Watch now (14 mins) | Our Zoom call this week, for paid subscribers, will be at our regular time, Friday at Noon EDT. Our guest will be Zohran Mamdani, who represents Astoria, Queens in the New York State Assembly. He’s author of the Not On Our Dime Act, which seeks to end tax-deductions for New York State contributions to settlements in the West Bank.
Ran, On the substance of this, I have to defer to Prof Hazkani. I can pass this on to him if you'd like. On the question of whether I'd host an academic who came to contrary conclusions, it is true that I am guilty of the human tendency to seek out and amplify evidence that confirms my preconceptions. But I've tried to counteract that by seeking out guests who disagree with me, and we've had quite a few, as you know. Honestly, the biggest problem I face isn't my willingness to invite people who hold views that are closer to yours than mine. It's their reluctance to accept my invitations. But I keep trying. In fact, your comment has reminded me to invite Benny Morris.
Here's some quotes from Fatima Mohammed, whom Peter seems so eager to defend.
On May 8, 2021, Mohammed tweeted: “terms like left-wing Israeli just make me laugh. Allah yl3nhm kuluhum ya rab [May Allah curse them all, oh God.]”
On the same thread, Mohammed tweeted: “may every Zionist burn in the hottest pit of hell.”
On June 8, 2022, Mohammed tweeted: “Zionism has no place in cuny. Attempts to silence us only make us stronger."
Mohammed retweeted a June 16, 2021 tweet that said: “‘second nakba is coming’ yea the israeli nakba when y’all leave to brooklyn.”
Mohammed retweeted an August 27, 2021 that said: “having an american flag in your bio/location is adjacent to having the israeli to me you are all t£rr0r1sts to me 🤣.”
Mohammed started her speech by saying [00:29:43]: “So, I come to you all today with a very, very short message, and that is: glory to the martyrs, glory to the resistance, glory to Palestinian men fighting on the land. Glory to each and every single person throwing the stones.”
Mohammed went on to say [00:16:42]: “If you're part of an institution, if you're part of a school, demand! Demand that Palestine is in the curriculum. Demand that you are not funding this genocide. Demand that Zionist professors are not welcomed on your campus! Demand that Zionist students are not in spaces where Palestinian students are, because Zionism is a threat! Zionism is a genocidal threat to us!” [There's your commitment to free speech, eh, Petey?]
This person obviously loathes "Zionists" aka 95%+ of Jews and has for years, yet rather than being ostracized for hate speech, was welcomed and platformed by CUNY. And yet Peter Beinart and the rest of the left have no issues with anything she's said or has said in the past. Then they wonder why "mainstream Jewish organizations" are concerned about anti-Semitism on the left. This is exactly why. Apparently they can't see the forest for the trees.
Anti-Semitism on the left is definitely not an equal problem to anti-Semitism on the right. They're not equal in a number of ways. You're comparing apples to oranges.
One of those ways is that the left is supposed to be the party of morality and human rights and anti-racism. The party, nowadays, of microaggressions and consent and speech is violence. So when American Jews, who are mostly on the left because they're told the left is the side who cares about minorities, see left wingers defending things like Palestinian terrorism and people like Louis Farrakhan and Rasmea Odeh and Leila Khaled, their reaction is "what the heck is going on here?"
The consequences of saying anti-Semitic things are different between the two sides as well. Ilhan Omar says Jews control Congress with their money, she's put on the cover of Rolling Stone. Rashida Tlaib says that thinking about the Holocaust gives her a calming feeling, she's put on various government committees. Linda Sarsour goes to watch a Louis Farrakhan speech and professes how much she likes him on social media, she's one of Time's Most Influential People. Joe King says a bunch of anti-Semitic stuff, he's stripped of his committee assignments, loses his next election, and his political career ends.
Left wingers are also on the side of identifying dogwhistles. They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt and I agree with them, that when Trump says "bad hombres" he means Mexicans. When he says "thugs" and "welfare queens" he means black people. And yet, somehow, when a law students says "Zionists are fascists", suddenly there's no issue and they're "only talking about Zionists, not Jews" so everything is fine and you're the bad person if you don't like it.
American Jews know the right wingers suck. They know the right wingers are Islamophobic, transphobic, racist, misogynist and the rest. That's why American Jews are mostly on the side of the left. So why aren't some people on the left on the side of them?
You’re making sweeping statements about "the Jewish law students at CUNY" based off of one statement by "CUNY's Jewish Law Students Association." Before you continue that line of thinking, you might be interested in knowing that the Jewish Law Students Association at CUNY is open to any student, not just Jewish students, and includes as a member Fatima Mohammed herself.
