“Antisemitism” as Ideology

“To Combat Antisemitism, Understand Its Variety,” urges Gary Saul Morson on the pages of the Wall Street Journal in a January 17, 2024 article. The Dostoyevsky scholar fully appreciates that words are weapons, and “antisemitism,” whose ubiquity far exceeds its clarity, is among the deadliest. Ample media coverage corroborates surveys which indicate that globally, “antisemitic rhetoric has become significantly more ‘in vogue’ since the October 7 attacks.” Significant indeed: from September to October 2023, it rose a staggering 1800%. Most troubling, the findings also indicate a “sharp rise in antisemitism that goes beyond rhetoric.”  

Morson focuses his lens on the most virulent strand of this bacillus, which he calls “ideological antisemitism.” His definition is simple, while its effects lethal: 

“An ‘intersectionality’ doctrine that divides people into good and evil: racists and antiracists, victimizers and victims, colonizer and colonized. Once such thinking becomes routine, it is almost inevitable that opponents in any new conflict will be pigeonholed. And so Jews become colonizers and Palestinians, represented by Hamas, become their hapless victims. Since one side is entirely evil, anything done to them is justified. One must prevail ‘by any means necessary.'”

Yet the dizzying speed of its march through America’s institutions, to echo revolutionary theorist Antonio Gramsci, obscures its far older origins. They are worth revisiting to gain a clearer understanding of the true magnitude of the danger it poses—not only to Israelis and Jews everywhere, obviously its principal target, but to the West and democracy itself, as well.  

The hatred preceded the words that have since been coined to capture its various nuances. Studies distinguishing Jew-hatred, anti-Judaism, anti-Zionism, along with a few less obvious euphemisms, such as Soviet- and Nazi-era “rootless anti-cosmopolitanism,” fill libraries. But aside from hostility to the alien mores of the Jews, it was Judaism, the religion, that was viewed by non-Jews as a threat to their beliefs and safety—whether Christians, Muslims, polytheists, or worshippers of the State. 

Most are familiar with the catastrophic expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. But Jew-hatred was hardly restricted to the Catholic clerisy; Protestants soon followed suit. Germany’s Martin Luther (1483-1546) prevailed, against tough competition, as the most effective antisemite. His early sympathy for Jews, whom he had hoped to convert, exploded; its radioactive fallout infecting his countrymen centuries later. 

In “On the Jews and Their Lies,” Luther accused Jews of being “nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury.” Luther then offers “sincere advice” to his followers: 

“First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them… Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues… Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them… If this does not help, we must drive them out like mad dogs, so that we do not become partakers of their abominable blasphemy and all their other vices and thus merit God’s wrath and be damned with them.”

In the 19th century, Luther’s ideas were reinforced with added ideological sophistication. “Antisemitism” would be coined as a means of rebranding raw hatred of Jews, coating it with a pseudo-intellectual veneer by turning it into an ism, an ideology. It proved exceptionally effective in targeting anyone suspected or accused of sharing whatever “Jewish” traits were deemed Satanic. Jews became the antichrist du jour.  

The near-instant adoption of the catchy neologism all but obscured the inconvenient, albeit obvious fact that “Semitism” as such doesn’t exist. True, German linguist and biblical scholar Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1752-1827) had designated related languages, notably Hebrew and Arabic, as “Semitic.” So when Lebanese-born activist Ralph Nader and the founder of the Arab American Institute James Zogby denounce “the other antisemitism” – i.e., against Arabs – they have a point. So, when Nader attacks “AIPAC Democrats,” he is recalling its true pedigree. But a language group is not an “ism.” The notion that all people speaking semitic languages share any sort of ideology would have struck him as absurd. Which it is—unless you know how to weaponize it.  

And weaponized it has been to great success. Today, antisemitism is routinely assumed to be the province of rightwing bigots even though Antisemitismus actually “had its origins on the German Left.” So wrote the premier scholar of antisemitism, Robert S. Wistrich in his magnum opus A Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism—From Antiquity to the Global Jihad (2010). As “[p]art of an increasingly prevalent “critique of laissez-faire capitalist society,” explains Wistrich, the word reflected a new version of Jew-bashing which had a [racist, “modern positivist strand … often inspired by socialists such as Eugen Duhring [1833-1859] or atheists such as Wilhelm Marr [1819-1904].”  

