Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Has AIPAC Invested Any Substantial Money in GOP Primaries?

Yesterday was a big primary day, and there are a lot of storylines being bandied about. One close to my neck of the political woods has been AIPAC's heavy investments in Democratic primaries attacking candidates it perceives as insufficiently pro-Israel. Their success rate was mixed -- two AIPAC-backed Democrats, Valerie Foushee and Don Davis, won in North Carolina, but in Pennsylvania Summer Lee looks to have narrowly defeated Steve Irwin for the Democratic nomination in a Pittsburgh-area seat where AIPAC dumped $2.7 million in on Irwin's behalf (AIPAC spent over $2 million on each of the North Carolina races).

Seven million dollars is quite a bit of cash on three Democratic primaries (in another race, AIPAC has backed Rep. Henry Cuellar in his primary run-off against Jessica Cisneros to the tune of $1.2 million). My question is whether there are any GOP races where AIPAC has spent equivalent sums seeking to ensure that its preferred candidate wins (or -- perhaps more saliently -- that a dispreferred candidate does not)?

I haven't heard of such expenditures, though I won't pretend I'm such an eagle eye that I'd necessarily spot them if they'd occurred -- that's why I'm asking! Still, my guess is that the answer is no, they haven't (this disclosure also suggests that AIPAC's United Democracy Project super PAC has only spent money on Democratic races). And the reason for my guess is that there aren't any credible Republican candidates whose positions AIPAC considers unacceptable on Israel. I could dimly imagine that they might have gone in against Thomas Massie, whom they've sparred with in the past over Iron Dome funding, but Massie cruised to victory last night with 75% of the vote.

What we're really seeing -- and this isn't a shocking revelation -- is that AIPAC has no meaningful "right-wing" boundary to what it considers acceptably pro-Israel. Absent David Duke style neo-Nazi anti-Zionism -- which actually is starting to nibble into the conservative mainstream but hasn't yet manifested on any national stage to my knowledge -- it is fine with literally any GOP position on Israel, no matter how conservative. One-stateism, pro-apartheid, pro-settlement -- nothing is off-limits to AIPAC. It may pay lip service to supporting a "two-state solution", but when it comes to things that actually get them off the couch and spending money, all the action occurs on the Democratic side of the aisle.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The (Non-)Prevalence Problem of CRT

Years ago, I remember reading a famous paradox concerning how Americans viewed the subject of foreign aid. If you asked them "should the US spend more or less on foreign aid," most Americans would answer "less" -- they thought we spent way too much money on the issue. But when you asked them to estimate how much the United States spent on foreign aid each year, they gave an answer that was an order of magnitude higher than what we actually spent. And worst of all, if you asked them how much they thought we should spend on foreign aid, their answer was still far higher than what we actually did spend -- and remember, this is from people who thought their position was that we needed to cut foreign aid!

At one level, this confluence mostly just shows that most people are innumerate. But taking it somewhat at face value, there is a nettlesome political puzzle here. What does one do if people say they want to adopt position X, but actually advocate for moving away from X, because they are under the misapprehension that the status quo is on the far side of X and thus believe that moving away from X actually means moving towards it?

This is a problem with some folks who've joined up on the "anti-Critical Race Theory" crusade. Of course, there are plenty of people who make no bones about their position -- they think CRT is a Globalist Marxist Socialist Communist Soros Triple Parenthesis plot, and they want to destroy it. But others at least purport to believe that Critical Race Theory should be taught, it just shouldn't be the only thing that is taught. For instance, David Bernstein of the "Jewish Institute for Liberal Values", a prominent anti-CRT voice in the Jewish community, took the position that any school which teaches a "traditional" narrative about civil rights should also teach a CRT perspective.


Now here's the thing. If your opinion is that every school should teach both a "traditional" and "CRT" style approach to civil rights, you are advocating for a position that is way to the left of the status quo. The vast majority of primary and secondary schools in the United States do not teach "CRT" at all. In some small number, you might get a CRT-influenced approach in conjunction with more traditional accounts. The number of students who are only being exposed to CRT, and no other perspective, is absolutely negligible. Objectively speaking, if your view is "students should hear both traditional and CRT views", you should be pushing for far more inclusion of CRT into public school curricula than is present in the status quo.

