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I’m a gay Black Jew, and I feel abandoned by the allies I’ve supported for years

Why is the LGBTQ+ community pledging allegiance to a regime that wants to kill us?

When you’re living at the front lines of intersectionality like I do as a gay Black Jew, you learn early on that no one is coming to your rescue. This is how I feel about Israel right now. While the last two horrible weeks have included some commendable allyship, they have also revealed a level of indifference and disbelief to Jewish pain that extends beyond my darkest nightmares.

From mass anti-Zionist protests to relentless antisemitic social media posts, folks that Jews have championed during their gravest hours have turned their backs on us with soul-crushing ease.

It’s not everyone, of course; numerous levelheaded leaders from every sector have shown up —- heroes like Floyd Mayweather, the former professional boxer who brought a private jet worth of supplies for the Israeli military on Sunday, and Rep. Ritchie Torres, a New York Democrat who proclaimed Oct. 7 another day that will “live in infamy” and denounced the Democratic Socialists of America for indoctrinating young people against Israel.

But they are overshadowed by disappointment — disappointment that has me questioning the value of humanity and left me barely able to sleep — from those I’d hoped would be on my side when the unthinkable happens. And the unthinkable has clearly taken place. 

It’s hard to describe the depths of despair as a gay man knowing that other gay men, lesbians and transfolk have bafflingly aligned themselves with the monsters who want all of us dead. With scant reason and little logic, social media feed after social media feed brazenly declares queer allegiance to a fundamentalist regime that has made LGBTQ+ death a literal way of life. Never mind that Israel is the only place in the Middle East that offers queer people any real legal protections.

“But transfolk are dying right here in the U.S.,” one preachy, performative Black queer influencer posted on her Instagram story to justify her commitment to Palestine. True, killings of trans people — particularly those of color — have become far too common across our own country. At least here, their perpetrators are prosecuted, and sometimes convicted of hate crimes that result in extended jail sentences. In Gaza, there is no accountability for Hamas oppression and violence against queer people, because Hamas rules Gaza.

Then there is the grief I feel, as a Black man, watching African American after African American — whether professors or protesters — insist that the Palestinian struggle is their struggle, seeing the 1,400 Israelis that Hamas killed as some sort of trophy.

I understand, deeply, that people of color share a history of violence at the hands of white-led power structures committed for centuries to keeping us down. But before I am a Black man I am, well, a human — and humanity demands the rejection of mass-slaughter and the condemnation of mass-kidnappings, particularly when they involve children and the disabled.

Being Black means insisting that the sting of racism can never be questioned or met with disbelief. Today, I am near-crippled by disbelief watching lefty Black folk not only deny the racist horrors perpetuated by Hamas against Israelis because of their identity, but literally declare them justifiable.

As a journalist, I’ve championed many of these lefty voices, confident in their validity and committed to bringing them to light. I’ve aided my Black and queer brothers and sisters, telling myself that if I don’t show up for them, who will?

Deep down in my kishkes, I concede, I was never sure they would show up for me as a Jew. Now we are asking them — and they have failed us spectacularly. 

It’s hard to describe the anguish of knowing that people who look like you and love like you cannot, do not, will not care about you. It’s hard to describe because the reality is actually far worse — the reality is that some of them are actually chanting for your death.

When I think of the thousands of words and dozens of headlines I’ve personally committed to Black and queer and progressive causes, my heart feels like it is splitting in two. It is almost too much to contemplate the ease with which they’ve thrown us to the wolves — wolves who would, quite likely, devour them with impunity as soon as they are done with us.

Make no mistake, I harbor no illusions about the ways Jews and Jewish institutions here in U.S. have often treated me as an oddity or anomaly because of the color of my skin. But this has never been the case in Israel, where I rarely stand out as the darkest Jew in the room. This is why I type right now dazed by grief, breathing with such overwhelming sorrow, tucking my kids in at night barely able to contain my fury.

Israel, to me, is not my second home, but my home: I lived in Tel Aviv during the aughts, where I worked as a journalist. It is a place that has always rescued me from the messy identity politics that have destroyed so much of what is supposed to make America exceptional: liberalism, tolerance, a true multiplicity of ideas and beliefs. Today, in American cities and especially our elite college campuses, they’ve been replaced by intolerance, illiberalism and a clear lust for Jewish blood.

Of course, my pain is insignificant compared to the people now living in Israel who’ve already lost so much and could easily lose so much more. If they do — and it’s quite possible — the bloody hands will not just belong to Hamas, but their intersectional surrogates here in the U.S. who have done well from Jewish largesse all these years and now stand idly doing nothing as we bleed.

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