The Jewish communities of Europe and the US increasingly find themselves caught between the rising forces of the far right on one side, and a coalition of the far left and radical Islamists on the other, argues Shalom Lappin. He explores the political economy of contemporary antisemitism and how it can be resisted. He explores the roots of today’s strongly anti-globalist agenda, of which hostility to Jews is such an integral component, in the financial crash of 2007- 08, the bank bail out, austerity and a long economic depression, exploding social inequality, dislocation and insecurity, all of which caused the social contract to fray, and extremist movements, previously relegated to the fringes of the political spectrum, to go mainstream. Responses to antisemitism, he suggests, must also be interested in devising a new progressive politics to repair the social contract and to ensure ‘new forms of democratic governance that offer national electorates effective means for influencing the international institutions and multinational corporations that have come to shape their lives’.This article will appear in The Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism, Volume 2 No. 1, forthcoming in July 2019, and is published here by the kind permission of its editors. Download a PDF version here.
For much of the postwar period a broad consensus governed mainstream opinion in liberal democracies in the West on the role of Jews in the social order. They were to be fully integrated into their countries of residence, where they would enjoy complete equality of civil rights. Their communities would be free to function autonomously in religious, cultural, and educational terms, as was the case, at least in principle, with other minority groups.
In the decades following the Holocaust, all varieties of political opinion, except for those at the margins of the far right, and, in some cases, the far left, subscribed to this view. They rejected antisemitism as a horror to be actively resisted. Moreover, the necessity of Israel as a national home for Jewish refugees and their descendants (both from Europe, and from the Middle East and Africa) was largely uncontroversial, even as the need to address the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people gained increasing recognition. In this relatively supportive environment organised Jewish life flourished in America, and in the larger communities of Western Europe. Despite the ongoing threats to its security, Israel developed quickly from a small, beleaguered outpost into a highly successful country with a sophisticated economy and rich cultural life.
In the late 1990s, as the new millennium approached, the prospects for both Israel and the diaspora seemed encouraging. The Oslo process offered the hope of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israel’s acceptance within the wider Middle East. Communism had collapsed in Russia and Eastern Europe, and democratic governments began to take hold in its place. Large Jewish immigrations from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia had brought most of the Jewish populations of these countries to Israel. With the apparent success of liberal democracy in the period immediately following the end of the Cold War, Jewish life in both America and Europe looked to be secure.
Twenty years later the situation has changed radically. The collapse of the Camp David and Taba negotiations in 2000-01 ended the peace process with the Palestinians. It gave way to bloody and protracted conflict that saw Hamas replacing the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the dominant political force among many Palestinians. It also produced the long-term eclipse of the moderate Israeli left and the peace movement. Israel has become a pariah state in large swaths of Western public opinion, and its supporters have been targeted for isolation, and abuse. The consequences for diaspora Jewish communities have been devastating.
These events have taken shape in the context of broader historical developments. The increasingly unequal distribution of wealth that has eroded the living standards and future prospects of the middle and working classes in the West over the past 40 years has now generated widespread political instability, particularly in the period after the financial crash of 2008 and the prolonged recession that followed it. Centrist parties are identified with the policies that promoted the rise of global financial and corporate interests at the expense of a fair distribution of wealth. A spasm of anti-elitist reaction is expressing itself as a rebellion against global economic integration and the rapid technological changes that facilitated it.
In addition, climate change due to global warming is starting to have serious economic effects, particularly in the developing world, where prolonged periods of drought are causing shortages of food and water. These are beginning to feed into violent conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, which are generating large waves of refugees seeking asylum in Europe.
Xenophobia, nativism, and hostility to immigration have become increasingly dominant themes in political discourse. They have propelled far right nationalist and populist governments to power in the US, Brazil, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Turkey, and the Philippines (to date), while parties promoting these attitudes are now posing serious electoral challenges throughout the rest of Europe. Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia is closely allied with these movements and provides them with active support, both in order to advance Russia’s geopolitical interests, and through Putin’s identification with their authoritarian orientation.
Antisemitism is a prominent feature of these movements, even as they use hostility to immigrants and minorities as their primary recruiting tool. Most of these groups have projected George Soros in the role of a demonic Jewish manipulator using his financial empire to flood their respective countries with immigrant criminals. He is accused of undermining traditional social institutions through his support of liberal civic organisations.
Part of the appeal that far right groups in Europe hold for their supporters is the aggressive response that they provide to radical Islamists, whose influence has been growing in marginalised Muslim communities throughout the continent. The Islamists have been courted by the far left as allies in an anti-imperialist coalition that has become increasingly powerful on the other side of the political spectrum. With Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to power in the British Labour Party, this group has entered the mainstream of British politics. This development has been accompanied by shrill hostility to Israel within Labour’s leadership and among Corbyn’s rank and file supporters. This has been a source of fractious controversy over antisemitism in the party. The overwhelming majority of the British Jewish Community has now exited Labour and regards it as a toxic force.
Increasingly, the Jewish communities of Europe find themselves caught between the rising forces of the far right on one side, and a coalition of the far left and radical Islamists on the other. Common to these forces is a strongly anti-globalist agenda, of which hostility to Jews is an integral component. There are also strong indications that a parallel situation is emerging in the US.
Periods of major economic and social dislocation shaped by rapid technological change are frequently accompanied by the breakdown of established social patterns and a turn to radical politics. The developments that are currently threatening the cohesion, and possibly even the survival of liberal democracy in the West may be an instance of this sort of change. It is, however, peculiar that while the economic transformations, the technological innovations that are driving them, and the environmental threat that is helping to shape this social crisis, are, for the most part, new developments, the political responses on both the left and the right (as well as in the centre) are, in many ways regressive. They reprise movements that emerged in previous periods of instability rather than address present day challenges.
The return of antisemitism as a potent force on both the right and left, of the spectrum, and among Islamists, is indicative of the backward looking nature of the anti-globalist reaction that is conditioning part of the response to the current turmoil. In many ways this reaction seems to be deliberately ahistorical, disregarding the obvious lessons of fairly recent past experience. Some of the ways that Jews themselves have sought to answer the re-emerging Jewish question also appear to replay past ideologies without considering how these have been surpassed by the history of the last century. Moreover, several of the choices that the Israeli electorate and its political class have made over recent decades are similarly shortsighted and devoid of historical insight.
In this paper I will briefly consider the re-emergence of the Jewish question in light of each of these factors in turn: specifically, the collapse of political liberalism and the anti-globalist reaction, the Jewish response in the diaspora to rising antisemitism, and Israel’s way of dealing with the current situation.
The Crisis of Liberal Democracy: Old Answers to New Problems
Since the mid-1970s Western economies have been changing rapidly. Large sectors of labour-intensive industrial production have moved to developing economies in Asia, particularly China. Service industries have expanded as the major source of employment. Remaining industrial production, and many services, have become heavily automated, with robotic agents and online websites taking over tasks formerly performed by human workers. Large portions of the retail industry have moved online. These changes have involved the creation of highly-integrated international networks of supply, production, and distribution. With the emergence of increasingly advanced artificial intelligence systems for diagnostics, image recognition, dialogue management, and sophisticated robotic agents, greater automation in service industries like transportation, law, medicine, and even education are very likely.