Marr would later be joined by the German publicist Otto Glagau, who blamed liberalism and the Jews for rapacious capitalism. Among the most prominent and effective German antisemites, Glagau “specifically identified the ‘Jewish Question’ with the ‘social question,’” wrote Wistrich in another seminal study about the difficult relationship between Jews and leftism.  In Glagau’s “pamphleteering works about the stock-exchange swindles of the era … the identification of Jewish merchants and bankers with Homo capitalistus is palpable.” The Jews had the money; ergo, they used it to exploit the have-nots. 

Marr and Glagau were both following in the infamous footsteps of their compatriot philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte. A defender of the French Revolution’s right to overthrow the monarchy, in 1793 Fichte accused the Jews of constituting “a powerful state . . . continually at war with all the others, and that in certain places terribly oppresses the citizens.” All three had been typical of antisemitic German philosophers for whom “Judaism,” writes Wistrich, “simultaneously stood for a religious community, an ethnic group, a nation, and represented an abstract symbol for the mercantile or capitalist spirit.” The aim of the philosophers was to differentiate Jew-hatred based on elite racist political ideology from the plebeian kind.  

Credited with coining the term, Marr further popularized it with the “The League of Antisemites,” which called for a “war against the Jews” of Europe and the world. Many of its members and later sympathizers were distinguished academics, which added prestige to the term and the ideology.  

In his 1879 rant Victory of Jewry over Germandom, Marr denounced the Jews’ “eighteen-hundred-year war” as a racial conspiracy. His claim that it was the Jews, not their enemies, who had been the real racists. This would be neither the last nor the most preposterous claim of its kind. We see it repeated today, as Israel is tried before the International Court of Justice for committing “genocide,” in an Orwellian blame-the-victim travesty of justice. 

Tragically, many antisemites, then as now, were themselves Jewish. Among them was the radical journalist Ludwig Börne, whose assault on the semitic “money-devil” had stoked the rising tide of “progressive” Jew-hatred in Germany as early as 1808. So too was first German socialist, Moses Hess, writing in 1843, who identified “the Jewish Jehovah-Moloch” and the Christian God with human sacrifice, capitalistic cannibalism, and social parasitism. Scholarly research reveals “that anti-Jewish resentments were widespread among many rank-and-file socialists.”   

Karl Marx Conflates Capitalism and Judaism 

But Karl Marx surpassed them all, building his entire revolutionary dialectical materialism on antisemitism. “Marx’s form of antisemitism,” wrote  British historian Paul Johnson, “was a dress rehearsal for Marxism itself,” nothing less. The future implications cannot be underestimated. 

Marx’s ire is astonishing, especially for a man whose ancestors belonged to a long line of highly distinguished rabbis. How could he write these words?  

“What, in itself, was the basis of the Jewish religion? Practical need, egoism. Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man – and turns them into commodities. Money is the universal self-established value of all things. It has, therefore, robbed the whole world – both the world of men and nature – of its specific value. Money is the estranged essence of man’s work and man’s existence, and this alien essence dominates him, and he worships it. The god of the Jews has become secularized and has become the god of the world. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange.”

Marx then delivers the final coup:   

“Once society has succeeded in abolishing the empirical essence of Judaism – huckstering and its preconditions – the Jew will have become impossible, because his consciousness no longer has an object, because the subjective basis of Judaism, practical need, has been humanized, and because the conflict between man’s individual-sensuous existence and his species-existence has been abolished. The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism.” 

Johnson, who refers to this as “almost a classic anti-Semitic tract,” argues that it “contains, in embryonic form, the essence of his theory of human regeneration: by abolishing private property society would transform human relationships and thus the human personality.” In his later writings, Marx “retained the fundamental fallacy that the making of money through trade and finance is essentially a parasitical activity, but he now placed it, not on a basis of race or religion, but of class.” The distinction seems to be one without a difference. He set out to change human nature, which meant abolishing egoism and spirituality. His was a crusade to create homo post-religiosus, at once selfless and soulless.  

