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'How Could It Be?' Progressive Jews Abandoned by the Left

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One major result of the Hamas attack and subsequent war in Gaza has been an alarming rise in antisemitism, notably from the left in America. Whether it be student groups on college campuses chanting, ‘Go back to Poland, go back to Germany,' Jews being attacked at rallies, or groups like Democratic Socialists of America promoting pro-Hamas rallies, it has left progressive Jews wondering what’s going on in their world.

"To be clear, you are not a feminist if you can't feel for the Israeli civilian women, children and babies who were murdered,” said Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women. “I'm very angry about what I'm hearing."

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Progressive Rabbi Sharon Brous, senior and founding rabbi of IKAR, a voice for the Jewish community in Los Angeles, is scratching her head as well.

“We entered the upside-down world when a retrograde, regressive, totalitarian, misogynistic, messianic, terrorist regime became – for the time being – the hero of the left. How could it be?," she asked.  

All of this shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. A Harvard Harris Poll shows that  36% of liberals see the Hamas attack on Israeli civilians as justified. Among 18-24 year olds, a majority, 51%, say the killings could be justified.

Overall, a Gallup Poll shows Democrats are more sympathetic to the Palestinians than the Israelis, 49% to 38%.

Democrat strategist Joel Rubin believes if the left abandons progressive Jews who love Israel, there will be a political price. "If you kick out the Jews – the Jews who care about Israel – from progressive coalitions, these progressive coalitions will have no political power and will go down the rabbit hole of looking like antisemites,” Rubin said. 

He added, “One should be able to support Israel and be Jewish and still be progressive but that is now becoming a litmus test in progressive coalitions." 

Historically, antisemitism has existed worldwide in these circles. "The National Socialists Nazi party, they were left of center,” noted presidential historian Craig Shirley. “The textbook definition of socialism is the state controls the means of production and distribution. and that is what Hitler advocated." 

So, while today, liberal Jews break bread with the left on issues of abortion, gay and transgender rights, as well as overall social justice, a split grows between the left and Israel-supporting Jews when it comes to defending Palestinians and terrorists.

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"I am somewhat shocked that people would embrace Hamas, because there's nothing progressive about Hamas,” says George Mason University Law School Professor David Bernstein.“This idea of ‘Queers for Hamas’ or ‘Feminists for Hamas;’ they would kill these people or force them not to drive or not to work if they're women. It's just bizarre." 

Caroline Glick, contributing editor for the Jewish News Syndicate, sees a movement of liberal Jews beginning to fight back. “You're seeing a lot of Jews who are major donors to universities pulling their donations, quitting boards and other major institutions, because they're suddenly realizing that they've been giving many millions of dollars to institutions that have become institutionally antisemitic,” Glick told CBN News. 

For progressive Jews, all of this is a growing dynamic in which they’ll have to push through the pain in order to confront the reality in front of them. 

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