Far right and far left converge —against the Jews

Among the most troubling phenomena of our time is antisemitism, which has become interchangeable among individuals who hold starkly differing views.

By Rafael Medoff

An extremist distributes a flier about “Zionists infiltrating the media.” A political activist tweets, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.” A pundit writes about “the dirty tactics of Zionist censorship.”

Can you tell which of these haters is coming from the political right, and which from the political left? The world of antisemitism has become so muddled that it’s almost impossible to tell one from the other.

Consider: One of these three haters was recently arrested for painting the slogan “White Power” on synagogues. One co-chaired the Women’s March on Washington. One is a former New York Times correspondent and speechwriter for Ralph Nader. Can you tell which one is which?

One of the three is a Presbyterian minister. One is a devout Muslim. One owns a Ku Klux Klan robe. Still can’t tell who’s who?

Although these three bigots come from very different places on the political and religious spectrums, they have managed to find something in common: hatred of Jews, thinly disguised as hatred of “Zionists.”

Read  Arsonist arrested after Florida Chabad center and rabbi's car torched

Among the most troubling phenomena of our time is the extent to which antisemitism has become interchangeable among individuals who hold starkly differing views on other issues, from abortion to immigration to civil rights.

Yet they all hate Jews.

There is no simple explanation for this because there is no simple explanation for antisemitism. Some bigots hate Jews for religious reasons, some for political reasons.

Some focus their ire on Jewish philanthropists, some focus on Jews in the media, and some focus on the Jewish state.

And sometimes they focus their hate on each other. In the 1930s, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union both violently persecuted their Jewish citizens, even as the two regimes went back and forth between being enemies and being allies.

The Germans oppressed Jews and Judaism in the name of Aryan racial purity, the Soviets oppressed them in the name of working-class solidarity. Even when Hitler and Stalin hated each other, they never stopped hating Jews.

Leafing through the American Communist press in the 1930s is a ride on an intellectual roller-coaster.

U.S. Communists dutifully followed the Soviet line, regularly and passionately denouncing Nazi Germany—until the Soviets signed a nonaggression pact with the Nazis in August 1939, at which point the American far left suddenly declared that the British, the French, and “the capitalist press” were the real enemy, to cite an editorial which appeared in that month’s issue of Young Communist Review.

Read  56% of hate crimes in Toronto are aimed at Jews

Two years later, Hitler tore up the pact and America’s Communists returned to being anti-Nazi. All the while, Jews and Judaism remained in the crosshairs of both Marxism and Nazism.

Adam Braun is the name of the aforementioned extremist who was so worried about “Zionist infiltration” of the media and other institutions.

He was recently arrested in Oregon for painting the slogan “White Power” on a synagogue. Searching his belongings, the police found the antisemitic flier as well as a Ku Klux Klan robe.

Linda Sarsour, whose tweet fretted about the “creepiness of Zionism,” is a Muslim rights advocate and self-identified feminist leader. Despite her extremism, she remains in good standing in the feminist movement.

Chris Hedges is the former Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times who rails about the “dirty tactics” of “Zionist censors.”

He is also an ordained Presbyterian minister, and he is no outlier in the church when it comes to Israel.

The Presbyterian Church USA opposes American aid to Israel and responded to October 7 by blaming both sides.

Braun, Sarsour and Hedges are as different from one another as night from day, but they have one important thing in common: Hatred of Jews has created a bond between them that their disparate religious and political affiliations apparently cannot tear asunder.

Read  Surveys show Jewish students across America 'feel less safe' since Oct. 7th

(Dr. Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and author of more than 20 books about Jewish history and the Holocaust. His latest is Whistleblowers: Four Who Fought to Expose the Holocaust to America, a nonfiction graphic novel with artist Dean Motter, published by Dark Horse / Yoe Books.)