On Protest and Anti-Semitism.

Listening through propaganda.

A photo of Scott Galloway giving a talk; blurred headlines appear behind him with quotes from his anti-protest interview. Image Description: A photo of Scott Galloway giving a talk; blurred headlines appear behind him with quotes from his anti-protest interview.

Summary: Max takes aim at NYU professor Scott Galloway who recently appeared on CNN to criticize student protests with the most bizarre analysis that smacks of laziness and propaganda. While “takedowns” and “gotchas” aren’t Max’s favorite thing, he makes an exception for Galloway because of the space he occupies in the media ecosystem and on the spectrum of white male bro-influencers with independent platforms that are poisoning the media. Max also provides closing thoughts on the rise of anti-Semitism and the dangers of conflating Judaism with the far-right ruling government in Israel.

I don’t love hit pieces, generally. But here we are.

Do we need yet another “hot take” on campus protests in the United States? Probably not. Then again, there are certain points that deserve to be emphasized and re-emphasized because the mountain of historical and political illiteracy at present requires it.

So what happens next?

Graduations are coming soon. Or not. Student protests will turn to street protests in the hot summer months leading up to the Democratic Convention.. In the dead of August…In Chicago...With a war raging overseas and tensions between generations and races boiling over here at home. Oh, and there’s even a Robert Kennedy in the running again.

We’re running back more than Trump versus Biden in this election. We’re running back 1968 and the question must be asked: What have we learned?

I’ve been involved in several conversations lately with people regurgitating some pretty gnarly talking points that appear to be disseminated through mainstream media, amplified through social media and anchored in echo chamber conversations. So let’s talk about how to talk about campus protests as the cause célèbre at this moment before we conclude with a note on anti-Semitism.

If your conversations are anything like mine they’re typically derailed by specific examples designed to portray global meaning. Here’s what it sounds like. “Did you see the video of the [insert confirmation bias example here]? What do you say to that?” Or any sentence that starts with “A lot of people are saying.” And the ever popular and annoying, “There was an article the other day, I can’t remember where I read it, but basically it said the opposite of what you’re telling me now.”

Let’s do some really basic level setting before we take a bit of a detour to show an example of a gish gallop argument designed to manufacture consent. Or to say it more plainly, a bunch of establishment talking head bullshit designed to confuse something pretty straightforward.

Free Speech Protections

First of all, in spite of the breathless media coverage of pro-Palestine campus protests, the figures are astonishingly small. I’m not talking about small student demonstrations or clubs that have organized on campuses to discuss the rights of Palestinians. I’m speaking to the high profile campus encampments that have captured the headlines, several of which have already been dispersed. For example, there have been about 2,300 arrests on 44 campuses nationwide. A few protest groups reached agreements with college and university administrations and voluntarily broke down their encampments. And a couple have had brutal police crackdowns and aggressive counter protests.

At the peak, Axios reported that there were 59 full-on protests on campuses in the United States. And according to the Los Angeles Times, 44 came to loggerheads with the police. As I’ve said before there are 4,000 college and university campuses that offer degrees in the U.S. Even the most generous interpretation reveals that 1.4% of college campuses had a sustained protest movement.

After the Kent State massacre at the hands of the National Guard in 1970 and Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia, protests erupted on more than 1,300 campuses. Not to mention around 500 schools were shut down by strikes and direct actions. In 1970 there were around 3,000 higher education institutions so that means that more than one-third of them were disrupted by protests and one-sixth were shut down.

Let’s clear up a couple of other misconceptions. Free speech is protected in nearly every form on public university campuses, period. Speech. Hate speech. Signs. Sit ins. Strikes. Shut downs. Now there are nuances, but that’s pretty much the deal.

Private colleges, on the other hand, are not subject to the same rules protecting speech. In this way, it’s like the ongoing debate about free speech on social media platforms. Private institutions set the rules and the burden is high when it comes to exercising speech outside of the stated rules and norms of the institution. Protest on the sidewalk outside a private school and you’re good to go. Do it on campus grounds and you should probably pack a toothbrush, your ID, a change of underwear and a granola bar because you’re going to wind up in a holding cell.