These changes have caused significant dislocation in the labour market, as well as in regional development. Whole geographical areas that once hosted thriving industrial centres have been hollowed out (the rust belt in the US, northern English mining and textile towns, the factory regions of the Alsace in France, etc.). The availability of high paying jobs that sustained prosperity among much of the working and middle classes has declined significantly. Freelance and short-term work with few or no benefits has become increasingly common, even among people with university education. Many pension schemes have moved from final salary annuities to personal investment portfolios. Job security and prosperity have been seriously undercut across much of the wage earning population. Overheated housing markets have placed affordable accommodation out of reach for many people living in major urban centres. For the first time in the postwar era, the economic prospects for the next generation are less encouraging than those afforded to their parents.
Throughout this period conservative centre-right governments (particularly the Thatcher and Reagan administrations) launched a growing assault on the welfare state, cutting corporate and individual taxes for the wealthy, privatising public utilities and institutions, and drastically reducing social services. Unions were deliberately weakened through right-to-work legislation, and constraints on both labour organising and strikes. Financial markets were deregulated, creating a largely unrestrained international network for the rapid movement of capital in pursuit of short-term profits.
Centre-left liberal and social democratic governments largely collaborated in these processes. They attempted to mitigate the impact of the economic changes by limiting the damage which they caused to public services, and by using the tax and benefit systems for small scale redistribution downward of income. For the most part, they acquiesced in the conservative view that the rise of the neo-liberal economy was an inevitable result of efficiency in trade and production. They bought into the view that the best way of meeting the challenges of the new economy was to improve the international competitiveness of their respective countries through tax incentives to business investment, in order to insure job growth at home.
They singularly failed to transform the social democratic model from a national endeavour, as it had been formulated in the post war era, to an international project. Such a global programme requires the coordination of trade, taxes, social benefits, labour practices, and capital movement across borders in a way that regulates the power of large international corporations and financial agencies. An internationalised social democratic strategy would seek to redistribute wealth and protect the interests of workers and consumers over large networks of countries. It would involve developing effective means of democratic control for a globalised economy which is no longer accessible to constraint on the national level.
When ballooning private debt and a speculative bubble triggered the financial crash of 2007-08, Western governments bailed out the banks suffering from a liquidity crisis. They drastically reduced interest rates, and they used quantitative easing to stimulate credit flow. This saved the financial system from collapse, but it did nothing to help the most vulnerable people, who were badly affected by the crisis and the resulting extended recession. Rather than apply a public spending stimulus to support job creation and save public services European governments adopted deeply misguided austerity measures, which drove their economies deeper into decline. In the US Obama’s limited stimulus programme was curtailed by a hostile Republican controlled Congress.
In this environment it is hardly surprising that the social contract began to fray, and extremist movements, previously relegated to the fringes of the political spectrum, went mainstream. It is also clear why both the left and right instances of the reaction assumed an anti-globalist direction. These groups were quick to mobilise the frustrations of people who felt excluded and helpless in the face of long term economic decline, compounded by a recent financial crisis and subsequent recession. The centrist administrations that had presided over these events were targeted as the agents of a liberal elite that served as an impresario for the globalising forces that had produced their loss of prosperity and influence.
The racism and xenophobia of the far right are reminiscent of the fascist movements that arose throughout Europe during the depression in the 1930s. However, rather than seizing power through coups or invasions, they have been installed by normal electoral processes. They are using the legislative resources of the democracies that they have commandeered to dismantle the independent institutions of liberal government and civil society. They are launching a frontal attack on the European Union as a foreign threat to sovereignty, and they are rehabilitating discredited past Nazi collaborators as national heroes. They use the spectre of a tidal wave of hostile Muslim (and, in the US, Latino) immigrants to frighten their electoral base into supporting ultranationalist policies.
This movement has become powerful not only in Western countries affected by economic decline, but also in Eastern Europe, where, unlike the West, most of the population has enjoyed a significant improvement in its living standard since the fall of Communism. However, this improvement was achieved through a prolonged period of disruptive economic change and social dislocation. These countries moved from centrally controlled command economies to unconstrained free markets in a very short period of time. This produced massive social dislocation and insecurity. It seems that the wrenching changes that accompanied this transition also provided a fertile environment for the rejuvenation of the chauvinist virus.
The far left shares the hostility of the far right to the EU. It regards it as a juggernaut of neo-liberalism that has pried open national economies to the predatory practices of multinational corporations and financial agencies. It, too, is sympathetic to protectionist trade policies. While opposing racist attitudes to foreigners and minorities, at least some far left leaders, in particular Corbyn, remain studiously ambiguous on immigration for fear of alienating working class voters who oscillate between far right parties and their own. The far right and far left are selling traditionalist nostalgia for a once vigorous national economy existing in relative independence, if not isolation. They oppose not only the EU, but international military alliances, like NATO. In Europe, both the far right and the far left support strengthened welfare states, with the former limiting its benefits to a homogeneous ‘native’ population, and the latter seeking to build ‘socialism in one country’.
Historically the Jews have always been a problem for the left and the right, as well as, in many cases, classical liberals, in Europe. They do not fit the European categories of nation, religion, or cultural minority, but combine elements of all three. They have long been perceived as an obstacle to the realisation of the respective projects to which movements from all parts of the spectrum are committed. From the beginning of the enlightenment in the middle of the eighteenth century through to the first part of the twentieth the ‘Jewish Question’ occupied political thinkers of every persuasion. The challenge of this question was to specify an acceptable relationship between Jews and their host societies.
For right-wing nationalists, like Wilhelm Marr, Georg von Schönerer, and Édouard Drumont, Jews were an irretrievably alien and malign presence in European society. They prevented the realisation of the national renaissance that would restore their countries to the grandeur of a mythical past. Bourgeoise liberal democracy had destroyed this glorious state, and allowed the Jews entry into the political and social institutions of Europe. The route back from this disaster required the destruction of liberalism, and the isolation or the expulsion of the Jews. These ideas reached their culmination in the Nazi genocide.
Constitutional liberals like Bruno Bauer argued that a condition for granting political and social rights to Jews is that they give up their religious practices and communal affiliation. They saw these as incompatible with membership in a democratic secular state.
Socialists like Karl Marx and Otto Bauer took the existence of the Jews as a separate ethnic group to be the result of economic exclusion in the Medieval period. They regarded their continued survival in the modern era as an anomaly of capitalism in which Jews came to occupy certain niche class roles. They anticipated that the coming revolution would create an egalitarian society in which Jews would be fully assimilated, and cease to exist as a distinct entity.
Common to all of these very different replies to the ‘Jewish Question’ is the view that Jews are an illicit collectivity lacking any independent legitimacy. Its members need to be repaired and reconfigured. The intended result of each reply is to find an acceptable way of eliminating this collectivity. In the case of the right, this was to be through expulsion and, ultimately, physical annihilation. For the left, and some liberals, it would be achieved through a forced or a natural process of assimilation.
The far right movements that have come to prominence in Europe over the past two decades continue the tradition of white supremacy and antisemitism that their antecedents pursued. They are implacably hostile to liberal democracy and multiculturalism. They have embraced Putin as a model of nationalist authoritarian leadership, and they are enthusiastic supporters of Donald Trump. While their primary focus is on Muslim immigrants, they propagate updated versions of conspiracy theories concerning international Jewish control of financial institutions, and ownership of the liberal press. For the most part, they engage in Holocaust diminution. This consists in minimising or denying the role that their respective countries played in the Nazi genocide. (Victor Orban’s Fidesz-led government in Hungary and Jarosław Kaczyński’s Law and Justice government in Poland are sponsoring revised historical narratives of this kind.) In many cases they attempt to portray the Holocaust as a minor event in their country’s history (the National Front in France and the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany promote this view).
