The New, New Antisemitism

The old antisemitism was more a right-wing than a left-wing phenomenon—perhaps best personified by the now-withered Ku Klux Klan.

A new antisemitism followed from the campus leftism of the 1960s. It arose from and was masked by a general hatred of Israel, following the Jewish state’s incredible victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. 

That lopsided triumph globally transformed Israel in the leftist mind from a David fighting the Arab Goliath into a veritable Western imperialist, neocolonialist overdog. 

On campuses, Middle-East activism, course instruction, and faculty profiles are now virulently anti-Israel—and indistinguishable from anti-Jewishness. 

When columnist Ben Shapiro spoke at Stanford University in 2019, left-wing posters were plastered around campus depicting Shapiro as an insect menace. A “BenBGon” bug spray bottle in Nazi fashion unsubtly suggested that a chemical agent is the best remedy to make sure Jews “be gone” from the premises. 

The avowed socialist Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) retweeted the old propaganda boast, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” 

Tlaib knew well “to the sea” could mean only the extinction of Israel itself and its 9 million Jews. She deleted her tweet—but only after an outcry of protest. 

Anti-Zionists and leftist Palestinian activists Linda Sarsour and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)—“it’s all about the Benjamins”—often made no effort to hide their antisemitism. 

Yet now a dangerous new, new antisemitism is trending, predominantly among African-Americans—especially prominent politicians, celebrities, and billionaires. 

The old trope that blacks inordinately were prejudiced against Jews due to past inner-city stereotypes of exploiting Jewish landlords has been recalibrated. It is now repackaged by black elites claiming that their careers are overly profitable to and orchestrated by “the Jews.”

It has been difficult to find any major black leader who has not trafficked in antisemitism, whether Jesse Jackson (“Hymietown”), Al Sharpton (“tell them to pin their yarmulkes back”), Louis Farrakhan (“gutter religion”), or Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright (“Them Jews”). 

Yet what is different about the new, new antisemitism is the open defiance, often even or especially when exposed. 

Kayne West was met with pushback after warning, “I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.” Yet he trumped that by soon praising Adolf Hitler. 

The Black Hebrew movement absurdly claims blacks are the real Biblical Jews, Jews the imposters. Black Lives Matter clumsily disguised its antisemitism when claiming Israelis were committing mass genocide in the Middle East.

When novelist Alice Walker was chastised for praising virulent antisemite David Icke (he claimed that Jews formed a cabal of “lizard people”), she too was unremorseful. Walker retorted that Icke was “brave” for publishing his nutty rants. 

Rappers from Public Enemy and Ice Cube to Jay-Z and Kanye West all spouted anti-Jewish venom. And billionaires, from the late Michael Jackson to LeBron James, dabbled in antisemitic talk, the first in lines from lyrics, the second in retweets. 

In the hate-crime statistics, blacks as perpetrators are overrepresented, and, as victims, Jews and Asians are overrepresented. “Knock out the Jew” occasionally resurfaces as a common sport among New York city black youth.

In our “woke” age, race is seen as an indemnity policy for any self-described victim. Thus even elite blacks, as the still oppressed, cannot be seen as oppressors against “white” Jews. 

Wokeism’s competitive victimization often embraces Holocaust denial. That way, the systematic slaughter of 6 million Jews in industrial fashion does not overshadow the need for a reparatory legacy to atone for slavery and Jim Crow. 

When Whoopi Goldberg claimed the Holocaust was not about race and was, for a while, suspended from her morning chat show, she only temporarily apologized. Goldberg this week returned to claiming that the Holocaust was only a crime by white people against white people.

In her ignorance, she was oblivious that Hitler and the Nazis did not believe Jews to be fully human at all.

Among black elites in professional sports and entertainment, the belief that Jews inordinately are represented as agents, executives, or commissioners is considered proof of exploitation—and often ridiculously reduced to master-slave psychodramas. 

Marquee professional athletes like Kyrie Irving, DeShawn Jackson, and the retired Stephen Jackson only reluctantly backed off their blatant anti-Jewish messaging.

Apparently, if the athletes of the NFL and NBA are approximately 60 percent or more African American, then they are merely diverse. But if Jews in the entertainment and sport hierarchies appear more frequently than their 2.4 percent demographic, then as a “cabal” they supposedly pose a threat to black livelihoods. 

Black antisemitism is spreading in strange, dangerous ways. 

Why? Woke orthodoxy offers cover by insisting supposed victims can never be victimizers. A leftist-dominated media hides or contextualizes the hatreds promulgated by its own constituents. 

Jewish-American groups remain predominately liberal. And too often, they conveniently overlook black antisemitism, given the demands of left-wing intersectional solidarity. 

So, expect the new, new antisemitism to grow more common—and more toxic.

About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump and the newly released The Dying Citizen.

Photo: MEGA/GC Images via Getty Images

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