AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis
In the wake of Islamic terrorist group Hamas’s shocking and brutal assault on Israel, which Hamas leaders say was funded by Iran, President Joe Biden has rightly received criticism for releasing $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets just months prior to the attacks. But Biden – as well as his Democrat allies – have largely escaped accountability for failing to address the extreme anti-Israel sentiment harbored by the modern American left that emboldens groups like Hamas.
In September, the Anti-Defamation League – a group normally quite friendly to Democrats – published a report on “Anti-Israel Activism on US Campuses, 2022-2023” which tallied 665 anti-Israel campus incidents in one academic year. Many of these, the report found, were openly antisemitic. Overall, campuses saw 302 anti-Israel protests and at least 24 incidents in which pro-Israel students were verbally harassed.
The report also noted that some of the most active anti-Israel groups like Students for Justice Palestine (SJP) “appeared to be less restrained in expressing support” for organizations like Hamas which are designated as terrorist groups by the U.S. State Department.
In one case, an event at George Mason University hosted in February by SJP was advertised on posters around campus as “confronting Zionism on college campuses.” The posters also featured an image of a man wearing a keffiyeh styled after those worn by Hamas militants. In another instance at the University of Wisconsin, posters promoting an interfaith meal were vandalized with the angry slogan, “Do not break your fast with Zionists!”
In an ostensible attempt to combat antisemitism, President Biden earlier this year launched the “U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism,” which he called “a historic step forward.”
But as some prominent Jewish scholars and diplomats have pointed out, the plan forged by Biden turns a blind eye to some of the most glaring examples of antisemitism in the United States today – including the organized and well-funded anti-Israel movement on American college campuses that targets Jewish Americans with intimidation and harassment.
“The White House strategy lacks substance and credibility,” a former Israeli diplomat told this author. He described the strategy as “phony, failed, and disastrous.”
Dr. Yigal Carmon, a co-founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) an Israel-based think tank that monitors antisemitism, also called Biden’s plan “fundamentally misguided.”
Both Biden and other Democrat leaders who proclaim to care about combatting antisemitism fail to account for the antisemitism that runs rampant on the American left today stemming from a hatred of Israel.
The late professor Robert S. Wistrich, whose family escaped the Holocaust and found sanctuary in modern-day Kazakhstan, explained in his 2010 book A Lethal Obsession that contemporary Jewish hatred was an integral part of the anti-Americanism peddled by both Islamic radicals and the American left.
“Postwar anti-Americanism is the most socially respectable form of anti-Semitism today since it is untainted by the Holocaust,” Wistrich wrote. “The Islamists are the spearhead of current antisemitism, aided and abetted by the moral relativism of all too many naïve Western liberals,” he argued.
Wistrich also explained that anti-American Islamists view America and Israel as an embodiment of evil, the empire of tyranny, oppression, and bullying, and the twin agents of a crusade against Muslims.
Notably, it was also left-wing communist regimes during the Cold War that began labeling Israel an “apartheid state” – a line repeated by today’s American leftists. In the Hungarian Communist Party’s archives, this author read instructions for high school teachers to educate students about “Pretoria-Tel-Aviv-Washington, an axis of colonialist and apartheid evil,” which “the Communist world of justice and equality” led by the Kremlin intended to dismantle. Today, one could easily find similar rhetoric on SJP posters adorning college campuses.
For more than three decades, Islamic leaders have taught that Israel is the “small Satan” that usually does the dirty work for the “great Satan” – the United States. But sometimes, the little Satan pulls the great Satan’s tail. Iranian clerics regularly compare Zionism to Nazism and colonialism and say that U.S. dollars fuel it –claims which, once again, are repeated by American leftists.
By failing to acknowledge that radical anti-Israel sentiment is a fundamental part of modern leftist ideology, Biden is turning a blind eye to one of the most prominent sources of antisemitism in America today.
Moreover, Biden has repeatedly empowered leftists with ties to openly antisemitic groups. In June 2021, Biden nominated an individual to a top government post who was a board member with Emgage Action, a group that refers to Israel as “the occupier” and has accused the United States of supporting “illegal Jewish settlements.”
Earlier this year, Biden also hired a college professor who has publicly accused Israel of “systematic genocide” and helped defend terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay.
This tolerance of extreme anti-Israel sentiment that even under the most generous interpretation borders on antisemitism runs rampant through the rest of the party as well. Many congressional Democrats, for instance, openly defended Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar following her repeated antisemitic comments.
With some notable exceptions, Biden and most leading Democrats have done the right thing by strongly condemning Hamas’s unprovoked attack and pledging support for Israel. But in order to truly support America’s strongest Middle East ally, Democrats should engage in an honest and thorough examination of how their own actions have encouraged Israel’s enemies.
Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.