The runoff election in South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District will be held today, and one of the leading Democratic nominees is a sociology professor named Mal Hyman. His singular campaign issue? Israel, or the evil thereof.
Earlier this spring, Hyman sent out a campaign email, sharing with his supporters his worldview concerning the Hamas-led riots on the Gaza border: “Last week,” he wrote, “thousands of Palestinians in Gaza peacefully marched towards the barricade that segregates Jews from Arabs, to raise awareness of the brutal blockade that has been in effect since 2007. These protesters were also demanding the right to return to their homes which they have been expelled from (mandated by the U.N.) since the 1940s.” It’s America’s duty, Hyman continued, to broker peace talks, “but first, it must abandon its colonial mentality.”
The obsession with Israel is hardly a new one for Hyman. “Being raised Jewish,” he told an interviewer, he traveled to Israel in the late 1980s and was shocked by what he saw. “It couldn’t have been more appalling to see the situation there,” he said. “I saw my country on the wrong side of history, supporting colonial power.”
Talking to The Intercept, Hyman’s chief fundraiser, Esha Krishnaswamy, said that the candidate’s anti-Israel message played well with voters. “Given the overwhelmingly positive response we got from the email (including an endorsement from a Holocaust survivor), there’s a big disconnect between where the American people are on Israel and where the American media is,” she said. You could be uncharitable and alert Ms. Krishnaswamy to the recent poll indicating that American support for Israel is the highest it’s been in 27 years, with 74 percent of American adults having a favorable view of the Jewish state. But that would do little to dispel what is clearly becoming the ethos of the New Democratic Party, where Jews need apply only if they’re willing to support the indigenous rights of Palestinians against the genocidal, apartheid regime of Israel.
If this strikes you as needlessly cynical, just go back and read Hyman’s words. If you see a terrorist group repeatedly attacking its neighbors with anything from explosive devices to boobytrapped kites and still call it a peaceful march, if you believe that a border is nothing more than a barricade of segregation, if you think that the Jews returning to their ancient homeland after millennia of forced exile are colonialists, you’re not really interested in peace, justice, or, for that matter, facts. What you advocate is prejudice against Jews, the oldest and most rank bigotry in existence.
That nearly 30 percent of the district’s Democratic voters supported Hyman in the primaries says much about the current state of the party’s preposterously named progressive wing. Even if he loses tonight, that his views could be ascendant in a party formerly committed to true liberal values is deeply troubling.
Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.