Wistrich similarly denounces Marx’s notion that the God of the Jew is money as an “ugly and baseless libel,” a severe case of Jewish self-loathing. Not even the antisemitic sociologist Werner Sombart, who a century later would hold Jews responsible “for the entire development of modern financial capitalism—especially its less appealing features,” went as far as to demonize an entire people. He recognized the admirable tradition of learning, discipline, sobriety, and varied talents of the Jews. Marx never did; his psychopathological delusion amounted to intellectual murder-suicide.  

The illness spread fast. By the 1880s, even the more moderate German Social Democratic Party (SPD) had become thoroughly imbued with antisemitism. Most SPD members of all faiths believed that the Jews deserved the contempt of the German masses as payback for the “murderous role” their usury had played under feudalism when they allegedly mercilessly abused the peasants. Ironically, the SPD was more worried about philosemites, whose sympathy for Jews protected the ruling class and hence undermined the ideology of anticapitalism, than about antisemites.  

They argued that philosemitism was the last ideological disguise of exploiting capitalism. So long as antisemitism could serve a politically unifying role to precipitate an anti-bourgeois uprising, the ugly prejudice could serve as a welcome catalyst to the great Marxist upheaval. In the long run, therefore, being despised could be beneficial to Jews eager to be liberated alongside humanity. The idea was that swallowing a small amount of poison would heal, not kill. The upshot was that many socialist Jews abstained from criticizing antisemites and attacked their own friends instead. But this game of Russian roulette had always been rigged; it was hard to tell where wishful thinking ended, and masochism began.   

Not to be outdone, France had its own anticapitalist antisemites, their zealotry rivaling that of their German counterparts. The same Charles Fourier (1772-1837) who had inspired the New England Transcendentalists similarly identified capitalism with the new Jewish elite. So too did his follower Alphonse Toussenel (1803-1885). He penned what “can be considered the first proposal of a socialized economy based on the expropriation of wealth and the redistribution of the capital of Jewish families,” writes University of Piza historian of Michele Battini in The Socialism of Fools: Capitalism and Modern AntiSemitism (2016). 

This led journalist Edouard Drumont (1844-1917), founder of the Antisemitic League of France in 1889, to consider Toussenel his “inspired precursor.” Drumond was joined by the socialist writer Auguste Chirac (1838-1910), who argued that all capitalists can be considered Jews without being Jewish, because usury, thievery, social parasitism, and capitalist exploitation are all Jewish practices. Explains Battini: 

“All capitalists can therefore be legitimately defined as “juifs [Jews] and treated accordingly: discriminated against, persecuted. The process of generalization and abstraction transforms the juifs, as real men, into a symbol of exploitation: le juif, and usury at the same time, becomes the figure of speech of all the types of exploitation.”

The German-born historian and Holocaust survivor Walter Zwi Bacharach notes that the so-called Jewish question  

“… Was a modern phenomenon that became widespread after the 1842 publication of Bruno Bauer’s brochure Die Judenfrage. It was no longer attributed to a particular nation or state but now reflected a world problem, as Alex Bein has postulated in Die Judenfrage: Biographie eines Weltproblems. Antisemitism and the Judenfrage became one in modern times. Antisemitism underwent a process of universalization.”

Luther issued his murderous diatribe against the Jews in 1543. In an eerie coincidence, it was three centuries later, almost to the day, in 1843, that Marx would demand the abolition of the Jews’ “empirical essence.”  A century later, Hitler would credit this descendant of rabbis with revealing to him the solution to the world’s ills, as he explained in Mein Kampf.   

In his largely incoherent but revealing tome, Hitler wrote that he had originally started to gather information about Marxism “with a view to studying the principles of the movement. The fact that I attained my object sooner than I could have anticipated was due to the deeper insight into the Jewish question which I then gained, my knowledge of this question being hitherto rather superficial.” Hitler thereby discloses that his newly gained understanding of “the Jewish question” provided the key to those principles.     

