A Quick Explainer On Woke Antisemitism
A short guide to the academic concepts and ideology fueling antisemitism on the left
This explainer is adapted from an infographic slideshow created for Instagram and offers an intentionally oversimplified perspective to give a quick overview of the topics. It's not designed to be comprehensive, but the links interspersed within the article will be helpful for those seeking more information.
This is a brief primer on woke antisemitism, inspired by the book Woke Antisemitism by David Bernstein, founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values (JILV). Most people are familiar with antisemitism associated with the far right. JILV was established to confront a specific ideology emerging on the left.
Woke antisemitism, or ideologically-motivated antisemitism from the left, is a progressive dogma that portrays Jewish people as white, privileged, and complicit in white supremacy, thus viewing them inherently as oppressors. Initially an obscure set of academic concepts, the underlying ideology has gained widespread acceptance among the far left.
What is woke?
Wokeism, or Critical Social Justice (CSJ), is a specific ideological approach to addressing perceived injustices between identity groups. It originates from a flawed academic field of study driven by political agendas rather than a commitment to the pursuit of truth.
Woke ideology is concerned with power dynamics. It posits an overly simplistic model of society that categorizes people by their group identity and ranks them as either “oppressors” or “oppressed” in a winner-takes-all conflict. Critics often refer to this obsession with group identity as “identity politics.”
The term woke originates from the idea of being awakened or “woken up” to an awareness of these alleged oppressive power structures that they claim have been set up by the powerful to maintain control.
These systems are called white supremacy, patriarchy, colonialism, cisnormativity, heteronormativity, ableism and fatphobia.
How does the ideology impact the Jewish community?
In their race-obsessed view, Jews are perceived as white and thus possessing privilege and power. Some progressive activists believe any success Jewish people have achieved is not due to merit, but acquired through their complicity in white supremacy.
Woke ideology implicates Jews in the oppression of other minorities due to their perceived group advantage. It feeds the antisemitic trope about Jewish power. Jews are presumed to be powerful and cause the suffering of those who are presumed to be powerless.
What is Decolonization?
In university Humanities departments, the various identity-based “studies” fields, influenced by postmodernism and Marxist-inspired Critical Theory, produce activist scholarship that favors personal perspectives over objectivity and empirical evidence. Because of its unrigorous nature, it has been subject to ridicule and the target of numerous hoaxes.
Palestine Studies, a branch of Postcolonial Theory, equates Zionism with colonialism and white supremacy. It casts Israelis as oppressors and Palestinians as helpless victims without agency. It permits and even encourages violence against perceived oppressors through decolonization.
Where is Woke Antisemitism?
Through corporate diversity programs, it has now become a dominant ideology in mainstream institutions, including many Jewish organizations. As a result, woke antisemitism is now a prominent feature in far-left and progressive circles.
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