Linda Sarsour, Progressive-Left Ideals, and Diaspora Jewry.

Edward Moran – Unveiling The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, 1886

Two of the most significant political questions facing the West today are those of immigration policy and identity politics.

Women’s March organizer, Linda Sarsour, stands at the crux of both and has successfully put pro-Israel diaspora Jewry between the horns of a political dilemma.

Sarsour just raised considerable funds for the restoration of a recently desecrated Jewish cemetery near St. Louis, Missouri. Thus, even as she despises Israel she goes out of her way to help American Jewry.

Meanwhile, as disappointed ideologues from both left and right spit an endless stream of vitriol at U.S. President Donald Trump for everything from corruption to racism, the issues of immigration and identity politics garner the most rancor.

Concerns around both are vital and divisive because they cut a sharp line down the central contradictions agitating the progressive-left and the Democratic Party.

These central contradictions are those between the foundational ideological pillars of  universal human rights and the multicultural ideal, upon which the western-left stakes its moral authority.

Progressive-Left Ideals

The foundational thinking behind the ideals of universal human rights and multiculturalism is grounded in the history of western Christianity, imperialism, slavery, and war as interpreted through the lens of Enlightenment liberalism.

Concepts around universal human rights can easily be thought to bolster progressive-left immigration policies, while the multicultural ideal drives the kind of “identity politics” associated with groups like Black Lives Matter or activists like Sarsour.

The problem, however, is that these foundational ideological pillars are logically inconsistent and mutually exclusive. A person cannot simultaneously support universal human rights and the multicultural ideal if the former must defer to the latter’s disinclination to make ethical judgments between cultures.

For example, a person cannot honestly claim to stand for universal human rights if that person fears speaking out for Yazidis buried alive under Islamist imperial aggression. A person cannot favor universal human rights if he or she does not really care about the desecration of Palmyra. Nor can a person honestly care about universal human rights if they aren’t the least bothered by the genocide of the Christians throughout the Middle East under the boot of Arab-Muslim religious domination.

It is precisely for this reason that someone like Sarsour cannot support feminism while also embracing Sharia under the banner of multiculturalism. They are mutually exclusive concepts. Western feminism, at its most basic, is embedded within the ideal of universal human rights. The very foundation of western feminism is universal human rights. Multiculturalism as expressed in identity politics, however, insists upon holding individuals to prejudicial standards of behavior according to skin color or gendered orientation.

In this way, identity politics repudiates Martin Luther King, Jr., without his temerity to come out and honestly say so,

And this is part of the reason why the progressive-left claim to moral exemplarism, grounded in social justice, is deeply problematic and why identity politics actually promotes racism, not its diminishment.

The left only cares about social justice and human rights according to where one’s “identity group” falls on the hierarchy of victimhood. In this way “identity politics” draws young people away from notions of individual freedom and equality in favor of a cultivated group victim status in competition with other ethnic or gendered minorities, including the Jewish minority.

This “cultural Marxist” way of viewing human social interactions encourages racial hatred, street violence, a manichean, black and white, Good versus Evil manner of living politics while potentially cultivating a white nationalist backlash in response.

Furthermore, it is the left-leaning, post-structural, anti-imperialist political viewpoint which frames the Arab-Muslim war against the Jews in the Middle East as actually an unjust war waged by racist, imperialist, Zionist Jews against an innocent, indigenous people “of color” who therefore have every right to fight back by any means necessary.

Diaspora Jewry

This increasingly-pressurized political dynamic puts progressive Jews – who represent the great majority of diaspora Jewry – in difficult social and political positions because increasingly they may either be pro-Israel or “progressive” but not both.

This is nothing new. The distrust and dislike between liberal pro-Israel Jewry and progressive-left, Democratic Party, anti-Zionism has been simmering for years.

The Washington Post tells us that today:

“While conservative Republicans favored Israel by a 44-point margin in 2001, the margin is now 70 points. And while liberal Democrats favored Israel by 30 points at the turn of the century, they now favor the Palestinians by 12 points.”

This is the high wire that someone like, for example, Sarah Silverman must cross in an intensely public way. Silverman does not share this problem with Bernie Sanders because Sanders is not particularly pro-Israel to begin with.

Silverman honestly is pro-Israel and, if I judge her correctly, she is someone going through the process of sorting through and rearranging her political baggage.

{Shortly after the recent election Silverman interviewed Sanders and I put together a little audio something in response.}

But she is a stand-up and an actor, not a politician, so she gets the benefit of the doubt.

Nonetheless, Silverman represents stresses within the diaspora Jewish community between their allegiance to universal concepts of social justice and Tikkun Olam versus the well-being of the Jewish people as a distinct national group. Although diaspora Jews have shown a remarkable loyalty to social democratic ideals, the people who most strongly vouch for those ideals – i.e., the international Left and the Democratic Party – do not reciprocate the friendship as we see from the Pew Research Poll (above) published in the Washington Post from last month.