With that out of the way, a clarification regarding hate speech is in order. You are allowed to say whatever the fuck you want to in the United States on public property so long as it doesn’t directly instigate violence. In Charlottesville, a group of pathetic oxford wearing fuckboi’s with tiki torches marched around chanting “Jews will not replace us.” Totally protected. If someone yelled out “kill the Jews and a person or a mob assaulted a Jewish person in response, that’s when speech is criminalized.

It’s just not that complicated. Nor am I saying anything radical or controversial.

What is pretty radical are the ways in which this moment is being interpreted through the mainstream media lens.

Recently I came across a clip of NYU professor, author and podcast host Scott Galloway speaking with Michael Smerconish on CNN. 99 and I talked about Galloway this week in Show Notes because I’m obsessed with this appearance. The reason it struck me so pointedly is because of the space Galloway occupies in the larger media landscape.

If you’re not familiar with him, he exists on the spectrum of modern day white male social commentators that are called upon to analyze literally any subject. And yes, I’m saying this with the full awareness that I’m a white male presenter who comments on multiple subjects so let me get the obvious out of the way. It’s people like Galloway and others along the spectrum that I’ll mention in a moment that provide a cautionary tale to keep me firmly in my lane. When I’m out of my depth, for example, we’ll do a Phone A Friend. Otherwise, I do my best to examine topics from a political and socioeconomic perspective or provide insight on ancillary and related topics but with copious amounts of research and a healthy amount of disclaimers.

Galloway, is a very successful entrepreneur turned marketing professor at NYU who provides keen insight into brand building. Great. Today he belongs in the pantheon of white male social commentators that come from a specific background but now find themselves offering commentary on a diverse range of subjects with the conviction of subject matter experts. Here’s what the spectrum looks like:

Andrew Huberman, Andrew Tate, Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Bret Weinstein, Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, Russell Brand, Gary Vaynerchuk, Dave Ramsey, Tony Robbins, Tim Pool, Steven Crowder, Piers Morgan, Tucker Carlson, Andrew Schulz, Charlie Kirk, Matt Walsh and Douglas Murray. Give or take…

Some might think Galloway doesn’t belong on this list, but hang tight for the transcript of his appearance. You have commentators adjacent to these guys on the left but what makes these guys different is their tendency to lean into bro culture war topics and are untethered from mainstream platforms. For example, Bill Maher has HBO, Ezra Klein has the New York Times and Chris Cuomo has News Nation, though that’s barely a media outlet. Point being, these guys have built a cult of personality around their personal brands and lean into the “set your alarm, make your bed, tan your balls, be an alpha, increase your testosterone” bullshit that makes people hate people that look like me and makes young men think toxic behavior is the true mark of a man.

But Galloway is a warm glass of milk at bedtime compared to this spate of asshats. And I think that’s why I had such a virulent reaction to his CNN appearance. Galloway was given a primetime slot to address pro-Palestine protests on campuses across the country despite the fact that, as UNFTR listener ‘Angel L’ pointed out, just days after the October 7th attacks by Hamas on Israeli citizens, Galloway said on his podcast “Pivot” that he didn’t feel qualified to weigh in on the subject. Lo these many months later, he has drawn some conclusions where the protests are concerned as you’ll hear in these clips.

We’ll break down his points one-by-one to demonstrate how mainstream pundits divert our attention from the real matters at hand and manufacture consent with insidious tactics.

Let’s start with his opening remarks.

Smerconish: First, should USC have canceled its main graduation?

