It has only been a couple of months since there were multiple instances of Jews being verbally attacked and physically beaten in the streets by caravans of Palestinian supporters. At the time that was happening the Equity and Inclusion Officer for a children’s book group called The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators issued a condemnation on Facebook.
“The SCBWI unequivocally recognizes that the world’s 14.7 million Jewish people (less than 0.018% of the population) have the right to life, safety, and freedom from scapegoating and fear.” The June 10 post went on to condemn antisemitism as “one of the oldest forms of hatred,” and asked readers to “join us in not looking away.”
Her name is April Powers and soon after posting this unobjectionable message she was out of a job. There’s no real mystery about how it happened. A Palestinian member of the group named Razan Abdin-Adnani responded to the post on Facebook demanding to know when a condemnation of Israeli attacks would be forthcoming. Powers, who is black and Jewish, replied.
Powers replied: “As a new member, you may not have noticed our statements are very recent & reflect surges in hate crimes & violence around the world. If we see a surge against Muslims globally as we have w/ other groups, expect us to speak out.”…
Abdin-Adnani took to Twitter. There, she repeatedly accused Powers and the organization of failing to show solidarity with Muslims and demanded a statement denouncing the violence in Gaza. She also demanded a refund of her membership dues, writing: “I had no idea this was a Zionist/politically motivated organization that doesn’t serve ALL children.”
Both Powers and the group blocked Abdin-Adnani on Twitter but it was too late. The outrage continued to mount and two weeks later the group’s executive director offered an apology for the “pain” caused by their actions. The apology also included an announcement that Powers had resigned. It went on to include a bit of groveling from Powers herself.
She claims that she resigned of her own free will but does admit that she was “terrorized” by angry progressives online. The fact that she was a Jewish woman writing about a disturbing wave of anti-Semitic violence was somehow lost in the mix. And according to Kat Rosenfield who wrote this piece for Bari Weiss’ Substack, that’s really the bottom line of this sad tale:
What happened to April Powers demonstrates how high-minded ideals about intersectionality and social justice now operate in practice. Jews are not seen as a marginalized group in need of protection, nor as the victims of violence fueled by bigotry, or even as voices worth listening to on the topic of antisemitic hate. In a culture obsessed with locating every group in a hierarchy of oppression, Jews simply do not count…
When a group of tiki torch-wielding white nationalists chant “Jews will not replace us!,” the condemnation is swift. But replace the tiki torch with a Palestinian flag, and call the Jews “settler colonialists,” and the equivocations roll in…
It’s crazy because anti-Jewish hate crimes are consistently the most common hate crimes in America. At the end of 2019, I compiled a long list of anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area. Then as now I think it’s pretty clear why the left doesn’t engage in the usual “climate of hate” arguments it adopts whenever such attacks can be blamed on white supremacists. The problem is that these attacks are often coming from other minorities which makes it very awkward for people on the identity politics left to call them out without themselves being accused of racism.