In a speech to the Beth Am congregation in Los Altos Hills, California, on Friday evening, Joshua S. Block, CEO and President of The Israel Project, warned of the rise of far-left anti-Semitism, which he described as “cloaked in the language of progressive idealism and far more nuanced than traditional alt-right anti-Semitism.”
According to Block, “for most of us, there is a reflexive tendency to think about anti-Semitism as something that is propagated by the alt-right,” such as the march on Charlottesville last year. However, Block asked, “what happens when the hate comes from somewhere unexpected, somewhere much closer to home?”
This form of far-left anti-Semitism has a name, Block said. “Intersectionality is the radical academic theory which holds that all forms of social oppression are inexorably linked. It has become a code word for anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bigotry.”
For his claim, Block referenced several examples, including that of Palestinian anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour, an organizer of the Women’s March who recently said Muslims must not “humanize” Zionists.
“Imagine if Sarsour had made those comments about any other minority. The Left would be up in arms,” Block observed. “But because Jews are increasingly seen as persona non-grata among America’s far Left, Sarsour is celebrated as a heroine of the progressive movement.”
According to Block, “extreme anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments” have been parachuted “from the obscure fringes of the political spectrum into the mainstream,” not least by far-left movement such as the Labour Party in the United Kingdom under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. “That virus has already reached the shores of the United States and is metastasizing rapidly,” Block noted.
“As a life-long Democrat and someone who considers himself a progressive, I am offended by the way in which my progressive ideals have been hijacked by anti-Semites,” he said. “I am also alarmed that candidates espousing such views are climbing the ranks within a party which, historically, has been the natural political home of Jews.”
Block charged he was not exaggerating when pointing to the spike in far-left anti-Semitism. Instead, he referenced more examples of far-left anti-Israel activists in the progressive movement. Ilhan Omar, a Democratic representative in Minnesota’s House of Representatives, wrote on social media that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Omar is set to win a U.S. congressional seat in November.
Challenging the audience to think about what he just mapped out, Block asked: “How many of you were more disturbed by President Trump’s silence in the wake of Charlottesville then you were at finding out that two leaders of the Washington Women’s March – Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory – are hardcore anti-Semites who despise Israel?”
He admitted that it’s “an uncomfortable question, but it needs to be asked because our enemies on both the left and the right would like nothing more than to see us fight amongst ourselves. It’s called divide and conquer, and it’s happening right before our very eyes.”
Block concluded by stressing that “The U.S.-Israel relationship works because of shared values, shared interests and a bipartisan consensus that Israel is an important friend and ally.” It’s a fact, Block urged, that the Jewish community in the United States must honor regardless of political views.
“There is only one Israel and we don’t get the luxury of being supportive one year and not the next,” he said. “Half or more of the Israeli public voted against Netanyahu, and yet Israel still needs foreign aid, still needs Iron Dome to protect its population against rocket and missile attacks, and still needs our support at the UN to counter the world body’s relentless attacks against the Jewish State.”
“This trend can’t be allowed to continue,” Block said. “Make no mistake, this is a war for the soul of the progressive movement.”
The video of Block’s sermon can be viewed here. A complete recording of the sermon is embedded below.
[Photo: Congregation Beth Am / Vimeo ]