 

Galloway: Good to be with you, Michael. I, yeah, logistically, I think they had, they have to ensure the safety and it felt like things were kind of spinning out of control. So I empathize with the university leadership that’s trying to thread the needle between free speech while at the same time maintaining a safe environment for its students. I would argue, though, that the balance is a bit skewed. I think universities have slowly but surely decided that they’re morphed from centers of excellence to institutions that create a political orthodoxy or are charged with social engineering. And what you have here, in my opinion, is a bit of a double standard, Michael. I think the vast majority of the protests are peaceful protests. You know, they’re 19, I cut a wide berth for young people in their rights to say things. But no, the analogy I use, Michael, is if I went down to the plaza at NYU, in a white hood, and started saying Dylann Roof, the gentleman, the young man who killed seven people at a black church in Charleston; and I started saying “globalize Dylann,” and held up a sign that said, you know, “Lynch the Blacks,” for example, or some sort of hate speech like that, I don’t think there would be a lot of nuance or context needed. I think I would never work in academia again, and if I started inciting the type of behavior where there was harassment of any special interest group, I believe that if it got out of control the way it has, in some of these campuses, I think they’d call in the National Guard.

His response starts off pretty measured and practical, noting the difficult line that university administrators have to walk between honoring free speech and protecting students. But almost immediately he diverts the conversation to making sweeping generalizations about the nature of higher education in this country saying that they’re no longer centers of excellence, rather they participate in social engineering.

Hold that thought for a moment because he goes on to say that young people are basically stupid and don’t understand the difference between protests very specifically calling for their own institutions to divest their holdings from corporations that engage in war profiteering or do business directly with Israel’s government and calls to support Dylann Roof and lynch Black people. Then he finishes by saying it would be justified in certain cases to call in the National Guard. Let’s unpack these ideas one at a time.

First off, the implication behind the broad stroke of political orthodoxy and social engineering is that these institutions are brainwashing children with a radical leftist ideology. And we can make this leap because the specific protests he’s criticizing are all coming from young students that identify with the left.

What about Brigham Young? Or Liberty University? How about Southern Methodist, Colorado Christian, Texas A&M, Dallas Baptist or Abilene Christian? Or the University of Alabama…Or University of Arkansas, University of Kentucky or University of Mississippi?

Auburn? Texas Christian? George Fox University?

Benedictine College? Oklahoma State? Cornerstone University?

Moody Bible Institute? Hillsdale College? Ave Maria University?

Or how about the mass gathering of young white male counter protestors at Ole Miss draped in MAGA gear and American flags taunting an African American woman by imitating a gorilla? That kind of orthodoxy or just the leftist orthodoxy that is asking for a ceasefire in Gaza and humanitarian aid?

That’s a partial list of some of the most conservative colleges and universities in America that arguably outnumber the last vestiges of truly liberal institutions in this country.

This is such a disingenuous equivocation it’s astonishing. The students in these protests understand the difference. The question is Scott, do you?

And the idea that these protests—that even he acknowledges are mostly peaceful—warrant the attention of the National Guard is horrifying even if delivered in the dulcet tones of Galloway’s cognitive dissonance.

First of all, the NYPD is arguably one of the most heavily militarized domestic law enforcement agencies in the world. Furthermore, the only physical violence that has occurred on these campuses has been at the hands of the police. So unless he’s calling for the National Guard to come in and detain members of the NYPD, I’m not clear on what the fuck he’s talking about. Not to mention, the National Guard has somewhat of a fraught history when activated on college campuses.

It’s also maddening to listen to someone, anyone frankly, who casually invokes the need to activate the National Guard because it demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of its purpose. There are active National Guard members in a state that can be deployed by the governor of a state to aid and facilitate in emergency situations like a bombing or a tornado; essentially an immediate emergency that poses a threat that exceeds the capabilities of law enforcement agencies or emergency services.

Then there are two federal statutes under which state units can be activated more broadly. One is Title 32 which contemplates larger natural disasters and security for extraordinary events such as the Olympics. This is still at the behest of the governor. Then there’s the federal activation statute, Title 10, that places state guards under military command of the President of the United States as in the case of war or massive civil unrest like the Los Angeles Riots.

So which scenario does a peaceful sit-in on a campus best fit in the mind of professor Galloway I wonder?

