Jews Get Kicked Out of the Progressive Club


Caitlin Ochs/Reuters


After a while, it became a parody worthy of classic comedy skits: the Biden administration’s reflexive need to launch into a condemnation of “Islamophobia” every time the discomfiting topic of antisemitism came up — which, you may have noticed, it does quite a bit these days.

Progressives hate antisemitism. Not, unfortunately, the concept . . . the word. It holds a mirror up to their internal contradictions.

Jews have been among the most consequential, cutting-edge progressives in history. A few months back, I reviewed Democratic Justice, Brad Snyder’s biography of Felix Frankfurter, who may have been as responsible for forging the dominance of American progressivism as Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president he zealously served. Alas, Frankfurter would not be welcome today in what’s become of his movement — not least because of another project on which he collaborated with his mentor and fellow Supreme Court justice, Louis Brandeis: Zionism. That project is anathema to today’s progressives. It honors the old order and the uniqueness of a people reified in their ancestral homeland, one in which they dwelled for millennia — before Islam existed and, 14 centuries later, the notion of “Palestinians” was conceived.

Moreover, to highlight antisemitism is intolerably inconvenient to the collaboration of highest priority for modern progressives: Their partnership with sharia supremacists — so-called Islamists, adherents to “political Islam.”

I wrote a book in 2010 about the Muslim Brotherhood in the West: The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. The terms “grand jihad” and “sabotage” were taken from an internal Brotherhood strategy memorandum in which the organization explicitly described its “work in America” as “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within” by “sabotaging” it. The Brotherhood envisioned that this sabotage would be carried out by its agents with the cooperation of their sympathizers in America and the West. Those sympathizers are on the political Left — progressives.

Ostensibly, it’s an unlikely partnership: Sharia supremacists despise many signal progressive causes — e.g., abortion, equality for women, civil rights for homosexuals, and “gender fluidity.” (How long do you figure the “activists” waving their “Queers for Palestine” placards would actually last in Gaza?) And it seems odd for progressives, infamously intolerant of religious liberty, to make common cause with unabashed theocrats who would impose on society a systematically discriminatory legal code enforced by barbaric punishments — of the terrorizing kind that, not coincidentally, the Brotherhood’s Hamas jihadists inflicted on Israeli men, women, and children on October 7.

But let’s dig deeper. The ne plus ultra for sharia supremacists and leftists is the extirpation of the established order. Yes, they have very different ideas about what should replace that order; but that’s an argument for later (at which point progressives would find themselves in the unenviable position of the appeaser after the crocodile is done devouring everyone else). For now, it is a marriage of convenience, a joint war of conquest against Western civilization.

Marriages of convenience are not big on commitment and loyalty. Hence, Jews — predominantly on the left, with legions of stalwart progressives who would as reflexively rebuke Islamophobia as any good Democrat — have become a casualty of that war.

The sharia-supremacist hatred of Jews is doctrinal. As the Hamas Charter relates, Islamic eschatology is consumed by an end-of-times war in which even trees and stones will help Muslims kill their mortal enemies, the Jews. The Islamic claim on the land “from the River to the Sea” also stems from scripture: Mohammed’s night ride from Mecca to Jerusalem and on to heaven. And Muslim scripture further holds that Islam’s prophet died upon being poisoned to death by a Jewish woman.

This is all very uncomfy for progressives. They really don’t do doctrine, let alone submit — or at least allow themselves to appear to be submitting — to religious doctrine. Thus must they engage in euphemistic games to sidestep reality.

You damn well know that Representative Rashida Tlaib (D., Of Course) knows exactly what “from the River to the Sea” means: the eradication of the Jewish state. But she’s willing to engage in mendacious airbrushing of this battle cry — “an aspirational call for freedom” — for the greater good of smoothing things over with progressives so they can all get back to the business of eradicating the Jewish state.