In other words, the entirety of the barrier to getting to the world Bernstein claims he wants to see comes from folks like the Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, who's trying to get the University of Wisconsin to rescind its hiring of respected scholar Jennifer Mnookin as Dean because Mnookin (this is a direct quote) "supports critical race theory being taught on campus". It's Texas passing laws limiting what can be taught in the classroom with the express goal of seeking to "abolish" CRT. It's Florida with a veritable cavalcade of legislation seeking to target and suppress "woke" ideologies.

Yet Bernstein, like the ill-informed respondent on foreign aid, has adopted a politics that sprints off in the exact opposite direction from where he claims he wants to go, because he has a wildly off-base assessment of how common Critical Race Theory is. He thinks CRT is everywhere, so getting to a position of even-handedness means pushing back against CRT's hegemony, even if it means making common cause with some unsavory actors. The reality is that CRT is still relatively obscure for most Americans, and so getting to evenhandedness would mean a more aggressive deployment of CRT into the American educational curriculum than would be dreamed by even the philosophy's most fervent supporters. 

Is he actually that ignorant about the true (non-)prevalence of CRT in the American educational system? I think he probably isn't; but there is something to be said for a certain type of elite who forgets the world exists more than 10 miles beyond Brooklyn and so confuses what is commonplace in a Williamsburg coffeeshop with the national status quo. A little of column B, a little (a lot) of column B, I'd wager. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

The PA Has All the Leverage When It Comes To Investigating Shireen Abu Aqleh's Death

Earlier this week, Shireen Abu Aqleh, a highly respected Palestinian journalist, was killed during an Israeli raid in the West Bank. Eyewitnesses contend that Israeli soldiers shot her, and the bulk of the evidence points in that direction, though Israel maintains it has not yet been conclusively established who fired the bullet. Israel has asked the PA to conduct a joint inquiry into Abu Aqleh's death, but the PA has thus far refused -- preferring to conduct its own investigation and communicate the results to the US and Qatar (Abu Aqleh worked for the Qatar-based al-Jazeera, and she was a U.S. citizen).

As I said, as of right now the evidence strongly points towards the conclusion that an Israeli soldier killed Abu Aqleh. That corresponds with eyewitness testimony (including testimony that, at the time of the shooting, there were no Palestinian militants operating in the area). The bullet fired is one that is used by both IDF and Palestinian forces, so that washes. And an early video which purported to show Palestinian gunmen as the perpetrators has basically been debunked (the video was taken in an area that was nowhere near where Ms. Abu Aqleh was shot and from where it would have been effectively impossible for her to have been hit by any fired round).

Given all this, the fallback position of Israel's online defenders has been to cry foul over the PA refusing to cooperate with Israel in jointly investigating the event. "Why don't they want the truth?" "What are they trying to hide?"

But the fact remains that the PA has very little incentive to cooperate with Israel here, and "truth" has little (though not nothing) to do with why.

There is basically one, and only one, thing a joint investigation with Israel might be able to offer to the PA that it cannot get on its own. It's not access to the "true story" -- most people believe, and most of the available evidence suggests, that Israel is responsible for killing Ms. Abu Aqleh, and the marginal benefit of "confirming" that belief (whatever that means) is likely to be minimal even if we thought that a joint investigation would make such confirmation more likely.

Rather, what Israel might be able to provide that the PA almost certainly cannot get on its own is information on the actual individual who fired the bullet. If the goal is to see a particular John Doe face potential criminal consequences for killing Ms. Abu Aqleh, then a joint investigation is probably necessary.

That's the incentive for cooperation: not just the "truth", in the abstract, but the specific possibility that the investigation will reveal the personal identity of the shooter, who then will face material and appropriate consequences. What are the risks?

It is true that, from a bloodless, political vantage, the status quo of the narrative on this story is already one aligned with the PA's interests. Most people believe, and most of the available evidence suggests, that Israel is responsible for killing Ms. Abu Aqleh. An investigation could confirm that belief, or refute it, or muddy it up ("we cannot know for certain ..."). From the PA's vantage point, the latter two outcomes are very bad. And that's assuming the Israelis investigate in good faith, a stipulation that even some Israeli government officials concede is not one that Israel is entitled to receive.

The risk, in short, is not just that "the evidence" won't back up the prevailing narrative, it's also either that a bad faith Israeli investigation claims exculpation, or (whether in good or bad faith) the investigation only acts to kick sufficient dust around the issue so as to blunt calls for accountability. The PA presumably deems these risks to be quite weighty; and that fear cannot be dismissed as unfounded. And unfortunately, sans the unlikely event of absolute incontrovertible evidence emerging (which seems unlikely), any outcome other than "all parties agree an Israeli soldier was the shooter" -- whether it's (1) Israel lying about whether one of its soldiers killed Ms. Abu Aqleh, (2) it being genuinely not knowable whether an Israeli soldier killed Ms. Abu Aquleh, and (3) an Israeli soldier actually not having killed Ms. Abu Aquleh -- are largely going to be observationally equivalent.

