In the New York Times Bret Stephens takes on the hydra-headed beast Intersectionality; it appears to have turned its countless bloodshot eyes on the Jews
It happened again last month in Detroit. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators seized the stage of the National L.G.B.T.Q. Task Force’s marquee conference, “Creating Change” and demanded a boycott of Israel. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” they chanted — the tediously malign, thinly veiled call to end Israel as a Jewish state.
They were met with sustained applause by the audience at what is the largest annual conference of L.G.B.T.Q. activists in the United States. Conference organizers did nothing to stop the disruption or disavow the demonstrators.
For Tyler Gregory, neither the behavior of the protesters nor the passivity of the organizers came as a surprise. Gregory is executive director of A Wider Bridge, a North American L.G.B.T.Q. organization that works to support Israel and its gay community. In 2016, his group hosted a reception at the Task Force’s conference in Chicago. The event was mobbed by some 200 aggressive demonstrators, and Gregory and his audience had to barricade themselves in their room while those outside were harassed.
“Whether you believe in the concept of intersectionality is beside the point,” Gregory told me recently, referring to the idea that the oppression of one group is the oppression of all others. “If this is your value system, you are not following it. As Jews we were denied our safe space. We were denied our place in a movement that fights bigotry.”
You may not be interested in intersectionality, but intersectionality is interested in you.
But no, even they can’t define intersectionality (oppression of one is oppression of all, the hoary old chestnut that isn’t even true, isn’t it; in fact, it’s more like oppression of me is more than oppression of thee); it’s a word they adapt to context: when combining and focusing claims upon the “oppressor” white male–when looting, and when assigning status within the hierarchy of grievance–when divvying up the loot.
But mostly it seems to involve the inevitable infighting of a coalition of interests sustained by shrill demagogy. “Intersectionality” is also a euphemism for that infighting and its vicious nature.
Stephens laments the takeover of the Women’s March movement by antisemites and the entrance into Congress of Rashida Tlaib and Ilan Ohmar, and sees in yet another remarkable concession to Israel the stirrings of real trouble:
Progressives — including presidential hopefuls Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — also united behind Vermont’s Bernie Sanders in a failed bid to block a Senate bill, passed on Tuesday, that includes an anti-B.D.S. measure prohibiting federal contracts with businesses that boycott Israel, ostensibly on free-speech grounds. One wonders how these same Democrats feel about, say, championing First Amendment protections for bakers who refuse to make cakes for gay couples.
Israel’s influence is perhaps stronger than ever, but the Democrats’ lurch left might be the beginning of the end.
What’s unsettling is that the far-left’s hostility is now being mainstreamed by the not-so-far left. Anti-Zionism — that is, rejection not just of this or that Israeli policy, but also of the idea of a Jewish state itself — is becoming a respectable position among people who would never support the elimination of any other country in any other circumstance.
How is that not precisely what we have in store for every single Western country? The apparatus of government remains, even some of its traditions, but the ethnic nature is changed–for the better, bigot! The only real rejoinder Zionists have to this is a legalistic argument–the United States wasn’t explicit enough in designing itself as an ethno-state. Should’ve got it in writing, goyim.
The state of Israel does not vanish, obviously, under the one-state solution. Jewish supremacy (a perfectly normal desire of Israeli Jews) likely does, and the country becomes multicultural. Let your imagination run wild: Israel becomes the world’s moral superpower, humanity is once and forever cured of antisemitism, Israel is a light unto the nations…
Within Israel Jews will continue to dominate for generations at least, and will be relieved of the moral burden of occupation and the threat of terrorism.
And it is churning up a new wave of nakedly anti-Jewish bigotry in its wake, as when three women holding rainbow flags embossed with a Star of David at the 2017 Chicago Dyke March were ejected on grounds that the star was “a trigger.”
Just as the American flag is now sometimes a “trigger”.
The progressive answer is straightforward: Israel and its supporters, they say, did this to themselves. More than a half-century of occupation of Palestinian territories is a massive injustice that fair-minded people can no longer ignore, especially given America’s financial support for Israel. Continued settlement expansion in the West Bank proves Israel has no interest in making peace on equitable terms. And endless occupation makes Israel’s vaunted democracy less about Jewish self-determination than it is about ethnic subjugation.
