Alexis Grenell’s January 24/31 column “Goysplaining” provoked a heated response from Nation readers. A selection follows.
Thank you, Alexis Grenell, for your passionate article “Goysplaining.” For too long, Jews have had to weigh their commitment to progressive causes and groups against the strong possibility that their Jewish faith and ethnic identity would be attacked. Call it what it is: anti-Semitism. With the news of the terrorist attack against the little synagogue in Colleyville, Tex., perhaps it is high time for progressive groups to listen to what Ms. Grenell is saying.
I was all set to dissect the anti-BDS tirade by Alexis Grenell in your January 24/31 issue. But today I’m too shaken and broken-hearted from seeing the rubble of the Salhiya family home in Sheikh Jarrah, which was demolished by Israeli forces yesterday morning at 3 am. Instead, I will share three observations. First, Grenell deploys considerable energy pathologizing supporters of Palestinian rights and proscribing our advocacy efforts. Surely if she is gifted a platform to trash tactics aimed at securing justice for Palestinians, she could spare a moment to let us know what form of persuasion she finds acceptable. Only the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement has caught Israel’s attention; but perhaps that’s the point. Second, Grenell is curiously silent on the de facto BDS of Palestinians. It seems safe to conclude that denying visas to Palestinian athletes, academics, and artists, criminalising Palestinian human rights organisations, and raiding Palestinian universities are A-OK with her. Finally, I don’t know of another instance in modern history in which the motives of advocates for justice were examined so forensically, nor the character of those advocates smeared with such unremitting ferocity, as supporters of the Palestinian cause.
Instead of maligning pro-Palestine leftists, perhaps Grenell might ask herself why she is incapable of seeing Palestinians as fully human, and not merely a projection of her own racist anxiety.
As soon as I read the first sentence of this apologia for mainstream Zionism, I recognized a familiar and egregious fallacy in Grenell’s thinking: her wholesale reduction of Jews to a monolith. It was clear where this was going when she began right out of the gate by rekindling the feminist controversy over the Women’s March from three years ago and the accusations of anti-Semitism against its leaders, in particular Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian, and the African American feminist Tamika Mallory. Grenell writes as if the charges of anti-Semitism were unanimously embraced by Jewish feminists, or even as if all Jews agree on what counts as anti-Semitism. But I and many of my Jewish feminist counterparts publicly disagreed at the time. One could argue that this kind of homogenization is itself an age-old form of anti-Semitism.