The rise of in­flex­i­ble pro­gres­sivism

In a turn­about, Zion­ism has been re­placed by scorn for the Jewish state

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Her­bert Lon­don Her­bert Lon­don is president of the Lon­don Cen­ter for Pol­icy Re­search.

As a young man com­ing from a left-wing pedi­gree, I em­braced a liberal agenda which in­cluded most notably, a be­lief in Is­rael as a bas­tion of so­cial­ism and democ­racy. In the 1950s, a good pro­gres­sive was a good Zion­ist. Oh, how the world has changed. Now a pro­gres­sive has moved 180 de­grees to an anti-Zion­ist po­si­tion. As one wag put it, the left is now the con­ge­nial home of anti-Zion­ism and anti-Semitism.

Linda Sar­sour, the leader of the Woman’s March in Wash­ing­ton and a com­mence­ment speaker at the City Univer­sity of New York, clearly em­bod­ies the new spirit on the left. She has praised Louis Far­rakhan of the Na­tion of Is­lam, once anath­ema to lib­er­als. She has hon­ored Em­brased Rasmesh Odeh, a ter­ror­ist mur­derer. She has spo­ken in fa­vor of Shariah fi­nance. One of the supporters of Ms. Sar­sour said, “Noth­ing is creepier than Zion­ism.”

What is truly re­mark­able, and to some de­gree ide­o­log­i­cally shat­ter­ing, is that The New York Times wrote a fawn­ing pro­file about this woman who chal­lenges all liberal prin­ci­ples. She had the au­dac­ity to say that “the vagina of Ayaan Hirsi Ali should be taken away,” the same Ayaan who has worked so hard to pro­mote women’s rights through­out the Mus­lim world. Yet the Anti-Defama­tion League de­fends Ms. Sar­sour. Why do lib­er­als not rec­og­nize that the Mus­lim coun­tries do not give women and peo­ple in the LGBT com­mu­nity the same civil rights that Is­rael does?

For the left, Zion­ism has pro­moted Is­lam­o­pho­bia — a false cri­tique from the stand­point of Is­lamists. As a con­se­quence, anti-Semitism is ren­dered a virtue, as a way to discourage neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment about Is­lam. Yet even when the ev­i­dence of anti-Semitism is in­con­tro­vert­ible, the left con­tends anti-Semitism is a fig­ment of an hys­ter­i­cal, over­sen­si­tive imag­i­na­tion. For the most part, Jews are be­ing sys­tem­at­i­cally writ­ten out of the pro­gres­sive agenda, even though they were re­spon­si­ble for that agenda in the first place. But why quib­ble?

This new age, al­ready upon us, has shel­tered many Jews from the harsh re­al­ity of con­tem­po­rary pro­gres­sivism. Jews still grav­i­tate to a Demo­cratic Party led by two men (Tom Perez and Keith El­li­son) avowedly anti-Zion­ist. In ca­sual con­ver­sa­tion, Jews will say Democrats rep­re­sent grassroots move­ments and peo­ple. How­ever, it is im­por­tant to note the party of the hard left is the gov­ern­ment party re­ly­ing on rules and man­dates im­posed by Wash­ing­ton D.C. bu­reau­crats. It no longer rep­re­sents the blue-col­lar worker who built the party dur­ing the New Deal.

At the Chicago “Dyke March” held re­cently, Jewish pride flags were banned be­cause Jews “made peo­ple feel un­safe” and, after all, the march was pro-Pales­tinian and anti-Zion­ist. The irony is that the Dyke March preaches in­clu­sion and is billed as “anti-racist, anti-vi­o­lent, vol­un­teer-led grassroots mo­bi­liza­tion and cel­e­bra­tion of dyke, queer, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der re­silience.” Yes, the march in­cludes ev­ery per­mu­ta­tion of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, but it does not in­clude Jews, pre­sum­ably th­ese are the peo­ple found to be “of­fen­sive.”

In Jan­uary 2016, a Shab­bat ser­vice and re­cep­tion for Jewish par­tic­i­pants at a gay con­fer­ence in Chicago was dis­rupted by hundreds of protesters who chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, pinkwash­ing has got to go.” Pinkwash­ing is a term to de­scribe ef­forts by Is­rael to cover up its treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans by tout­ing its strong record on gay rights. What the in­ci­dent shows is that even on gay rights Is­rael will not be given the ben­e­fit of the doubt be­cause anti-Zion­ism trumps ho­mo­sex­ual ac­cep­tance.

That pro­gres­sives would find com­mon quar­ter with Is­lamists is the shock­ing part of this ide­o­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion. Ob­vi­ously, sec­u­lar­ism has played a role for many Jews. But the Anti-Defama­tion League’s sup­port for the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can–Is­lamic Re­la­tions is noth­ing short of jar­ring, de­spite the ex­tent of Jewish sec­u­lar­iza­tion.

To have been a pro­gres­sive and to see how the word and move­ment have gone through the caul­dron of ide­o­log­i­cal change demon­strates the in­flu­ence of Or­wellian logic. Or­tho­doxy is lib­er­al­ism, dogma is open­ness; Shariah is ex­pan­sive. Who would have thought that the mod­ern Jew would im­bibe this logic? But as Nor­man Pod­horetz noted in his splen­did book, “Why Are Jews Lib­er­als?” Jews are liberal be­cause lib­er­al­ism is the new re­li­gion of Jews.


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