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The Policing of Leftist Jews

With a Jewish presidential candidate succeeding in the Democratic primaries for the first time in American history, I begrudgingly expected anti-semitism from the opposition. What I did not expect, though, is a form of anti-semitic erasure protruding from our own ranks: Jewish gatekeeping.

On Twitter, New York Assemblyman Hikind describes Sanders' Jewish ethnicity in scare quotes alongside a paraphrased attack from Sanders at Clinton for being too pro-Israel. In the New York Post, columnist Peyser describes Sanders as "not quite Jewish. He's Jew-ish - a non-practicing, anti-Israel, kinda, sorta Hebrew." These attacks carry a sort of superior vibe; an odd policing to ensure "Jewish purity" we ought to avoid. This is one I understand, again begrudgingly - after all, Yiddish nearly went extinct thanks to the Holocaust. It's a feeble attempt to preserve Jewish culture in its most Orthodox form. Yet an even worse quality of the attacks: they imply one's politics can erase the legitimacy of one's ethnic identity, and in many instances, fail to separate Judaism from Zionism.

As one of the oldest recorded monotheistic religions in the world, Judaism has a rich culture more than 3,000 years old. Zionism, meanwhile, is just about 120 years old and has been enforced by horrid human rights abuses ever since (which, in my essential understanding of Judaism, are not Jewish values). To conflate Judaism and Zionism as two constants reliant on one another to exist is to erase a majority of Jewish history, as well as submit to colonial ideals of Judaism.

To my Jewish comrades: we can do better than this.