Wednesday, June 05, 2019

  • Wednesday, June 05, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Jewish Virtual Library:

With Israel's dramatic victory in the 1967 Six Day War, Jewish progressives faced their greatest challenge. The New Left, splintering along racial and ideological lines, grew critical of the Jewish State, equating its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the evil imperialist impulses of the United States in the Cold War. Many in the New Left rejected Zionism, labeling it a chauvinistic, even racist, manifestation of nationalism.

At the 1967 Conference for a New Politics held in Chicago, for example, African American delegates pressed for passage of a resolution that characterized the June 1967 conflict as an "imperialist Zionist war." As Black Power leader Stokely Carmichael said at a 1968 convention of the Organization of American Students, "We have begun to see the evil of Zionism and we will fight to wipe it out wherever it exists, be it in the Ghetto of the United States or in the Middle East."

Jewish New Leftists in Berkeley responded by creating the Committee for a Progressive Middle East in March, 1969. The Committee intended to strike a balance between the strident anti-Zionist influences growing with the New Left and the much less critical Zionist voices of Hillel and other Jewish groups. Radical Jewish Zionists, despite their attempts to locate progressive Zionism within the boundaries of the New Left, failed to re-unite Jewish leftists with an ever more radical, and anti-Zionist, movement.

The rise of Black Power also alienated Jews from the New Left, which had, by the mid-1960s, come to locate black militancy in its movement's vanguard. The rise of ethnic nationalism ended the inter-racial civil rights movement of the Martin Luther King, Jr., years. Jews, once valued as liberal America's most committed social reform advocates, faced a Black Power-inspired critique that labeled them white oppressors.

When Jewish New Leftists sought a strategic alliance with Oakland's Black Panther Party, for example, they were rebuffed. As one Jewish New Leftist explained, "Even if I were a superaltruistic liberal and campaigned among the Jews to support the Panthers' program, I would justifiably be tarred and feathered for giving aid and comfort to enemies of the Jews. I would rather it were not this way, but it was you who disowned us, not we who betrayed you." The end of the civil rights movement at home combined with Jewish concerns over the New Left's critique of Israel when, in 1969, Eldridge Cleaver told a New York Times reporter that "the Black Panther Party in the United States fully supports Arab Guerillas in the Middle East."

By the early 1970s, the New Left lost most of its earlier Jewish influence. Jews, weary of anti-Zionism, occasional antisemitism, and the rise of ethnic and racial consciousness, turned inward, applying many of the New Left's political strategies to Jewish communal concerns [such as freeing Soviet Jews].

Doesn't the radical wing of the New Left sound like the "progressives" and socialists of today? And J-Street sounds like the group of people who tried and failed to bridge the gap between the insane hateful Leftists and accepting the state of Israel.

Just as in the UK now with the Labour Party, the obvious antisemitism of the Left finally pushed the Jewish liberals too far as they realized that there was no place for them. American Jews who support the Left have not yet reached that point. And some of them are too far gone, as they have subsumed their Jewish identity to their new religion of progressivism.

Here's an interesting JTA article from 1972 showing a debate about the New Left at the time, and again the arguments sound familiar:
Participants in the American Jewish Congress’ tenth annual American-Israel Dialogue debated vigorously today whether the New Left was good for the Jews, Zionism and Israel. The debate was launched Monday night by Foreign Minister Abba Eban, who assailed the New Left, and continued yesterday by Histadrut Secretary General Yitzhak Ben-Aharon, who disagreed with Eban, but with reservations.

We assume that anti-Semitism on the left can be rectified,” said Marie Syrkin of New York, Zionist editor of the Herzl Press. “It’s a myth to say the New Left is anti-Jewish,” countered Paul Jacobs of San Francisco, who once ran for the Senate on Black militant Eldridge Cleaver’s Peace and Freedom ticket. Leftist anti-Semitism can be purged more easily than rightist anti-Semitism, Miss Syrkin claimed. “There’s a wide spectrum of belief among the New Left.” retorted Jacobs, citing Noam Chomsky and I.F. Stone as non anti-Zionist New Leftists.

Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg. AJ Congress president, said the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel had led Jews to desert the political right. Prof. Theodore Draper of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University suggested that Jews would be better off if they did not “mortgage” their future to either side.

Some speakers took pains to deny any anti-Semitism in the New Left. Others sought to discredit the notion that anti-Semitism was the brainchild of either modern socialism or the American Jewish New Left. Prof. Abraham Udovitch of Princeton pointed out that anti-Semitic tendencies had cropped up in “all redemptive movements” of Christian Europe, a full 600 years before the advent of socialism. (Yesterday, Ben-Aharon claimed that anti-Semites were omnipresent in the Old Left.) Prof. Henry Feingold of City College, New York, insisted that anti-Semitism had been “tacked on” after the New Left adopted its political views.





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