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Author: Tera Welch

Progressives don’t deserve the Jewish vote

This article was originally published in the Washington Times on February 13th, 2024, written by Adam Milstein

It is no secret that Jewish Americans have historically skewed left politically. We have long been considered an important voting bloc for Democrats, and our involvement in the Democratic Party dates as far back as the early days of the labor movement.

In recent years, however, radical progressives have begun to take over the Democratic Party. These progressives are proud anti-Zionists who frequently cross the line into antisemitism. Their takeover of the party has unsurprisingly alienated Jewish voters. But this has never been more apparent than in the aftermath of Hamas‘ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

When Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, they set out to kill as many Jews as possible, to exterminate our people, and abolish the Jewish state. It was the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust — this was the goal, and Hamas was clear about that.

The United States has always been an important ally to Israel, so we expected our allies to stand with us. As American Jews, we expected an unequivocal condemnation of these horrific acts of violence from leaders across the political spectrum. But that did not happen. Instead, when pro-Hamas protesters flooded the streets chanting for the destruction of Israel, the progressive left turned a blind eye.

This came as a shock to some because liberal American Jews have long supported progressive causes. From supporting the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s to fighting for LGBTQ rights to supporting critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in education, liberal American Jews have often been at the front lines of promoting progressive causes. By and large, we have fought for, supported, and voted for civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, racial equality, and religious freedom.

As a result, many of us felt blindsided and even betrayed when our political leaders and fellow activists turned their backs on us. Instead of condemning the terrorists who slaughtered, tortured, and kidnapped our people, they called us colonizers. Instead of mourning with us, they callously blamed Israel for the bloodshed.

In the weeks after the Oct. 7 attack, antisemitic incidents reportedly increased by 400% in the United States. This concerning surge in antisemitism has not subsided over the last two months; it has only gotten worse. Progressive leaders and activists not only refuse to speak out against this, but many of them are actively involved.

Unsurprisingly, American universities have become hotbeds of antisemitism. At two universities, pro-Hamas protesters called for “glory to the martyrs.” At the University of California, Berkeley, a professor offered students extra credit to attend a protest hosted by an antisemitic organization. At Harvard, students notoriously wrote a letter blaming Israel for the violence perpetrated by Hamas. And all the while, faculty and university leaders turned a blind eye or worse, encouraged this behavior.

In theory, the CRT and DEI initiatives that many of us supported were supposed to foster inclusive environments that welcome those of all racial and religious backgrounds. These initiatives should encourage a variety of beliefs and diversity of thought. Instead, DEI and CRT have been used by the radical left to create an “us vs. them” mentality and promote victimhood. DEI and CRT adherents welcome minorities, but only “the right kind” of minorities.

What many liberal Jews failed to realize is that we do not fall into that category. From a DEI perspective, Jewish people are not oppressed; they are the oppressors. They are not marginalized or persecuted; they are colonizers. This line of thinking has allowed antisemites to come out of the shadows under the guise of righteousness, and it sets an incredibly dangerous precedent.

Just last week, Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Cori Bush of Missouri voted against a bill to bar all Hamas members and anyone involved in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel from entering the United States. They said the bill was “anti-Arab,” “anti-Palestinian” and “anti-Muslim.” They made no mention of the Jewish people, whom this bill was written to protect.

A November poll found that 70% of American Jews reported feeling less safe since the start of the IsraelHamas war. Yet the progressives in Congress continue to turn their backs on the Jewish people.

American Jews are now refusing to support or donate to academic institutions that refuse to condemn antisemitism. A number of wealthy, high-profile donors have pulled funding from Harvard and other well-known universities. So far, we have seen some results, with a number of failed university presidents stepping down.

But this is just the beginning. We need to continue to fight the DEI programs that allowed antisemitism to take root in the first place, and we need to take the fight to the political arena. As the 2024 elections approach, American Jews will have an opportunity to take progressive politicians to task for their failure to support the Jewish community. No longer can the Democratic Party blindly count on the Jewish vote. The left has taken us for granted for too long. This is the year we say, no more.