You're making a whopper of an assumption that a students association that is open to any members, including radical anti-Zionists, and that has endorsed BDS, is the kind of association that the Jewish law students at CUNY would in general join. There's no actual evidence that this organization reflects the views of the Jewish law students in general. None whatsoever.
This is peak irony from Peter Beinart. You and the rest of the fringe anti-Zionists have been flipping out for decades about the state of Israel claiming to act and speak for the Jewish people because your extremist views aren't represented. But now here you are, taking at face value the views of a group that appears to be Jewish in name alone represents the Jews at CUNY Law, probably because the group says something you agree with it. A page from the JVP playbook to the letter. Spare us the hypocrisy and the intellectual dishonesty. No one is fooled.
Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences.
Sincerely, the Left.
Don't kid yourself. The truly dangerous antisemitism is coming from the left. This is not to dismiss neo-Nazis and other wackos from the far right. They must be rooted out and stopped. However, it is the antisemitism supported by college professors, BLM, women's movement, et.al. -- liberal organizations, largely ignored by the media -- that is poisoning a generation. Polite antisemitism takes the form of being anti-Israel -- and it is made especially easy when organizations like "Jewish Voice for Peace" and "religious" Jews like Peter Beinart -- lead the charge and make it easy to avoid the charge of being called an antisemite.
Think about it: when there is a right wing attack like the attack at Tree of Life Synagogue -- everyone, both conservative and liberal -- condemn it. But, when there is left wing anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic protests including preventing pro-Israel speakers appearing on college campuses, it is ignored or even supported by the left.
Separate, but related, is political antisemitism. Jews vote for Democrats 80% of the time. In this highly polarized environment, where liberals vs conservatives feels like Civil War, conservatives are unhappy with Jewish voters, especially when they see that their own attitudes toward Israel often more supportive than Jews themselves.
Peter, I think your entire piece is one large strawman. I've never heard anyone say that anti-Semitism on the right is equally prevalent and problematic as anti-Semitism on the left. You don't actually cite anyone who says that either, preferring instead to simply say unnamed "establishment American Jewish organizations". It's undisputable that anti-Semitism on the right is worse both in act and in popularity than anti-Semitism on the left. I've never heard anyone, much less the so-called "establishment Jewish organizations", say otherwise.
I think the issue is that when these mainstream Jewish organizations want to talk about anti-Semitism on the left, you and the rest of the far leftists treat that as proof that those organizations don't care about anti-Semitism on the right. Anytime the left is criticized, the refrain is always "what about the right?. Which is ironic, since the right is supposed to be the scum of the earth while the left are always virtuous, moral and anti-racist. I think those Jewish organizations want to talk about anti-Semitism on the left because the left is supposed to be the side of equality and human rights etc. But you don't want to do that, so you're trying to change the subject to anti-Semitism on the right.
TL;DR, I've never heard anyone say that anti-Semitism on the right is "an equal problem" to anti-Semitism on the left.
You'd think that this would be obvious, that progressive Americans know the difference between the people of Israel and the criminal bigoted Netanyahu government, wouldn't you? The problem is that the political scientists you cite in favor of the conventional wisdom on this are right-wingers themselves. My experience as a 50 year old in graduate school was that historians, which I am, tend to be significantly further to the left politically than our colleagues in political scientists are because we're encouraged to take a longer view of things. I'm 73 now and FURTHER to the left than I was 23 years ago.
A very revealing study which, naturally, all pro-Israel Zionists will either ignore or claim that it is itself anti-semitic. Because even clear evidence of the Zionists' anti-semitism is anti-semitic. It, of course, blows another hole in the hull of HMS Zionist Labour as captained by Sir Keir Starmer, the establishment politicians' politician here in the UK. His unashamed affinity with the racist project that is Zionism is based on nothing that anyone should be proud of, and his relentless attacks on his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn (no knighthood for him) as supposedly anti-semitic are likewise as hollow as an Easter egg.
Most left wingers who are antisemitic aren’t really left wing they are Putin and Assad supporters. Examples are people like roger waters who is heavily against ukraine.
Professor Beinart and Professor Hazkani. I listened to the interview and as is often the case I learn from these interviews. I benefit from Professor Beinart’s access to various individuals often Palestinians and others. And I thank Professor Beinart for hosting these meetings. But I see many problems with his, not to mention others here, opinion laden yack vs. doing the research to get at the facts.
My primary question to Professor Beinart is this: If this book detailed the reverse would you have interviewed Professor Hazkani or simply ignored it.
