Long, rambly post ahead.
I no longer call myself a progressive.
25 years ago, I was a centrist, moderate Democrat. My ideology and position on policy haven't changed in all that time, but I went from being centrist to being liberal to being a radical left-wing Democrat. Thanks Reagan, for starting this slide toward Republican radicalism that labels moderates as radical ideologues. Irony, anyone?
Republicans have a single ideology - white supremacy and money above all else. And while some Republicans don't think that's what they stand for, they support all of the policies and rhetoric that enables this ideology.
Democrats have a larger tent. A tent that allows for differing opinions. It's why the Democratic vote is easily split, but why Republicans so easily rally around their candidates.
While I share so many of the views of the progressive movement, I now think of myself as a liberal Democrat once more, not a progressive.
Why? As a general rule, there is no room in the progressive wing of the party for Jews. Don't @ me with Bernie Sanders.
Jews in general, having been oppressed for thousands of years, naturally support other oppressed peoples. With so many Black people being slaughtered by police and other white supremacists, we march, we donate, we vocally support. I have been part of several marches locally supporting our Black community. I carry signs. I speak out at city council meetings. I share information. And I listen to the Black voices around me. Am I perfect? No. But I'm trying.
When post-911 backlash and trump's Muslim ban happened, Jews marched, we donated, we supported. I was at LAX the day the ban was announced, marching, carrying my #NeverAgain sign and supporting the Muslim community locally and globally. Am I perfect? No. But I'm trying.
When kids were being put in cages at the border, Jews were out in front saying that this was the actual time to use the concentration camp analogy, using our voices and our personal experiences to speak out. I spoke at my local city council meeting. Am I perfect? No. But I'm trying.
When Asian-Americans and Asians worldwide became targets of hate (again) and were blamed for the COVID-19 virus, Jews stood up yet again and joined the voices crying for a stop to the hate. We marched, we donated, we supported. Am I perfect? No. But I'm trying.
There has been a rise in global antisemitism yet again. Antisemitism never goes away, but there are times in history when it becomes truly overwhelming.
Egyptians enslaving Jews.
The Spanish Inquisition.
And any time Palestinians are the unintended victims of Israeli retaliation for self preservation from a terrorist organization such as Hamas. Palestinians live where Hamas operates.
And like Republicans, they have a unified story and are vocal with it.
I'm not saying that Palestinian people don't have the right to self-determination. They do. And I'm not saying that the government of Israel hasn't made missteps at the hands of a trump-like nationalist in Netanyahu. It has.
But my point today is independent of Israeli policy. Antisemitism existed for thousands of years before there was a country called Israel.
My point today is that whenever Jews ask for support and help locally & globally, we are rebuffed. This article from Kveller summed my feelings up perfectly.
I live in a red city in blue California. Democrats have made a lot of headway in changing that landscape thanks to the activism of young and old alike. Young adults are part of a growing demographic who have discovered their political voices and power. This is a wonderful thing and gives me hope for the future. Howsomever...
I'm going to speak in a lot of generalities moving forward.
These same young voices are part of the growing progressive movement in the Democratic party - one which doesn't ask, but demands. While they are a wonderful, loud voice in support of BIPOC, they also are generally unwilling to compromise or to hear and listen to others, while at the same time demanding others listen and hear their voices.
Where this becomes problematic is when the unyielding and uncompromising position becomes a purity test for perfection in ideology.
Generally, Democrats all agree on the destination. Free POS health care, paid for by tax revenue. Equal voting rights for all. Acknowledgment of the systemic racism in the US and the need to teach it and to use legislation to right it. Preservation of bodily autonomy and a woman's right to have an abortion. Free contraception. The rich and corporations paying their fair share of taxes. Accountability for insurrectionists. Equal protection and equal rights under the law for all.
The destination is not the problem. It's the journey toward the destination where we sometimes differ or disagree. The young progressive movement is generally unwilling to entertain the possibility of other journeys toward the same destination other than their own. It's part of a growing movement on both sides of the political aisle towards the "my way or the highway" attitude. It deems unacceptable anything that improves conditions but may not be perfect, even if it is better than what we had before. Anything less than their position, their journey to the destination, is unacceptable.
