How Critical Race Theory Led to Anti-Semitism Among American Leftists


Since the terrorist attack of Oct. 7, the war in Gaza has gripped the American public’s attention. Consequently, the conflict has quickly evolved into another battleground in America’s broader culture war.

American perspectives on the Gaza war have increasingly been framed around issues of diversity in the U.S. A significant number of protesters and Palestinian sympathizers openly acknowledge that they are indeed fighting to dismantle Jewish “privilege” in America and the system that supports it.

When a campus protester at an American college dons a veil and holds a “Free Hamas” sign, their intention is clear: to criticize not only the actions of the Israeli government but also the broader system of “settler colonialism” and the supposed role of the Jewish community in maintaining it.

Meanwhile, when a Jewish student rightly calls out a protester for being antisemitic, he becomes, in the eyes of the protester, a representative of a system that is structurally pro-Jewish—and by extension, pro-white—at its core.

Black left-wingers use the imagery of Jews as “white” and Palestinians as “dark” to draw parallels between America’s exploitation of blacks and Israel’s treatment of Gaza, which they view as genocidal. Rapper SEB! exploited this analogy in his song FREE PALESTINE! — released in 2023 and played repeatedly on Yale University student commons.

F-ck Israel, Israel a b-tch / B-tch we out here mobbin’ on some Palestine sh-t / Free Palestine b-tch, Israel gon’ die b-tch / N-gga its they land why you out here tryna rob it / Bullsh-t prophets, y’all just want the profit

“Robbing” land? “Want the profit?” The rapper channels resentment against the notion that Jews in America are primarily devoted to the almighty dollar rather than the social welfare of their country. In this sense, left-wing campus activism mirrors the European anti-Jewish tradition, which has historically fomented accusations against Jews for using their wealth to exert undue influence on governments.

Alarmingly, this anti-Jewish sentiment has grown increasingly popular among a diverse spectrum of the American population.

“Palestine is Arab,” shouted protesters in New York City, seeking to deny the Arabness of Israeli Jews and reflecting long-held, openly anti-Jewish views of many younger Americans. A 2021 study by the Anti-Defamation League revealed that at least 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 believe between two and five statements indicating strong beliefs about Jewish power and privilege—mirroring the same percentage found among Americans over 30. Youth and a supposedly more “progressive” education are not eliminating anti-Jewish sentiment; they are fueling it.

These anti-Jewish sentiments, built upon theories of racial power and privilege, are a direct byproduct of critical race theory. For instance, prior to protests by the Jewish community, California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum omitted Jewish Americans as ethnic minorities. Diversity trainers in California famously claimed that only “Jews of color” were supported under their diversity framework.

Simmering anti-Jewish resentment is also evident in campus protesters’ reactions against administrative actions taken against them, which they claim are unfairly harsh and influenced by Jewish donors. Pro-Palestine publications like the Middle East Monitor published accounts of “Pro-Israel Jewish Billionaires” using their campaign and university donations to influence university policies on protests.

Younger anti-Jewish campus activism has also received support from older Middle Eastern immigrants to the United States. Seventy-three-year-old Palestinian businessman Mustafa Khader said pro-Palestine protests are “totally American” because they embody the value of free speech in America to criticize.

“I might differ with Hamas on their ideological beliefs,” he also says, distancing himself from the terrorist group. “But I cannot condemn Hamas for what they’re doing. They’re part of the oppressed population and an oppressed population and occupied population have by law, the right to resist, by all means possible.”

“My understanding is that Palestinian hate for Jews is bred in the bone, taught in the schools, and fortified by their leaders,” writes Naomi Levine, a Jewish Winnipeg lawyer. It is the same story in America. Anti-Israel protests are bolstered and reinforced by the idea that Jews control America, to the detriment of less powerful and oppressed minorities.

Both sides are beginning to acknowledge more and more that criticism of Israel is interrelated with criticism of Jews in America. To understand the essence of campus protests over Israel, one must look within our own country, where the conflict is framed through the lens of privilege and oppression, pinpointing the heart of privilege on the American Jewry.

Kenny Xu
Kenny Xu
Kenny Xu is a North Carolina-based journalist and author of the new book An Inconvenient Minority: The Ivy League Admissions Cases and the Attack on Asian-American Excellence. He is the president of Color Us United.

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