Disturbingly, these movements tend to adopt a pro-Israel foreign policy. Two main factors seem to be conditioning this stand. First, they see Israel as a front line ally in their struggle against Arab and Islamic influence in Europe. Second, they use the receptive response of the current Israeli government to their overtures as cover for sanitising their record of antisemitism, and obscuring their historical connections with fascist organisations of the past.
The European far left has turned its opposition to Israel into an icon of its ideological struggle. It does not merely reject Israel’s extended occupation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank, and the siege of Gaza. It regards Israel’s existence as an intolerable crime, and a violation of human rights. While insisting that it is ‘anti-Zionist’ rather than anti-Jewish, it has increasingly taken on the classic racist imagery of a powerful international Jewish conspiracy using its financial power and control of the press to manipulate foreign governments in support of Jewish concerns. These are updated to Israeli interests in the current version of this myth.
The European far left indulges in Holocaust neutralisation through several devices. First, it seeks to portray the Holocaust as a universal, as opposed to a Jewish tragedy. It argues that by highlighting the genocide against the Jews, one ignores the suffering of other victims of Nazism. It sees a focus on the plight of the Jews under the Nazis as an instance of reactionary Jewish particularism.
Second, it presents the Holocaust as an event that Zionists use as an excuse to justify their colonial adventure in Palestine. It refuses to recognise it as a calamity that provides an unequivocal demonstration of the drastic inability of European host societies to sustain the physical survival and security of their Jewish minorities. In some instances it accuses Zionists of having conspired with the Nazis to force Jews to immigrate to Israel in order to further the Zionist agenda.
Finally, the far left frequently engages in Holocaust inversion in which it compares Israel’s oppressive treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to the Nazi’s persecution of the Jews. The point of this manoeuvre is to void the Holocaust of any historical implications concerning the need for a national Jewish refuge, and to jettison the extended history of Jewish oppression in Europe and the Middle East as a factor relevant to understanding the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is important to see that the purpose of this comparison is neither to describe the nature of Palestinian suffering, nor to express moral indignation. It is to delegitimise Israel as a Jewish polity. The far left has generally exempted well documented cases of ethnic cleansing and mass murder in the recent past from any such analogy. They have, for the most part, responded to events like the Serbian nationalists’ massacre of Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, and the Bashar Assad regime’s ongoing mass killing of its Sunni civilians (with the active participation of its Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah patrons) with indifference, denial, and, in some cases, vocal support for the agents of these actions.
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to exclude not only Israeli agencies, academics, and artists, but diaspora Jews who are perceived as supportive of Israel in any way. Recent events in the British Labour Party under Corbyn illustrate the extent to which the far left requires vocal hostility to Israel as a country, rather than mere criticism of its government, as a condition for admittance to ‘progressive’ politics, and, by implication, to the ranks of civilised society.
As the far left and the far right have become ever more dominant in Europe, leaving the centre to fall away, European Jewish communities are being exposed to a rising tide of violence, hostility, and marginalisation. They lack effective external allies, and they have limited resources with which to defend themselves. The long-term viability of organised Jewish life in most of Europe is now very much in question.
The US has generally been free of the toxic antisemitism that has been a significant feature of European history. The American Jewish Community enjoyed unprecedented acceptance and prosperity in the postwar era. In the past few years the situation has begun to change. Trump’s election has energised the white supremacist base on which he built his campaign. He continues to incite this part of the electorate with a constant stream of anti-immigrant racism. He targets a variety of ethnic minorities for demonisation, and he promotes misogyny. In this environment, antisemitism has become a significant factor in the ascendant American far right. Attacks by white supremacists on Jews in America have risen sharply in recent years.
Trump initially refused to condemn the neo-Nazi demonstration held in Charlottesville Virginia over 11-12 August 2017, where marchers with torches chanted ‘The Jews will not replace us,’ while objecting to the removal of Confederate monuments. Only after several days of massive public outcry did he issue a reluctant disavowal of the event. During the campaign for the mid-term Congressional elections in 2018 he highlighted a putative threat posed by a caravan of desperate Central American refugees moving through Mexico towards the US border to seek political asylum. In the atmosphere of anti-immigrant hysteria which Trump provoked, some of his supporters claimed that George Soros and Jewish immigrant aid organisations were orchestrating the refugee caravan. Trump made no attempt to dissociate himself from this conspiracy theory. On the Shabbat morning of 27 October 2018 a white supremacist killed 11 people and wounded seven at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on a Jewish target in American history. The gunman was motivated by the belief that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was sponsoring refugees from Latin America. Interestingly, after the mid-term elections, Trump stopped discussing the caravan.
A broad coalition of liberals, centrists, and left-wing groups has mobilised to oppose Trump’s policies and initiatives. These groups have generally organised within the framework of the Democratic Party, which has enjoyed the support of well over 70% of the Jewish electorate in presidential elections over the past two decades. Recently a radical ‘intersectionality’ left has begun to challenge more traditional liberal streams of the Democratic Party for influence and leadership.
Central to the intersectionality perspective is the idea that oppressed people are caught up in a complex network of interlocking components of exclusion involving race, class, gender, and culture, which reinforce each other to produce repression. This approach uses identity politics to campaign for the rights of dispossessed groups. It seeks to liberate women, people of colour, gays, transgenders, Muslims, Hispanics, etc. to be fully and authentically themselves. Many intersectionality theorists characterise their project in a way that specifically excludes Jews, who they identify with power and privilege. For them the traditional idea of the Jews as an illicit collectivity in need of revision remains in force. Most intersectionality advocates identify with the anti-imperialist left, from which they inherit an unrelenting hostility to Israel. Jews who have sought to participate in the intersectionality movement have been confronted with the charge that they enjoy white privilege. They have been told that they are an integral part of the power structure that sustains racism and oppression in America. Only those who reject Israel and mainstream forms of Jewish life in favour of ‘progressive’ alternatives are candidates for admission. Intersectionality is formulated within postmodernist critical theories of culture. It has become influential on American university campuses, where it has appropriated large spaces of academic and political discourse.
It is not clear how long Trump’s volatile presidency will last, given the chaos and the legal problems that it is generating. Over time demographic factors are likely to unseat the electoral base that he has activated. However, it is important to recognise that the conflicts which Trump has unleashed are among forces that exist independently of his rise to power. They will not disappear when he is out of office.
The situations of the European and American Jewish diasporas remain significantly different. But there are indications that the toxic anti-Jewish attitudes of both the far right and the far left are becoming increasingly virulent in a country that had appeared to be immune to the spread of this disease from Europe until now. In light of the deep instability of the current American political scene, it is no longer possible to regard the security and acceptance of the American Jewish Community as a given in the foreseeable future.
Diaspora Jewish Answers to the New Jewish Question
Throughout the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth Jews in Europe proposed a wide variety of replies to the Jewish question. These created a lively Jewish politics that engaged their communities throughout the continent in vigorous internal debate over the future of their relationship with the rapidly changing non-Jewish world. Their responses included assimilationism, liberalism, Jewish socialism, Communism, anarchism, secular communal autonomism, Zionism in a multiplicity of ideological expressions from left to right (as well as secular and religious), non-Zionist territorialism, and the rejection of the enlightenment in defense of traditional Orthodox forms of Jewish life.