 

Adam Milstein is a business investor and a venture philanthropist. A native of Israel, he served in the Israeli Defense Forces during the Yom Kippur War and immigrated to the U.S. in 1981, earned an MBA from the University of Southern California and began a career in commercial real estate. He is a co-founder and board member of the Israeli-American Council and served as its national chairman from 2015 to 2019, as well as the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation.

As Liberal Jews Feel abandoned by the Left — What’s next?

This article was originally published in the Jerusalem Post on January 10th, 2024, written by Adam Milstein

All Jews agree on one thing…that all Jews never agree. At any Jewish gathering around the world, you’ll hear heated debates on food, religion, culture, and everything in between. Politics are no different, but the debate is louder.

James Baker once said “F*** the Jews, they don’t vote for us.” While perhaps untrue, Baker’s sentiment reflected a historical American Jewish political truism – the Jewish community votes Democrat. Since the early 1990’s, a growing number of Jews have shifted rightward, but the majority of the Jewish-American community reside in the “liberal” camp.

After the October 7th terrorist attack, prior to Israel’s ground operation in Gaza, the true sentiment of the left towards Jews was exposed. Protests on college campuses, airports, freeways, bridges, outside synagogues, and Holocaust museums forced Jewish Americans to face a stark reality. Leftist and their Muslim allies were exposed not only as anti-Israel but as plainly anti-Jewish groups. Mobilizing under a guise of liberation (“From the River to the Sea”), and civil rights (“justice” in Palestine), one thing became increasingly clear – for a large coalition of leftists and Muslims in America, Jews have no right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland and deserve no safety anywhere.

Liberal Jews’ residence among American leftists is now in peril.

The Shock 

Historically and for good reason, Jews have been fixated on the antisemitism from the far right as our greatest threat. This focus on antisemitism’s political affiliation left us vulnerable. We have virtually ignored the growing warning signs of antisemitism from the Islamo-leftist camp. After all, Jews were an integral part of the left. In the name of Tzedek (Justice), we’ve marched with every marginalized community throughout American history. Yet, on October 7th, 2023, we marched alone. As our women had blood dripping down their legs, women’s rights groups didn’t express any outrage. They stood silent. As our children were identified by their ashes, children’s rights organizations were nowhere to be found. And as our civilians were brutalized, all human, civil, and LGBTQ+ rights didn’t march, didn’t organize, and didn’t protest. On the contrary – they stood with the attackers.

In the wake of October 7th, American Jews were left speechless. The wakeup call has been loud. The Jewish political home, the American left, turns a blind eye to war crimes and to the sexual mutilation of women, children and men when the victims are Jews. It has become evidently clear that in leftist spaces, the American Jew is dehumanized as a mere “oppressor”, an “Occupier”, a “Colonialist”, “White privileged”, and “Apartheid” supporter. Compassion for the deep trauma Jews sustained was nowhere to be found.

One must wonder, if killing Jews and raping women in Israel is ‘just’ and legitimate under the guise of a victim using ‘resistance by any means necessary’, what prevents our enemies from committing the same crimes in America? And where can liberal Jews find a political home?

The Evolution 

Jewish-Americans, motivated by our people’s values, traditions and history, gravitated to the political left in America. With an emphasis on Tikkun Olam, American Jews embraced a critical role in social justice movements throughout history. Our commitment to ‘repair the world’ found common cause with social movements on the left, solidifying the Jewish liberal alignment.

We memorialize female ancestors like Deborah, who personified courage as the “woman of torches”. And we lionize Esther who taught of female strength and resilience and Ruth who embodied integrity and diligence. Guided by these matriarchs, Jews across the nation fought for women’s rights and Jewish women like Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug led the feminist movement.

Our scripture mandates us to advocate for the marginalized – “what is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a). Embedded in Jewish tradition is the notion that all man is “created in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). Just as Abraham didn’t turn anyone from his tent, Jews fought for the rights of Black Americans. Jews helped establish the NAACP in 1909. And in 1965, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel embodied the Jewish community’s collective support for civil rights as he marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma.