Hitler continues by lavishing high praise on Marx’s ability to diagnose the cause of the current malaise: “In reality what distinguished Karl Marx from the millions who were affected in the same way was that, in a world already in a state of gradual decomposition, he used his keen powers of prognosis to detect the essential poisons, so as to extract them and concentrate them,” and then proceed, with the sly dissembling to be expected from a filthy Jew, to recommend, “with the art of a necromancer,… a solution which would bring about the rapid destruction of the independent nations on the globe,” namely, the proletarian revolution.  

But Hitler wasn’t going to be fooled – he knew how to distinguish between diagnosis and treatment. Immensely satisfied with his own acuity, he then makes an extraordinary confession: “This knowledge was the occasion of the greatest inner revolution that I had yet experienced. From being a soft-hearted cosmopolitan, I became an out and out anti-Semite.” 

Eberhard Jackel credits Hitler with adding to traditional antisemitism “a new universal-missionary element,” which became central to his foreign policy. Considering the enormity of the Apocalypse he was about to unleash upon the world, nothing less than self-divinization would suffice. He may also have believed it. “International Jewish domination [was] substituted for religious Messianism,” observes Bachrach.  

Hitler’s racist ideas were welcomed by German academics with shameful and unworthy enthusiasm. The first Nazi rector of the University of Berlin, Eugen Fischer, for example, proclaimed that the Führer, “for the first time in the history of mankind, translated the recognition of the biological foundation of a race-nation, heredity, and natural selection into deeds…. German science placed the tools in the politician’s hands.” 

From a witches’ brew that consisted of Marxist anti-capitalist determinism, the pseudo-scientific racism of the academics, the romantic ideal of the Volk, and the Christian dream of mankind’s redemption from the satanic Jew, antisemitism provided Hitler with the perfect narrative to mobilize his various constituents. None of these components taken alone provided quite sufficient justification for genocide – nor, indeed, did they when taken together. Admittedly, Hitler needed no excuses; like all would-be messiahs, he considered himself the very embodiment of morality. But he did grasp the power of the Volkish vision to mobilize the masses.    

Marx’s Progressive Followers in Denial 

Wistrich’s assessment that antisemitism had its origins on the German Left, from which its migrated to anti-capitalist radicals in France, Russia, and elsewhere in Europe and beyond, is impossible to deny considering all the evidence. And yet it is routinely denied by Western academics who refuse to accept it. In his anthology Jews and Leftist Politics: Judaism, Israel, Antisemitism, and Gender, for example, City University of New York professor Jack Jacobs argues that Marx “never devoted sustained attention to the ‘Jewish question’ after he wrote the discussions of [Bruno] Bauer’s work” on the subject, in 1844.  

Similarly, Robert Fine, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Warwick, and Philip Spencer, a professor at Kingston University and the University of London, turn the accusation on its head: “Marx’s famous essays ‘On the Jewish Question’ were in substance a critique of the very idea of the Jewish question”! “In substance” as opposed to what, style? Or his actual words?   

They claim rather that “Marx reaffirmed the right of Jews to be citizens, to be Jews.” This reading, however, conveniently ignores Marx’s outright rejection of citizenship as such, along with political rights and particular nations. Since communism will abolish all distinctions of property, along with religion, the family, and all those vestiges of particularism – Jewish or otherwise – political rights will become meaningless.  

The conflation of fascism/Nazism with capitalism “underlies all Marxist interpretations of fascism,” writes Luciano Pellicani. After all, the ghoulish horror elicited by the skeletons rescued from extermination camps and the gas chambers had been too enormous, too universal, for it not to be appropriated and weaponized. A narrative was duly manufactured, the Lie sufficiently Big and audacious to work wonders.    

