Over the weekend, actor Michael Douglas penned an op-ed for the L.A. Times on the question of anti-Semitism.
Douglas was motivated to write the editorial after his son had his first encounter with anti-Semitism while their family was vacationing in southern Europe last summer.
He identifies three reasons why he anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe, has seen a resurgence: a bad economy, misplaced hatred of Israel and demographics citing the growing Muslim population on the continent.
While I think all of these are factors in contemporary European anti-Semitism, I think Douglas is also missing another important reason – renewed anti-Semitism on the Left be it in political parties or social movements. Solidarity with the Palestinians and the delegitmization of Israel is a central tenet of contemporary socialism. How else to explain all those resolutions in various parliaments in Europe calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state? Or the BDS movement? Or the Occupy Movement? The Left will try to separate anti-Israel sentiment from anti-Semitism, but if Israel wasn’t Jewish would this movement have gathered any steam?
Of course, such a thing might be a difficult thing for Douglas to acknowledge. He is a lifelong Democrat as is his father, Kirk Douglas (who was still good friends with Ronald Reagan). While the younger Douglas has supported President Obama I did find it interesting that while Douglas praised the likes of Pope Francis and Cardinal Timothy Dolan (and, to be fair, France’s Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls) for speaking out against anti-Semitism, he did not praise President Obama or his administration on that front despite Samantha Power’s assertions to AIPAC earlier this month. It is also worth remembering that at the 2012 DNC delegates booed on the question of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Needless to say not all liberals and left-wingers are anti-Semitic. Far from it. Douglas writes, “Because if we confront anti-Semitism whenever we see it, if we combat it individually and as a society, and use whatever platform we have to denounce it, we can stop the spread of this madness.”
I couldn’t agree more and Michael Douglas’ intervention is a welcome one. But the intervention would be more compelling if leftists are willing to denounce their fellow leftists for their anti-Semitism and expel and expunge them from their movement. Sadly, I don’t think this will come to pass anytime soon, if ever.