Most of these movements were Eurocentric in perspective. They reacted to the conditions of Jews living in Europe. They did not attempt to address the situation of the sizeable Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa (smaller communities in Asia and Ethiopia were also left outside of this discussion). Poverty and rising anti-Jewish violence in Eastern Europe, as well as growing hostility in Western Europe, fuelled large waves of Jewish immigration to America at the turn of the last century (with smaller immigrations to Canada, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa). The new comers imported European Jewish political movements to their new countries, where these played a significant role in shaping communal life. Zionism remained a minority option throughout most of this period. In fact the socialist Bund was the largest Jewish political organisation in Eastern Europe, and it was influential within the immigrant communities of North America during the early part of the twentieth century.
Three cataclysms in the twentieth century settled the dispute among competing Jewish political ideologies. First, the Nazi genocide wiped out most of European Jewry. Second, severe repression systematically destroyed organised Jewish life in the communities of the Soviet Union. Third, the forced migration of Jews from Arab countries in the late 1940s through the 1960s, with the majority going to Israel, eliminated the Jewish diaspora in most of the Middle East and North Africa. Israel and North America emerged as the primary centres of Jewish life in the postwar era. Zionism on one side, and liberal pluralism on the other, won the political debate through the force of these historical events.
With the expansion of anti-Jewish hostility in Europe over the past 20 years the cost of visibility for European Jews has risen sharply. Synagogues, community centres, and schools have been the targets of deadly attacks. These institutions are heavily guarded, and people are discouraged from displaying Jewish symbols in public.
A small but vocal minority of European Jews identify with the far left, and they endorse its claim that antisemitism is exclusively a phenomenon of the far right. They dismiss well documented charges of leftwing anti-Jewish racism as smears from rightwing supporters of Israel. Islamist antisemitism is excused as a misdirected but understandable reaction to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.
There is a long and unpleasant history of Jewish indulgence of far left antisemitism. Jewish supporters of such movements find it inconceivable that the cause to which they are devoted could harbour racism, given that it defines itself as progressive. Hence, it is by definition, opposed to any form of bigotry. The oppressed people that the far left champions are exempted from culpability for any racism that they may exhibit on the grounds that they are an objectively progressive force of history. This ideologically driven obtuseness has produced grotesque consequences in the past. These include support for the Bolsheviks’ destruction of the independent institutions of Russian Jewry, apologetics for Stalin’s ‘anti-Zionist’ purges in the early 1950s, and acceptance of the Gomulka regime’s expulsion of the bulk of Poland’s remaining Jewish population during 1968-70 in the guise of an ‘anti-Zionist’ campaign. They also involved a refusal to condemn working class antisemitism expressed as anger at ‘Jewish’ capitalism.
The overwhelming majority of Jews within mainstream communities in Europe do not accept the far left’s mantra that it is only targeting Zionists, not Jews. They are deeply disturbed by the hostility that they encounter from the left, as well as from the right. Many European Jews feel embattled and unable to rely on government assurances of concern and support. The Jewish French community is the largest in Europe with approximately 500,000 people. A substantial proportion of this community consists of refugees from North Africa and their descendants. It is now seeing a significant increase in emigration to Israel in the wake of terrorist attacks and violent hate crime over the past several years.
The British Jewish community, the second largest in Europe with 260,000 people, is the only major European community to have survived the war intact. A recent poll by the Jewish Chronicle indicated that close to 40 per cent of British Jews would seriously consider leaving if Jeremy Corbyn were elected Prime Minister. For the first time in its history the Board of Deputies, and other official leadership groups launched a large demonstration to protest antisemitism. 1500 people marched in front of the Parliament buildings in Westminster on 26 March 2018, demanding that the Labour leadership confront antisemitism within its ranks. This marked a departure from a longstanding preference for quiet negotiations with government officials when dealing with anti-Jewish threats. A similar sense of insecurity exists throughout smaller communities in Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Greece where Jews are experiencing violence and pressure from far right, far left, and radical Islamist groups. The situation of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe (particular Hungary, the Baltics, Poland, and the Ukraine) is also precarious in the face of the resurgent far right nationalism in these countries.
European Jews (in particular, those in the West not willing to sign the loyalties oaths demanded by the far left as a condition of acceptance) are now having to contend with a choice among three problematic alternatives. They can resist the growing threat to their communities through protest and political action. The problem here is that most of the electorate regards antisemitism as a special interest issue that concerns only the people at whom it is directed. So, for example, the controversy concerning Corbyn’s problematic record on antisemitism has received extensive press coverage in Britain and abroad, but it has not seriously weakened his position within the Labour Party. Nor does it appear to have adversely affected his standing in the polls. Similarly, the toxic antisemitism of radical Islamist groups and far right nationalist parties has not, in itself, been a focus of opposition among their adversaries. Alternatively, European Jews can avoid public manifestation of their Jewish identities, and curtail their involvement in Jewish events. This involves ‘passing’ through the suppression of Jewish visibility. Finally, they can immigrate to places more congenial to organised Jewish life, most obviously, to Israel. The way in which they negotiate these options will determine the future of Jewish life in Europe for future decades.
The challenges in America are of a different sort, and they have inspired a distinct set of responses within the much larger and historically more secure Jewish community there. Right wing supporters of the current Israeli government, like the Zionist Organization of America, have endorsed Trump. They point to his move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, and his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement as evidence of his steadfast commitment to Israel. They contrast these actions with the Obama administration’s more balanced policies, which they construe as hostile. This strand of opinion has also sought to exonerate Trump from any responsibility for the rise of antisemitism among his base, despite the fact that he has actively sponsored the entry of white supremacist attitudes into the political mainstream. Support for Trump is very much a minority position within the broader Jewish Community.
A much larger group is strongly opposed to Trump, and endorses traditional liberal views across a variety of issues. They are the overwhelming majority of Jews who vote for the Democrats in presidential contests, as well as in congressional and state elections. This constituency holds diverse views on Israel and Jewish life. Most remain supportive of Israel, even if strongly critical of its policies. The advocacy group J-Street articulates the attitudes of the pro-Israel liberal left part of this constituency. It identifies with the (remnants of the) Israeli peace movement and the moderate Israeli left.
In recent years a loose coalition promoting a new diasporism has gained prominence, both within the Jewish Community and on American university campuses. Members of this group reject Zionism and regard the creation of Israel as a mistake. They see Israel’s sovereignty, and the military force required to defend it, as destructive of Jewish values and corrosive of the higher achievements of Jewish culture. They argue that Jewish nationalism is incompatible with liberal pluralism and democracy. The adherents of this view combine their rejection of Zionism with the intersectionality left’s criticism of patriarchy, racism, and colonialism (Boyarin (1997), Butler (2012), Diner and Feld (2016), Robin (2018)). The new diasporists recall the anti-Zionism of late nineteenth and early twentieth century liberal Jewish thinkers like Hermann Cohen. They also saw a narrow national political project as violating the universalist moral vision at the core of Judaism.
There is a strand of neo-Bundism in this coalition. It seeks to revive the diasporist movement of Jewish socialism that the Bund created. It promotes nostalgia for the Jewish immigrant labour left, and it sentimentalises secular Yiddish culture as the authentic expression of Jewish experience. It accuses Zionism of suppressing this culture.