In 1967, Rabbis joined Cesar Chavez and urged Kosher communities to only support union grapes as the non-union grapes were forbidden as Oshek. The Jewish community continued its activism throughout the 2020 marches for Black lives and then again in 2021 to stop Asian hate.

Jewish Americans have served as indispensable allies, leaders, and activists on issues of human dignity, civil rights, and progress throughout American history. This allyship with the left was presumed to be reciprocal. October 7th changed everything.

The Reality Check

In recent years, Critical Race Theory (CRT), Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ideology and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement carved out large pieces within the left’s agenda. Many liberal Jews have supported these developments believing that they’re the next phase of a long tradition of liberal activism. They were mistaken, no allyship with CRT, DEI, and BLM will protect them. Jews who tirelessly fight for acceptance and admittance in the intersectionality coalition will remain disappointed. We are not welcome.

Enamored with the seemingly laudable goals of DEI: to promote the representation, participation, and fair treatment of historically marginalized groups, liberal Jews ignored DEI promoters, and CRT advocates, as they advanced a radical agenda to fundamentally undermine American values. For years they have been promoting equality of outcome over equality of opportunity, collective identity (race, gender, etc.) over individual character, censorship of opposing viewpoints over freedom of speech, and a “victimhood Olympics” culture that crudely bifurcates society into oppressors and oppressed.

Liberal Jews failed to recognize how CRT and DEI initiatives, and intersectional theory would be weaponized against them. And today, we see how Jewish students are maliciously portrayed as wanton oppressors and colonialist abettors. American universities who fully adopted these doctrines are now hotbeds of antisemitism due to embedded leftist orthodoxy.

The Next Steps

So, where do liberal Jews go from here?

The “October 8th Jew” as Bret Stephens coined it, recognizes their home as a centrist. The October 8th Jew knows that the extreme left, like the extreme right before it, is no political home. The October 8th Jew is united in the mission to fight enemies of America, who always come first for the Jews. “Never again” must be backed by action and Jewish unity.

First, no more blind voting for Democrats or Republican for the sake of historical precedent. All Jews, including liberal Jews, must adopt a litmus test for candidates and support only those determined to fight antisemitism and support the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Second, pull support from organizations and academic institutions that promote the erasure of Jewish suffering and tacitly endorse Jew-hatred.

And finally, unite and support American organizations that protect and promote equality and inclusion rather than division and an ideology that aims to destroy Jewish life and American values.

Adam Milstein is an Israeli-American “Venture Philanthropist.” He can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @AdamMilstein, and on Facebook www.facebook.com/AdamMilsteinCP.

This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world. 

Attacks on Jews are an attack on the West

This article was originally published in the Jerusalem Post on December 2nd, 2023, written by Adam Milstein

On October 7, Hamas attacked Israel, massacring 1,200 Israeli civilians in cold blood, and wounding thousands, including women, children, and the elderly. 240 people – including infants and Holocaust survivors – were kidnapped and taken to Gaza.

What was the response from the world?

Jewish institutions have been vandalized. Jews have been murdered on the street and attacked in their homes. Crowds have called for the annihilation of the Jewish state and to clean the world of Jews on college campuses.  Celebrities and influencers have openly supported Hamas. The horrific list of unimaginable reactions goes on and on.

Is this just about the Jews?

Jews are history’s “canary in the coal mine.” Where Jews have faced persecution and expulsion, it is usually a sign that darker forces are taking hold that will degrade, diminish, and often, destroy the broader society.

While classical antisemitism drove the persecution and murder of Jews for centuries, the largest force behind the recent wave of hatred stems from the “red-green alliance” – an unholy coalition between Islamists and radical leftists.

Although Jews are a major target of these Islamo-Leftist groups, their ultimate target has always been America and Western civilization. The wave of antisemitism flooding America since October 7 is a stark reminder that Antisemitism is first and utmost an American problem, it’s a danger to America – and the core values that have been the bedrock of this country’s rise.

