September 28, 2015

JOEL KOTKIN: Jews finding less comfort on the Left.

Jews are a contradictory people. Overall, achievement-oriented and very capitalistic, Jewish educational and self-employment statistics are among the highest for any religious group. They are also politically powerful; amounting to roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population – half their percentage a half century ago – Jews account for nine of 100 U.S. senators and 19 of 435 members of the House.

Yet if Jews have achieved significant economic and political power, they have done so primarily as Democrats. Only one of the 28 Jews in Congress is a Republican – Lee Zeldin from New York’s Long Island – and the one independent, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, is enough of a Democrat to be running, with surprising success, for that party’s presidential nomination. . . .

But, in recent years, anti-Semitism and, particularly, anti-Zionism have shifted ever more to the Left. Over a decade ago, my wife and I visited Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, the famed French Nazi hunters, at their Paris office. Although they expressed concern about the traditional anti-Semitism of Jean Marie Le Pen’s National Front party, they were more alarmed about a rising new virulent strain from a combination of Islamic and left-leaning sources.

The massive movement of Muslims into Europe – now accelerating into a tsunamic wave – is accelerating these trends. The European Left, long enamored of radicals from the developing world, increasingly adopts the notion that Israel represents the ultimate political atrocity.

The most obvious manifestation now is the powerful drive to force European universities to divest themselves of investments in Israeli companies and even ban Israeli academics. This is occurring even though Israel, with all its many imperfections, is by far the most democratic, feminist and gay-tolerant country in that exceedingly bad neighborhood.

It’s hard not to see anti-Semitic ideas in this assault.

Well, that’s because they’re, you know, right there. I’m surprised that it’s taken so long for Jews to catch on. But, then, to see what is in front of one’s nose takes constant struggle.

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