I appreciate where this article is coming from. Of course we should be concerned with double standards, and the right-wing antisemitism is utterly despicable. But may I respectfully suggest that maybe this isn't just about "punching down at pro-Palestine students of color"?

The reason for the vitriol directed at left-wing institutions is that leftists were the ones *dancing in the streets* when Jews were massacred. If we had seen celebrations in Nashville and Jacksonville instead of New York and London on October 8th, I think the Jewish community would have directed its rage at the right.

Moreover, I think this article whitewashes Hamas apologia as "pro-Palestinian" activism. I've spent some time on a left-wing campus recently. There was a demented feeling of glee in the air. "Pro-Palestinian" activists cheered on the massacre at the vigil for those killed on October 7th. As for the Harvard letter, I think any reasonable person could see why "Israel deserves to be terrorized" isn't simply pro-Palestinian sentiment.

Finally, many of us Jews (especially "elite" Jews) live and work in places that lie somewhere between AOC and Stalin on the political spectrum. I don't think it's odd that Jewish leaders have chosen to focus on left-wing antisemitism in this moment.

Expand full comment

I can't deny that Slow Boring pieces written by women do seem to draw more ire from the peanut gallery, and I kind of wish I could self-righteously point that out. And yet, *as a woman*, I also can't deny that several of the pieces written by women that got pile-ons have also bothered *me* quite a bit. Is it a coincidence? Is Matt equally willing to challenge and critique draft pieces submitted by women as he is from men? I am not sure. I hope so.

I am endlessly impressed by the SB interns' intelligence, maturity, and hustle, Maya included. However, Maya, there is a large disconnect between your strong, black & white language claiming "most" business leaders are "ignoring" anti-semitism on the right, and the available evidence. I was genuinely shocked that this piece flat-out ignored the tidal wave of companies pulling advertising dollars from X based on this single tweet alone, and making strong statements condemning Elon in the process. Your entire argument hinges on the claim that this isn't happening. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/11/17/elon-musk-x-companies-pulling-ads-anti-semitism/ I'd love to hear whether this factored into you assessment of the situation and whether it alters anything.

Thanks for putting this out there, being willing to face a lot of critique, and being willing to share an opinion that you know will be outnumbered. I think it's good for us to get challenged regularly. Happy Thanksgiving!

Expand full comment
Nov 21·edited Nov 21

"pro-Palestinian activism crosses the line into antisemitism, a debatable (though perhaps accurate in some cases)"

Perhaps accurate???

At Harvard after the 7/10 massacre, 33 Harvard organizations blamed Israel for a terror attack committed by Hamas.

Down Mass Ave, at my alma mater, Jewish students were warned not to enter the Institute via Lobby 7, the main entrance, for their own safety, and the Institute did not suspend those threatening Jews and refused to leave. This is after groups chanted "intifada" in front of the student center.

Perhaps antisemitic.

I have no love for Elon Musk, and his tweets were disgusting. He should get criticism for what he said.

But I'm not afraid of Elon Musk assaulting me at my alma mater or cheering the murder and kidnapping of my friends.

Expand full comment
Nov 21·edited Nov 21

Hi Maya - gonna give you comments as if you were one of my philosophy undergrads.

I think this article would have been more compelling if:

1) It didn't treat hypocrisy as reason to discount the original charges of antisemitism on the left. You could probably make a case to doubt Ackman's motives in particular, which this article also does. But it's muddied and weakened by also trying to sneak in the former. Both Elon's statements and the PSC's can be thoroughly antisemitic. (And in my modern orthodox circle - which, to be fair, is not elite twitter commentariat! - people have been appalled by both.)

2) It didn't jump immediately to, "The rich white guys we hate just want to hurt powerless brown people (implication: because they're racist)." As many other commenters have noted, there are plenty of other reasons that Jewish people might be more upset with the left right now. This article had the potential to explore this complicated web of reasons; the real picture is probably a mix of all of the above. And you could have gone much deeper with exploration of power dynamics and how they lead to silencing. Instead, you kinda took the easy way out, falling back on standard progressive orthodoxies about the corruption of money and racist old white guys. There was potential to do some much deeper and more difficult investigative work here.