The reason for this is because western progressives increasingly see Palestinian-Arabs as innocent, indigenous “Davids” bravely facing-off against the malicious, invading Zionist “Goliath.” They also – in a manner both racist and condescending – view the great Muslim people as without agency and, thus, without responsibility for the foreseeable outcome of their own behavior.

Like nineteenth-century western imperialists, progressive-left identitarians treat non-whites as small children in need of fatherly protection.

And it is for this reason that so many western liberal Jews favor either loose immigration policies or open borders. To do otherwise is conceived as a betrayal of essential Jewish values of kindness, fairness, justice, and compassion. It is also seen as a betrayal of the coastal, anti-Trump resistance which can easily cost people friendships and jobs.

In other words, unless western Jews favor the unvetted importation of millions of people from among a population that generally despises us… it makes us racist.

If we object to bringing these millions into our home countries without responsible vetting procedures – despite the fact that for thirteen hundred years we lived under Arab-Muslim imperial rule as second and third-class non-citizens – this makes us terrible people and Islamophobes. Even though much of the Arab religious leadership continues to screech for the genocide of the Jewish people, diaspora Jews are irredeemable, backwards, xenophobes for merely desiring the exclusion of jihadis into our home countries.

{Why should western Jews care, after all, if their own kids get harassed by anti-Semitic anti-Zionists during their college years after forking over perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition?}

Nonetheless, I probably speak for something close to a majority of diaspora Jews when I say that we welcome immigrants from anywhere in the world into our home countries.The only thing that we ask is that they pass through regular legal channels and not include jihadis among their number.

Given the history of the Jewish people under millennia of Christian and Muslim domination, this seem like a rather small and commonsensical request.

First published at Israel Thrives

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  1. Otto Waldmann

    An excellent study of the oft exploited phenomena. I would term the dynamics of the conflicts described as one of politics and prejudice. Carefully selected terms and terminology manipulate masterly ethno-religious groups.
    Arbitrary political cardinal points , the litigious left and right sides aside, Jewish objections to matters Zionist are nothing but a form of psycho-political exploitation.

    Individuals who matter purely as electoral atoms are not distinct ideological agents any more than they are potential kidney and/or prostate gland donors.
    Must introduce here a line from my cinematic bible, “The Producers”, ” Have you had lunch with…” in our case a Jewish lefty cum progressive/liberal/neolog !!! Beneath the surface of a slightly – if you are lucky – irritated cum broyges mind , there is a vast Sahara Desert of reason and/or any philosophical sustenance. If you don’t want to be ever re-invited to a Shabbos dinner by the ethically erect host, mention Levi-Strauss, Marcuse or Wittgenstein just to keep matters within the mishpuche. Reliable “ideological” knowledge is not the forte of the Jew passionate for political battle on the vast front of human rights, apart from sterile sloganeering.
    The satirical reality is that the vast majority of the lefty activist Jews are devoid of well informed solid notions of Jewish identity, of what being a just and fair Jew. is all about. All they can scant interminably is ” Tikun olam “, the panacea to all universal ills, the most reliable antidote to antisemitism, as they see it. In a comfortably vicarious manner, the rest is all perfectly attended to by Noam Chomsky, just in case.

    Fear, the plain and complicated fear of not being able to explain their Jewish identity, in the face of a hostile world motivates all those hysterical by now multi-generational ad hoc Maccabeans of the post Zionist era dedicated to fight for a …better Israel, actually as conceived by Israel’s worst enemies.
    Joining in causes, some of which by their fundamentals should not even allow Jews, has become the desperate attempt by the superficial Judeans to fend off their ingrained schizoid genetical condition. So much for all that wasted ” Mazal Tov !!” heard on the corridors of the maternity wards…
    For them, the burden of being born a Jew is forever !!!

    • Y’know, Otto, when I was growing up in the burbs around NYC there was no particular burden for being born Jewish.

      Jewish-American was just another regular variant on American… or so it seemed to me at the time. There were Italian-Americans and mixed-Americans and whatever, including Jewish-Americans. We all had our cultural differences, but we were neighbors and friends.

      And, growing up in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, we were almost all Democrats. I was a Democrat for thirty years until Barack Obama decided that – like some medieval Italian prince – he had every right to tell Jewish people where we might be allowed to live.

      • Otto Waldmann

        Seen by some as simplistic, but a valuable truism, oppression of the Jew has urged the need for a wise modus vivendi. It was found in what we had from the outset of our challenged identity, our Books.
        The Judaic citadel was erected with Thora’s chochma mixed with the most efficient pedagogical techniques ,whereby schooling in the kehilat’s real and virtual classrooms never ceased to safeguard existential chess moves. Loyalty to our beliefs has been an impregnable armour.
        My own and my socio-political Jewish group’s experience vouches for the revival of the identity flame from meagre sparks kept within a family otherwise dedicated to the most drastic possible leftist views, the communist variety.
        Once the leading Jewish communist personalities fell victims of the Party cleansing of the bloody Jews and persecution took charge, the Jew was reminded of his ingrained survival kit, his perennial identity. By the 1960s, all, but all progenies of the old Jewish communist guard of Romania, including myself, made their own exodus back to Zion. Oppression was our ticket to a dignified life.