by JENNIFER SEY
In 2020, amidst covid lockdowns and BLM rallies turned riots, anti-racism became akin to religious fanaticism. Every problem the country was confronted with came to be viewed in a black (good) vs. white (bad) binary by nearly all Democrats, the press and most of corporate America. My company was no exception.
Antisemitism has been a key tenet of this new reductionist, devoid-of-history “progressive” view of the world since its inception. Albeit not spoken so loudly and clearly as it is right now.
At Levi’s, where I was the Brand President at the time, we were all busy frantically announcing and denouncing our racism, unburdening ourselves of this wrenching guilt, and doing “the work” which apparently meant posting black squares on Instagram.
And demanding the firing of a gay fashion blogger who also happened to be Israeli.
Why? Because Jews are white. And not just white, but super white. Therefore, our very existence is oppressive violence.
In June 2021, I received an email from a senior executive in the company, a peer. He told me an employee on his team was concerned about an “influencer” we were using in a campaign, considering him out of step with the values of the company. According to the employee, this social media star had expressed “violence” in his posts and the employee was very concerned that we would associate our brand with him. The employee lodging the complaint did not name names, so I was left to sleuth a bit to figure out what he was talking about.
It took some digging. We employed hundreds of social media stars to endorse our products. I searched Instagram and Facebook. I found nothing. I switched over to Twitter, a platform we rarely used but I thought I’d try. And there, I found him. Or what I assumed had to be him by process of elimination.
All of our influencers just posted about jeans or being authentic, in keeping with the brand. And so, all I could come up with was a gay fashion blogger from New York who was also Israeli. He had Jewish stars and Israeli flags in his profile. Outside of those signifiers, he really didn’t say much about being Israeli or Jewish. He mostly posted about fashion and being a member of the LGBTQ community.
It took my breath away. I felt panicked. Could that be it? It had to be. The fact that he expressed support for the right of Israel, his native country, to exist was violence, according to some.
The antisemitism of the Left, which puts Jews in the “white/oppressor” category had been nagging at me for years. In the woke racial pecking order, Jews are the most oppressive, supposedly because they have outsized money, power and influence (an antisemitic trope). Jews do not deserve sympathy and they certainly do not deserve the status that comes from victimhood. They don’t even deserve to be viewed as human. Their mere existence is violence, according to anti-racism ideology.
To some, like Whoopi Goldberg, this orientation involves reinventing history. For Goldberg, the Holocaust was not an ethnic cleansing at all. It was just a bunch of white people arguing with each other. On The View, in February 2022, Goldberg insisted that the Holocaust was “not about race” it’s just “white people doing it to white people, so y’all going to fight amongst yourselves.” The line of thinking here: Jews are rich and white and can never be oppressed, only oppressors, therefore the Holocaust was not about Jewish genocide.
This dynamic had started to roil me in the summer of 2017 when a group of Jewish women were ousted from the Dyke March in Chicago. Women carrying a rainbow flag adorned with a star of David were asked to leave by the parade’s organizers. The organizers claimed that it wasn’t antisemitism that made them do it; it was anti-Zionism.
But the Pride marchers’ rainbow flag was adorned with a star of David, meant to represent their Jewish heritage. It was not an Israeli flag.
No matter. They were forced to leave because “intersectionalism” or something.
These aren’t isolated incidents. The contemporary Left is rife with antisemitism. Including in government.
Take Ilhan Omar, the member of Congress from the fifth district of Minnesota, who says things like: “It’s all about the Benjamins” when responding to a journalist’s question in 2019 about why U.S. political leaders support Israel. Her inference being: there is no good reason for the United States to support Israel. It is only done because the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) buys influence.
Not because Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and shares many of our values including women’s and LGBTQ equality and a democratically elected government.
The idea that no person, no country could possibly support Israel and the only ones who do are grifters in it for the money, is yet another antisemitic trope.
Further evidence of the antisemitism on the Left has been the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement. In May 2021, the United Educators of San Francisco, the city’s teachers’ union, announced its support of BDS, when the majority of students were still doing Zoom school from their bedrooms. They were the first K-12 teachers’ union in the country to make such a pronouncement.
Why not announce a boycott of Chinese-made goods? It is widely known and reported on that the Chinese government is engaged in human rights abuses of ethnic Muslims in China, the Uyghurs. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has pursued a policy of mass incarceration of more than one million Uyghurs with no legal due process. Why doesn’t the San Francisco teachers’ union announce a boycott of anything coming out of China, like iPhones and Nikes, because of these human rights abuses?
Why? Because criticism of China is considered racist because Chinese people are not white. But criticism of Jewish people, and boycotts of Israel, are laudable by many on the Left, because Jews are considered to be white, therefore privileged. And it is impossible to discriminate against privileged white people. And of course, once again, there is antisemitism.