A Broadway road show and a Jerusalem Post opinion piece shed light on why the left maintains its antagonism towards Israel and Diaspora Jews—and the hatred coming from the Israeli right.

“Funny Girl” at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theater entails the rise of Jewish comedienne Fanny Brice (born Fania Borach) a century ago. Brice overcame the wrong religion and nose to become a Broadway, film and radio star. She never considered success impossible or abandoned her Jewish identity. (Disclosure: She was my grandmother Minnie Finkle’s favorite performer.)

Israel also overcame. The American-Jewish writer Daniel Turtel (“Progressives hate Israel since it threatens their worldviews,” 5-19-24) writes, “[Israel] is a threat because it proves that the worst oppressions and atrocities do not have to determine a nation’s fate.”

Jews remember our history: Greek and Roman tyranny, Crusaders, expulsion from Spain (among other countries), the Inquisition, ghettoization and pogroms, the Holocaust, October 7 and ongoing antisemitism. 

Yet we don’t ask for pity or entitlement. We’ve been victims, but most of us refuse to define ourselves as such. All we want is a fair shot.

Therein, according to the left, lies one of the great Jewish sins: Jews created a thriving nation, Israel, to serve as a safe haven. Israel left neighboring Arab countries lagging. Insult added to injury: Diaspora Jews achieved great things far beyond our small numbers. Jews make self-defined victims who’ve achieved less look bad. 

A frequently-asked question: How could the Jews achieve all that they have? Antisemitism answers: Jews always have engaged in conspiracies and cabals. (For example, I cite Jews in this post.) The powerless wield great power. 

Sadly, victimhood is highly attractive to those on the far left and far right. The psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman (another Jew) explained this phenomenon in Scientific American—“Unraveling the Mindset of Victimhood,” 6-29-20.

“Based on clinical observations and research, the researchers [Rahav Gabay of Tel Aviv University and colleagues—there I go again] found that the tendency for interpersonal victimhood consists of four main dimensions: (a) constantly seeking recognition for one’s victimhood, (b) moral elitism, (c) lack of empathy for the pain and suffering of others, and (d) frequently ruminating about past victimization.” 

Kaufman adds, “A strong sense of collective victimhood is associated with a low willingness to forgive and an increased desire for revenge.”

We see this at play between Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli far rightists want one Jewish nation from the river to the sea. Hamas and its supporters want a Palestinian entity there. The war continues.

Note: Had Palestinians accepted the 1947 UN resolution calling for partition, the Palestinian nation would be as old as Israel. Ironically, Israel would be a lot smaller than it is today.

The Israeli-Palestinian history of the last 77 years (and before) has been ugly—on both sides. For progressives, it’s all about Israeli “colonization” and “genocide.” Bullshit. 

A raging sense of victimhood creates a roadblock to the future. Right-wing Israelis refuse a two-state solution. From Hamas’s perspective, Israel must be destroyed, Jews killed or expelled. News flash: Israel will survive further insulting progressives.

Finally, Kaufman asks, “What if we all learned that it’s possible to have healthy pride for an in-group without having out-group hate?”

Funny thing. Downplaying victimhood and looking forward might give peace a chance.

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  1. Jean Wright on May 24, 2024 at 6:16 pm

    Thank you, David, for your thoughtful and thought provoking essay. Shalom, Jean

    • David Perlstein on May 24, 2024 at 8:07 pm

      You are most welcome, Jean.

  2. Sandy Lipkowitz on May 25, 2024 at 10:32 pm

    Great post .

    • David Perlstein on May 26, 2024 at 8:19 am

      Thanks, Sandy.

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