Yair Rosenberg has an excellent article in Tablet about the anti-Jewish posts of a Democratic candidate for the California state assembly. Here are some excerpts:
Maria Estrada is running as a progressive challenger to California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in the state’s 63rd district. Endorsed by multiple local chapters of the Bernie Sanders-founded Our Revolution, she came in second in the June primary with 28 percent of the vote, assuring her a showdown with Rendon in the general.
On social media, she has declared that, “I, for one, enjoy listening to Farrakhan’s sermons.”
This past May, Estrada also attacked Eric Bauman, the chairman of the California Democratic Party, telling him to “try keeping your party, your religion and your people in check.” (Bauman is an openly gay Orthodox Jew.)
Indeed, when confronted with her history of anti-Semitic statements, Estrada knew exactly what to say. “To be clear, I am anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitic,” she told The Forward. Estrada did not explain how attacking California Jewish political figures over their religion or promoting Farrakhan were “anti-Zionist” positions. But she knew that by simply throwing Israel into the conversation and bashing it, she might be able to cash a “Get Out of Anti-Semitism Free” card among her compatriots.
As Berkeley’s David Schraub has written, “Anti-Semitism will always be expressed in the dominant language of the place and the time, and it is entirely predictable that people will seek to express anti-Semitism in ways that enhance rather than detract from their social standing.” Thus, in a deeply religious society like medieval Europe, anti-Semitism would be justified through theology, whereas in societies that esteemed science like Nazi Germany, anti-Semitism took on the imprimatur of “race science.” In both instances, the problem was not “religion” or “science,” but how these legitimate endeavors were appropriated and perverted by bigots to serve anti-Jewish ends.
Schraub and Rosenberg might have added that anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union was expressed under the guise of dialectical materialism and anti-nationalism, dating back to Stalin's tract "Marxism and the National Question," which was written to demonstrate that Jews do not constitute a "nation" in Marxist terms.
Something similar, writes Schraub, is happening in progressive spaces today: The entirely legitimate enterprise of criticizing Israel is being used by anti-Semites to launder their hate. “Precisely because there are perfectly valid critiques of Israel that are, on their face, wholly laudable from within a progressive paradigm, a speaker harboring antipathy towards Jews and looking for a socially acceptable vector to express them will gravitate toward that issue.” In this manner, anti-Semitism is repackaged as “Israel criticism” in left-wing spaces.
Readers may recognize David Schraub's name, as he is a frequent commenter on this blog.
Needless to say, Donald “Very Fine People” Trump and the Republican Party have not exactly passed this test with flying colors, and have repeatedly failed to ostracize bigots in their midst. Whether the chapters of Our Revolution that endorsed Estrada will do better remains to be seen.
You can read the entire Tablet article here.