The New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, an excellent writer who describes herself as a secular Jew, is in a bind. She clearly has sympathy for the victims of anti-Semitism, but she’s also a Leftist, or at least a liberal. Since anti-Semitism in America is clearly more associated with the mainstream Left than the mainstream Right (I’m leaving out nutcases and white supremacists here), this makes it impossible for her to indict (or even mention) her own part of the political spectrum when discussing anti-Semitism. Get a load of Goldberg’s tap-dancing in her latest column:
Here’s where she pins the blame on people. Nothing is mentioned about the Left, but plenty about the Right. Bolding is mine:
The Anti-Defamation League this week released a report showing that in 2021, there were more antisemitic incidents in America than in any other year since the group started keeping track over 40 years ago. “We’ve never seen data like this before, ever,” Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the A.D.L., told me.
. . . Conservatives might be tempted to blame strident anti-Zionism, and that’s part of the story. Both the A.D.L. and researchers in Tel Aviv use a definition of antisemitism that can conflate it with anti-Zionism, concepts I think should be kept separate. It’s clearly antisemitic, however, when Israel’s enemies blame all Jews for the country’s treatment of the Palestinians. According to the A.D.L. report, of 2,717 antisemitic incidents in the United States last year, 345 involved references to Israel and Zionism. The examples detailed in the report aren’t ambiguous; they include Palestinian supporters pushing a man in a yarmulke into a glass window and yelling, “Die, Zionist!”
It’s a mistake to associate all of these 345 incidents with the left; 68 were “propaganda efforts by white supremacist groups to foment anti-Israel and antisemitic beliefs.” More broadly, right-wing extremism was behind 484 of all antisemitic incidents in the U.S. last year, 18 percent of the total.
Well, Ms. Goldberg, how many anti-semitic incidents were associated with the Left? She leaves us with no answer. Or rather, her answer is simply to ignore increasing anti-Semitism associated with the “progressive” Left, and natter on instead about Republicans, Trump, QAnon, and, in the end, on the fact that we’re a “sick society” (the election of Trump proves that) and that, combined with the pandemic, made people turn to social media. From there things went haywire, and—voilà—hatred of Jews escalated:
The radicalization of the Republican Party has helped white nationalism flourish. Antisemitism started increasing in 2015, when Donald Trump came on the political scene and electrified the far right, then spiked during his administration. Trump is now gone, but the Republican Party has grown more hospitable than ever to cranks and zealots. Two Republican members of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, spoke at a white nationalist conference this year.
The antisemitism of the QAnon conspiracy theory — always latent in its fantasies of elite blood-drinking cabals — has also become much more open. As the A.D.L. has reported, one of the most popular QAnon influencers, GhostEzra, “is an open Nazi who praises Hitler, admires the Third Reich and decries the supposedly treacherous nature of Jews.”
But for a huge number of antisemitic episodes, the political motive, if there is one, is illegible. According to Greenblatt, more than 80 percent of the incidents documented in the A.D.L. report “cannot be attributed to any specific extremist group or movement.” Much of the threat to Jews in America seems to come less from a distinct, particular ideology than from the broader cultural breakdown that’s leading to an increase in all manner of antisocial behavior, including shootings, airplane altercations, reckless driving and fights in school.
. . .So for Durkheim, wrote Goldberg, “antisemitism serves as a useful index of the health of society.”
Our society, clearly, is not healthy. It was unwell before the pandemic — a country that could elect Donald Trump is sick by definition — and is in much worse shape now. The pandemic and the accompanying changes in the way people live, work and go to school were wrenching and destabilizing. Isolated people turned to social media, which, as the Tel Aviv University report pointed out, abounded with conspiracy theories blaming Jews for spreading the coronavirus so they could profit from vaccines.
These conspiracy theories helped erode people’s faith in their leaders, which was already weakened by governments’ inevitable difficulties balancing shifting public health guidance with people’s need for autonomy and pleasure. Hate spread even as the unspoken restraints governing people’s conduct fell away. Besides being a crisis, escalating antisemitism is a warning: Things are falling apart.
Where, Ms. Goldberg, is the palpable fact that the progressive and vocal moiety of the Left has decided to see Palestinians as “people of color” and Jews as “white adjacent” colonist and oppressors? Yes, things are falling apart, and Jews are having a rougher time of it now than any time I remember, but it doesn’t help when Goldberg spends her whole time tiptoeing around the elephant in the room: her own side.
Of course conservatives and nativists play a role; and of course Jews are traditional scapegoats. But Ms. Goldberg seems to have forgotten the beam in her own eye—or her own party. This column is biased, superficial, and woefully incomplete.