It’s not a coincidence that every “pro-Hamas” march and rally – disguised as “Pro-Palestinian” – is drenched not only in antisemitic imagery and rhetoric, but also in anti-American vitriol. American flags are burnt alongside Israeli flags. Calls for the destruction of Israel are followed by Anti-American chants. When Israel and the Jewish community are assaulted, American civil liberties and values like freedom of speech and freedom of religion are also being attacked.

For the first time in a long time, the Jewish community is waking up to recognize what I’ve long warned. Our community is not safe even in America. My experience in the Yom Kippur War, fighting for Israel’s existence, cemented my belief that for the Jewish people to survive, we’d have to take our fate into our own hands. The world will not ensure it for us.

But we must also recognize that we can’t do it alone.

While Israel is waging a war to eliminate Islamist terror groups, we as Americans must stand beside her. Because all of us have a big stake in the outcome of this war between radicalism and the humanistic values that underly the best of our society.

We must do several things.

First, we must inform the American people about the nature of this threats and empower all of us to act.We must expose the Islamo-Leftist radical movements that fuel the spread of this hatred against Jews and America. This means supporting research and organizations that identify these networks and uncover the money trails exposing their ideology, agendas, and Modus operandi.

This research will wake up Americans to the danger of these radical movements and encourage them to stand up and fight back.

Second, we must stop the indoctrination of our next generation.

College campuses in America, once bastions of intellectualism, education, tolerance, and Jewish upward-mobility, are sadly now ground zero for American and Jewish hatred. Hiding behind concepts, often funded by foreign nations, like “CRT,” “Intersectionality,” “DEI,” and other progressive doctrines, K-12 schools and universities have been co-opted, infected, and poisoned by radical activists that paint Israel and America as “colonialists” and “racist” and the Jewish and American people as “oppressors.”

In response, parents must inform and prepare their children for the propaganda they’ll face. They need to learn the true history of America and the Jewish people, the importance of the Israel-US alliance. And they need to do so in an unbiased environment.

In addition, fostering a strong sense of Jewish identity in Jewish children is an investment in their connection to their roots, a commitment to the principles of justice, and a dedication to securing the Jewish people and States future.

Third, we must get serious about the information war.

There is a well-funded, organized campaign being waged on digital platforms across the globe. Bot armies, cyber-attacks, and fake avatars are driven by one mission – to obfuscate the truth, bend public opinion against America and Israel and stir animosity against Christians and Jews. In addition, TikTok and other social media platforms where teens spend hours every day are infested with hate and anti-Jewish propaganda.

It’s imperative that philanthropists’, foundations’, and individuals’ work not only focuses on exposing these tactics, but on combatting them on the digital battlefield. We must use social networks the same way our enemies do. And we must invest in organizations that hold the media accountable to the standards of a fair and free press.

Our numbers are small, and our enemies are many. To be successful, the organizations on the front lines must work together and create synergies to create a force multiplier effect of their efforts.

Fourth, we must support policymakers to take action and pass legislation that curbs the influence of hate movements in our institutions – from K-12 institutions to colleges to workplaces to the government. Finally, we must stop apologizing.

Immediately after October 7, much of the world demonstrated their support for Israel. We knew this sentiment wouldn’t last, and it hasn’t. As the war continues, and by all accounts, it will continue for a long time, Jews must remain steadfast, resilient, and collectively embody the mindset of stubborn sabras.

Regardless of the measures Israel takes to make peace, independent of their herculean efforts to avoid civilian casualties, and to abide by international law (even though its enemies never do), it will never be enough. We must accept the fact that the world will never tolerate a Jewish state that defends itself.  We must stop equivocating. Stop justifying. And stop explaining. To ensure the future of Jews in Israel and the Diaspora, and that of all Americans who care about our core values, all of us need to stand strong and united.

The road ahead for the people Israel will not be smooth, but it never has been. Since October 7, behind the horror, the tears, the fear, and the anger, there’s a clarity of conscience. Our enemies have never been more exposed, their intentions for our destruction have never been more obvious, and our collective determination for survival has never been more resolute. If we remain steadfast and strategic, we will win.

Adam Milstein is an Israeli-American “Venture Philanthropist.” He can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter, and on Facebook

This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world.