Fueled by DEI, A Dangerous Generation of Jew Haters Has Arisen

All Jews, left to right, should be calling for the end of the toxic DEI programs that have seeded this hate and ignorance.
December 21, 2023
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In 1998, I was fortunate to participate in the March of the Living, which took me to the Holocaust concentration camps of Eastern Europe where I saw the horrors that humanity can inflict on others. I use the word “fortunate” because this extremely vivid and intense experience revealed to me how extremism, nationalism, scapegoating, misinformation, fear, hatred and manipulation of the ignorant can lead to truly inhumane and barbaric actions. Throughout this trip, the ideas of “never again” and George Santayana’s “The Life of Reason”— “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”—were omnipresent.

These messages have been with me for decades and I am devastated for humanity around the globe now for it has forgotten too much history and failed to learn from the not-too-distant past. Even worse, the Jewish community has repeatedly turned a blind eye to the woke, progressive revolution that has engulfed not only our colleges and universities but also entire industries like the mass media and Hollywood in the name of allyship to endorse an ideology that explicitly calls for the very destruction of the Jewish people.

Offices of belonging, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) along with historical ignorance and dangerous misinformation on social media platforms have collectively created an incredibly dangerous world for Jews today. From violence, intimidation and murders in cities globally against Jews, to endless calls for the destruction of Israel and dehumanizing rhetoric used against Jews on collegiate campuses nationwide, the Jewish people are under attack and the threat is existential but far too few Jews realize this.

The Israel-Hamas war and the tragic, horrific series of events unleashed the true hate-filled feelings harbored by so many, and the Jewish community must respond and react now. Jews cannot continue to simply make excuses, look the other way, and call for peace in the Middle East because the hate is far deeper: This is not about Israel, it is about all Jews, period.

The antisemitic identity politics that DEI offices and this culture of victimization promote is a sophomorically simple division of the world into oppressors and oppressed and almost any form of action taken to topple the perceived oppressors is considered acceptable, from violence to disruptions. Under this ideology, there is an unshakable belief that Jews are oppressors and that Israel is a “genocidal, settler, colonialist state.”

former DEI official rightfully found that “criticizing Israel and the Jewish people is not only acceptable but praiseworthy” and “if you defend them, you’re actively abetting racist oppression.” These dangerous ideas have infected countless younger Americans and we now have the proof despite so many Jews waiting on their hands and refusing to believe that this ideological virus is real.

Data from the latest Harvard CAPS-Harris poll offers firm evidence of just how deep this indoctrination and dangerous misinformation about Israel and Jewish community have become. Younger Americans, aged 18 through 24, who have grown up and been fully indoctrinated by diversity principles and are deeply ignorant about international history, hold shocking views that are notably divergent from older generations.

When asked about whether the purported grievances of the Palestinians against Israel justify Hamas killing over 1200 Israelis and kidnapping over 250 civilians, for instance, 60 percent of Americans 18 through 24 agree those genocidal actions could be justified and half of the same group support Hamas in the current conflict.

On the question of Israel’s statehood, a third (31 percent) of younger Americans assert that Israel has no right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people. In fact, when asked about the long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a majority of 18- to 24-year-olds (51 percent) responded that “Israel [should] be ended and given to Hamas and the Palestinians” with a minority (31 percent) rejecting a two-state solution or other Arab states absorbing Palestinians (17 percent).

Looking at the impact of this diversity and justice ideology domestically, 79 percent of younger Americans support the idea that white people are oppressors and that “nonwhite people and people of certain groups have been oppressed and as a result should be favored today at universities and for employment;” while a majority of younger Americans think that this ideology is helpful for society. As for Jews specifically within this DEI framework, 67 percent of young Americans think that “Jews as a class are oppressors and should be treated as oppressors.”

What is critical here is that this question refers to Jews collectively—not necessarily Zionists, not the Israeli government, but specifically Jews, many of whom have been on the front lines of social justice and are routinely critical of Israel. Again, regardless of Israel, there is intense hate, antisemitism and ignorance among younger Americans; and while pogroms have not yet begun, we have seen less than a century ago what happens when ideologies and misinformation take over the minds of a young group.

I cannot see how any Jew, on the left or the right, can dismiss these findings. All Jews should be calling for the end of the toxic diversity, equity and inclusion programs that have seeded this hate and ignorance. The Harvard-Harris poll is certainly imperfect as all polls are, but the findings are consistent: It is now clear that younger Americans hold a set of beliefs that call for the destruction of the Jewish homeland and support terror and violence. This should trigger immediate action among the global Jewish community.

We must act now because these same people maintain a worldview that says Jews can be harmed and hurt in the name of justice and equity. As was vividly seen during the Holocaust and now after October 7th in Israel, Jews globally are subject to linked fate—that is, a deep connectedness that minority groups have when under assault—and all Jews should be worried about the fact that a large segment of younger Americans holds such abhorrent views.

Even those Jews who traditionally see themselves on the left and who marched for BLM or are calling for a ceasefire now must understand that they are not viewed as allies; historically the Left eventually turns on itself and that is clear today when it comes to standing up to Jew hate. We must remember this critical piece of human nature as well as the events of the past which came on quickly, like today.

We cannot allow history to repeat itself and all Jews must recognize where young Americans now stand.

Samuel J. Abrams is a professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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