So the choice of whether the PA should cooperate with Israel can be summarized as a weighing of the following probabilities:

P(Israel identifies a specific soldier who shot Ms. Abu Aqleh and subjects that soldier to adequate criminal possibility)

vs.

P(Joint investigation genuinely reveals Israel wasn't responsible) or

P(Israel in bad faith uses investigation to disclaim responsibility) or

P(Investigation, whether in good or bad faith, cannot decisively establish who bears responsibility)

Simply put, it strikes me as very hard to argue that the first probability is high enough to outweigh the latter three. Again, the PA has no reason to believe Israel will investigate itself fairly. Nor does it have much cause to believe that, even if Israel did identify a discrete perpetrator, that it would subject him to meaningful criminal sanctions. The most prominent recent case of an Israeli soldier being convicted of homicide against a Palestinian actor was Elor Azaria, who served a mere nine months for manslaughter after shooting a disarmed and incapacitated Palestinian assailant -- even that short sentence occurring in the face of massive public pressure supporting Azaria (something like two-thirds of Jewish Israelis backed pardoning him outright). I suspect the PA weighs the likelihood of the first probability -- that the investigation will fairly seek out the perpetrator and that the IDF will identify him if it is an IDF soldier and that the Israeli justice system will adequately punish him for any criminal misconduct -- as essentially nil.

In an ideal world, a joint investigation would still be the best outcome: if all sides act in good faith, a joint investigation is most likely to get at "truth" and most likely to identify any perpetrators who ought to face criminal liability. In the world we have, we cannot assume good faith and so we cannot assume a joint investigation in any way makes the "truth" more likely to come out. In practice, the PA has no doubt written off the realistic possibility that it will get the name of any Israeli soldier who shot Ms. Abu Aqleh, much less that he will face significant criminal consequences. Given that, the PA has zero incentive to give Israel the opportunity to blur the extant public narrative of this case; while Israel has every interest in hoping something ("truthful" or otherwise) will alter the prevailing discourse. 

In this environment, the PA has all the leverage, and it's up to Israel to offer something that the PA wants to make a joint investigation worth the latter's while. The most obvious thing Israel might be able to offer is the prospect that, if a perpetrator is found, he will face meaningful justice. It is hard for me to imagine how Israel could make that commitment in a manner that the PA would find credible -- unless, of course, Israel is able on its own initiative to find and arrest the shooter. If it can't do that (whether because it doesn't actually want to, or because it isn't actually able, or because no such shooter exists), I don't know what it could do that would make the PA inclined to be cooperative.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

"Ex Post Facto" Abortion Prosecutions

I don't want to give any grandstanding GOP District Attorney ideas here, but I have a question about potential legal jeopardy of women who had abortions while Roe was good law following its likely invalidation in Dobbs.

If you've seen the maps about the status of abortion rights post-Roe, you've likely seen figures suggesting about half the states in America would ban abortion in Dobbs' immediate aftermath. Some of these are just states which are poised to act when Roe falls. Others have so-called "trigger" laws, which would criminalize abortion starting from the moment Roe is overturned.

But in at least a few states, there were laws which pre-dated Roe banning abortion that have never been repealed. And that, to my somewhat untrained eye,  presents a big problem for women in those states who may have had an abortion during the Roe era.

When a law is "struck down" as unconstitutional, it is not, as is popularly held, stricken from the books. The law still exists, it is just practically unenforceable. One effect of Dobbs would be to resurrect these zombie laws. But the question is whether the prohibitions found in those laws could be used to prosecute women who had an abortion while Roe was still in effect.

The instinctive answer is no, because the constitution prohibits ex post facto criminal lawmaking. You cannot criminalize conduct retroactively. So a state could not newly criminalize abortion and make that law apply to conduct that occurred before the law was passed. That would characterize many of the "immediate" abortion ban states; including, I think, the "trigger" law states.

