Jewish Americans are increasingly concerned about left-wing anti-Semitism –

Posted By on July 25, 2022

(July 24, 2022 / Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) The events surrounding the taking of hostages at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15 by Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British Pakistani armed with a pistol, received considerable attention and live coverage in the United States.

Following the escape of the hostages and the subsequent storming of the synagogue by law enforcementwhich resulted in the death of Akramdialogue and discussion ensued regarding issues of anti-Semitism in the United States, synagogue security and the Jewish communitys general sense of safety.

We undertook two simultaneously administered surveys of Jewish and non-Jewish Americans between February 1 and February 6, 2022, close enough to the Colleyville events for them to remain fresh in peoples memory and far enough away to allow for reflection and internalization of the ramifications of the experience.

Our data, on the whole, suggest the following:

The underlying trend in our data appears to show, in contrast to conventional wisdom and our previous research, an increased recognition that theideology of left-leaning sourcesspecifically woke ideology, and especially in the Jewish American samplebears some responsibility for anti-Semitism in the United States.What makes these data more convincing is that this behavior is not a shift away from blaming right-wing ideology and especially Trump-associated sources, but rather an expression of additional responsibility.

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This would be consistent with a recent study we conducted on U.S. campuses: Israeli campus professionals assessed that liberal and progressive groups represent the most significant source of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiment on campuses, rather than more conservative groups, who are viewed as generally supportive.

The relationship between Israel and the Jewish American community remains somewhat vague. While expressing general support for Israel, Jewish Americans still wish to exercise choice in distancing themselves when they disagree with Israeli policy or behavior. That alone may seem reasonable, but when combined with our data showing that most also see support for Israel as a reason for anti-Semitism, and a sizable minority (20%) do not equate anti-Israel behavior with anti-Semitic behaviora claim made by many anti-Israel organizations and individualswhat support actually means is unclear.

This finding is consistent with the conflict some see between support for Jewish nationalism in Israel, namely Zionism, and aversion to the concept of seeing Jews as a whole as a national identity, or as noted by James Loeffler, the obvious presence of Jewish nationalism in America coupled with the putative absence of a Jewish nation.

Gol Kalev touches on how anti-Jewish behavior is expressed today in his conceptualization of Judaism 3.0,where he posits the transformation of Judaism from a more religious element to a more national one (as in Zionism).As societies have evolved, so has the expression of anti-Jewish behavior. As Judaism has moved more into the national realm with the establishment of Israel, so has anti-Jewish behavior. Our data show that a sizable portion of people, including Jews, see a separation between anti-Jewish and anti-Israel behavior, even though a much lower amount calls for an unconditional separation from actual support for Israel.

So, it is possible to claim no apparent or stated objection to the Jewish religion while expressing anti-Jewish attitudes through objection to the Jewish national entity, namely Israel.By denying a Jewish connection to nationhood, one can declare immunity from charges of anti-Semitism. Both secularand religiousJewish and non-Jewish anti-Zionists have made and debated that claim.By institutionalizing the separation between religious and national definitions of Judaism, national-based anti-Jewish behavior is given a free pass and can claim not to be anti-Semitic, as we see in statements made by the BDS movement.

All this only amplifies the striking finding in our data regarding the widespread lack of awareness among Americans, including Jewish Americans, of any specific programs or efforts targeting anti-Semitism. This is despite the stated concern regarding anti-Semitism from Jewish organizations.While many Jewish and Israeli advocacy organizations claim to undertake these efforts, the impact on public consciousness remains low. We cannot offer a definitive explanation for why this is so, but one possibility that needs to be considered is that if such programs exist, they are not effectively applied in practice or carried out as efficiently as they should be.

As noted earlier, the interpretation of data is variable, but the data themselves are not. Our respondents were anonymous, which may account for the open expression of sentiment that is not always acceptable in some social circlesfor example, among those who may self-identify as liberal. Anonymity can sometimes create the opposite problem in survey research; for example, if group sentiment is present to intentionally mislead, as claimed in the case of Israeli elections. Our samples had no such motivation, and the consistency of their responses would lead one to conclude that they are, in fact, both valid and reliable. As such, this research is agnostic towards the data and ultimately apolitical, representing neither a right-wing nor left-wing orientation or analysis.

Irwin J. (Yitzchak) Mansdorf, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs specializing in political psychology.

This is an edited version of an article originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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Jewish Americans are increasingly concerned about left-wing anti-Semitism -

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