Galloway: I think what a lot of Jews are concerned with is that it seems like free speech is never freer when it’s hate speech directed at Jews. So I would argue that campus leadership has erred on the side of quite frankly being a little too lenient to individuals who, for whatever reason, correctly or incorrectly devolves into emotion that makes people feel unsafe.

We’ll talk more about anti-Semitic remarks and the danger of permissive language when it comes to the Jewish people a little later. But this snippet once again highlights the notion that Galloway as a talking head is somehow a reputable proxy for an expert on free speech. If he took this space to speak factually about the nuance of speech on private versus public campuses or simply protected speech under the Constitution and then contextualized it with his own personal feelings that would at least be respectable. But to simply say that speech is never freer when it is directed at the Jews implies that there is somehow a hierarchy of free speech.

He then suggests that there should be harsher penalties applied to students that make people feel unsafe without speaking to the distinction between public and private institutions or protected speech versus speech that incites violence. Most importantly, still no mention of what the students are calling out such as divestment, the ongoing massacre in Gaza, discoveries of mass graves, targeted assassinations of doctors and journalists, 14,000 dead children in the Gaza strip, thousands of unlawfully detained citizens in the West Bank, restriction of humanitarian aid into Gaza, illegal Israeli backed settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, U.S. funding and supply of Israel’s war machine, or our lone votes to strike down international cease fire declarations on the UN Security Council.

Galloway: Bottom line is, Michael, a lot of us just don’t understand that a young Jewish girl leaving the library to go get a manicure is somehow their mortal enemy. I think young people quite frankly picked the wrong enemy here and it’s just gotten a little bit out of control.

This goes back to what I was saying in the beginning about selectivity. Galloway chooses to depict the experience of a young Jewish girl going to get a manicure being harassed by protestors as the part that’s “out of control,” rather than the overwhelming amount of footage of police brutality against peaceful protestors. First off, I googled my little heart out to find what the fuck he’s talking about but it seems that he might have just made this up. That’s bizarre in its own right because there are genuine examples of hateful anti-Semitic rhetoric to be found, along with online threats. But the protests have been extremely careful to root out this kind of behavior.

He could have chosen to celebrate the Passover Seders at the Columbia encampment in solidarity among Jewish and Muslim students who observed alongside faculty members. But he didn’t. Instead he defaulted to what is itself kind of an anti-Semitic trope about a Jewish girl on her way to get a fucking manicure.

Galloway: There’s some strange things. I went to the NYU protests. 40% of the tents were the same tents at Columbia. So there’s something very coordinated, going wrong, going on. I think it’s a variety of things. One, I think that a lot of students incorrectly, in my view, conflate what’s going on in Gaza with the Civil Rights movement, too. We have not done a great job, or we in colleges have created this oppressor and oppressed orthodoxy. And the easiest way to identify an oppressor in the minds of many of these young people is how white and how rich you are, and ground zero correctly or incorrectly for whiteness and richness is Israel and Jews. Also, just to be fair, Israel has not draped itself in glory. Netanyahu has struck some deals with the far right including very bigoted members of the Knesset over settlements. We’ve gone, we’ve seen Israel go from kind of the David to the Goliath.

40% of the tents at NYU were the same as the ones at Columbia?

Really? Is that a hard fucking number, Scott? It didn’t have anything to do with this style of cheap tent being the most readily available on Amazon? John Oliver destroyed this better than I could so I’ll leave that to him. But a word on the idea of “coordination” and his gish gallop retorts.

Students conflate Gaza with the Civil Rights movement?

How? Because they’re protesting on a campus? The Vietnam War. Iraq War. South African apartheid. The Women’s March. Climate Justice. Overturning Roe v. Wade. Each of these had campus movements as well. Were these students also confused? This argument makes no sense on its face and is intended to minimize their grievances. Basically telling them, ‘my generation fought for real stuff.’

He then moves to cynically downplay the idea that schools are only teaching history through the lens of oppressor and oppressed. Or as I like to call it…History.