But in the case of our states that simply kept their pre-Roe abortion prohibitions on the books, things may be different. The argument there would be that abortion was always illegal in those states, including during the Roe period. Yes, those laws couldn't be enforced during Roe's pendency, but the criminal prohibition was still on the books at the time the woman had the abortion in question. It will not be Dobbs that criminalizes abortion in these states, Dobbs will just remove the barrier that had prevented the state from enforcing its always-operative anti-abortion statute. It's as if you committed a crime but the DA couldn't prosecute because his hands were literally tied behind his back. Once he is freed from restraints, you cannot then say "well, I acted relying on the knowledge that the DA was incapacitated".

Does the rule against ex post facto criminal laws prevent prosecutions in such a case? It is far from clear to me that the answer is yes. Women in states that had continuous abortion bans in place during the Roe era may be at real risk of prosecution (assuming they're within the relevant statute of limitations). Yet another way that overturning Roe will wreak havoc on the settled expectations of millions of American women.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

A Quick Clarification on "Replace" (as in "Jews Will Not ...")

Apropos of nothing in particular, I thought it was worth noting an easily-overlooked elision that sometimes makes the antisemitic chant "Jews will not replace us" more opaque than it need be. 

Some hear the chant "Jews will not replace us" and, in addition to being appalled, are perplexed. How could Jews "replace" White people when there are so few of us?

The issue comes from an ambiguity in the term "replace". Imagine you're at a baseball game, and you hear the sentence "Smith replaced Jones on the pitcher's mound." That sentence could mean one of two things:

  1. Smith could be the relief pitcher; the person who takes Jones' place upon the latter leaving the game.
  2. Smith could be the manager; the person who made the call to remove Jones from the game.
In the context of "Jews will not replace us", I think the latter meaning is far more likely to be operative. Jews are posited to be the power-behind-the-scenes that is making the decision to "replace" White people. This, of course, does not require any particular numerical supremacy, and it fits well with general White Supremacist tropes that obsess about Jewish hyperpower and shadowy control. It merges, in turn, with paranoia about racial minority groups (particularly immigrants), who in the antisemitic imagination are being brought to America by Jews in order to replace White people (so the immigrants are the "replacers" in the first sense of the word). Fitted together thus, the chant "works" -- or works, at any rate, within the warped and hateful confines of the White supremacist imagination.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

On the Ohio Primaries (Vance, Mandel, Brown, and Turner)

Ohio's primaries are in the books. The two biggest stories, at least from my vantage, are J.D. Vance defeating Josh Mandel (and some other members of the clown car) for the GOP Senate nomination, and Shontel Brown stomping Nina Turner in their House rematch.

On the first: the choice between Vance and Mandel in the GOP primary has been a constant source of agony for me. Both are I think equally dangerous, and both are I think (sadly) favored to win the general against Democratic nominee Tim Ryan. So the only transient joy I knew I'd get would be that at least one of these sniveling spineless far-right weasel hacks would go down in ignoble primary defeat. But if forced to choose, which one did I most want to see humiliated?

There's an old psychologist's trick in situations like these where you're agonizing over a decision: you're just told an outcome and then measure your gut reaction to the news. On that front, when I first saw the initial returns suggesting Josh Mandel was going to lose, my immediate, uncontrolled, visceral response was elation. Yes, it's a bitter pill that J.D. Vance won. But Mandel is just absolutely loathsome, and has been for years. I joked (and it's barely a joke) that had he been elected, he potentially would have made history as the first Jew to ever be the most antisemitic member of the Senate. There are few people who more deserve crushing humiliation than him, and on a week like this I'll take the joy where I can get it (plus I think that Vance may be a marginally weaker candidate against Tim Ryan).

Which brings us to the Brown/Turner race, which Brown is winning by about 33 points (compared to a 6 point victory in their 2021 special election contest). Rematches like this -- a quick repeat of an close open-seat contest -- very rarely go well for the round one loser (see also: Rashida Tlaib/Brenda Jones), and it was hard to see what Nina Turner's path to victory was here. But then, it was hard to see what Turner's theory was for why Brown should be turned out of office so quickly other than "it is cosmically unfair that I am not in Congress already." The closest thing she has to a concession up on her Twitter is a retweeted rant from Marianne Williamson of all people blaming Turner's defeat on the "Democratic machine" and "abandonment by progressive Congressional leadership". One might think that if both the "machine" and the "progressives" have lined up against you, then you don't have much of a lane in Democratic Party politics. And maybe Turner agrees, since she's apparently now planning to parlay two consecutive losses in congressional races into an independent 2024 presidential run. Ugh ugh ugh. That woman's ego could power Trump Tower. 