The version of that narrative, articulated by the German-born Jewish philosopher Herbert Marcuse as early as 1934, goes as follows: “[I]t is liberalism itself that generates the totalitarian and authoritarian state, which is the perfection of the liberal state in an advanced stage of its development.”  He cites no statistics or any other sort of evidence, merely asserting as fact the existence of a historically predetermined “line of development that marks the transition from the commercial and industrial society, based on the free competition between autonomous individual entrepreneurs, to the modern monopolistic state, in which changed productive relations demand a strong state equipped with all the instruments of power.” In brief, capitalism evolves into totalitarianism, a.k.a fascism. The line from Adam Smith to Adolf Eichmann is straight. 

 This was echoed by Michael Lerner, a student of Marcuse at the University of California, Berkeley. He had chaired the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and led the far-left Peace and Freedom Party. Lerner also developed an alliance with the radical antisemitic Black Panther Party (BPP). In his 1992 pamphlet The Socialism of Fools: Anti-semitism On the Left, Lerner declared that  

 “The main danger to the Jewish people is not now, nor has it ever been, from the Left. The Right is always the main threat.”  Because “to the extent that the Jewish people continue to tell their own liberation story…. the message must always remain a challenge to those who seek to justify class injustice.”

 Lerner concedes, however, that Jews  

“… Often have the ‘opportunity’ to serve ruling classes by being placed in an intermediary position between the ruling interests by being placed in an intermediary position between the oppressed and the oppressors… [which] then leads to the frequently actualized possibility that when the masses become angry at oppression, they direct that anger at Jews instead of at the ruling classes. This is what August Bebel called ‘the socialism of fools.’”

 Not exactly. Bebel hated myopic socialists, who merely hated Jews while forgetting they were supposed to be fighting Judaic capitalism, while Bebel himself failed to see the foolishness of socialism itself. 

After the horrific Hamas attacks, Lerner issued a statement through Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), the U.S. affiliate of the Jerusalem-based anti-Israel Christian organization, placing blame squarely on the Jewish state: “The world’s failure to challenge Israel’s ongoing occupation, apartheid, and unbridled violence by settlers and soldiers in the West Bank provides the context for what is happening now. The recent Israeli government’s escalation of violence, encroachment of Al Aqsa Mosque, and its 16-year siege of Gaza has led to the current explosion.” He seems to have forgotten that Israel left Gaza in 2005.  

Lerner’s selective memory is unsurprising. A radical socialist, he was no fool. Alongside another Marcuse protégé, Angela Davis—recipient of the 1979 Lenin Peace Prize and ideologically groomed in the German Democratic Republic—Lerner embraced the narrative of American imperialism and racism. The power of its resonance throughout the culture cannot be underestimated.  

By the late 1960s, “BPP rhetoric and slogans resounded throughout the black ghettos, other nonwhite communities, and college and university campuses,” writes the radical journalist Franziska Meister. Their success was due in part to an ability to “forge alliances and coalitions and direct the political onslaught against the U.S. government … [as they] framed their struggle for racial social justice.” Seeking coalitions across ethnic boundaries, they capitalized on “the conceptual perspective provided by the colonial analogy.” This allowed their influence to reach “even beyond the confines of the United States: in the struggle of subjugated nonwhites of the world against the United States as a worldwide white supremacy system.” 

Not long after his release from jail for burglary, rape, and attempted murder in 1968, BPP Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver “resurfaced in Algiers in 1969 [and] … immediately began to establish ties with peoples and movements from Africa and Asia engaged in anticolonial struggles, including the North Vietnamese and the North Koreans, and started to build a center of revolutionary forces in Algiers.”  

That same year, Tabitha Petran wrote in the November 19, 1969 issue of Fire—published by a faction of the SDS—that collaboration with “organized Jewry… remained the very cornerstone of [the Nazis’] Jewish policy.” She went on to claim that “hundreds of Zionist leaders were permitted to escape to Palestine” during World War II because they collaborated with the Nazis by withholding “from the masses in Eastern Europe the fact that they were marked for shipment to death camps.”  

