The San Francisco office of the Anti-Defamation League, concerned at the rise of anti-Semitism on the left, is convening a conference tomorrow on the subject.
Finding Our Voice [is] a daylong conference in San Francisco aimed at empowering Jewish progressives to respond to anti-Semitism on the left.
Co-sponsored by more than 50 Jewish organizations from across the political spectrum - including the ADL, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Americans for Peace Now and the Jewish Labor Committee - the conference aims to empower participants to respond to what organizers describe as an alarming trend.
Interestingly enough, no conservative groups are mentioned as participating, belying the claim to represent the entire spectrum. There are plenty of clues that these leftists are in denial.
"Right now it seems that the best way to further progressive causes, and particularly a broader sense of how Jews can be active in peace causes, is to give progressive Jews the tools to constructively address anti-Semitism when it comes up in progressive circles," said Rabbi Jane Litman, a Reform rabbi in Berkeley, Calif.
A lifelong progressive, Litman received death threats during Israel's war last summer against Hezbollah in Lebanon. An exhibition dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a public arts center across the street from her synagogue included images Litman considered hateful, leading her to organize a counter-exhibition to show alternate, peace-oriented images.
"The progressive movement is about tolerance and justice and peace," Litman said. "It seems so strange that hatefulness can have a home there."
How does one "constructively" address anti-Semitism? Which are the good parts that Rabbi Litman supports and wants to build on?
They are deeply puzzled how their own side could hate them.
The left's tolerance for anti-Jewish bigotry is considered strange by many progressive Jews in the Bay Area, who noticed a marked increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric following the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
It is hopeless, of course, to recommend that they read Tmimothy Birdnow's article today, "Paradise Lost: Why the Left Loves Muhammad". Anything coming from a conservative is by definition wrong.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry over the difficulties these people are having grappling with the reality that they have joined the wrong side. For some, it is quite clear that their real religion is leftism, not Judaism:
A spokesperson for Jewish Voice for Peace, a liberal advocacy group working on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said: "From our perspective, you cannot get to the roots of anti-Semitism in the progressive movement without honestly addressing the severe human-rights violations that Israel engages in every day. Judging by the lineup, that kind of honest examination is not likely to happen at this conference."