Did you know the leader of the Arab Liberation Army (ALA), Fawzi al-Qawuqji, spent WWII in Nazi Germany? Did you ever see the emblem of the ALA? (Arab Liberation Army - Wikipedia). There on the first page is the emblem. it features a star of David with a dagger thrust through it. All their military equipment had this emblem. And you think the Jewish soldiers, many if not the majority of whom in 1947-49 were Holocaust survivors, should ignore this symbolism.
While Professor Hazkani did not find genocidal statements among the Arab members of the Arab Liberation Army. Such statements were made by others mostly higher up. The most controversial one was by the Egyptian Diplomat Abdel Rahman Hassan Azzam. His quote was recently tracked down to an Egyptian newspaper Akhbar-el Yom on October 11, 1947: "Personally, I hope the Jews do not force us into this war, because it would be a war of extermination and momentous massacre ...".
Not to give the wrong impression about Azzam, he condemned an anti-Jewish riot in Cairo in 1945 where Jewish shops and a synagogue were destroyed. And yes, as Hazkani recklessly implied, comparable to the gas chambers and ovens living as a Jew in the Arab world was benign. Just the occasional anti-Jewish attacks and official 2nd class citizenship as a dhimmi.
Returning to Azzam who became the Secretary General of the Arab League in 1945, the Jewish Agency saw him as a someone they could negotiate with, and several leaders of the Jewish Agency met with him in England just before the 1948 hostilities to see if they could broker an agreement. Azzam met with Abba Eban, who would become the new state’s foreign minister, David Horowitz, who would become the governor of Israel’s banks, and John Kimche a well-regarded reporter. Azzam explained to them that there was no option but war. In other words, there were efforts to bridge the gap between the Arabs and Jews for fear worse could occur.
Given that Azzam personally thought the Jews would lose its understandable why he would reject a peace overture. I wonder if the likes of Azzam, the Mufti Hajj Amin and Fawzi al-Qawuqji, Jew haters, had not been the decision makers for the Palestinians whether the Nakba could have been avoided.
Generalizations …when have you ever seen any generalization able to characterize a group of 16 million worldwide…facts change my mind not vitriol or hysteria
What you're saying may be true of the US, but my own experience growing up and currently living in a Muslim-majority society, and following the situation in the UK, is that this pattern does not generalize. The US has less Muslim influence, but where that influence is greater a Muslim-driven left-discourse-appropriating antisemitism becomes more widespread. That's the kind that mostly uses dogwhistles where 'Jew' is replaced by 'Zionist' or something, and that is obsessed with Palestine but in a way where prejudice against Jews gets expressed in the process or is part of the motivation for their obsession. In the UK a study (that I've linked you to before, twice) showed a positive correlation between negativity toward Israel and antisemitism, and both things were found to exist more among Muslims than other groups studied.
This does not mean, obviously, that anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism. It's not. It also doesn't mean that there's more antisemitism on the left than the right, but just that the pattern in the US does not obtain everywhere in the world.
So glad to see this study. The last year or so (at least in my community) progressive Jewish community has been seeing a slew of speakers making the rounds training us to mobilize against rabid, violent anti-Zionists. And yet how many weeks go by btwn mass shootings here by real, admitted white supremacists? The equation of anti-Zionists with antisemitism, and the further equation to the "photo inverse of the Extreme Right" (ADL's Greenblatt in May 2022) is such a crock of shit, and so dangerously distracts from the real ppl who actually want to kill us. But the real "threat" of anti-Zionists is that uplifting the voices and stories of Palestinians, and encouraging others to engage in deep listening and empathy, pierces through the thin armor of Zionist rhetoric every time.
They clearly show that antisemitic attitudes are far more common on the left than the right, but what about acts of antisemitism? I wish their paper had taken that into consideration. I wonder what percentage of antisemitic hate crimes/incidents of bias involve just criticism of Israel? In April, a synagogue in Seattle was vandalized with the word “apartheid,” a phrase that appears to read “Israel has lied,” and a face with “Im [sic] still here” written underneath. According to the JDA definition this would likely be considered an antisemitic attack because it seems to hold Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s conduct; however, this feels significantly less antisemitic to me than the last time this synagogue was vandalized 6 yrs ago with the phrase, “Holocaust is fake history”. Anyway, I think it would be interesting to see what percentage of antisemitic hate crimes/incidents of bias involve just criticism of Israel, and then to apply the JDA definition to just those acts to see what percentage the JDA would consider antisemitic, and then to find out if the perpetrators of just those acts were on the left or the right.
Important and excellent.