The NY Times published an opinion piece today by a George Washington University sophomore named Blake Flayton. Flayton describes himself as a gay, progressive Jew who supports all the usual left wing causes. But on his campus, that is no longer enough because of one thing: He supports the existence of Israel. As a result, he has been attacked as an “apartheid-enabler” and a “colonial apologist.”
As a sophomore at George Washington University, whose student government last year passed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions proposal, I now find myself pushed to the fringes of a movement I thought I was at the heart of, marginalized as someone suspicious at best and oppressive at worst. This is because I am a Zionist. It is because I, like 95 percent of American Jews, support Israel…
My view is not at all shared by the progressive activist crowd I encountered on campus. They have made it abundantly clear to me and other Jews on campus that any form of Zionism — even my own liberal variant, which criticizes various policies of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and seeks a just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — is a political nonstarter. For this group at my school, and similar groups on campuses and cities around the country, Zionism itself is, to parrot the Soviet propaganda of several decades ago, racist. And anybody who so dares to utter the words “right to exist” is undeniably a proponent of racism…
After the Israeli election in April, I spent a week explaining to my classmates that there were plenty of people in Israel who didn’t vote for Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party, just as there were and are many Americans who oppose President Donald Trump, only to be called an “apartheid-enabler,” a “baby killer” and a “colonial apologist” by my peers in person and on social media…
This is our new normal. On college campuses and in progressive circles across the country, it does not matter if you strongly oppose the right-wing leadership in Israel; if you are a Zionist, you are seen as the enemy. It does not matter if you think President Trump is a monster for smearing Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib; I have been branded “irredeemably problematic” on G.W.’s campus because of my unwillingness to unconditionally support their politics.
Welcome to the party, pal. Seriously, the left-wing attitude he describes is extremely familiar to anyone on the right. It’s a miserable experience to have your views flattened into a one-dimensional caricature by an angry mob, but it’s what the campus left does these days. There’s no room for nuance or discussion. You either accept the far left view in every particular or you get shouted down as a racist, sexist, homophobic bigot.
It’s often instructive to read the comments at the NY Times. In this case, the most recommended comments seem about evenly split between people arguing that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, and others who have experienced the same awful treatment by the left:
From one gay, left-wing Jew to another: I fear the situation is even worse. The protests and articles on my own campus reveal a stunning lack of clarity and knowledge of the most basic facts related to Israel, Palestine, and the conflicts thereof. This “issue” has become an ill-informed proxy for a number of other, often non-related issues to be processed and understood. I’ve resisted acknowledging an anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism relationship for a while, but it’s becoming clear that Jews are, once again, becoming the scapegoats for the ills of the world.
Here’s another one:
I too share your urgent concerns about this issue, and like you can scarcely believe that the political party that has been my home for almost 60 years has been co-opted by such ignorant, myopic and unreasonable forces.
Nearly all of the comments appear to be coming from progressives but this one sounded more like a conservative and I couldn’t agree more:
As this article demonstrates, the mob is drunk with power, indiscriminate, cancelling its own, whatever.
Why anyone is surprised by this is what is really surprising.
Seth Mandel published a thread about this piece on Twitter. He concluded by highlighting this video shot yesterday at Vassar College:
Tonight, as I spoke about how anti-Zionists hung my great grandfather in Iraq, anti-Zionists chanted for my death at Vassar College in NY.
(Note: “from the river to the sea” is a chant used by Hamas when they call for the genocide of all Jews)
Am Israel Chai pic.twitter.com/mMIQWeUPLp
— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) November 15, 2019
This is exactly the same cancel culture behavior we routinely see directed at conservatives who come to speak on campus. I guess my point is that I have no doubt this is a real problem for pro-Israel progressive students like the author of the NY Times piece. He’s right about what he’s seeing and describing. But I think he only needs to lift his head a bit more to realize he’s experiencing a small portion of a much bigger problem with the campus left.