Tell Me Who To Vote For, Portland Edition

It's primary season here in Oregon, and I'm new in town. Consequently, I don't know a ton about local politics here. I'm trying to learn -- I know that homelessness is, by far, the most important issue driving local politics, though I don't have a firm grasp on what the relevant policy divisions are -- but it probably won't happen in time for me to cast a ballot.

So I'll give the races I'm interested in and my preliminary lean, but I am open to more information and persuasion. If you're a Portlander and/or Oregonian, feel free to give me your take and/or efforts at persuasion.

Governor: Tina Kotek.

Of the two major candidates running, Kotek is the more progressive, but she's got a lot of institutional experience as former state house speaker. That's my sweet spot. Plus, the Oregonian endorsed her with the single hesitation that she may have been too ruthless in dealing with state Republicans, which, I have to be honest, I'm not viewing as a downside right now.

State Rep. (38th District): No lean

Daniel Nguyen vs. Neelam Gupta. It seems like Gupta is positioned as the relative progressive to Nguyen's moderate, but I don't have a strong sense of what that means in practice. To be honest, both of their campaign websites were pretty thin. Nguyen's seemed even thinner than Gupta's, but Nguyen seemed to have at least a little more experience. Maybe the tiniest lean towards Gupta, but a stiff breeze could push me the other way.

Bureau of Labor Commissioner: Christina Stephenson

Basing this solely on the Oregonian's endorsement, but they made a good case (and the other candidates they "considered" didn't really wow me).

Multnomah County Commission Chair: Sharon Meieran

A very soft lean here compared to Jessica Vega Pederson. Meieran represents my part of Portland on the city commission, and I like my part of Portland, so she gets some positive feelings off that. She also seemed to have non-platitude plans for dealing with issues like homelessness. Sharia Mayfield is pretty much out for me because she lacks significant political experience. Lori Stegmann doesn't grab me but you're welcome to make your case.

Multnomah County Sheriff: No lean

The Oregonian endorsed Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell, but there doesn't seem to be a lot between her and Derrick Peterson. Very open to persuasion here.

Portland Commissioner (Position 2): Dan Ryan 

Won a special election and now is the incumbent. Seems like a thoughtful guy doing a good job. AJ McCreary seems like the sort of activist-y tinged insurgent candidate that I worry won't actually be effective once in office.

Portland Commissioner (Position 3): Jo Ann Hardesty or Vadim Mozyrsky

Hardesty is the incumbent, and made her name securing some big wins for police accountability. That's worthwhile. But she also seems to have that simplistic activist-y mentality that drives me bonkers, and is limiting her ability to broaden her accomplishments. Simply intoning "it's developers' fault" isn't actually the basis for a policy reform. The Oregonian endorsed Rene Gonzalez, but criminalizing homelessness doesn't actually appeal to me, so he's out. Mozyrsky seems like a boring bureaucratic functionary type, which very much appeals to me, but I have no idea where he actually stands on anything. The Willamette Week's endorsement write-up captures my ambivalence well.

Portland Auditor: Simone Rede

It would take a lot for me to pick an Our Revolution/Green Party type (Rede's opponent, Brian Setzler) when there's a credible alternative in the Democratic field.

Metro Council President: Lynn Peterson

A light lean, but here my bias for experienced incumbents benefits the progressive over the centrist challenger (Alisa Pyszka). Peterson seems to have made some mistakes, but "I'm not her" isn't enough for me to back Pyszka, who seems far too tied to business interests for my tastes.

Metro Councilor, District 6: Duncan Hwang

Absolute slightest of lean here, based on incumbency. Both seem good. The Oregonian endorsed his opponent Terri Preeg Riggsby, but was impressed with both and their reasons for favoring Riggsby over Hwang didn't strike me as compelling.

How Gullible is Susan Collins?

As the implications of the Supreme Court's leaked draft opinion overturning Roe continue to reverberate, one major political figure has dialed up her concern-o-meter all the way to 11. Sen. Susan Collins claims she is shocked to see Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch voting to overturn Roe given their assurances made to her during the confirmation proceedings about their respect for precedent.

To be honest, I don't think Supreme Court justices can or should be bound to any "assurances" they made during their confirmation proceedings. But that's neither here nor there. What I'm really curious about is just how gullible Susan Collins actually is?

