Discover more from The Transom
Anti-Semitism and the West
A difficult time
Anti Semitism in the West is thankfully not the dominant position of belief. But that is not to say it’s insignificant.
A clear portion of people in the West who enjoy all the benefits of Western civilization, of freedom of speech, religion, and assembly, are nonetheless dedicated to an authoritarian idea focused on the destruction of a people and a nation who throughout history had to confront repeated attempts to eradicate them.
The Transom is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
We saw this in the past week in protests that played out across the western world. Some of the most obscene forms of this protest took place in some of the most diverse major cities of the West, including London, near Whitehall, where this scene played out of a group of free Palestine protesters, chasing a lone man raising the Israeli flag.
In America, these protests played out across college campuses, but also in Times Square in Manhattan, home of the second most populous Jewish community in the world. What was perhaps the most disturbing was that our elite institutions were so quick to embrace this form of anti Semitism and indeed, promote it. Harvard, Columbia, and other Ivy League institutions all issued statements or allowed statements to be issued that were heinous and reprehensible, without any kind of moral perspective on the rape and murder perpetuated by Hamas.
To all graduates of these programs who are Jewish and to many who are not, these messages were horrendous. In some instances, students themselves begged that these protests be shut down because they recognize the level of danger it created for Jewish students in these communities.
The consequences were rare indeed. Statements from people like Lawrence Summers about the disappointment they had regarding Harvard, statements from people like former Ambassador Jon Huntsman as regards his family’s funding of Penn University, these were the exceptions and not the rule.
The truth is that elite academia, now wholly captured by the left, has a problem with anti Semitism. They are full of figures, funded by taxpayers, who put an intellectual spin on the most barbarous lies and do so in service of ideas that are fundamentally antithetical to the Western enlightenment that made their institutions possible.
The important thing to understand is that this is not unnatural. It is not out of step with the principles of the left to embrace anti Semitism, or an anti Israel posture. Despite the fact that Israel is a liberal society by any measure, the current leftist dynamic that we have seen play out over the past several decades loathes their existence and foments racist hate against Israel as an “occupying” power. At first such views were on the fringes, the most extreme of the extreme, but support has increasingly mainstreamed itself within a progressive left increasingly open to their heinous ideas.
Now we confront a group of leftists who are tied together by the bonds of vicious lies about our past and our future, who are also dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish people and their state. Whether the mewling students in the square understand that or not, they are part of the same deadly agenda. Understand, as author Chris Rufo has noted: the Democratic Socialists of America, the Black Lives Matter movement, the DEI agenda, the CRT agenda, the 1692 project, and every other aspect of the ridiculousness of the modern left branches of the same tree of a message of decolonization. One of blame and victimhood. And one branch of this is based on the destruction of Israel.
The DSA and its attendant members in Congress are incredibly powerful individuals. Regardless of their positions within the hierarchy of the Democratic Party, they have enormous microphones. They speak to an audience of millions and they are emphatic that Israel is an apartheid state. They have said it so often that those who listen to them believe it to be true.
This is a problem for the left. It is a generational divide between the establishment left of the Bill Clinton generation, which was not intent on embracing anti Semitism or the destruction of the Israeli state, with a younger generation that dares to embrace such extreme ideas, and then finds in the reaction to those ideas an affirmation as opposed to a condemnation.
I do not know what will happen to the left when this establishment generation goes away. I do not know if the Hakeem Jeffries of the world will be able to hold back the tide of Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and the rest of the growing squad once Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are gone. That is a problem for the future. But they are a problem now. And we ought to confront them with the truth with condemnation and with utter rejection of their collectivist ideology.
However, just because the vast majority of the problem of anti Semitism exists today in the western left does not mean that those problems are confined there. There is a fringe portion of the right that does dabble in these ideas, sometimes funded by top donors who are either unaware, do not care, or more disturbingly, secretly support their ideology. The specter of racial hierarchy and eugenicist blather festers in corners of the online world, and sometimes figures on the right fall into that evil pit. But they are dwarfed by the voices on the left, on the streets and in academia and in the halls of Congress.
Now, let's be clear about definitions. It is not anti Semitic to be opposed to the politics of the Conservative parties in Israel. It is not anti Semitism to hold different views on foreign policy than the leaders of Israel. It is not anti Semitism to take issue with Benjamin Netanyahu, to oppose his election or his judicial reforms, or oppose any other Jewish leader or politician anywhere. Nothing like that is in any way an automatic indication of anti Semitism. It's absurd to think so. Just because you disagree with Chuck Schumer doesn’t make you anti-Semitic any more than disagreeing with Nancy Pelosi makes you anti-Italian. Just because I hate Justin Trudeau doesn’t mean I hate Canadians.
But I do fundamentally believe that if you reject the right of Israel to defend itself and the right of the Jewish state to exist, if you embrace the rhetoric of the quote unquote Free Palestine movement and make excuses for the murder of innocents by the terrorist organization Hamas, then I think it’s on you to prove you’re not anti-Semitic. Because there is no moral excuse, there is no moral defense for what we have seen.
That brings me to a significant problem that I have seen over the years, growing as an aspect of the right. One of the aspects, unfortunately, of being on the right in America is a feeling that you are isolated… that culturally, you have to depend on everyone you can, and welcome any celebrity who sounds the least bit conservative with open arms. It's one of the reasons that we saw some on the right embrace people like Kanye West, whose anti Semitic lies blew up his life and business, or people like the Tate Brothers, the alt-right’s favorite pimps.
