“Jews fare better in open, liberal environments, and less well in closed, illiberal environments. There is nothing inherent about illiberalism spawning antisemitism, but there is — given Jewish history — something inevitable about it.”
In May 2021, as Israel again battled terrorists in the Gaza Strip, the Jewish state was hounded in the press and on social media. Protests erupted in US cities and Jews were attacked on the streets in New York and Los Angeles.
Although this was the fourth major round of fighting since 2008, the backlash felt different this time around, said David Bernstein, a longtime US Jewish community leader. Israel was not given any leeway for self-defense when the conflict broke out, but was immediately demonized as the oppressor in many quarters, he contended.
“The Gaza conflict was a wake-up call,” Bernstein told The Times of Israel in a recent interview, blaming an “underlying ideology” for driving the hostile coverage of the conflict. “I knew that if our society continued on this trajectory we are going to be facing ongoing polarization, disenfranchisement of the Jewish community and growing hostility on both sides of the political spectrum.”
That ideology was the progressive “woke” framework, and the fallout from the conflict spurred him to write a book addressing his views of the issue.
“Woke Antisemitism: How a Progressive Ideology Harms Jews,” published in October, lays out Bernstein’s view of what has come to be known as the woke paradigm, sketching out its intellectual roots, its current manifestation, and how he believes the US Jewish community should approach the ideology.
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