Left-wing European antisemitism, anti-Zionism on the rise – report

Left-wing European antisemitism, anti-Zionism on the rise – report

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report warning about the threat to Jews from the left wing in Europe. The report, titled “Antisemitism and Radical Anti-Israel Bias on the Political Left in Europe,” assessed developments in four countries:  France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. 

“There’s no doubt that the anti-Zionist rhetoric and terminology popular in European left circles are increasingly being adopted and exploited by some in the U.S. political far left,” said Marina Rosenberg, ADL Senior Vice President of International Affairs. “While antisemitism from individuals associated with left-leaning political organizations is generally less violent than the threat of right-wing antisemitism, its increasing penetration into the political mainstream is deeply concerning.”

The ADL report provides new insights into how anti-Israel actions and calls for the application of BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) against Israel are increasingly common in leftist political circles in Europe. Their rhetoric influences draw inspiration from some left-leaning activist movements in the US. 

Some of the common antisemitic themes were claims that Jewish cabals control politics and media; Holocaust trivialization; equating Israel with the Nazi regime; and the false charge that accusations of antisemitism are used to silence criticism of Israel.

“This analysis highlights the need for the American Jewish community and supporters of Israel more broadly to pay close attention to the trends happening in Europe and to remain alert to the potential for them to spread,” said Rosenberg. “This is especially true when it comes to anti-Israel trends and anti-Zionism, where we have seen a blurring of the lines between attacks on Israel and attacks on Jews and Jewish identity.”

The report included contributions from The Community Security Trust, “K., The Jews, Europe, the 21st Century” magazine, Amadeu Antonio Foundation, and ACOM. 

The report noted that antisemitism in the form of left-wing anti-Zionism is growing. Left-wing Anti-Zionism “rejects the Jewish right to self-determination and of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, and frequently employs antisemitic tropes to attack Israel and its supporters”. It noted that this form of antisemitism was prevalent in the British Labour Party. 

The report also noted that France faced “centuries-old far-right antisemitism and decades-old Islamist antisemitism” as well as “growing left-wing antisemitism that includes both anti-Zionism and traditional antisemitism.” This political movement is based on Soviet communism as a more recent anti-imperialism that portrays Israel as a foreign oppressor. 

“Holocaust distortion can also be found on the political left,” the report noted. “Anti-Zionists argue that Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians are based on Nazi persecution of Jews and even accuse Israel of perpetrating genocide against the Palestinians…Alongside this memory competition, another trend on the left is to compare pre-WWII antisemitism with the discrimination suffered by Muslims today in France.”

Jews are portrayed as non-whites who achieved “privilege” by mimicking whites. 

In Germany, Israel-centred antisemitism is a major contributor to the normalization of antisemitism, making it difficult to combat the phenomenon in general,” the report claimed. “Most social circles are quick to denounce traditional forms of antisemitism, but not Israel-centred antisemitism. Among left-leaning political circles in Germany, it is common to hear that Israel is the mastermind behind various conspiratorial actions. Also, there are attempts to compare Israel directly with National Socialism to reverse the state’s role from victim to perpetrator, thereby exonerating those guilty of antisemitism. For some on Germany’s political left, Israel is always at fault.”

The report seems to break with ADL’s agenda, which many have accused of being unabashedly left-wing. The ADL  was founded in 1913 to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people.” Its website now describes itself as “a nonpartisan organization that fights antisemitism, extremism, and all forms of hate regardless of ideology or party.”  The organization has been criticized for having a left-wing political bias, a criticism it attempts to deflect on its website.  It should be noted that its current president, Jonathan Greenblatt, served as Special Assistant to President Barack Obama. Greenblatt worked on Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign in 1992 and went on to join the administration as an aide in the Clinton White House. 

An op-ed in the New York Post in 2016 accused the ADL of becoming “another J Street — an arm of the Democratic Party’s stable of pressure groups.”

Jonathan Tobin wrote in JNS last year that the school curricula being distributed by the Anti-Defamation League as part of their anti-hate programs are filled with extreme left-wing critical race theory teachings. 

Influence Watch wrote, “The ADL has faced criticisms that it applies a double standard in its analysis of antisemitism by focusing its efforts against political conservatives.4 It has also been criticized for aligning with left-leaning groups such as the Black Lives Matter movement, whose membership has espoused antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric.”

The article continued by noting that the ADL is “a frequent and vociferous critic of Donald Trump,” and “has taken a number of partisan political positions that conservatives argue misuse the organization’s nonpartisan watchdog history and inappropriately place the organization at odds with politically conservative American Jews.”

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