One of the most prominent youth focused entities on the right is Turning Point USA. Founded in 2012, it began with the mission of trying to win over young voters to the right – they organized campus events and conferences, pushed content on social media, and promoted engaged influencers – who would lead people toward the right.
When they started out, they were the defenders of capitalism and standard conservative policies. But they’ve evolved over the years, becoming increasingly associated with Donald Trump as his rise became an essential part of the identity of being young and on the right in America.
But there’s a problem. At the same time that they've been doing this, they have repeatedly engaged with people who are branded as TPUSA ambassadors and have that branding in their bios, even as they say villainous and disturbing things. In the wake of the Hamas attacks, TPUSA figures pushed the fiction that images of burnt babies were fake, equated zionism with communism, praised Holocaust deniers, and accused Israel of trying to “ethnically cleanse Palestinians.” It’s a pretty far cry from “Less Government More Freedom” bumper stickers back in the day.
Now, these are people who are part of TPUSA’s influencer programs. They aren’t actually that important. Though, as my friend the writer David Marcus pointed out this week, if TPUSA influencers embraced trans hormones or an open border, they’d be dropped like a hot rock. But embracing the anti-Israel rhetoric of the left? Apparently that’s just fine.
As activism goes, this is just bad politics. It hands the left a cudgel to use against the right. Every time the right cites something crazy being said by the Squad, the left can point to these crazy internet people on the right and say, “See, you have the same problem.”
Of course, that itself is a lie. None of these people are members of Congress. When AOC was crying on the House floor about the Iron Dome being funded, she had a vote in the matter – even though she lost, 420 to Nine. These people do not. So keep that in perspective.
But we had an illuminating moment this week, in terms of why something like this continues to happen and continues to be a problem for the right. Ladies and gentlemen, listen to the head of Turning Point USA talking on a podcast about his personal theory about what happened on that terrible day of October 7th.
What you just heard was offensive, hideous, and idiotic.
Back in the days of 9.11 we were all familiar with the line from some of the most fringe people on the left who said “Bush lied.” George W. Bush lied, they said, knew that there were going to be attacks on 9.11 and let them happen anyway as an excuse to go to war in the Middle East. There was a variant of this targeted at the Jewish people – a variant that said the Jewish members and officers who worked within the World Trade Center had been warned away from the buildings on 9.11 so that they could survive while others died. Both were essentially invocations of the Reichstag fire, used as a pretext to establish Nazi rule.
This is an echo of the same kind of conspiratorial attack. In this moment, before the bodies are even all identified, he is claiming without any evidence that Benjamin Netanyahu, a soldier, a statesman, a man dedicated to the defense of the Jewish state and the Jewish people, purposefully told his military to stand down in order to allow the worst day since the Holocaust in terms of the murder of Jews… out of an interest in his own political benefit.
Think about that for just a moment. Think about the smear involved there. Think about the villainy one would have to consider in order to believe that is true.
There won’t be any consequences for this. Charlie Kirk continues to make millions of dollars off of his donors. According to an Associated Press report put out this week, he has gained so much money from his time leading the organization that he now owns five different properties all of them valued at more than a million dollars, including a 4.75 million mansion in Arizona, where he was a champion of the failed Kari Lake campaign and the Stop the Steal effort.
For the coming cycle, Turning Point has promoted to donors a more than $100 million dollar Get Out the Vote campaign that they plan to apply in the coming elections in three different states, Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin. But during their tenure as the lead youth organization on the right, the right has seen its numbers among 18 to 29 year olds diminish dramatically… from an 11 point margin of loss in the first election cycle it was active to a 28 point margin in 2022.
This is what the donors are funding. As long as they continue to fund it, they'll continue to get the kind of results that we see… results that just aren’t good enough for conservatives to win.
My overall point is this: The American right, much more than the American left, has traditionally been supportive of Israel. This is a very good thing. It should continue. It will continue. It will continue long after many of the voices who argue against it are gone from the scene. This is because our relationship with Israel is so strong. It is because the people who engage in this type of conspiracy may have big follow counts, but they are on the fringes. They do not speak for the majority of the American people, the majority of the American right or even the majority of the Democratic Party.
But this small, loud faction is still too large. It feeds into the anti-Semitic narrative that turns to the streets to rejoice, praises terrorists as freedom fighters or militants, excuses them as “gunmen” as the New York Times has done, as opposed to the terrorist butchers and barbarous villains that they are.
I think it is much better than this moment to listen to people like my friend Douglas Murray, my colleague at the Spectator, who had this to say at one of London's main synagogues.
The Jewish people will survive. They will survive well after these enemies are gone. For those of us in the West, it behooves us to do three things. First, to call out the voices that echo the villainous lies of those who work on a daily basis, via media and policy, to end Israel and its people. Second, to teach the next generation the truth about the people of Israel and the holocaust. And third is to support Israel and its people, however we can. Not all of us can send planes like Ron DeSantis did. But we can support them financially, with resources military and humanitarian, and we can support political steps against those who funded this death and destruction that broke the peace and started war. We can confront American academia that foments hate. And every one of us can offer prayer for the Jewish people, for the families, and for the fighters.
May their justice be swift, and their arrows fly true.
The Transom is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.