Few understood the implications of this Big Lie better than Harvard sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset, whose New York Times article, published on January 3, 1971, was titled “’The Socialism of Fools’: The New Left calls it ‘anti-Zionism,’ but …” Evidently by then, anti-Zionism as a form of racism—synonymous with Nazism, fascism, imperialism, white supremacy, etc.—was already operational.  

Lipset observed that “[t]he most overt expressions of anti-Semitism have come generally from the most militant of the black organizations, the ones with closest ties to sections of the white New and Old Lefts, the self-described Marxist-Leninist Black Panther party.  The party goes out of its way to identify as Jews those in the Establishment who oppose it and who happen to be Jews…. Though opposed to all capitalists, the Panthers single out Jewish businessmen for attack.” Distressed like all Jews, liberal and conservative alike, Lipset knew that “only those who are unaware of the considerable literature on ante-Semitism in the socialist and other leftist movements” could have been surprised. 

Indeed, “[i]n expressing directly or indirectly a disdain for Jewishness, the young New Leftists are following in a classic tradition set by a number of prominent Marxists of Jewish origins, who could find it in their hearts to be concerned about many national groups, but not the Jews.” Fast forward half a century, and instead of improving, the situation has deteriorated exponentially.  

Citing a recent Harvard/Harris monthly survey of public opinion, Jewish News Syndicate editor Jonathan S. Tobin observed that that two thirds of participants ages 18 to 24 responded that Jews are “oppressors,” and that the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7 were “justified by the grievances of the Palestinians.” The neo-Marxist template has become entrenched in the mindset of America’s next generation.  

That so many of these youngsters are Jewish is especially tragic, but unsurprising, given what they learn from their own – even Jewish – professors. Former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky and historian Gil Troy, who call them today’s un-Jews, charge that for years, 

“…[e]choing social justice talk, dozens of Jewish and Israel studies scholars defined Zionism as ‘a diverse set of linked ethnonationalist ideologies …shaped by settler colonial paradigms … that assumed a hierarchy of civilizations’ and ‘contributed to unjust, enduring, and unsustainable systems of Jewish supremacy,’ while the CUNY Jewish Law Students’ Association more concisely demanded “a Palestinian right to return, a free and just Palestine from the river to the sea, and an end to the ongoing Nakba.’ This language effectively denied the need for a Jewish state, thereby declaring war not just on Israel’s existence but on modern Judaism as we know it.”

Unwittingly or not, un-Jews “make war on Israel the same way that the Soviet communists made war on Jewish peoplehood and its institutions.” And to what end? Is it possible that they do not know that antizionism, as a form of antisemitism, is semantic window-dressing for genocide? Maybe such Jews “who embrace [this narrative] on social media, college campuses, on the street, in the entertainment and sports worlds, and elsewhere,” speculates Alvin H. Rosenfeld, director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, “probably believe that those they hate and are dedicated to hurting won’t hurt them back. That may have been true when Jews were set upon in the past.” Until it wasn’t. 

Truth alone will not suffice. For shouts of “Israelis are Nazis,” “Hitler was right,” and “Gas the Jews” heard in Jew-hating protests throughout the world are the repurposed manifestation of an older ideology, best defined as “a religion in the most mystic and profound sense of the word.” These are the words of Joseph Goebbels. They are explained by historian Adriano Tilgher, who in 1935 already saw that Nazism “presents itself as a religion, which in fact it is, since Race is for it not a scientific concept, not a philosophical abstraction, but an experience lived out on the level of religious adoration.” The object of adoration is the Leader and his State.  

It is set in context by Robert Wistrich, who further cites Hermann Rauschning’s record of his conversations with his friend the Führer: “Hitler raised antisemitism to a new level of either-or totalitarian politics.  The war against the Jews now became an existential issue of ‘victory or downfall’ (Sieg oder Untergang), a vengeful, apocalyptic reckoning to determine the future of civilization. It was a bellicose call to the Last Judgment. … Hitler believed that “by physically destroying the ‘satanic Jews,’ the road would finally be paved for the liberation of mankind.”  

