The relationship between movements on the political left and antisemitism is a highly polarized topic. In the United States, as in Europe, various groups, including those that are pro-Palestinian or part of the peace movement or have emerged more recently, like Occupy Wall Street, are suspected of being anti-Semitic. Frequently, their criticism of Israel and calls to boycott its products and similar activities trigger heated debates in the media, at universities, or within social movements or the Jewish-American community.
Sina Arnold addresses the issues debates with her own empirical-ethnographic work, bringing a dispassionate perspective to the debate. She analyzes the positions of activists from the American left with respect to Jews, Jewry, and antisemitism, but also their perspectives on related discourses about the Holocaust and Holocaust commemoration, antiracism, critique of capitalism, and the politics of the USA and Israel, especially with respect to the Mideast conflict. These questions are considered on the backdrop of the history of Jewry and antisemitism in the United States and in different stages of the development of the American left. What emerges is a nuanced portrayal of the continuities and changes in leftist politics, as well as an enlightening account of paradigm shifts and identitary negotiations within the Jewish-American community.
This analysis of antisemitism discourses on the left sheds new light on the state of American society in a period of economic and political crisis. Moreover, because it focuses on movements that are tied to international traditions and reference points, this book also contributes to a better understanding of global antisemitism in the twenty-first century.