This is of a piece with the Clinton and Obama administrations’ machinations over the concept of jihad. (I don’t mean to suggest that Bush-43 officials were unpracticed in such dissembling, but for them it was more an impulse than a commitment.) Jihad, a pillar of Islam drawn from scripture, has always meant holy war: jihad fi sabilallah, forcible struggle in the cause of Allah, which cause is to put all of humanity under the dominion of sharia, Allah’s law. Yet, even as the jihad raged through decades of attacks and thousands killed, with the jihadists telling us exactly what they were doing and why, progressives insisted that the “modern” and “more accurate” interpretation of jihad was: an internal struggle to become a better person (“to purify oneself or one’s community,” as Obama’s top intelligence guy, John Brennan, put it).

Even this was a distortion. To the extent there is anything to this distinction between the “greater” and “lesser” jihad — i.e., the internal personal struggle versus the communal ummah’s forcible struggle — it is in a strictly Islamic context. That is, the supposedly “greater” jihad, the internal struggle, is not about becoming a better person; it is about becoming a better, more sharia-compliant Muslim — a very different thing.

Still, this distortion is telling. As they reject the immutability of human nature and the established order it undergirds, progressives need to tell themselves that their allies are compatible. They would thus have us — and themselves — see jihad as the pursuit of a more perfect world, a utopia in which all people and what’s left of cultures share the same conception of the good. Let’s not tarry over the occasional, regrettable excesses — such as mass-murder attacks in which captive women are raped, their babies slaughtered, and their children taken hostage.

Of course, this conceit about a universal conception of human flourishing is a false premise. Ergo, the conception (or someone’s vision of it) will never develop on its own; it has to be imposed. That calls for overthrowing the existing order. That is the basis for the alliance of Islamic fundamentalists and leftists.

To sustain the alliance, something had to give. That something is Jews. For sharia supremacists, Jews are implacably the enemy. For progressives, Jews have proved expendable. For a long time, progressives tried to paper over their problem, for the sake of retaining progressive Jews, with claptrap about how the Left’s championing of “the Palestinian cause” was a reflection of anti-Zionism, not antisemitism. But this was always risible. When the jihadists I prosecuted in the 1990s talked about bombing Manhattan’s diamond district, it had nothing to do with Zionism; it was about killing Jews, which they took to be a divinely decreed duty.

Even as they cast their erstwhile Jewish allies to the side, progressives need to tell themselves that they are not in the thrall of a hateful ideology with doctrinal roots. In the Obama-Biden administration, this was done by reimagining national security. No longer would our strategy be called “counterterrorism”; it was now “countering violent extremism.”

The word “terrorism” — like “jihad,” like “mujahideen” — was suppressed. Not only had it become synonymous with jihadist attacks; the connection between fundamentalist Muslims and terrorism was doctrinal. The Quran, as sharia-supremacist scholars frequently pointed out, commands Muslims to strike terror into the hearts of Allah’s enemies. Hamas’s unspeakable October 7 acts were not a matter of jihadists getting carried away in the heat of battle; terror is a strategy, the quite intentional application of cruelty by which jihadists break their enemies’ will.

But Obama and Biden wanted no focus on the beliefs and motivations of their sharia-supremacist allies. Therefore, allusions to terrorism and ideology were out, supplanted by “violent extremism.” This is the vapid notion that no creed is to blame for repeated mass-murder attacks that just happened to be executed by Muslims. Instead, it’s all random: Any set of ideas taken to the extreme could cause violence. Henceforth, the only “dangerous” beliefs about which progressives would tolerate discussion were constitutional conservatism and American traditionalism with its Judeo-Christian roots. To this day, these are depicted as white supremacism, colonialism, and the true catalysts of “domestic terrorism” (the only approved usage of the T-word).

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The left is good about using people and discarding them when they are no longer of use to them. The problem here is, they don’t realize they are being used and won’t till it’s too late. Like in Nazi Germany, the industrialists thought they could “use” Hitler. Every time some group makes that miscalculation, millions die.

History does repeat itself regardless of the effort to prevent it.