It would be Adolf Eichmann who would carry out the logistics, but the mastermind had been the deranged, if charismatic, Führer. So too did his erstwhile Soviet allies, whose partnership in the Molotov-Ribbbentrop Pact sparked World War II. Write Sharansky and Troy:  

“As Soviet communism turned more repressive after the Bolshevik Revolution, it naturally recruited un-Jews to torment their former co-religionists…. Believing their traditional communities to be as burdensome to them in much the same way that woke Jews feel Israel is burdensome to them today, these Jewish communists destroyed the synagogues and cheders they had been raised in to advance the Jewish idea of social justice which they first encountered in those spaces.” 

Woke “social justice” is neither. 

Not for Jews Only 

Though it would quickly become banal, the word’s ideological seed had been genocidal from the outset. Marr, Marx, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, and their Islamist progenies raised antisemitism to a new level of either-or totalitarian politics. All scapegoated Jews alongside everyone else who  was considered anathema, were relegated to the evil class. It is for this reason that today’s anti-Zionists, a.k.a. anti-racists, pro-oppressed classes make common cause with the “militant Palestinians” (including Hamas and other Iranian terrorist proxies). This is the reason “why Hamas’s brutality can be accepted, even praised” by otherwise well-meaning Americans. writes Morson. “People who think this way believe they aren’t antisemitic because they didn’t start with some preconceived hatred. Rather, they applied a familiar, widely approved framework. Today the evil party is Israel; tomorrow another great Satan may be designated.” 

But why tomorrow? It is already here.  The real Great Satan has been designated long ago. On November 5, 1979, one day after fifty-two Americans were taken hostage, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared that while Israel was Little Satan, “In this revolution, the Great Satan is America that gathers around other devils blatantly.” 

This fanatical cleric considered the destruction of America alongside the entire liberal order a religious duty, as it still is for his sinister followers today. It is held as no less sacred than was Hitler’s crusade for “purity” and Marx’s clarion call for the violent inauguration of an egalitarian utopia. Eventually, Lenin’s dictatorship of the “proletariat” turned out to be a self-decimating clique.   

Was Harvard’s ex-president Claudine Gay right to claim that whether “death to the Jews” is antisemitic must be understood in “context”? Only insofar as the slogan leaves out the rest of the picture – which is hardly what she had in mind. That picture is becoming clear to Jews even in America. Long-time activist David Bernstein, president of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, writes in The Jewish Journal on January 26:  

If October 7th has taught us anything, however, it’s that seemingly expedient compromises with illiberal and antisemitic forces will only come back to haunt us. For too long, we put up with and reconciled ourselves to radical identity politics and extremists preaching about “decolonialism.” We convinced ourselves that we had to play in “the only game in town.” Many Jews now understand that a progressive ideology fueled antisemitism. 

What starts with the Jews does not end with the Jews, now perhaps more than ever. Jonathan Tobin, editor-in-chief of Jewish News Syndicate, warns that recent survey results “about young Americans believing in antisemitic tropes about Jewish oppressors are just a hint at what’s to come if the task of defeating the intersectional left isn’t prioritized. It is a reminder that the litmus test indicating whether someone is willing to stand up against antisemitism is now their attitude towards woke ideology.” 

He is right. That would be a start. The next step would be to return to common sense, shun academese, and believe your own eyes. A person who tortures children, then brags and laughs about it, has human genes but surely no human soul. The rest of us, each following our own paths to salvation or damnation, must try to love actual individual human beings, not slogans. Because life is precious, short, and beautiful.  

Headshot of Dr. Juliana Geran Pilon

Dr. Juliana Geran Pilon is a Senior Fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. Her books include The Utopian Conceit and the War on Freedom, The Art of Peace: Engaging a Complex World, Soulmates: Resurrecting Eve, Why America is Such a Hard Sell: Beyond Pride and Prejudice, The Bloody Flag: Post-Communist Nationalism in Eastern Europe — Spotlight on Romania, Notes From the Other Side of Night, and three anthologies. She has published over two hundred articles and reviews on international affairs, human rights, literature, and philosophy, and has made frequent appearances on radio and television.