
Judaism, to be sure, is not progressivism and attacks on progressive dogma and politics are not acts of antisemitism. Accepting, even minimally, that such absurdities are valid denies Jews the capacity to protect themselves from actual antisemitism—that is, hostility towards Jews.
All Jews, including Jewish progressives who are concerned about anti-Jewish bigotry, must reject out of hand efforts by the likes of Soros, The Guardian, Tlaib and their comrades to hijack language to constrain our capacity to recognize this reality.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate and the host of the Caroline Glick Show on JNS. Glick is also the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14 as well as a columnist at Newsweek. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a lecturer at Israel’s College of Statesmanship.