Alex Chalmers, who resigned publicly as the head of the Oxford University Labour Club last month, has now provided additional insight to the issue of antisemitism in the British left, writing Monday in The New Statesman,
In a way, the antisemitic incidents I witnessed in OULC are less troubling than the culture which allowed such behaviour to become normalised. It is common to encounter antisemitic individuals in all walks of life, but the mass turning of a blind eye that has come to characterise vast parts of the Left is chilling. As antisemites can double up as vocal critics of Israel, there is a marked tendency on the left to view them as fellow travellers whose hearts are in the right place – so their rhetoric passes the test of social acceptability. . . .
Discourse in student politics these days is increasingly dominated by the twin themes of welfare and liberation. Whilst this can have its benefits, a certain double standard has emerged, where the welfare of every potentially disadvantaged group is taken more seriously than that of Jewish students. There is a prevailing, and I believe correct, belief that if someone comes forward claiming to have been the victim of discrimination we should be, at least initially, sympathetic and inclined to believe them. This belief, however, does not extend to Jewish students and antisemitism. Those brave enough to come forward and describe their experiences are immediately assumed by many to have some kind of ‘agenda’. When OULC was debating Israel Apartheid Week, one brave Jewish student tried to explain her concerns but on beginning her sentence with ‘as a Jewish student’, one person in the room rolled their eyes and muttered ‘of course’. Another Jewish student privately told me that they often had to exaggerate the extent to which they were critical of Israel just so that they could feel accepted in left-wing spaces.
This “mass turning of a blind eye” that Chalmers has described appears to have allowed the British left to become thoroughly overtaken with antisemitism. This was illustrated most vividly last fall by the election a man who calls Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” to head the Labour party.
Frighteningly, the American left is showing signs that it is beginning to head down the same path.
Vassar student Jason Storch wrote in The Forward about the bullying of Jewish students during Vassar’s vote earlier this month on a BDS resolution,
Most disturbingly, students who raised concerns about the effects of the unending BDS campaign on Vassar’s Jewish community were heckled and laughed at. One Jewish student talked about how the BDS campaign had invoked every anxiety nightmare she had ever had. She was crying as she spoke. Pro-BDS students laughed at her.
Although the antisemitic mob that shut down the Jerusalem Open House event at the Creating Change conference was mostly condemned, not one but two left wing publications saw fit to publish defenses of the protest there. Even more disturbing, a new report from the Amcha Initiative shows a marked increase in antisemitism on college campuses, as well as a solid link between the BDS movement and antisemitism. At the same time, some left-wing pundits and media outlets promote the demonization of Israel.
Just as in the UK, the mainstream of the American left turns a blind eye to the antisemitism on the fringes, and at times even encourages it. Bernie Sanders appears to have caved to pressure from Jewish antisemite Max Blumenthal to skip this year’s AIPAC convention — making him the only Presidential candidate to do so. Hillary Clinton’s close relationship with Sidney Blumenthal can’t be denied, and her praise for Max Blumenthal’s writing shows a disturbing tolerance for antisemitism. Both former Obama staffer Dennis Ross and professional Obama sycophant Jeffrey Goldberg have confirmed that Obama has held Israel to a double standard. Last spring, in Commentary Magazine, Noah Pollak detailed the many times that Obama has demonized the Jewish state while turning a blind eye to Palestinian Arab intransigence.
If Democratic party leaders fail to call out rabid antisemitism on the far left, it will not remain confined to the far left for long. The American left has a decision to make – will it allow itself to go the way of the UK Labour party? Regardless of who the nominee is, and regardless of who wins the Presidency, the next leader of the Democratic party will have to make the choice.