In a recent podcast, American actress and comedian Sarah Silverman implored the group of US Congresswomen known as “The Squad,” to help her understand why they don’t want to fund the Iron Dome, a key Israeli defense system.
“It just seems to prove the point that I didn’t think existed — which is people really only like Jews if they’re suffering.”
“I know we’re not allowed to call it antisemitism…” she says, “but what do you think might happen if you take away the Iron Dome? If you take away the one thing that protects people from missiles in a place where missiles are constantly flying at you?”
The answer to her question is self-evident and disturbing. What is also disturbing, however, is what she perceives the rules to be. As a Democrat, she feels she is not allowed to identify antisemitic behavior when it comes from her side of the aisle.
Sarah Silverman has never made a secret of her Jewishness or her progressivism. She has made her Jewishness part of her comedy shtick. She has shared her experience of being tormented by kids who threw pennies at her on the school bus. She has family in Israel.
At the same time, she has been equally outspoken in her support of the Squad, known for their progressive legislative proposals (for which Silverman supports them), but also for their anti-Israel sentiment.
Sarah Silverman is one of those people who is so all over the place that as much as you may agree with many of her statements — such as those about Iron Dome — eventually, you find yourself disagreeing with others. Earlier this year, she said she supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as long as it does not target Israel’s citizens — which of course it does.
But regardless of how you feel about Sarah’s musings on other subjects, she has hit upon something real and important here.
Supporting both progressive values and Israel’s right to live as a Jewish state should not be a dilemma for Sarah or anyone else — but it is. Many Democrats are finding it increasingly uncomfortable, if not socially dangerous, to call out antisemitism when they see it. How in the world is that compatible with liberal values?
Antisemitism is sweeping the globe today like a hurricane. Jews are being attacked on the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. In London, cars drive through Jewish neighborhoods as their passengers scream calls for violence against our people. Jews have been openly murdered in Europe — less than 100 years after the Holocaust.
On the right, antisemitism is coming from white nationalism, fascism, and radical Islam. It is self-proclaimed neo-Nazis who murder Jews in synagogues and grocery stores, and Islamicists who chant “Death to Israel” in the streets of Iran. On the left, antisemitism is propagated by the BDS campaign under the cover of its so-called human rights banner.
It is easy to call out Jew-hatred when you see it on the other end of the political spectrum. We are all brave enough to do that. However, antisemitism is not blue or red; it is color blind.