How Progressives belittle antisemitism

The DeBoer Tendency: How Progressives Belittle Violence Against Jews

The five stages of anti-Semitism denial, as it relates to racism and the concept of ‘privilege’

Does Talking About ‘Islamism’ Make Us ‘Islamophobic’?
How a ‘high-level’ panel discussion at the United Nations danced around definitions—and why it matters
By Paul Berman

The Muslim Right and the Anglo-American Left: The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name
An excerpt from ‘Double Bind’ questions the logic of ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’
By Meredith Tax

Ilan Halimi’s Tortured Ghost Will Continue Haunting France
In the final part of Tablet’s series on French anti-Semitism, echoes and paradoxes of a gruesome murder
By Marc Weitzmann

The conversation about Jews and “privilege” is finally upon us. Anti-Semitism in word and deed has been increasing in frequency and intensity for over a decade. That’s been true especially in Europe, and recently the problem there has become acute. The war last summer in Gaza stirred more than the usual amount of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish unrest and led some to draw comparisons to the European 1930s. In turn, the coverage of this terrible phenomenon has stirred voices of skepticism, many belonging to self-identified “progressives”—for whom “Jewish privilege” is more likely to be identified as a harm than anti-Jewish prejudice.

To take an example, the campus radical and writer Freddie deBoer pilloried Conor Friedersdorf for a piecein The Atlantic that considered Jewish flight from increasingly hostile conditions in Europe. DeBoer, in turn: mocked the notion of rising anti-Semitism in Europe; implied that it wasn’t real; called for a higher evidentiary standard to prove it; downplayed it as a mere epiphenomenon of American foreign policy; and defocused Jews while centering Muslims as authentic victims of racism. His series of reactions—a sort of five stages of anti-Semitism denial—is worth examining and understanding, particularly as it relates to racism and the concept of “privilege.”

First, some background. Israel’s stunning victory against combined Arab armies in 1967 set in motion streams of hostility—some anti-Israel, some “anti-Zionist,” some anti-Jewish—which would pool, roil, and gather strength until the turn of the millennium, when the Second Intifada unleashed them in a cataract of anti-Semitism. Two groups were swept along most forcefully by the current: Arabs and Muslims; and Left-wing radicals, who took their cues on Israel and Zionism from Moscow, where “anti-Zionism” assumed a central place in the Soviet anti-colonial catechism. By about 2002 anti-Jewish hatred began to burgeon in social-democratic Europe, where populations of disaffected Muslims languish.