Self-determination and ethnic subjugation have gone hand-in-hand throughout history. For all the Holocaust kitsch through which we’re supposed to understand it, the Palestinian-Israeli fight is the oldest type of struggle: two groups contending over land, with the subsuming of one population a potential outcome (if improbable).
Next is the belief that anti-Zionism is a legitimate political position, and not another form of prejudice.
There are many genuine progressive true-believing Jews who would beg to differ.
By conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism Israel gets to have its cake and eat it too. Anti-nationalism is wrecking Western nations and their attendant ethnic groups, and we’re all to pretend it’s incidental to, for one, the religion of “white privilege” that intersects. Jews have only Israel. I get it. I support it. But all we ever had were our nations too, and they were the best.
It is one thing to argue, in the moot court of historical what-ifs, that Israel should not have come into being, at least not where it is now. It is also fair to say that there is much to dislike about Israel’s current leadership, just as there’s much not to like about America’s. But nobody claims the election of Donald Trump makes America an illegitimate state.
Actually they kind of do. I’ll say they’ve gone you one better: the “Resistance” holds the state is captured by illegitimate powers (illegitimate because they see the US as a sort of Israel for whites, in this view) and is waging a coup.
In fact, they’re using the election of Donald Trump to further pathologize the white history of America. They are claiming the election of Trump negates the moral basis of the US. They are out of control. Brett must not get out much.
Israel is now the home of nearly nine million citizens, with an identity that is as distinctively and proudly Israeli as the Dutch are Dutch or the Danes Danish. Anti-Zionism proposes nothing less than the elimination of that identity and the political dispossession of those who cherish it, with no real thought of what would likely happen to the dispossessed. Do progressives expect the rights of Jews to be protected should Hamas someday assume the leadership of a reconstituted “Palestine”?
Au contraire. The Dutch, as every other western nation, are currently surrendering their nation and identity with enthusiasm, and I would note anti-popular compulsion from an alienated elite.
Do Americans expect the rights of whites to be protected–screw that, are they being protected?
To say, as progressives sometimes do, that Jews are “colonizers” in Israel is anti-Semitic because it advances the lie that there is no ancestral or historic Jewish tie to the land. To claim that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, when manifestly it is not, is anti-Semitic because it’s an attempt to Nazify the Jewish state. To insist that the only state in the world that has forfeited the moral right to exist just happens to be the Jewish state is anti-Semitic, too: Are Israel’s purported crimes really worse than those of, say, Zimbabwe or China, whose rights to exist are never called into question? “Genocide” is an overused term, and does not “nazify” (idiotic word) anything, Jews in Germany were economically and even politically powerful in the 1920s.
And then they were in Buchenwald.
Indeed. To be powerful but vulnerable was the Jews’ misfortune. Zionism answers that vulnerability in the obvious way, establishing a homeland for the Jews, and discrediting the concept of “homeland” outside of Israel via secular progressive politics dominated by diaspora Jews has been the other answer.
Isn’t it time for Jew and white gentiles to forge a new agreement, whereby we all get to keep our countries?
Israel appears powerful vis-à-vis the Palestinians, but considerably less so in the context of a broader Middle East saturated with genocidal anti-Semitism. American Jews are comparatively wealthy. But wealth without political power, as Hannah Arendt understood, is a recipe for hatred. The Jews of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh are almost surely “privileged” according to various socio-economic measures. But privilege didn’t save the congregants of the Tree of Life synagogue last year.
Indeed, and their political privilege over and above all didn’t save them either–from a prototypical “loser” as they would describe him; that is, from someone with no real privilege (just the Orwellian curse of “white privilege”, which is not an idea that originated from the underprivileged of any stripe, curiously enough).
The notion of “privilege” based on socio-economic disparities collapses. Whites are supposedly “privileged” in the US, but they’re hunted on the streets by blacks, who are described, comically, as a “vulnerable” group. We are in a position not unlike Jews under periods of extreme antisemitism when we attempt to navigate black geographic strongholds, when we endure periodic pogroms and watch as our culture and wealth are appropriated, as privilege (by any other name) is established on behalf of ever angrier and uglier complainants lacking the intelligence and self-awareness to see their absurdity.
We need a new way.