3) It didn't bend over backwards to paint the PSC statement as merely "pro-Palestinian" activism. You're trying to talk to people who were horrified by that statement; when you begin the essay by betraying your sympathies to them, it immediately dings your credibility with the readers you're presumably trying to reach. If you can't bring yourself to condemn the PSC, or to acknowledge any non-slimy reasons people would take issue with their statement, then you probably aren't well-situated to actually communicate with the audience you're aiming at.

(Edited to remove some non-productive snark.)

Expand full comment

I thought this was a good insightful piece when I thought it was written by Matt.

But now that I see it was written by a woman, and a young person, I hate it.

And I'm going to turn the condescension and tone-policing up to 11.

Tut-tut, young woman! Tut-tut! How dare you disagree with your elders?

We shall tell you what to think, what to say, and how to say it!

I'm writing this after about 70 comments are in, and the SB commentariat has really embarrassed itself today.

Expand full comment

This seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill. Does Elon Musk hold bigoted or conspiratorial views towards Jews? I would assume. But he’s not calling for violence. He works regularly with Jewish employees and coworkers. No Jew would feel unsafe walking into spacex. An angry mob shouting “Palestine should be Arab” or “gas the Jews” is far more threatening. Especially when they’re doing that in solidarity with people who just murdered, mutilated, and raped thousands of Jews.

Expand full comment
Nov 21·edited Nov 21


Honestly, the engagement I’ve gotten here after what I said this morning has been deeply saddening.

I wasn’t trying to shame or discredit Maya. But I believe the reasoning she displayed in today’s piece to be flawed in a way which is very common in journalism and commentary in our current zeitgeist. Likewise, I think some of the language she (likely unthinkingly) used borders on disingenuous and shouldn’t be let off easily.

I sought to say as much without filling a ream of paper, in a way which was less impolite than the language I have used to criticize Matt or other commenters for similar failures of logic or knowledge, because she’s an intern and here to learn.

What I thought was restraint seems to have been rewarded with a long series of people who question my motives and moral fiber instead of taking issue with my point.

To Maya’s credit she hasn’t joined in that.

But I’m unsure how the hell I was supposed to make the point that wouldn’t have opened me up to the same bad-faith attempt to delegitimize what I said instead of arguing with it. And that’s just depressing.

I'm out, folks. It's been interesting, informative, and I thank everyone for generally tolerating my abrasiveness. But it's time to move on.

Expand full comment

Ben Dreyfus had an insightful comment from a bystander perspective that he already knows there’s tons of anti-semites on the right, so it’s existence feels status quo. Whereas he was apparently unaware of the anti-semitism on the left, and so it’s causing him a lot more anxiety and pain

Expand full comment
Nov 21Liked by Maya Bodnick

IMO this is the bravest article Slow Boring has ever published. We are 1 day out from the richest man on earth filing suit against one of his critics, backed by multiple senior Republican operatives/officials. Huge kudos to Matt for publishing it and for Maya to writing it. I shudder to think what Matt and especially Maya's engagement on Twitter looks like right now.

It is important whether the argument is it's correct. I'm astounded that this seems to be disputed. The White House said "We condemn this abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms" about Musk's tweet, and I've seen numerous screenshots of random ultra-right websites high fiving about Musk, both in this case and in others.

The comments sections is full of focus on campus politics, as if two wrongs make a right, and as if students, even at Harvard, are comparable to the richest man on earth, who controls of one of the world's premier social media platforms as well as a key military communication network. Or arguments how the article could've been better crafted which, even if true, also in no way excuses Musk's conduct.

Expand full comment

While there is truth to the commentary about Ackman's (and other business leaders') silence or defense of Musk and others, I would highlight that you yourself are doing something very similar by actively downplaying the criticism and actions of your own Harvard peers in this framing. "Criticisms of Israel" and "debatable" antisemitism is how you describe those Harvard students who actively seek the destruction of the Jewish state, who call for violence against Jews, and who celebrated the murder of innocent civilians on 10/7.