Once again, this literally has nothing to do with the call to divest from the war machine or call for a ceasefire to end the massacre. And even if it did, what exactly is wrong with viewing political systems through the lens of oppression? Would you prefer it through the lens of capitalism and markets? Corporate brands? That is, after all, your wheelhouse, Scott, so I can only assume that’s your preferred learning journey.

Also, the idea that ground zero for oppression is whiteness and richness and therefore that applies to Israel is galling. The United States is ground zero for whiteness and oppression. It is also a matter of modern historical record that colonial oppression and occupations from U.S. exploits in Latin America and the Caribbean, the British in India, Israel in Palestine, the French in Algeria and the Dutch in South Africa were steeped in racist orthodoxy. But more recent movements have also aligned against Russian aggression, China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other religious minorities, Hindu leadership treatment of Muslims in India, women’s rights in Islamic fundamentalist regimes and civil war in Sudan.

The common thread here is, in fact Scott, oppressor versus oppressed narratives. To refer to Israel’s occupation of Palestine as “ground zero” for richness and whiteness is cynical, erroneous and patronizing.

As for Netanyahu “striking deals” with the far right being the only objectionable thing he has done I have no words.

Actually, I have a few. First off, the far right extremists he has conveniently aligned with aren’t analogous to anything here in the United States. At least, not formally. To equate the far right party in Israel—called Otzma Yehudit—with anything in the United States you would have to look outside of the political realm to unearth some hate group on the terror watch list.

The difference is that Otzma Yehudit is an organized political movement in power and is composed of ethnic nationalists who openly promote the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and condemnation of Orthodox and secular Jews in Israel. Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich has openly, consistently and recently called for the annihilation of all Gazans. And lest we forget that Ben-Gvir, the head of national security in Israel, was linked to the far right nationalist group that assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and also openly calls for the annihilation of all Gazans. The difference between hateful figures in the U.S. and Otzma Yehudit is that the latter are political figures in power.

Netanyahu didn’t just “strike a deal” to stay in power, he made a deal with the devil. There’s a fucking difference.

Finally, let’s read what Galloway thinks is really motivating young people to take to the streets in protest of genocide.

Here’s where he moves from ill-informed propagandist to outright bro culture lunacy. Wait for it. You’ll be amazed.

Galloway: You have young people who are enraged by the lack of opportunity that they’re presented with. I think that protesting is kind of the new, if you will, sex. Young people aren’t having as much sex. I know how ridiculous that sounds. But for the species to survive, you have to have young people connecting in terms of romantic opportunities and also for the species to survive. You get a dopa hit from gathering together and fighting off a perceived enemy and I think they’re erring on the latter, if you will. I think they’re on the hunt for what I call a fake mortal enemy. And the reality is if you type into Google “anti-Semitism” and pick any century in the last 3000 years, you’re gonna find multiple instances where the world decides the Jews are the mortal enemy.

 

And then finally, and I know that sounds paranoid but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong, the frame through which they view the world is oftentimes, are predominantly TikTok. And on TikTok, Michael, there are 52 pro-Hamas videos for every one pro-Israel video so the frame through which they see the world is, in my opinion, being influenced to sow division and chaos within America and divide young from old. 80% of people our age support Israel; it’s 20% of people under the age of 25. Something’s going on here.

Something’s going on here alright. Your fucking brain has detached from reality, that’s what’s going on. I have a kid in college. Kids today are fucking their brains out. But somehow Galloway has determined that college kids aren’t fucking enough and therefore they only get their rocks off by protesting genocide? What the actual fuck dude?

This is the narrative of incels and nerds like Matt Walsh and Tucker Carlson who literally advocate for ultra violent ball tanning to increase testosterone because men these days are weak and would rather game than fuck. Maybe that’s happening with people like Tucker who are stuck in their parent’s basement working some menial job and jacking off to Andrew Tate videos. But I can assure you that college students at Columbia, NYU, USC and elsewhere are fucking their brains out. (Okay, maybe not at Brigham.)

