Sohrab Ahmari: Why Postmodern Intersectionality Imperils Israel and Jews
Precisely because it is a theory of generalized victimhood, intersectionality targets the Jews–the 20th century’s ultimate victims. Acknowledging the Jews’ profound claims to victimhood would force the intersectional left to admit the existential necessity of the State of Israel. But the intersectional left is not prepared to do so because, under intersectionality’s rules, all the outcomes are predetermined. Israel has been prejudged an outpost of Western colonialism. Therefore, the Jews cannot possibly be allowed to “win” the intersectional victimhood Olympics.
Intersectionality, moreover, allows its proponents to apply hideous double standards when judging between Israel and its enemies. Judged against a fair and universal standard, the Jewish state comes out looking very good indeed, especially when one takes into consideration the fact that it has been at war since its founding. But the intersectional left dreams of perfect justice without a standard of justice. It can, therefore, condemn the sole democracy in the Middle East while ignoring or whitewashing the far worse crimes of her enemies. And even the most progressive aspects of Israeli society count against it in the victimhood Olympics.
Finally, Jewish victimhood, whether at the hands of the Nazis or the Soviets, requires the intersectional left to admit that, by contrast, and for all their faults, the Western democracies (including Israel) are pretty decent, even admirable. But again, the intersectional left is committed to the opposite idea–that everywhere in the West, there are hidden “structures of oppression” that trap minorities along the lines of race, gender and sexuality. Thus, again, the Jews will lose the intersectional victimhood Olympics.
Whenever such relativism reigns–and the very possibility of objective truth is denied–Jews are imperiled. Israelis and their friends, including fair-minded liberals, would be wise to abjure intersectionality altogether, rather than try to make their case on intersectional terms.
This column was adapted from an address at the 6th Global Forum for Combatting Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem.