We underestimated the hatred and it is blowing up in our faces

by Phyllis Chesler

Several weeks ago,¬†Matti Friedman¬†published a very astute piece about Hamas’ understanding about global Jew hatred–and the failure of Israeli and American Jewish organizations to do so. Just as the Israeli government did not anticipate the kind of attack that Hamas launched on 10/7, so too, did Jews and Israelis underestimate the profound effect that the anti-Jewish narrative, coupled with a half-century of funding intersectionality, critical race and anti-Israel theories, etc. would have on the coming generations of students, professors, journalists, human rights activists, and public intellectuals in America.

We now see what their underestimation has led us to–a globalized Intifada, peopled by activists who have learned their public performance “tricks” from Act Up, Blacks Lives Matter, anarchists, anti-capitalist Marxists, and Democratic Socialists.

The Jewish, Israeli, and non-Jewish world absolutely refused to understand the importance of the cognitive war against the Jews and against the West. For more than fifty years, they totally underestimated the rise in anti-Zionism/antisemitism worldwide and refused to support those cognitive warriors who had been consistently documenting this long-range danger for more than five decades.

Now is not the time to blame the Jews–at least, I cannot bear to do so. And yet. Wealthy Jewish funders put their money into other areas–health care, medical and scientific research, Torah study (all valuable, all worthy)–even as George Soros, the Rockerfeller Brothers, the Kaphan Foundation, etc. funded anti-Zionist groups such as JVP and J Street–and even as numerous Arab countries funded anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic professors, journalists, books, propaganda, and the curriculum at American universities.

I worked with the heroic Soviet-born Minister, Natan Sharansky, earlier in this century when he became Israels’ first Minister of Global Antisemitism. He had an assistant, but not much in the way of resources. In 2003 or 2004, he asked me whether I thought I could “turn around the feminists, the leftists, the gays?” I told him: “I doubt it–but I’ll try.

Aviva Raz-Schechter, a major Israeli diplomat, was appointed to take his place. She did not even have a secretary. She did not have many resources either. Raz-Schecter went on to become Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Israel’s permanent representative to the UN.

And now here we are. I viewed VIDEOS of the recent anti-Israel demonstrations in New York City. Young American women, many of whom are white, are out there demonstrating and proudly being arrested–but not for protesting their loss of reproductive freedom, or against rape, domestic violence, trafficking, and pornography.

That would be so old-fashioned. Now, it is far trendier to demonstrate for trans rights than for sex-based women’s rights; far nobler to “perform” aggressive male body-language, “butch” body-language, at demonstrations; more virtuous to focus on anti-black racism, prison reform, anti-colonialism, transwomen, anti-Israeli apartheid–and on Palestine.

Is this any different from those women who supported the Black Panthers? Who cared about AIDS when gay men were primarily afflicted–but not about breast or ovarian cancer? (Just askin’). Or those women who now support Iran/Hamas/Hezbollah as a demented way of attacking Israel? And who support DEI no matter what.

Such female activists do not care about women’s rights but mainly about “other” people’s rights, beginning with the rights of men and women of color, especially male terrorists and criminals.

Are these young women activists trying to shed their identities as women? Or, are they being quintessentially “girlish” in trying so hard to please their professors and funders by aligning themselves with Hamas, a terrorist group that gang-rapes, butchers, murders and kidnaps civilian women?

Is this to prove that they are as tough as men? As tough as death-cult terrorist men? Are they the ultimate appeasers? Will this render them safe when the barbarians come for us?