The new diasporism draws some of its appeal from wide spread disenchantment among Jewish liberals with Israel’s sharp move to the right in the years following the collapse of the Oslo peace process and the second intifada. The rise of the far left on American campuses and in the resistance to Trump has also made it difficult to reconcile progressive politics with support for Israel. The fact that the new generation of American Jewish youth have no memory of conflicts in which Israel’s existence was threatened, as well as the growing divergence in the respective concerns of Israeli and American Jews provide a supportive environment for a diaspora-centred approach.
It is also difficult to escape the impression that the new diasporists’ rejection of Israel, like that of their counterparts among the new Israeli anti-Zionists, is, in part, motivated by deep disappointment in the fact that, despite its many successes, Israel has not eliminated antisemitism in the world. Instead it has become the object of a renewed anti-Jewish hostility. This is taken as evidence for the claim that it is a fraudulent solution to the Jewish question. They remain saddled with the problem that the Zionist project was designed to solve. The new diasporists see it as necessary to join Israel’s adversaries to avoid the opprobrium that attaches to it. This becomes the test one must pass to show oneself worthy of acceptance within decent society as ‘a progressive Jew’.
The new diasporists are strikingly ahistorical in their anti-Zionism. Where their liberal and Bundist predecessors were active at a time when the diaspora solutions that they suggested were entirely plausible, the new anti-Zionists are living several generations after the three calamities that eliminated these proposals as realistic alternatives in the venues for which they were intended. It was not Zionism that destroyed Jewish liberalism in Western Europe, or the Bund (and Yiddish culture) in Eastern Europe. These were annihilated by Nazism and Soviet Communism. It was not Zionism that eliminated the Jewish diaspora in the Arab world, but an ethnically exclusive Arab nationalism, which marginalised and repressed non-Arab and non-Islamic minorities in these countries.
It is also remarkable that the neo-Bundists appear to have forgotten that even the social democratic European left rejected the Bund’s programme for Jewish cultural autonomy in a multi-national socialist federation. This programme was based on Otto Bauer’s (2000) (originally published in 1924) federative model of socialism in which all national groups would enjoy cultural, linguistic, and educational self-rule. Bauer explicitly excluded the Jews from this arrangement on the grounds that they were a deformed national entity in Eastern Europe, and a post-national relic in the West. He regarded disappearance through assimilation as the only viable solution to the Jewish question.
Most new diasporists support the BDS movement, and they endorse the call for a single democratic state within the territory of Israel-Palestine in which Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs enjoy equal rights. Like other advocates of this view, they are coy in specifying what such a state would look like. They tend to avoid describing it as binational, as this would involve recognising Jews (at least Israeli Jews) as a national entity. The fact that the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians do not wish to share sovereignty in a single country does not deter the advocates of a one-state approach. The near certainty that any attempt to impose such an arrangement on the two peoples of the area would result in a bloody protracted civil war in which each side sought to subordinate the other is also not regarded as a serious problem for its enthusiasts. There is no question that the creation of Israel resulted in the tragic dispossession of the Palestinians. One would have thought (perhaps naively) that people genuinely interested in a rational solution to this conflict would seek to address this injustice by empowering each of the two nations in a way that is compatible with the basic needs of the other. The one-state model appears to be the least suitable framework for achieving this result in the current situation. This does not seem to diminish its appeal to either the far left or its new diasporist sympathisers. Their main concern is to demolish Jewish national independence at any cost.
Where the European diasporists were Eurocentric in their view of Jewish life the new diasporists are deeply America centric. They do not indicate what the refugees who found sanctuary in Israel prior to and after the war should have done in lieu of immigrating there. Many of them would have preferred to have come to the US, but that option was closed to them. They have nothing of interest to offer European Jews confronting the lethal antisemitism that is now on display throughout the continent. They dismiss Israel, the world’s largest Jewish community and home to approximately half of all Jews, as a historical mistake that should be dismantled, without considering the consequences of such a scenario. Even within the self-imposed limits of their own America focused perspective, the new diasporists have little if anything to say about the antisemitism of the far right and the far left that have become increasingly serious threats for American Jewry. Like the far left that they see themselves as part of, they regard antisemitism as a secondary problem compared to racial, gender, and class oppression, or to imperialism. One is left to wonder in what sense, then, this can be regarded as a serious attempt to engage with the contemporary challenges facing the Jewish world.
The Israeli Response
The mainstream tradition of Zionism characterised itself as a democratic movement for national liberation that sought to construct a Jewish homeland in Israel. It made the Jewish character of the country dependent on the existence of a Jewish majority, rather than on coercive ethnocentric legislation. It committed itself to a liberal democracy in which its non-Jewish citizens enjoy equal rights. Like all movements that seek both democracy and the political independence of an ethnically defined national group, it has always suffered from a clear tension between these objectives. Failure to balance them successfully has often resulted in serious discrimination against its Arab citizens and other minorities. The ongoing conflict with the Palestinians and security threats from countries in the region have aggravated the competing demands of the country’s founding principles.
When the Oslo peace process offered the prospect of a two-state solution and an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory beyond its 1967 borders, the hope of finally reconciling its Jewish and democratic aspirations briefly appeared on the horizon. The collapse of this process and the violent Palestinian uprising that followed persuaded many Israelis and Palestinians that this hope had no basis in fact. After Hamas ousted the PLO from Gaza in 2007, and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, refused to take up Ehud Olmert’s enhanced peace proposal in 2008, most of the Israeli electorate gave up on liberal and moderate political options entirely.
The three successive governments that Benjamin Netanyahu has headed since 2009 have moved the country sharply in an ultranationalist direction. In many ways he has been a pioneer of the alt right populist movements now sweeping Europe, America, Turkey, and Brazil. He has taken control of large swaths of the media, and he has worked to undermine the independence of the judiciary. He has politicised culture, and education, conducting a campaign against ‘leftist’ disloyalty. He has promoted cronyism and influence peddling in the economy, and he is facing indictments in three serious corruption cases. He whips up his supporters with security fears and hostility to the Arab minority. He dismisses critical investigative reporting as ‘fake news’ motivated by a personal vendetta against him. He has indulged both ultra-Orthodox theocrats and far right religious extremists in his coalition. He is committed to an annexationist agenda, and he has expropriated substantial tracts of Palestinian land for settlements in the West Bank. He has maintained a tight siege of Gaza, resisting the advice of military experts to improve the living standard of the population there in order to avoid a dangerous melt down.
One of the current Netanyahu government’s signature pieces of legislation is the Nation-State Law, which the Knesset passed on 19 July 2018. The first three clauses of this law state that:
‘1A. The land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established.
- The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.
- The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.’
Section 4 downgrades the status of Arabic from an official to a ‘special language’, adding that:
‘This clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.’ (4C).
It forms part of the quasi constitutional statutes encoded as Basic Laws. These carry considerable weight in the country’s legal system, and they guide the Supreme Court in its decisions.