Before we move on, let’s read one particular excerpt again. I want you to focus on this transition. If ever there was an example of bad faith propaganda, this is it.

Galloway: Young people aren’t having as much sex...if you type into Google “anti-Semitism” and pick any century in the last 3000 years, you’re gonna find multiple instances where the world decides the Jews are the mortal enemy.

Galloway seamlessly connects the “students aren’t fucking enough so they’re looking for someone to blame” false narrative to every example throughout history when Jews were oppressed. So when Catherine the Great banished Jews in Eastern Europe to the Pale of Settlement, you’re telling me it’s because she wasn’t getting enough of that good dick? When the Visigoths expelled Sephardic Jews from Spain it’s because there wasn’t enough puntang in the Catholic church to go around? That when the Nazi Party scapegoated the Jews in Germany they were really just horny?

If anyone should be fucking someone it’s Scott Galloway going to fuck himself.

Finally, he lands on blaming TikTok. Not social media, not the mainstream media, not Israel. TikTok.

Even though thoroughly debunked, he taps into yet another old white person fear that China is someone manipulating Americans into sympathizing with Palestine and rebuking Israel over its prosection of the war. No mention of the fact that the only way images can escape Gaza is via social media like TikTok because there is a complete media blackout because Israel won’t allow any foreign outlets into Gaza. Or how the ratio, even though he’s making it up, would theoretically track because it mirrors the ratio of deaths between Palestinians and Israelis since October 7th. Just that young people shouldn’t believe their lying eyes.

Every mass student protest—of which, ONCE AGAIN, this is one of the smallest—every single one has been on the right side of history and opposed in the moment by people who look and think like Scott Galloway.

  • Free Speech sit-ins in the ‘60s against McCarthist policies and communist witch hunts.
  • Anti-Vietnam protests in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
  • Bra-burning feminist marches.
  • Pride demonstrations.
  • Racial injustice protests like the one at Jackson State College where the student body was fired upon by the cops leaving two dead and twelve more injured.
  • South African apartheid demonstrations in the ‘80s.
  • Black Lives Matter.

All on the right side of history and the wrong side of mediocre old white establishment dickheads.


On Anti-Semitism.

And now a word to my fellow leftists.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise. In the comment sections on YouTube and social media, pop culture figures like Kanye and Kyrie, public statements of MAGA shitheads like Marjorie Taylor Green who want to preserve the right to blame Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The rogue protestor who calls out “go back to Poland” on the fringes of these protests. And that’s how it begins.

If we fail to acknowledge the danger of allowing this type of rhetoric to exist then we’re just as much to blame as Galloway.

In our introduction to the Palestine series, I used the word “singular” to describe the plight of the Jewish people throughout history. Protecting the rights and safety of the Jewish people is a moral imperative that we must dedicate ourselves to. You cannot waver. Can’t let your guard down, not even for a moment.

I had the good fortune of learning the lessons of the Holocaust from incredible docents. I’ll be forever grateful for them because too often we think of Jewish history through the fantastical lens of the Old Testament. Like any religion, Judaism is rooted in anecdotes and lore designed to teach and contextualize. As such, observant Jews are taught about oppression and salvation, of righteousness and evil. Jewish myths are also steeped in violence as many religious myths are. I want to offer a passage from a recent piece by Hannah Gold in The Baffler who wrote about attending Passover Seders led by Jewish student at Columbia.

“At my friend’s Passover seder, the suffering and deaths of the Egyptians were acknowledged. We dipped our pinkies into one of our four ceremonial glasses of wine and took out ten drops, one to symbolize each plague endured by the Egyptians. This is part of the Jewish liberation story—that our freedom required Egyptian deaths. I think specifically about the moment in which Moses kills the taskmaster. He’s watched Jews be enslaved his entire life and benefited from their subjugation, but now that he knows it’s his people being hurt, he intervenes, killing a man who he no longer considers one of his own. And it’s not just this man actively enacting violence who is punished with death—what finally triggers the liberation of the Jews? Egyptian children are killed en masse. What are we meant to do with this being the center of our liberation myth?”

