On Tuesday evening, I was drinking on the porch of my friend and neighbor Misha Shulman, the Israel-born rabbi of a progressive New York synagogue called the New Shul. All day, he’d been on the phone with congregants deeply distraught over the massacres and mass kidnappings in Israel. Of all the people he spoke to, he said, those most devastated were either people who had lost close friends or family, or young Jews “completely shattered by the response of their lefty friends in New York,” who were either justifying Hamas’s atrocities or celebrating them outright.
This sense of deep betrayal is not limited to New York. Many progressive Jews have been profoundly shaken by the way some on the left are treating the terrorist mass murder of civilians as noble acts of anticolonial resistance. These are Jews who share the left’s abhorrence of the occupation of Gaza and of the enormities inflicted on it, which are only going to get worse if and when Israel invades. But the way keyboard radicals have condoned war crimes against Israelis has left many progressive Jews alienated from political communities they thought were their own.
By now, you’ve probably seen examples. There was the giddy message put out by the national committee of Students for Justice in Palestine, which proclaimed, “Today, we witness a historic win for the Palestinian resistance: across land, air and sea.” New York’s chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America promoted a rally where speakers applauded the attacks, and the Connecticut D.S.A. enthused, “Yesterday, the Palestinian resistance launched an unprecedented anticolonial struggle.” The president of N.Y.U.’s student bar association wrote in its newsletter, “I will not condemn Palestinian resistance,” leading to the withdrawal of a job offer. Over the otherwise benign slogan “I stand with Palestine,” Black Lives Matter Chicago posted a photo of a figure in a paraglider like those Hamas used to descend on a desert rave and turn it into a killing field.
“I think what surprised me most was the indifference to human suffering,” said Joshua Leifer, a contributing editor at the left-wing magazine Jewish Currents and a member of the editorial board at the progressive publication Dissent.
“I’m trying to hold on, personally, to my commitments, my values, which now feel in conflict, in a way, with the political community that I lived alongside in the United States for basically my whole adult life,” he said. “It certainly has begun to feel like a breaking point.” [Continue reading…]