Expand full comment

I think it’s probably true that antisemitism is used as a cudgel against those criticising Israel. But I don’t think these elites are only targeting the left and ignoring the right because they enjoy punching down. It seems more likely it’s the opposite, right wing cranks don’t pose any real threat to Israel or co to yes American support for Israel (the Republican Party is fully committed to defending Israel). By contrast the left, and Ivy League activists hold tons of power (culturally, through the NGOs they staff, as political staffers in the Democrat party etc). It is very easy to see how such groups can whip up support for Palestine one a way that harms Israel’s interests, both with the public and in Congress (the squad and allies).

Expand full comment

This entire article and all the comments are a good example of why accusations of hypocrisy are not a real argument. “But what about X” never leads to a productive discussion. Everyone has interests and biases, but something is either a good idea or it isn’t, and the motives of the person proposing it rarely if ever change that.

Expand full comment

Hilarious. This article lost me at “elite backlash against pro-Palestinian activism on campus, including aggressive efforts to wreck the careers of young people over their criticisms of Israel.” I.e. the first sentence. The use of code words like elite (hello, if you’re at Harvard YOU are the elite) shows me it’s going to be thumb on the scales all the way.

But I get the myopia: left antisemitism is less bad BY DEFINITION. We’re the left: the good guys. “We can’t do an antisemitism! Get serious!”

Why even bother? “Oh the poor things won’t take their place in the PMC.” Now pretend the students were burning crosses instead of merely calling for Palestine to be Judenrein.

And as always ideologues are tone-deaf. Maybe a little more attention to affect: the foaming rage and violence that has characterized the “Palestinian activists.” (And concomitant need for Jews to hide in libraries (Cooper Union), shelter in place (Cornell), etc.) Meanwhile millions (yes millions) of Afghans are being forcibly displaced from Pakistan. The left: crickets. Just like the crickets as Syria has killed Palestinians by the hundreds of thousands. Spare me the hypocrisy.

I mean I understand it’s gotta be rough when your whole life you thought of yourself as on the side of the angels, and it turns out your team is deeply uninterested in 2000 years of persecution. I guess that’s why Matty trotted out this woman. But more “it’s not anti-antisemitism, it’s covert racism”? Fuck off out of here with that.

Expand full comment

Wasn't there a new round of companies pulling ad funding from Twitter? That should count as not ignoring.

Speaking of which, I do thank Elon for turning that site into such garbage (mostly by promoting awful blue checks) my usage has dropped 90%+ over the last year.

Expand full comment

Pulling up to the comment section at 6AM PST like


Expand full comment

I didn’t articulate this sentiment previously but hinted at it. My read on the new “anti-cancel culture” sentiment on the left isn’t due to the suppression of pro-Palestinian beliefs (that’s been happening for years without much of a response) but because many of the people getting the sharp end are, as Maya says, “people of color” (obligatory nod to The Greater Oppression by adding “women of color”). It’s entirely consonant with leftist beliefs, and to quote myself:

‘if you conduct some anthropology on any “Palestine solidarity” group*, you’ll find:

1. Arab supremacists and Islamists

2. White leftists who remain willfully blind to the vile ideologies of #1 [1]

3. Kids of PMC nonwhites who want the approval of #2. These will grow up to write articles telling Asians to subordinate their interests to the more “oppressed” groups of the blue tent

Basically after 9/11, leftists decided that Muslims and Arabs were apparently persecuted in the USA and western world and therefore could do no wrong and any criticism was tantamount to persecution. The hilarious story of the Respect party in the UK is a great example of what happens when you embrace that mentality, as is the Hamtramck LGBT issue.’

So my sympathy for these alleged victims is zero. Their side didn’t care about suppressing other beliefs (as long as they were “punching up” but now are getting cheesed that their precious are receiving backlash).

[1] https://madogiwazoku.substack.com/p/on-pet-victim-protection

Expand full comment