Israeli liberals object to the Law on the grounds that it denies minorities equal rights of citizenship. Israeli Arabs regard it as a certificate of exclusion. Even Israel’s traditionally loyal Druze Community is up in arms over its adoption. Defenders of the Law claim that it in no way infringes on other statutes, and the provisions of the Declaration of Independence, which guarantee equal civil rights to minorities. They insist that it changes nothing of substance in the country’s legal system. If this is indeed the case, the obvious question that arises is why the Law was necessary. Moreover, it is not at all accurate to say that it has no legal consequences. It can be used to justify discriminatory practices that are illegal under the equal treatment requirements of previous legislation. As this is a Basic Law, the government, or Jewish organisations, can invoke it to supersede other legislation not in this category.
The Nation-State Law is written in the same exclusionary spirit that animates ethnic nationalist movements of the far right in Europe. It also bears a striking similarity to introductory clauses in the constitutions of neighbouring Arab countries that define the character of their states. So, for example, Articles 1 and 2 of the Jordanian constitution specify:
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an independent sovereign Arab State. It is indivisible and no part of it may be ceded. The Jordanian people is a part of the Arab Nation, and its ruling regime is parliamentary with a hereditary monarchy.
Islam is the religion of the State and Arabic is its official language.’
Similarly, the first two articles of the 2014 constitution of Egypt are
The Arab Republic of Egypt is a sovereign, united, indivisible State, where no part may be
given up, having a democratic republican system that is based on citizenship and rule of law.
The Egyptian people are part of the Arab nation seeking to enhance its integration and unity. Egypt is part of the Islamic world, belongs to the African continent, cherishes its Asian dimension, and contributes to building human civilization.
Islam is the religion of the State and Arabic is its official language. The principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation.’
These sorts of provisions are intended to characterise a country as the unique possession of a specific ethnic and/or religious group, even while recognising, in principle, the civil rights of individuals belonging to minority cultures. They are incompatible with a liberal pluralist view of citizenship. The Nation-State Law is also in conflict with the traditional democratic Zionist view of Israel as the common homeland of both the Jewish People and its non-Jewish inhabitants.
Netanyahu has embraced a wide ranging group of far right political leaders, including Donald Trump, Victor Orban (Hungary), Jarosław Kaczyński (Poland), Rodrigo Duterte (the Philippines), and Jair Bolsanaro (Brazil), who he has welcomed as friends. In part this move is driven by expediency. He is anxious to collect allies wherever he can find them. It has a clear historical antecedent in Menachem Begin’s courting of Jerry Falwell and the American Evangelical right in the 1980s.
But it is also conditioned by the compatibility of Netanyahu’s ideological agenda with that of the right-wing populists who he has befriended. This has resulted in his collaborating with governments and movements that are promoting antisemitism at home, and marketing false narratives concerning their countries’ past during the Holocaust. It has led his government to absolve Trump from any responsibility for the events that produced the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. In this way Netanyahu has systematically compromised the interests of diaspora Jewish communities at a time when they are struggling with dangerous anti-Jewish violence from the far right. For obvious reasons he has not shown the same benevolent indifference to the antisemitism of the far left.
Netanyahu’s alt right politics have brought him considerable short-term tactical success. His political skill at manipulating the treacherous rivalries of his coalitions, and his ability to work the anxieties of his electoral base have kept him in power longer than any other Israeli prime minister with the exception of David Ben-Gurion. He is firmly entrenched in his position, with few if any serious challengers on either the right or the left. He has avoided major military conflicts and uprisings, except for the Gaza war of 2014. The economy has sustained strong growth and stability during his tenure, propelled, in part, by a dynamic high tech sector.
But Netanyahu’s policies and actions have seriously undermined Israel’s long term strategic interests. He has effectively ruled out an end to the occupation through a two-state solution in the foreseeable future. He has succeeded in maintaining the status quo in the West Bank and Gaza while expanding the settlement enterprise. The situation in these territories is neither stable nor sustainable, as the leadership of the army and his security advisors have repeatedly warned him. The continuing occupation of a large Palestinian population in the West Bank, and the crippling isolation of Gaza are existential threats to Israel’s security, which Netanyahu has greatly exacerbated through a deliberate policy of stagnation and provocation. He has deepened the sense of exclusion on the part of Israel’s Arabs, who constitute close to 25 per cent of its population. This weakens Israel’s internal cohesion, and it further complicates the security challenges that it faces.
The folly of his enthusiastic alignment with the Trump administration was exposed in Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw all US forces from Syria recently, abandoning America’s Kurdish allies, and leaving Israel to face the Iranian-Hezbollah military threat alone. Trump’s willingness to accommodate Russian geopolitical adventures, his fawning cultivation of dictators, and his determination to dismantle Western trade and security alliances make him particularly dangerous to Israel. Given his bizarre, incoherent conduct of foreign policy according to a strongly isolationist bent, the notion that he is a friend of Israel is entirely misguided.
Above all Netanyahu’s successive governments have significantly corroded the foundations of Israeli democracy and weakened the rule of law. He has presided over a sustained assault on the independence of civil institutions that is the direct parallel of the anti-democratic campaigns of his far right allies abroad. He has sold out the Jewish communities threatened by these movements, and he has sought to overturn the democratic norms on which Israel was founded.
The economic and social changes of the past 40 years have disrupted the established patterns of the postwar order. One of the most striking features of these changes is a sharply unequal distribution of wealth, and an increased exposure of large parts of the population to acute economic insecurity. This development has generated an anti-globalist reaction which is now sweeping through large parts of the world. It is instantiated in the rise of far right, far left, and radical Islamist movements. These movements are, for the most part, regressive. They look backwards to failed ideological responses to past crises. Antisemitism is a prominent element of all three streams of the globalist reaction. They invoke different versions of traditional anti-Jewish demonology to explain the threats that they seek to contend with. They anchor these threats in a variety of conspiratorial images, which include the machinations of international Jewish financial power, Jewish foreignness, Jewish elitism, and Israel as the nexus of the Jewish thrust to exploit oppressed people.
The anti-globalist reaction has precipitated a deep crisis for liberal democracy that puts its survival in question. Liberal left and social democratic political forces have singularly failed to respond effectively to this threat to date. The welfare states which they created as the basis for Western prosperity in the postwar era have been steadily eroding, often under governments which they themselves control. The broad political consensus that has sustained liberal democracy in the west until recently is giving way to polarised electorates increasingly willing to accept the extremist policies promoted by anti-globalist parties. If they are to overcome the anti-globalist reaction liberals and social democrats must devise a new progressive politics. This requires them to develop a model that harnesses the innovation and energy of the new economy to redistribute its wealth widely and equitably. It also involves constructing new forms of democratic governance that offer national electorates effective means for influencing the international institutions and multinational corporations that have come to shape their lives. There is not much evidence that this sort of rethinking of political liberalism and the social democratic project is underway. It is urgent that it begin sooner rather than later.
Jewish responses to the ‘Jewish Question’ that the anti-globalist reaction has revived have also been largely backward looking. In the American diaspora many of the responses that are now fashionable are retread versions of Jewish replies to antisemitism from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, ignoring the historical events that rendered these movements obsolete. In Israel the majority of the electorate has opted for populist chauvinism, and religious extremism of one form or another. The policies and actions of the Israeli government have come to resemble those of the far right movements with which it has aligned itself. In doing so the coalition and its supporters have abandoned diaspora Jews threatened by this component of the globalist reaction. They have also seriously compromised the country’s strategic interests, and the democratic institutions that have sustained it.