Life is, unfortunately, not Bewitched. You can't wrinkle your nose and immediately arrive at your destination. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could? But sadly, there is a journey to the destination. And while generally Republicans want to go in reverse until they reach a different destination altogether, Democrats generally agree upon the destination. Some, like Joe Manchin believe that we can only reach that destination if Republicans are in the car with us. But most Democrats are willing to make stops along the way for improvements and tune-ups. The young progressive movement is only about Bewitched destinations.
Why do I bring this up? Well, there has become a purity and perfection litmus test for young progressives as they realize the power of their voices. And if you don't agree 100% on the both the destination AND the journey, you are rebuffed, ridiculed, and called racist, DINO, or out of touch. Even if you aren't perfect, but are trying.
I'm in my mid-50s. I'm aware that I'm not what's generally considered young. I believe in the power of the journey as well as the destination. Do I think I need a Republican copilot? Hell no. But as a member of the Democratic party, do I believe my voice should be heard? Yep, I sure do.
Antisemitism is growing and no more so than in the young progressive movement in the Democratic party. It has much to do with the Palestinian plight. If you don't denounce Israel as an entity entirely, then you aren't to be considered or heard. Which, by the by is exactly what Hamas wants. Their charter calls for the complete destruction of Israel and the death of all Jews. They love the infighting about Israel. And the young progressive movement is lending credibility to them by agreeing in full with at least the first part of their charter, if not the latter.
So... back to my personal story.
As I noted, I saw the article from Kveller, and it spoke to me. I went to my local democratic club - one which is officially chartered by the CDP and one in which I've been very active for the past several years. I asked for some allyship in the face of antisemitism. I was met with ridicule and harassment. How dare I ask for allyship when Israel is "genociding" the Palestinians and that must surely mean I agree with killing Palestinians.
OK, well, first off, I asked as an American Jew who lives here in the US for my fellow democrats to speak out against antisemitism in general. As in, "Hey, antisemitism is bad and maybe don't do it." But unless I was willing to completely denounce Zionism as a whole and Israel specifically, that support is absent. In fact, the comments were full of hatred and vitriol. And the leadership of the club did not step in.
The irony of how wrong it is to have the expectation that unless American Muslims specifically denounce terrorism many won't give their support to speaking out against Islamaphobia is beyond them. They are single minded and tunnel-visioned in their pursuit of justice for the Palestinian people. Black and white. No gray, no nuance. And no matter how much I have said that I differ from the Israeli government on many of their positions on the issue, no matter how much I have said that I support a 2 state solution, I refuse to call for the dissolution of Israel. I mean, come the fuck on.
This makes me unworthy of support against antisemitism in the view of the young progressives in the democratic party. That is not the Democratic party that I have known my entire life, but sadly it is where the progressive movement is leading the party.
I have devoted my entire adult life to promoting democracy and the Democratic party - from being a young college student and working for Mondale/Ferraro hoping to oust Reagan in my very first presidential election. I have given the last 5 years of my life to my local club and devoted countless hours to campaigning for democrats at the local, state and federal level. But when I asked for support from my fellow democrats, it was made very clear to me where I stand as a Jew and as a Democrat who asks for allyship.
When I resigned from my local club over this, one person on the board noted that I seem very angry. Gee, ya think? I am angry. And hurt. And disappointed.
But sadly, the one thing I am not, is surprised. Any Jew, especially one over 50 who is first generation post-WW2, is not surprised.
One of the things that is supposed to set the Democratic party apart is our large tent and willingness to support multiple points of view. I am done asking for support where there is clearly none to be had.
It's understandable why a subsection of Jews are Republicans. Republicans vocally support Israel. And no, the irony that the Republican support of Israel is based in antisemitism and Christian white supremacy is not lost on me. The Christian supremacists in the Republican party want to preserve Israel so that they can visit when it's time for the Rapture. The white supremacists in the party view Israel much like they do Republican Jesus. White Ashkenazi Jews were among the first to emigrate (escape) to Israel. Prime ministers - the voice of Israel globally - are historically white Ashkenazi men (with apologies to Golda Meir). Republicans see themselves in Israeli leadership. They don't see all of the brown people - both Jewish and non-Jewish - in the Knesset or in the general population. The white surpremacist faction of the Republican party (ok, the Republican party) lives to lift up white men.
So this liberal Democrat says goodbye to the progressive label. I wish the progressive movement well. I wish them luck. Their voice is an important one in the Democratic party. But with the pervasive intolerance for anything other than purity and perfection, they will certainly need it.
Side note: I pray that the coalition in Israel holds and ousts Netanyahu.
Am Yisrael Chai