In 2020, amidst COVID lockdowns and BLM rallies turned riots, anti-racism became akin to religious fanaticism.
Every problem the country was confronted with came to be viewed in a black (good) vs. white (bad) binary by nearly all Democrats, the press and most of corporate America.
My company, Levi’s, where I was the Brand President at the time, was no exception.
We were all busy frantically announcing and denouncing our racism, unburdening ourselves of this wrenching guilt, and doing “the work,” which apparently meant posting black squares on Instagram.
And demanding the firing of a gay fashion blogger who also happened to be Israeli.
In June 2021, I received an email from a senior executive in the company, a peer. He told me an employee on his team was concerned about an “influencer” we were using in a campaign, considering him out of step with the values of the company.
According to the employee, this social media star had expressed “violence” in his posts and the employee was very concerned that we would associate our brand with him.
The employee lodging the complaint did not name names, so I was left to sleuth a bit to figure out what he was talking about.
It took some digging. We employed hundreds of social media stars to endorse our products. I searched Instagram and Facebook. I found nothing.
I switched over to Twitter, a platform we rarely used but I thought I’d try. And there, I found him. Or what I assumed had to be him by process of elimination.
All of our influencers just posted about jeans or being authentic, in keeping with the brand. And so, all I could come up with was a gay fashion blogger from New York who was also Israeli.
He had Jewish stars and Israeli flags in his profile. Outside of those signifiers, he really didn’t say much about being Israeli or Jewish. He mostly posted about fashion and being a member of the LGBTQ community.
I was mystified. Could that be it? It had to be. The fact that he expressed support for the right of Israel, his native country, to exist was violence, according to some.
The antisemitism of the Left, which puts Jews in the “white/oppressor” category had been nagging at me for years.
In the woke racial pecking order, Jews are the most oppressive, supposedly because they have outsized money, power and influence (an antisemitic trope). Jews do not deserve sympathy and they certainly do not deserve the status that comes from victimhood. Their mere existence is violence, according to anti-racism ideology.
To some, like Whoopi Goldberg, this orientation involves reinventing history. For Goldberg, the Holocaust was not an ethnic cleansing at all. It was just a bunch of white people arguing with each other.
On “The View” in February 2022, Goldberg insisted that the Holocaust was “not about race” it’s just “white people doing it to white people, so y’all going to fight amongst yourselves.”
This dynamic had started to roil me in the summer of 2017 when a group of Jewish women were ousted from the Dyke March in Chicago.
Women carrying a rainbow flag adorned with a star of David were asked to leave by the parade’s organizers. The organizers claimed that it wasn’t antisemitism that made them do it; it was anti-Zionism.
But the Pride marchers’ rainbow flag was adorned with a star of David, meant to represent their Jewish heritage. It was not an Israeli flag.
No matter. They were forced to leave because “intersectionalism” or something.
The same thing happened to our Israeli influencer. I reached out to the marketing leader for the United States regarding the complaint from the employee. I explained the concerns and gave my perspective that these concerns were not actually concerning.
She told me that they’d already received complaints and had “de-emphasized” his role in the campaign. In this case, “de-emphasized” meant they had stopped using him in the campaign entirely.
I said: “Why? He’s a fashion blogger. He writes about fashion. So what if he’s proud of being from Israel?”
I was too late. We’d bowed to the woke anti-racism mob. Which was also growing bolder in their antisemitism.
I pulled my team together. I told them it was enough with the unforgiving intersectionalism. If we liked him for his gay fashion blogging, we could stand by his being a proud Israeli.
But the woke genie was out of the bottle. And in the world of woke-ism there is no forgiveness. But plenty of antisemitism.
And we are seeing this now, on full display, as millions of ill-informed, hashtag driven woke antisemites march in cities across the country and the globe – shouting “Free Palestine,” “From the River to the Sea,” and even, sometimes, “Gas the Jews.” They grow bolder every day.
Decolonization – a euphemism for the slaughter of those marked as oppressors – starts with deciding Jewish influencers don’t get to have jobs because they, in their very existence, are violence. It ends with “elimination,” that is viewed as not only necessary, but just and righteous.
The antiracists do not hide their hatred of Jews. They never really did. Even if we were slow to hear them.
Jennifer Sey is the author of “Levi’s Unbuttoned: The Woke Mob Took My Job But Gave Me My Voice.”