Jewish history of the last several hundred years indicates quite convincingly that Jews require a homeland within which they are able to absorb refugees from persecution and defend themselves (as do the Palestinians). Relying on the goodwill of host societies for survival has not yielded particularly encouraging results in most places where it was tried. This history also shows that Jews survive and flourish in open, liberal societies. They do not do well in closed, ultranationalist environments. In the long-term, the second generalisation applies with the same force to Israel as it does to the diaspora. Recognition of these two historical imperatives should form the basis of any well-grounded response to the formidable challenges that Jews now face in both places.
I am grateful to Lesley Klaff for invaluable advice and support during the writing and publication of this article. I would also like to thank Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Dana Dannélls, Eve Gerrard, Matthew Kramer, Elena Lappin, Yaakov Lappin, Avishai Margalit, Assaf Marron, Peter Nicholas, Peter Pagin, Joe Rothstein, Richard Sproat, Hillel Steiner, and Nigel Vincent for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. I bear sole responsibility for the views expressed here.
Alexander Reid Ross, ‘How Assad’s War Crimes Bring Far Left and Right Together – Under Putin’s Benevolent Gaze’, Haaretz, April 17 2018. https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/assad-s-war-crimes-bring-far-left-and-right-together-and-putin-smiles-1.6008713
Anshel Pfeffer, ‘Repulsed by Aggressive Jewish Nationalism? Reviving the Bund Is No Answer’, Haaretz, 18 Oct 2018. Available at https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-repulsed-by-aggressive-jewish-nationalism-reviving-the-bund-is-no-answer-1.6573295
Anthony Julius, The Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England, Oxford University Press, 2010.
Bem Sales, ‘Bennett Says Blaming Trump for Pittsburgh Shooting is ‘Unfair’’, The Times of Israel, 31 October, 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/bennett-says-blaming-trump-for-pittsburgh-shooting-is-unfair/Bim Adewunmi, ‘Kimberlé Crenshaw on Intersectionality: ‘I wanted to come up with an everyday metaphor that anyone could use’’, New Statesman, 2 April, 2014.
Brendan McGeever and Satnam Virdee, ‘Antisemitism and Socialist Strategy in Europe, 1880–1917: An Introduction,’ Patterns of Prejudice 51:3-4, pp. 221-234, 2017.
Daniel Blatman, ‘Bund’, The YIVO Encyclopaedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, YIVO Institute of Jewish Research, 2010. http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Bund
Daniel Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1997.
Dave Rich, The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism, Biteback Publishing, London, 2018.
David Hirsh, Contemporary Left Antisemitism, Routledge, 2017.
Edgar Scott, ‘Hermann Cohen’, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Available at https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2015/entries/cohen
Farah Stockman, ‘Women’s March Roiled by Accusations of Anti-Semitism’, New York Times, 24 December, 2018.
Gilead Sher, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations, 1999-2001: Within Reach, Routledge, London, 2006. (First published in Hebrew as מרחק נגיעה, Yediot Achronot, Sefer Hemed, Tel Aviv, 2001.)
Has Diner, Marjorie Feld, ‘We’re American Jewish Historians. This Is Why We’ve Left Zionism Behind’, Haaretz, 1 August, 2016. Available at https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/were-american-jewish-historians-this-is-why-weve-left-zionism-behind-1.5418935
Jack Khoury, ‘Abbas: Olmert Offered PA Land Equaling 100% of West Bank’, Haaretz, 20 December 2009. Available at https://www.haaretz.com/1.4883092
Jacqueline Rose, Jacqueline, The Question of Zion, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2005.
Jacqueline Rose, ‘The Question of Zion: A Reply to Shalom Lappin’, Democratiya, Winter, pp. 94-116, 2006.
James Bloodworth, ‘It’s Time the Left Apologised for Its Denial of the Srebrenica Massacre’, Huffington Post, 17 July 2012. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/james-bloodworth/sections-of-the-left shou_b_1520929.html
Jenny Frazer, ‘Top Historians Take Down Ken Livingstone’s Claim that “Hitler Supported Zionism”’, The Times of Israel, 21 June 2016. https://www.timesofisrael.com/top-historians-take-down-livingstons-claim-that-hitler-supported-zionism/
Judith Butler, Parting of the Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism, Columbia University Press, New York, NY, 2012.
Leah McSweeney and Jacob Siegel, ‘Is the Women’s March Melting Down?’, Tablet Magazine, 10 December, 2018.
Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, Croom Helm, London, 1983.
Martin Schram, John M. Goshko, and Valarie Thomas, ‘Jerry Falwell Vows Amity with Israel’, Washington Post, September 12, 1981. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1981/09/12/jerry-falwell-vows-amity-with-israel/282947d1-47ff-4851-8884495506fe1773/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.694de1d7ad48
Michael Robin, ‘American Jews Have Never Needed Israel’, Forward, 21 February, 2018. Available at https://forward.com/opinion/394903/american-jews-have-never-needed-israel/
Nitzan Horowitz, ‘Netanyahu’s Dark Deal with Europe’s Radical Right’, Haaretz, 9 July 2018. Available at https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-pm-s-dark-deal-with-e-europe-condones-anti-semitism-and-occupation-1.6249033
Otto Bauer, The Nationalities Question and Social Democracy, translated by Jose O’Donnell, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, 2000. (Originally published as Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, 1924, Verlag der Wiener Volksbuchhandlung, Vienna).
Paul Bogdanor, ‘An Antisemitic Hoax: Lenni Brenner on Zionist ‘Collaboration’ with the Nazis’, Fathom, 20 June 2016. https://fathomjournal.org/an-antisemitic-hoax-lenni-brenner-on-zionist-collaboration-with-the-nazis/
Pierre-André Taguieff, La Novuvelle Judéophobie, Mille et Une Nuits, Paris, 2002.
Raoul Wootliff, ‘Final Text of Jewish Nation-State Law, Approved by the Knesset Early on 19 July’, Times of Israel, 19 July 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/final-text-of-jewish-nation-state-bill-set-to-become-law/
Robert Fine and Philip Spencer, Antisemitism and the Left: On the Return of the Jewish Question, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2017.
Robert Wistrich, From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2012.
Rory Schacter, ‘Hermann Cohen’s Secular Messianism and Liberal Cosmopolitanism’, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 24 April 2008. Available at http://jcpa.org/article/hermann-cohens-secular-messianism-and-liberal-cosmopolitanism/
Shalom Lappin, ‘Israel and the New Anti-Semitism’, Dissent, Spring, pp. 96-103, 2003.
Shalom Lappin, ‘Is There a Case for Binationalism?’, Dissent, Winter, pp. 13-17, 2004.
Shalom Lappin (a), ‘The Rise of a New Anti-Semitism in the UK’, Engage, Vol 1, Issue 1, January 2006. https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/the-rise-of-a-new-anti-semitism-in-the-uk-shalom-lappin-engage-journal-issue-1-january-2006/.
Shalom Lappin (b), ‘The Caricature of Zion’, Democratiya, September, pp. 11-36, 2006
Shalom Lappin (c), ‘A Question of Zion: A Rejoinder to Jacqueline Rose’, Democratiya, Winter, 2006.
Shalom Lappin (d), ‘How Class Disappeared from Western Politics’, Dissent, Winter, pp. 73-78, 2006.
Shalom Lappin, Shalom and Richard Sproat Defending Democracy in an Illiberal Age, unpublished ms, Gothenburg and New York, 2016. https://rws.xoba.com/lappin-sproat_defending_democracy17.pdf.
