If anyone wants to understand woke anti-Semitism the diagram above is a good place to start. The core assumption of this view, as I have argued before, is that Israel is the epitome of evil in the world. That is the meaning of its anti-Zionism. 

It goes a lot further than judging Israel by double standards although that is certainly part of the story. Contemporary advocates of social justice see the Jewish state as a uniquely malevolent global force.

This particular graphic conveys the idea by putting Palestine at the centre of a nexus of malign forces. These include capitalism, environmental degradation, misogyny, patriarchy, racism, settler colonialism, toxic masculinity and white supremacy. One tiny state in the Middle East is shown as somehow linking all of these supposed contemporary sins together.

Another way of expressing the same idea is that “Palestine is a litmus test”. In the words of another graphic, reproduced at the bottom of this article, “someone’s stance on Palestine tell you their stance on everything”. As it goes on to say “standing with Palestine means you support liberation, freedom, equality and justice for every single human being on earth”. That is in line with the “we are all Palestinians” chant often heard on anti-Israel protests.

The frequent analogies between Israel and Nazi Germany are another way of expressing the same idea. That the world is locked in a Manichean struggle between good and evil with Israel as the driving force on the side of wickedness.

In that respect a recent article by Hadley Freeman, a British journalist, in the Jewish Chronicle does not go far enough. It is not just that Israel is part of what she calls the “omnicause”. That is it is jumbled together with other woke causes such as gender and the environment. It is that the question of Palestine is seen as the master theme which links all of the other elements together.

The similarities and differences between woke anti-Semitism and the modern anti-Semitism which emerged in Europe in the late nineteenth century are worth noting. 

Classical anti-Semitism saw Jews as representing what it saw as the malign forces of speculative capitalism and modernity within European society. As Hitler put it  Jews were seen as the “bacillus and fermenting agent of all social decomposition”. In this view Jews were behind a powerful conspiracy undermining European society from within.

Woke anti-Semitism, in contrast, sees the conspiracy originating externally, at least from a western point of view, in the state of Israel. Once again Jews are seen as embodying the malign forces of modernity but this time associated with apartheid, colonialism and western values more generally.

Both sets of anti-Semites see Jews as central to a powerful global conspiracy. Both in some senses see Jews as representing what they regard as the noxious forces of modernity and western values. But for classical European anti-Semites the threat originates internally whereas for the new generation of woke anti-Semites its centre is Israel.

***  I do not have the space to explore the question here but I dislike the terms “left anti-Semitism” and “Israelophobia” for similar reasons. Both fail to grasp what is specific about the latest incarnation of anti-Semitism. The former fails to see that the premises of woke anti-Semitism are in many ways antithetical to what used to pass for left wing politics. For example, woke ideas are centred on identity politics rather than the premise that humans can potentially transcend the differences between them. Advocates of what passes for social justice are also hostile to the idea of progress rather than embracing it. The notion of Israelophobia also fails to see that the driving force behind anti-Zionism is different from in the past. 

PS 24 June. It turns out that Mary Harrington, another British writer, wrote about the "omnicause" in November.

The aftermath of the 7 October Hamas pogrom in Israel has made the rethinking of anti-Semitism a more urgent task than ever. Both the extent and character of anti-Semitism is changing. Tragically the open expression of anti-Semitic views is once again becoming respectable. It has also become clearer than ever that anti-Semitism is no longer largely confined to the far right. Woke anti-Semitism and Islamism have also become significant forces.

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