There’s a thin line between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism. That’s true of Muslims and the left, but it’s also true specifically of the Jewish left, whose hatred for Israel manifests itself in a general contempt for Jewish religion, culture and tradition. Take the Jewbags case of Danielle Gilbert, a staffer for Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz who had been appointed the DNC’s Jewish outreach liaison. In a social media mishap, Gilbert posed along with her friends in a photo that she captioned “JEWBAGS”…
Gilbert in the West Bank
…and that a friend of hers captioned as “Jew cash money team.” This is the sort of incident that the hip crowd that thinks Heeb is a great name for a magazine and Jewcan Sam is hilarious will laugh off. But it’s hardly the most offensive thing about Gilbert from a Jewish perspective. It’s just a symptom of the problem.
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has long been associated with J-Street, the Anti-Israel group, which has repeatedly worked to undermine Israel’s fight against terrorism through a campaign of deception. When a delegation from J Street arrived at Schultz’s office last year, they were received by Danielle Gilbert who posed with them for a photo. That wasn’t the limit of Gilbert’s involvement with J Street.
Danielle Gilbert’s twitter feed suggests that she attended the J Street conference and she retweeted a call from the Anti-Israel group to freeze “settlements”. Gilbert’s own Anti-Israel background isn’t casual. She attended the London School of Economics and Political Science and while there was part of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism.
Even before going to Yale, Gilbert had volunteered at Givat Haviva, a leftist group dedicated to Muslim pro-terrorist activism. Givat Haviva had a presence at the J-Street conference and has its roots in Kibbutz Artzi, which was far enough to the left that it identified closely with the Soviet Union and its leader eulogized Stalin who had engaged in the mass murder of Jews. The roots of Givat Haviva lie with Artzi’s Arab Department whose goal was a one state solution.
Ilan Pappe founded and ran the Academic Institute for Peace in Givat Haviva. Pappe is a former member of Hadash, the Arab-Israeli Communist party, who supports the destruction of Israel via a One State Solution. An article on the Givat Haviva website features a photo of Danielle Gilbert with one of her friends, who writes about his support for the One State Solution.
Through Givat Haviva, Gilbert conducted interviews with the residents of the Muslim Bartaa village which straddles the Green Line and has become a cause celebre for the Anti-Israel left. Since then she has been a Jeremiah Fellow at Jews United for Justice, another left-wing group, which also participated in the J Street conference, and whose board members intersect with a number of Anti-Israel groups.
Gilbert with J Street members
In 2008, Gilbert wrote, “We cannot see Mumbai’s events as anything less than the gruesome epitome of systematic terror. However, such a tragedy rightly makes us question our unequal treatment of minority cultures within larger communities,” shifting easily to calling the brutal murder of the Holtzberg family and countless Indians by Muslims a “tragedy” that serves to call attention to Muslim suffering.
For Jews there is far more to be offended by in that than in Gilbert’s use of a Jewish slur. There is also far more to be offended by in the fact that the DNC chose to elevate a woman aligned with J Street and that she then elevated someone like Danielle Gilbert to conduct outreach to the people they no doubt fondly think of as the “Jewbags”.
If you want to understand why Obama thought he could treat Jews with such contempt, you have to remember that he thought Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was a normative figure and Schultz thought that Gilbert was a normative figure. In that echo chamber, a radical group like J Street seems mainstream and Gilbert’s behavior seems equally mainstream.
Gilbert’s politics and contempt for the Jewish people make her completely unsuitable to act as any kind of liaison to the Jewish community. And yet Danielle Gilbert is not extraordinary. There are plenty of Jewish boys and girls in D.C. with the same privileged background, the same formal trips to Israel giving way uglier detours, foreign policy fellowships and eventually a place in a left-wing think tank or in more mainstream politics. These are the people who show up to listen to J Street panels, break bread with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and denounce Israel. They are as banal as they are despicable.
In the last four years the Democratic Party has hardly bothered hiding its contempt for ordinary Americans. The same is true for the Jewish left which is hardly masking its contempt for the Jewish people anymore. This is not a new phenomenon, it dates back to the late 19th century, and the venom with which the Jewish left assailed the Jewish people eventually ended in the Gulags. Those who survived earned the privilege of participating in the Soviet Union’s campaign to smear Israel.
The Post-Jewish left mirrors the Post-American left in its disdain for its roots and its radical and destructive identity. Its promotion of a counter-Jewish identity based on ridiculing Jewishness and hostility to Israel is once again splitting the Jewish community into two camps. By elevating Schultz, Gilbert and J-Street, the left is asserting its power to define what being Jewish means. The backlash to them is a reminder that the left does not have the power that it thinks it does.
Jewish Anti-Semitism is a very real phenomenon, but it’s not self-hatred, no more so than Bill Ayers’ desire to destroy America is self-hatred. The essence of the left is the rejection of the past in a perpetual war for a better future. The very nature of Jewish identity is built on a continuity of tradition and the nature of the left is to fly its progressive colors by showing contempt for tradition. There can be no balance between the two because to choose the one is to reject the other.
The more the Democratic Party moves in tune with the left, the more it mirrors the bigotry of European leftist parties toward Jews and Israel. This is an inescapable process and the further left the party goes, the more Anti-Semitic it will become. It will still have plenty of Jewish members, but that means very little. The Communist Party had quite a few Jewish members. So did Mussolini’s National Fascist Party. Had Jews been allowed to join the Nazi Party, it would have had them too.
To join the left is to fragment your existing identity, whether it is Jewish or Christian, American or Australian, and adopt a new form of identity. The further the extreme, the greater the fragmentation becomes. Push harder and you go from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to Peter Beinart to Gilad Atzmon. It’s a slippery slope greased with lies and self-deceptions that ends at the bottom of a charnel pit, a gulag, a death camp or a terrorist training camp.
The truly committed progressive sooner or later realizes that for the sake of the consistency of his new identity, he must kill that part of himself which is Jewish. He may kill it with tantrums of hate, with long essays questioning the nature of Jewish identity, with J-Street conferences or Jewbag jokes. The details of every suicide are unique and also uninteresting, and the conclusion is a leftist mind in a Jewish body.
Like every other form of Anti-Semitism, Jewish Anti-Semitism should be defied and exposed for what it is. It should not be tolerated or allowed to become normative. Instead it should be exposed foe what it is, the bigotry of those who have chosen the left and chosen to hate.