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  • Anonymous '24

Has the Left Forgotten Its Values?

Don’t speak over minoritized groups about their own oppression. Don’t prejudge people for identities outside of their control. Don’t force minorities to compete in the Oppression Olympics. Implicit bias is dangerous. Believe victims.

I’ve always considered myself a leftist. I believe in leftist ideals like those listed above; this is why it has been so disturbing to realize how many self-identified leftists do not. I’ll discuss some ways in which it seems that leftist discourse surrounding the Israel-Hamas war, particularly on the far left, has failed to internalize and embody these values, as well as provide advice on strategies to remain aligned with these leftist ideals.

We know not to speak over minoritized groups about their own oppression, except when that group is Jews; when it comes to antisemitism, it’s apparently vital to make sure that Jews don’t misuse the label of antisemitism to suppress free speech. We know not to prejudge people for identities outside their control, except when that identity is Israeli; there is no such thing as an Israeli civilian. We know not to force minorities to compete in the Oppression Olympics, except when it comes to Jews; then, it’s important for Jews to recognize their privilege and not detract attention from more important forms of bigotry. We know that implicit bias is dangerous, except when that bias is against Jews; my friends can’t be antisemites, because they would know if they were. We know to believe victims of sexual assault, except when those victims are Israeli hostages; then the central question becomes how their story was crafted to serve Israeli interests.

What strategies can help leftists consistently apply their ideals in the context of the complex discussions surrounding the Israel-Hamas war? My main piece of advice is to continually ask yourself whether you are treating Jews and Israelis as you would other minority groups or individuals of other nationalities. It may also be helpful to consciously remind yourself of your specific values and why you hold them. Finally, remember that by consistently applying your values you are contributing to a more just, inclusive, and equitable society.

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