James Besser, DC correspondent for a number of Jewish papers including the LA Jewish Journal and New York’s Jewish Week, just wrote this phenomenal op-ed in J, the Bay Area’s Jewish paper, in which he examines what he describes as “the lack of response from Jewish groups to the Imus affair.”
The traditional strategy of fighting anti-Semitism by fighting all forms of bigotry has been deemphasized by many Jewish leaders as the issue gets caught up in the politics of supporting Israel and concerns about a “new” anti-Semitism.
Those strategies linked civil rights leaders with major Jewish leaders who figured that “anti-Semitism could be curbed only by fighting every last expression of bigotry and attempt to legitimize it.”
Apparently, if the Imus case is to be taken as a bellwether (or the culmination of a longtime trend for that matter), no longer.
While Besser rightly acknowledges there is in fact real reason for the current concern about anti-Semitism on the left, he clearly articulates the real danger of this trend:
But many Jewish leaders now seem to regard anti-Semitism as unique and separate from other forms of bigotry.In the age of Imus, this kind of shift — by a community that has been so critical in the fight against bigotry — could speed our national regression to a time when racism, xenophobia, homophobia and anti-Semitism were as American as apple pie.
Of course, one could also add that the de-linking of anti-Semitism from other forms of oppression, including the oppression of Palestinians, and the growth of Islamophobia and flippant disregard for Arab lives that pervades many communities, has already helped to speed our national and collective regression.