Antisemitism is on the rise in many Western countries. On the postmodern left, this ancient hatred is often expressed as anti-Zionism which claims to be opposed to racism and colonialism. Yet because anti-Zionist discourse is an attack on the right of the State of Israel even to exist, it also antisemitic. This is because it denies both the very concept of Jewish peoplehood entitled to self-determination, and the right of a lawfully constituted state to safeguard the security of its borders and its people.
The roots of postmodern left-wing antisemitism lie deep in the fertile soil of the combined forces of identity politics, anti-colonialism, and anti-imperialism unleashed in the 1960s and 1970s. What has made it front-page news is the manifestation of blatant, institutional antisemitism in the British Labour Party under Corbyn. Repeated failure to address it has led many to believe the party to be systemically antisemitic.
In Australia, the political leaders of the postmodern left – especially in the ALP and the Australian Greens – have a vital opportunity to ensure that their long-standing commitment to the pursuit of justice and human decency is freed from the ugly taint of antisemitism.