48 Comments
Apr 23·edited Apr 23

"the very heart of the liberal institutions"

The liberal institutions became illiberal in the 21st century thanks to the woke left. The liberal consensus was that demonizing people on the basis of their demographic memberships was wrong. Then it became ok to do it to white men. And that gyre loves to widen. Which should surprise no one, but apparently it does.

"the left-wing demonstrations collapse all those distinctions."

As with every other issue they have been rioting over the last fifteen years.

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I have been reading up on and listening to some of the history of Israel and the Middle East. It's extremely complicated, there is no black and white and there are instances of harmony between Arabs and Jews and instances of barbarity and warfare as well. I can understand a few things- one can be against a government or an army overstepping its bounds to secure hostages. One can also be against the leader of a government, but not be against the existence of the state itself, nor its people and their ethnicity or religion. What seems to have happened is this: The process has gone from what I described above to outright support of the massacre of one group of people and the support of an avowed terrorist organization, and now to the harassment of the Jews who are actually living in this country and may or may not support their government, but are being harassed nonetheless. Not only tha,t the perfectly allowable right to peaceful assembly has taken on the spectre of the "Summer of Love" and the BLM riots. And I'm not sure what Mr. deBoer is referring to: Regardless of someone's supposed status, whether they are some kind of "oppressed" group, or a culturally successful group, it is no excuse for them to be persecuted. Would we tolerate college kids in white robes and hoods burning crosses on the campus quads, or tracking down Gay or Lesbian people and beating them up? Hell no!

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I happened to be in NYC last week, pushing my eleven-week old granddaughter in her stroller past Columbia's gates. We were on the opposite side of Broadway -- in no physical danger-- but I was terrified at the rage, the lies, the self-righteousness coming from the crowd. I was born the year after the nation of Israel was created. I have lived in the "golden age of Jewry" in the U.S. Part of that safety came because there was always Israel for our people. I don't think Israel is going anywhere -- I also don't think Israel is perfect. But the misinformation about Israel that is held as common knowledge by the left right now is heart-breaking. It obviously is spilling over into U.S. antisemitism, and I fear my grandbaby experiencing antisemitism in ways I never did. Thank you for this post.

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The only comfort I can provide the author is that while he provides an airtight case that "American Jews . . . are not welcome on the social justice left," there are a whole lot of us who are equally unwelcome in that sector, and are very comfortable with that.

The social justice left is having a moment, and maybe even taking a little disgusting pride in their vile antisemitism, and that is worth condemning without caveat. But contrary to their youthful grandiosity and the decibel level of their shouting, they are not a major constituency in America. The latest report (Dec. 2023) from More In Common shows that nearly 80% of Americans consider antisemitism a problem. And that organization's landmark "Hidden Tribes" report demonstrated that only about 8% of Americans are among the Progressive Activists grouping from which the current extremism is coming (though, of course, some does also come from the 6% at the other extreme).

Cold comfort, maybe, to the students at Columbia (etc.) but as long as the First Amendment and the criminal laws continue to be valid and enforced, there is still reason to see beyond the rage of young radicals, and bring into focus those of us in that very much larger majority.

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In his book "Woke Racism" John McWhorter does a fine job calling out this sickness on the college campuses. It is what we have seen through history... mass psychosis of a population seeking meaning, status and purpose in life otherwise lacking and being captured by ideology... generally irrational and destructive ideology. It is usually young people that are susceptible to this capture because they are both more seeking of purpose and more emotionally charged and uncontrolled. Females too have this tendency for stronger emotional attachment to issues and messaging.

It seems to me that the lack of real life struggle born from high tech concierge services, doting Baby Boomer parents and grandparents, student loans and government assistance programs... has all led to young people with a gap in their self-worth and purpose and thus ripe for being exploited by those, largely evil with burning resentment and envy... and many of them working in academia... toward indoctrination in a movement of radical thinking and actions.

My solution for all of this is to require college students to work... real work... not as activists for an NGO non-profit. But to, for example, help build housing supplies. Or to tutor middle schoolers and high schoolers.

The bottom line is that they should NOT have time for these ugly protests, and if working they would likely better fulfill and understand their own lives in a way that would better shield them from being injected with a fake scholarship parasitic toxic mind virus of Theory/woke.

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I just find this whole conversation a little odd - American Jews are objectively some of the safest, richest, best-educated, most well-represented people in the world. It's hard to choose an ethnic group-country combination that's doing better.

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There have been a lot of places on earth were they were doing very well. Until they weren't.

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If I remember correctly from history, Jews were doing quite nicely in Germany and Austria prior to the 1930s.

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Jews were doing well until they weren't in late 13th century England, late 15th century Spain and Portugal, etc. Jews do well until it's more convenient for the authorities to have Jews dead or exiled after which the world notes their elimination. The world also notes but with alarm Jews who attempt to control their own destiny.

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Jews are the canaries in the coal mine for the impending collapse of reasonable and tolerant society.