I’ve read Hannah’s piece several times and would encourage you to do the same. For centuries the Jewish people have grappled with their own origin story. And for centuries, the Jewish people have been persecuted in a singular way. But the seminal events that we recognize didn’t just happen overnight. They are always the culmination of dangerous anti-Semitic rhetoric, propaganda and scapegoating that build over years and sometimes generations until exploding into violence. Every Jew is taught these lessons. Just as every young Black person in America has had “The Talk.” So at this point it’s more than just learned history, it’s encoded at the DNA level.

So when you hear Jewish people say that they’re scared, listen. Also, Israel is not Judaism. The state of Israel may indeed be an ethnostate, but it is not a proxy for all Jews or the Jewish experience. Nor is every Zionist a murderer.

The original Zionists were in search of a homeland, a place to settle without fear of persecution. They were socialists. And farmers. Tradespeople. Some were secular. Others, religious. And among the possibilities were Uganda as offered by the British, as though it was theirs to give. Parts of greater Syria known as Palestine. California. A coastal enclave in Argentina. The idea to settle in Palestine was multifaceted. First off, Arab Jews had lived in great harmony among Arab Muslims in this region for centuries. Secondly, it was a far easier journey to navigate. Third, the Ottoman land codes were such that Jewish farmers could purchase large tracts of land to establish kibbutzim. And, lastly, their socialist tendencies were in alignment with the secular, agrarian governance of the day. This was the vision of the Maskilim in the Haskalah, the intellectuals of the Jewish Enlightenment. The religious expressions of Aliyah, the right of Jewish return to Palestine, were ascribed to and adopted by the leaders of the Zionist movement much later to appeal more broadly to Jews throughout Eastern Europe who were being increasingly persecuted due to their religion.

By linking the fate of Israel to Judaism, we have allowed for a dangerous conflation that ironically and tragically places Jews in a precarious and harmful place. And there are many in the Jewish community that recognize this fact and are appalled and afraid of political parties like Likud and Otzma Yehudit. In their dogmatically racist and imperial pursuit of the whole of Palestine, these parties have co-opted Judaism and put every single Jew in harm’s way.

Can we be rational and human enough to hold two thoughts at once?

There are viciously anti-Semitic Islamic fundamentalists determined to destroy the state of Israel because it is a Jewish state.

There are fervently anti-Israel people throughout the world who believe that Israel is an occupying force carrying out a genocide and has the right to exist.

If you’re looking for my interpretation of these sentiments and the nuance therein, you can find it in my series on Israel/Palestine. That’s not for today. The message here is that anti-Semitism is real, persistent and always bubbling right below the surface and when it explodes it does so in ways that demonstrate the worst of what our species is capable of doing.

The message behind this moment in history is that the single most dangerous entity to Jews everywhere is the corrupt political body in charge of the Knesset. By tying the fortunes of every Jewish person to the actions of an anti-democratic and violently racist state, the conservative leaders of Israel have placed every Jewish person in the world in extreme and immediate danger.

If you want to speak fluently and empathically about one of the most complex and intractable situations on the planet today, it’s imperative that you do the work. Because when you do, you construct a bullshit filter and expand both your heart and mind. The loudest voices tend to be the easiest to dismiss. But when you learn to listen more closely you can easily spot the dangerous rhetoric hiding in the benign propaganda and soothing words of charlatans like Scott Galloway who should go back to talking about corporate branding and stay the fuck away from the people doing the work.


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Max is a basic, middle-aged white guy who developed his cultural tastes in the 80s (Miami Vice, NY Mets), became politically aware in the 90s (as a Republican), started actually thinking and writing in the 2000s (shifting left), became completely jaded in the 2010s (moving further left) and eventually decided to launch UNFTR in the 2020s (completely left).