The War Against the Jews Is a War Against Capitalism
Campus radicals, Congressional socialists, and Iran make their aims clear. They go well beyond Israel.
Harvard’s University’s graduate-student union recently approved by a vote of 402 to 210 a resolution denouncing what it called “the murderous Israeli regime” and the “ongoing genocide of the Palestinians.”
What really caught my attention, though, was the line in that United Auto Workers statement contending, “workers in the U.S. are struggling against many of the same capitalist forces that maintain and bolster the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
Connecting the military and propaganda war against Israel to a wider campaign against “capitalist forces” might initially seem like something so theoretical or extreme that only Ivy League graduate students would be naïve enough to believe it.
The more one investigates, though, the more it becomes clear that the denunciation of capitalism is more significant than an immature rhetorical flourish. It is a core part of the anti-Israel ideology — and not just on campuses and among American intellectuals, but also among members of Congress, and in key documents of the terrorist group Hamas and its Iranian sponsor.
At Harvard, the foremost faculty ringleader cheering on the anti-Israel protests has been a professor of history and of African and African American Studies, Walter Johnson. He reportedly gave a speech during a student anti-Israel sit-in.
He was also the lead signer of a recent Harvard faculty letter smearing Israel by echoing the false accusation of “genocidal intent” in Gaza. A profile of him in Harvard’s alumni magazine quotes Johnson describing his own thought as “radical, anti-capitalist, anti-racist synthesis.”
Similar language is heard on other campuses. At a recent “Palestine Festival of Literature” event at Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan, Michelle Alexander spoke about “the corrupting forces of capitalism, militarism, and racism and how they lead inexorably toward war.”
In Congress, reliable anti-Israel votes — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush — are members of the Democratic Socialists of America. Its platform explains, “In overcoming the old, barbaric order of capitalism, the working class will not only liberate itself from its own shackles, but all of humanity from the parasitic death-drive of capitalism.” The DSA platform supports both a boycott of Israel and normalization of American relations with Iran.
Internationally, celebrity youth climate activist Greta Thunberg has faulted “capitalism as currently practiced” for having “imperiled the existence of millions of planetary species, as well as the health and well-being of billions of humans.” She’s recently emerged as an anti-Israel activist.
Hamas’s 1988 founding covenant embraces “mutual social responsibility,” in contrast to “the imperialistic forces in the Capitalist West.” It faults the Jews for having “strived to amass great and substantive material wealth.”
Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, said last year, “Zionist capitalists were a plague for the whole world. Now they’re a plague especially for the world of Islam.” Khamenei also attacks American capitalism with language that sounds straight out of the 1619 Project.
“The capitalists of North America dragged the blacks from the southern farms to the north in the name of freedom and hired them with low wages,” he said earlier this year. In a 2022 speech, Khamenei insisted, “the viewpoint of Islam towards workers is based on gratitude.”
“It is,” the Supreme Leader said, “different from the viewpoint of capitalism… The viewpoint of the capitalist systems towards workers is based on interest and exploitation. Workers are a tool for ensuring their wealth.”
Iran’s constitution gives vast economic power to the government: “all large-scale … industries, foreign trade, major minerals, banking, insurance, power generation, dams and large-scale irrigation networks, radio and television, post, telegraph and telephone services, aviation, shipping, roads, railroads and the like; all these will be publicly owned and administered by the State.”
An academic article about the crafting of the constitution reports that during the deliberations, one key figure, Ayatollah Beheshti, explained, “a capitalist economy is an anti-Islamic economy, and it is condemned by us all.”
It’s risky to try to make sense of either antisemitism or socialism. They are both fundamentally irrational ideologies, defying logical explanations. On October 7, Hamas attacked kibbutzim, which are literally collectives. The same Hamas terrorist organization also attacked Israel during the premiership of Shimon Peres, a longtime leader of the Socialist International.
Even so, a clearer picture of the enemy worldview may help motivate a victory for free enterprise. The campus radicals, congressional socialists, and Iranian regime are wrong about almost everything, but they are correct when they say the struggles against capitalist forces in Israel and America are inseparable.