Antisemitism in the Aftermath of October 7: How did we get here?

March 4, 2024

Antisemitism In The Aftermath Of October 7

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  • Following the October 7 Hamas attack, some parts of the left not only blamed Israel for the aggression, but also expressed hostility toward Jewish supporters of Israel because of their assumed privilege.
  • This type of animosity is not new. It began during the 1960s and 70s, especially after the Jewish State’s victories over a coalition of Arab nations in the 1967 War, and it can be linked to the ideology of some parts of the New Left, which included recurring attempts to link Israel with European colonialism and Jews with whiteness and privilege.
  • Analysts of the period responded to these tactics by describing a “new antisemitism” that illustrated the parallels between hostility towards Israel’s legitimacy as a state and hostility toward the authenticity of the American Jewish community as a minority ethnic group.
  • In the 1980s and 1990s, the focus of the political left trended toward promoting multiculturalism and diversity. This tolerance was not all-inclusive, however, and the animosity toward Israel demonstrated by some factions within the left was coupled with hostility toward Jews, who were seen not only as white and privileged, but also as a particularly malicious example of some of the worst elements of whiteness.
  • Against the backdrop of the second intifada and the rise in violence that characterized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the opening years of the 21st century, vocal factions of the left on American college and university campuses labeled Israel a racist and illegitimate state founded through settler colonialism and fueled by apartheid.
  • At the same time, Jews were denigrated both for supporting Israel and for their supposed white privilege.
  • Critics claimed that these attacks on Israel, Zionism, and Jews often crossed the line into antisemitism. They also pointed out a seeming double standard in which hostile rhetoric toward Jews – whether it was connected to Israel or to whiteness – was framed as protected political speech, while hateful language towards other minority identity groups was more likely to be condemned and silenced.
  • The conclusion of this analysis is that some elements of the left have deep, serious, and systemic issues, not only with Israel but also with Jews.