Thomas Picketty, Thomas, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2014. (First published as Le Capital au XXI Siècle, Editions de Seuil, 2013.)
 See Lappin and Sproat (2016) for a discussion of the correlation between economic instability and the rise of far right populism over the past few years.
 Taguieff (2002) provides an early account of the anti-Jewish focus of the anti-globalist reaction in France. Lappin (2003, 2006a) describes the connection between the criminalization of Israel in large parts of the British left, which followed the breakdown of the Oslo process, and the rise of antisemitism in the UK. For more recent discussions of antisemitism on the British left see Julius (2010), Hirsh (2017), and Rich (2018).
 See Piketty (2014) on the source of radical economic inequality in the twenty-first century, and the problem of regulating capital in a modern global economy. Lappin (2006d) discusses several political aspects of these issues.
 Several leading socialist thinkers, like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and anarchists like Mikhail Bakunin, promoted a racist view of Jews as an international cabal of financial exploiters. Their attitude toward Jews was not significantly different from that of the nationalist right. See Wistrich (2012) on the history of leftwing antisemitism.
 See Lappin (2003) for discussion of the history of the idea that the Jews are an illicit collectivity, in both Europe and the Middle East. Fine and Spencer (2017) point out that the formulation of the ‘Jewish Question’, in itself, makes racist assumptions to the effect that Jews are defective, and so in need of reconstruction in their relation to the societies in which they live. They discuss the reappearance of this question on the left in recent years.
 Ken Livingstone, London’s former mayor, relied on Lenny Brenner (1983) in making this charge. Jim Allen recycled Brenner’s claims in his 1987 play Perdition. Neo-Nazi groups have also cited Brenner’s book as part of their Holocaust denial campaign. The book has been widely discredited as factually unsound. See, for example, Bogdanor (2016) and Frazer (2016).
 See Bloodworth (2012) on the far left’s denial of the Bosnian massacres, and Ross (2018) on its support for the Assad regime and Putin. In both cases, they have converged on the far right’s response to these events.
 The term ‘intersectionality’ was introduced in 1989 by the African American legal scholar, feminist, and civil rights activist Kimberlé Crenshaw. See Bim Adewunmi (2014)’s interview with Crenshaw for a brief explanation of the intersectionality thesis.
 See Stockman (2018), and McSweeney and Siegel (2018) on claims of anti-Semitism among organisers of the Women’s March.
 It is important to distinguish Bernie Sanders from both the intersectionality left and the Corbynite neo-Soviet left. Sanders is arguing for an enhanced Scandinavian model of social democracy. He has firm roots in the civil rights and the Jewish labour movements. Sanders promotes liberal values. While highly critical of Israeli government policies, he remains firmly committed to a two-state solution as a matter of principle.
 See Blatman (2010) for a historical overview of the Bund.
 Historically antisemitism among socialists was not limited to the far left. It also existed in parts of the social democratic left in western Europe, where some Jewish supporters also indulged it. See McGeever and Virdee (2017) on this phenomenon in the Second International.
 See Rose (2005) for a version of this argument from a British Jewish academic. Lappin (2006b) provides a detailed critique of Rose’s book. Rose (2006) replies to this critique, and Lappin (2006c) offers a rejoinder to the reply.
 See Scott (2015) for a synopsis of Cohen’s neo-Kantian theories of knowledge, ethics, and religion, and Schacter (2008) for a discussion of his anti-Zionism.
 See Pfeffer (2018) for a cautionary comment on this trend.
 See Lappin (2004) for a discussion of the history and prospects of binationalism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 Some of the new diasporists endorse anti-Israel organisations which subscribe to strongly racist anti-Jewish policies. So, for example, Judith Butler is quoted as saying
‘Similarly, I think: Yes, understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements. It doesn’t stop those of us who are interested in non-violent politics from raising the question of whether there are other options besides violence. So again, a critical, important engagement. I mean, I certainly think it should be entered into the conversation on the Left. I similarly think boycotts and divestment procedures are, again, an essential component of any resistance movement.’
(In Judith Butler’s reply to audience questions at a 2006 teach-in at UC Berkeley about the war between Israel and Hezbollah, posted on Radical Archives, https://radicalarchives.org/2010/03/28/jbutler-on-hamas-hezbollah-israel-lobby/.)
In adopting this sort of view they are following in the tradition of Jewish apologists for people that the far left designates as ‘objectively progressive’, and so exonerated of their antisemitism, as well as any other reactionary attitudes that they may hold.
 Sher (2006) provides a detailed account of the Camp David and Taba negotiations between Israel and the PLO on a final settlement agreement in 2000-01. He discusses the Clinton parameters for such an agreement, and he addresses the reasons for the breakdown of the process. Sher was a senior Israeli negotiator at both the Camp David and Taba talks.
 See Khoury (2009) for a description of Olmert’s peace plan.
 See Wootliff (2018) for an English translation of the full text of the Nation-State Law
 It is curious that anti-Zionist critics of Israel point to the Nation-State Law as decisive evidence that Israel is an intrinsically racist state, but they have no difficulty with the ethnic nationalist and religious conditions in the legal systems of other Middle Eastern countries. This suggests that they object not to the way in which Israel defines itself, but to the fact that it exists as an expression of Jewish collectivity. By contrast, other nations, even if they adopt ethnocentric constitutions and laws, are seen as legitimate collectivities. One suspects that even if Israel were to repeal the Nation-State Law and become a robust liberal democracy, it would continue to be unacceptable to these critics.
 See Schram et al. (1981)’s report on Begin’s initial meetings with Falwell.
 See Horowitz (2018) on this point.
 Sales (2018) describes Naftali Bennet’s insistence that Trump cannot be connected to this event in any way.
 It has also generated deep income inequality, a high level of poverty among people in employment, and a severe housing crisis, most acutely for young families. The government has seriously underinvested in education and many other public services, particularly in the Arab sector of the population, producing poor results in these areas. See the OECD 2018 economic survey of Israel at http://www.oecd.org/israel/economic-survey-israel.htm.
Today the only threat to Jews is Islam, as I don’t see any far right groups making strides of any magnitude against Jews. It’s the far left that’s to be feared, as they have aligned with Islam as useful pansies. 98% of attacks against Jews in Europe in our era have been committed in the name of Islam, not far right groups.
Would it be worth seeking context a little further back than that offered here in order to understand the nature of the issues we face today? Perhaps a pan-Jewish conversation about what it actually means to be Jewish in the 21st century would be both timely and useful at this moment in history. Does the State of Israel in its current form actually make us safer – or does it now have the opposite effect?
Israel did not have “1967 borders.” It had 1949 Armistice Lines, a very different thing.
Israel does not occupy any one else’s territory. San Remo, 1920; The League of Nations Mandate, 1922; Security Council Resolution 242,are only some of the facts that refute the myth/lie of “occupied territories.”
There isnt open anti semitism in the USA because people are scared to speak out against the jews controlling the media, wall st., and hollywood. Most jews hate Christian culture and are liberal secularist as well, which is ironic because most Christians consider themselves judeo/Chrisitan. The top 10% of Americans control 80% of the wealth and teh top1% have as much wealth as the bottom 50% and it is getting worse by the minute, eventually people will have nothing to lose and then you will see the true colors of how people feel about the dominance of jews in the USA