Seriously, I'm curious. On the one hand, it seems impossible to believe that she believed that Kavanaugh and Gorsuch wouldn't overturn Roe. She's shocked that what everyone knew and everyone told her actually came to pass? She thought that some bromide about "respecting precedent" would actually constrain them? Come on. Nobody is that stupid.

But ... well, maybe some people are that stupid. Or more aptly: one of the vices of being powerful is that it generates a feeling of insulation -- the bad things are never actually going to happen. If things are going well -- and if you're a powerful U.S. Senator, things are almost by definition "going well" for you -- it's hard to imagine that some of the privileges and entitlements you've taken for granted could just suddenly go away. It's the same complacency that's led some politicians, on both sides of the aisle, to shrug as the fabric of free and fair elections in America continues to fray. Of course we'll never stop being a democracy. That's unfathomable. And since it's unfathomable, what's the harm in letting others pull out another joist here or loosen another screw there? We're still in power, and so we can still pump the brakes if things get too far.

Until you can't. That's the thing people like Collins forget -- at some point, when the surrounding structure has gotten weak enough, she doesn't have the power to pump the brakes anymore. The fabric of reproductive freedom, just like the fabric of our democracy, requires work to maintain. But if you've gotten so used to its existence that it feels less like an ongoing project and more like a fact of the world, you forget that necessity.

So maybe Susan Collins really was that gullible. She got so used to the world is at is that she forgot to take the steps necessary to actually stop Roe from being reversed. Its complacency, and its laziness, and its arrogance, and its hubris. And now it is all coming to roost. Congratulations, Susan Collins. Your tremendous credulity in the face of overwhelming evidence that, yes, obviously, these Justices would take an axe to Roe means that reproductive rights in America are now dead and gone.

Or maybe Collins doesn't actually care at all, and this "shock" is another one of her performances. Certainly, that hypothesis also has to remain live, since one can be sure that her tangible response to the Court overturning Roe will begin and end with a statement expressing shock. But I suppose when it comes to Susan Collins, the range of options always has lain somewhere between unfathomably gullible and sociopathically manipulative, without too much riding on where she actually falls.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Antisemitism and Social Malaise

Michelle Goldberg has a very insightful column in the New York Times about antisemitism. It begins by talking about the rapid acceleration of antisemitism that paralleled the rise of Trumpism. Certainly, we are seeing a resurgence of far-right antisemitism (and increasingly, the "far-" is redundant). But even after Trump left office, antisemitic activity has continued to surge. And the most striking thing about this pattern is not its political character, but rather how apolitical it is.

[F]or a huge number of antisemitic episodes, the political motive, if there is one, is illegible. According to Greenblatt, more than 80 percent of the incidents documented in the A.D.L. report “cannot be attributed to any specific extremist group or movement.” Much of the threat to Jews in America seems to come less from a distinct, particular ideology than from the broader cultural breakdown that’s leading to an increase in all manner of antisocial behavior, including shootings, airplane altercations, reckless driving and fights in school.

It is weirdly tempting to think antisemitism is "about" Jews in some meaningful, if mutated, fashion, such that changing something about Jews -- how Jews talk are or talked about, how Jews behave or are perceived to behave, how Jews are viewed or where Jews are positioned in society -- will alter patterns of antisemitism. The vast majority of counterantisemitism initiatives focus on some version of this approach, thinking -- reasonably -- that antisemitism is about Jews

But as Goldberg points out -- and this resonates with my own observation -- antisemitism often is associated with more inchoate frustration and social malaise. Antisemitism follows things like erosion of trust in social institutions, growth in conspiratorial thinking, widespread financial insecurity, and so on. Such developments are not "about" Jews; no amount of Holocaust education or anti-BDS campaigning or interfaith Seders will change them. And yet they probably play a more direct role in the rise of antisemitism than any Jewish-specific factor one could name.

Even apolitical antisemitism has a political connection, albeit an indirect one. "Post-truth" politics, the decay in an epistemically healthy environment, the rise of viral social media practices which create all sorts of terrible bad coherences, gravely accelerate the rise of "apolitical" antisemitism; in this, it is not an accident that the current surge began with and tracks closely the rise of Trumpism (nor is it coincidental that it's leftward manifestations follow closely similar post-truth post-trust ideologies like tankie-ism). But it suggests that wrestling back down antisemitism paradoxically will have little to do with a distinctively Jewish politics. Antisemitism is a symptom of a larger disease, a disease that ultimately is not really about Jews in any specific sense. One will not ameliorate the symptom without addressing that disease.