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Ah yes, the elimination happening right now is of Jews, not, you know, Gazans

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I would love to know if you actually believe Gazans are being eliminated. The IDF drop flyers and send texts of their next campaigns so civilians have an opportunity to leave. If they were going to genocide, why bother?

That is in direct contradiction to 10/7's surprise attack of barbarity where catching Israeli civilians unprepared was the explicit goal.

Who wants to eliminate who?

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The thing is, I know you don't actually think that happening. You don't.

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And in many cases neither did they, until it was too late.

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The disruptive reactions of elite students convinced of their moral superiority and determined to impose it on others do not reflect a massive change in the attitude of Americans writ large towards American Jews. This is not the rebirth of the civil rights movement of the 60s. What is happening in Israel and Gaza is half a world away. Upending racism was here at home and at the core of the American way of life at the time. For most of us, the Israeli/Hamas conflict is slightly lower than whale shit on our list of priorities in spite of the wall to wall media coverage. Our feelings/attitude towards the Jewish deli down the street that we love will not change. There is no need to overreact to their overreaction.

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I believe much of blame for this difficult situation lies with Netanyahu and how he has conducted the war. He ignored US advice to have clear objectives like rescuing the hostages or a plan for governing Gaza after it was all over. He got lost in the fog of war and squandered every opportunity to bring order out of chaos.

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That hasn't helped, but one only has to remember how many people were celebrating on October 7th before there was any Israeli response to know that the root cause of the difficult situation is the sick pathology known as wokeness. Which was allowed to fester and flourish for far too long.

I'm surprised that the author found it "dizzying" when it turned on him.

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Woke is being aware of discrimination or injustice. The government of Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza for much of the last 50 years, building illegal settlements that continue to this day. Celebrations after the attack on October 7th are abhorrent but it doesn’t change the fact that there’s been history of injustice in the West Bank and Gaza.

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Apr 23·edited Apr 23

No it isn't, that is only what it pretends to be sometimes. It is dividing the world into a simplistic good guy/bad guy fable of "oppressors" and "oppressed." Wokeness is not liberalism, it is explicitly anti-liberal. That is why they celebrate whatever their favored groups do, even mass rape and murder of civilians.

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Agree, the world is gray, not black and white. There is no better example than the situation in the Middle East. Our brains create stories that we use in order to make sense of the world around us. Good guys and bad guys. Some people need that crutch, others don’t.

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Unfortunately, the people who need that crutch have taken over a lot of key areas of American life. Columbia University being just one example.

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The crutch gets you into big trouble when you apply it to extremely complicated situations like the ME. Which means if you are going to protest policies, countries or groups you should thoroughly educate yourself first.

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Not sure if I agree that wokeism is wholly to blame here for the turn against Israel. Over the past two decades, the Israeli government has moved steadily to the right, effectively giving up on a two-state solution and annexing more and more Palestinian land. This in turn has alienated a significant section of the US population, which includes some young progressive American jews.

The distribution of public opinion has shifted so that there are now more legitimate critics of Israel, but also, unfortunately, an extreme tail that is quite bigoted and antisemitic. We should all be doing all we can for a two-state solution ala Taba accords. Nothing else is going to resolve this, ever.

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Hard to have a "two state solution" with neighbors who want to see you dead.

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I am a proud subscriber, thank you Persuasion!

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“Being an American Jew is its own proud, often paradoxical idea. I can only hope that it survives this wave of anti-Semitism and all the others that are sure to come after it.” I hope and trust that it will.

In my April 12 Substack commentary, reflecting on the apparent antisemitism of Henry Ford, I write the following. “The USA has a special relation with the Jewish people, who constitute a proportion of the American people higher than any other nation in the world, except Israel. The ancient nation of Israel was one of the first nations of the world to leave a legacy of spiritual and cultural teachings for humanity, which are the foundation of the religions of Christianity and Islam as well as the modern principles of social justice. For centuries, Jews have endured discrimination and worse in defense of these revelations and concepts, and they today are not great in number. They must be protected as a special people among the nations of the earth. These truths remain truths, in spite of the indefensible apartheid-like policies of Israel with respect to Palestine since 1967 and the current barbarity of the government of Israel with respect to the people of Palestine, which all of humanity rightly condemns and is mobilizing to end.”

In this vein, I have observed that the Cuban Revolutionary Government, in condemning the “genocide” in the Gaza strip, is careful make clear its continuing support of the “two-state solution,” based on pre-1967 borders, supported by UN organizations. In contrast, the radical Left in the United States repeatedly indulges in destructive rhetorical exaggerations on this and other issues.

https://charlesmckelvey.substack.com/

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The American Jew always has the choice: Pass as a gentile or do not. That of course creates pain for us. When we "pass" we hear the antisemitism; when we acknowledge we are Jews it shifts to anti-Zionism. Walk in the room "Hi I am a Jew." Things will be more polite. Do not do that and your heart may break. When I see the Hamas flag I stop passing immediately. That is a subterfuge I cannot accomplish.

