On April 18, Dr. Sina Arnold from the Berliner Institut für empirische Integrations- und Migrationsforschung gave a talk about the history and current trends of antisemitism in the American left. American Space Leipzig welcomed around 40 guests at the Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig to discuss this controversial topic amidst increasing numbers of antisemitic incidents across the Atlantic.
In her talk, Dr. Sina Arnold discussed the history of the Jewish community in the US and how they have faced continuous antisemitic resentments from groups on the left.
Dr. Arnold retraced recurring images and stereotypes as well as fundamental changes in the left political discourse and how they enable room for different forms of antisemitic imagery. Most importantly, the focus on identity politics after the Civil Rights Movement and its support for the Palestinians in the Middle East conflict shaped an anti-Israel discourse within the American left that enables and strengthens an uncritical perpetuation of antisemitic stereotypes.
Dr. Arnold conceives of antisemitism in the American left as a “blind spot.” With its focus on more visible and seemingly more urgent social problems in the US such as racism against non-white citizens, the American left has struggled to identify the need to tackle antisemitism. Especially since the Jewish community has experienced a social uplift into the middle class during the first third of the 20th century, they have been imagined as ‘white’ and therefore not as victims of discrimination in the US.
The 9/11 attacks, argues Dr. Arnold, have amplified these dynamics, especially with the left focussing on tackling the subsequent upsurge in anti-Arab racism in the United States.
With her talk, Dr. Arnold gave interesting insights into the complexity of left politics in the United States and how they can differ from the European discourse. It has opened many questions about how to create awareness and political momentum to openly discuss not just a European but, indeed, a transatlantic phenomenon.
Dr. Sina Arnold’s book Das Unsichtbare Vorurteil – Antisemitismusdiskurse in der Amerikanischen Linken nach 9/11 was published in 2016 by Hamburger Edition Verlag.