Leftist Jews grapple with anti-Semitism on the left
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.
"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."
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.
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."