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I suspect the author is overthinking things, even if the current events are very worrying. If you know what you stand for and believe you make a contribution, say so loudly and repeatedly. I am not a Jew but I believe deeply in their contribution to western civilization. Do not be captured by the progressive tropes and terminology. Dissect and demolish them instead. Stand up for yourself in every way possible. And we don’t need complicated history classes to get it.

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I agree (and have "liked" your comment). However, it's important not to stop at urging Jews to stand up for themselves as if this were a tug-of-war between groups of people asserting their special interests, but to declare it a conflict between bigots and the rest of us. Let us all stand up, dissect, and demolish -- because antisemitism and other forms of bigotry foul our own world.

https://thefamilyproperty.blogspot.com/2022/11/never-draws-near.html

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One of the problems with Zionism is the idea of that one as a Jew should have a special and even blind loyalty to Israel. The idea of nationalism is that humans should be divided into nations. But one can be a Jew, American, global citizen at the same time. As for example Einstein was.

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The concept of nation is one that supports certain laws, customs, rights and privileges to its citizens. While I hold no animus toward Muslim countries, I would not in any way want to be a citizen of one, nor would I support the formation of a Muslim type state in this country. Man is by nature a tribal creature, which doesn't mean those of different tribes can't get along for general purposes, but are not in a position to fully absorb each other's culture or customs.

I am loyal as an American to the concepts put forth by the founding fathers which I believe are fair and just, but I certainly do not agree with all the government's positions all the time, and I am not happy with the government at this moment. Yet, I stand with my country in principle.

I would put forth to you that not all Jews and certainly not all Israelis, Zionists or not, are in complete agreement and blindly loyal to their government.

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Tribes and nations are not the same things. And nations often behave as tribes at the world/global level. Also, USA could become a Muslim country in the sense that more Americans become Muslims. Additionally, USA is not even seen as a single nation in cultural sense since there are large differences between different parts of America.

One of the main problems with Israel is that the state has become so repressive, horrible and morally corrupted because many Israelis believe that being Jewish in a Zionist sense is more important than democratic values

https://www.businessinsider.com/the-11-nations-of-the-united-states-2015-7

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You are correct in the fact that the US is not a perfectly homogenous society and has been so even less since the early 20th century. However, the basic principles the founders laid out, allowed the country to reconnect after a horrendous civil war, end slavery and eventually end Jim Crow and put in place Civil Rights legislation.

If the US retains its Constitution and Bill of Rights, even if the population were to become majority Muslim, turning this country into a Muslim state with Sharia law would be impossible.

Israel is the lone democracy in the Middle East. While I'm sure it is far from perfect, what makes you think the state is repressive, horrible and morally corrupt? Arabs living in Israel have equal rights to Israelis, and serve in political positions, LGBT people have rights and are not stoned to death, women have rights and are not stoned to death for adultery, and so on. Hamas sent terrorists into Israel to purposefully murder, torture and take hostages of innocent people. What did they expect would happen?

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You views on Israel remind me of debates made up of opinions reflecting how Israel used to be as during the 2000s. The current situation in Israel is that democracy is on decline because there is a larger number of Israelis opposing democracy as by promoting ethnocracy. Also, constitutional rights as for Arab Israelis matter more on paper than in practical daily life. You can also read reports from Freedom House. https://www.liberalcurrents.com/why-israeli-democracy-is-unstable-and-corrupt/

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Sure that there are similarities between constitutionalism in America today as 200 years ago. After all, the constitutional documents are still original. My position is that modern nations have to change their constitutions in relation to decentralisation, technology and social change. Have you ever heard about liquid democracy?

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Interesting concept...

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I am in the process of reading the "11 Nations" by Colin Woodward right now. He is expanding on the book by David Hackett Fischer "Albion's Seed". My observation is that with the increased mobility of our current society and many people moving for employment and/or to change their cultural, political or other environment, as well as the massive recent migration, these "nations" will change significantly.

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Cool to hear that and your points are true when it comes to social reality

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Thank you for the reasonable conversation.

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Thanks. If you want, you can follow my writings via https://vlademocracy.substack.com/

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There's an aspect of the geopolitical explanation that's as dizzying to contemplate as the speed with which antisemitism has taken hold on the American Left: the possibility that the enemies of Israel in the Mideast -- who are avowed enemies of Jews everywhere -- have reached across the world and meddled in American political life with conspicuous success.

I'd like to learn what there is to learn about the funding and coordination behind this surge of allyship with Hamas-friendly Palestinians at the expense of American Jews. (For the record, I'm an American Gentile.) I'm leftist enough myself that I never thought I'd find a use for the term "un-American", but there's something distinctly alien about a movement whose participants shrug off atrocities like those committed on October 7th for the sake of political solidarity.

https://thefamilyproperty.blogspot.com/2023/11/savagery.html

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The BDS movement is apparently very big on campuses.

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"The left, from the era of Roosevelt, meant “minorities and liberal activists locking arms,” and Jews (there’s a real irony here) were trailblazers in developing identity politics. But the coalition turned towards something else—the oppressed, easily identified by the hue of their skin, against the oppressors."

Eventually, the chickens come home to roost.

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