Democrats are making it difficult to resist the wholesale claim that the party is dominated by those with antisemitic beliefs, given the unique rise in antisemitic and pro-Hamas rhetoric that has emerged from their ranks. The North Carolina Democratic Party provides a local window into this downward spiral. Jewish Democrats are being intimidated and sidelined right here in the Tar Heel State, as many party leaders seem intent on excluding them.

WFAE published an extraordinary article highlighting the growing tension between the North Carolina Democratic Party and its Jewish members as a result of the Israeli-Hamas conflict. In the midst of this tension, the Jewish Caucus attempted to be recognized as an official caucus within the NC Democratic Party, but was denied. Seventeen party leaders voted no and 16 people voted yes — an additional 17 abstained from voting, including party Chair Anderson Clayton. 

This led to further division among prominent figures in the party. Jewish Insider interviewed Attorney General Josh Stein and US Congressman Jeff Jackson, who represents parts of the Charlotte area, for comments on the controversy.

“This is about embracing North Carolina Jewish Democrats who feel silenced and isolated during a time of rising antisemitism,” said Stein.

Jackson said the vote to deny a Jewish caucus within the NC Democrats was “wrong.”  

However, not all members of the party are distraught about the party’s decision to be exclusive, despite claiming to be an “inclusive” political party. In fact, they see it as preventing “Zionists” from “controlling everything.”  

President of the so-called Progressive Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Ryan Jenkins, levied appalling words about the Jewish Caucus.

“They have done nothing but whine and play the victim and attack people, and we are sick of it,” Jenkins said. “Every single abstention was a no vote that didn’t want to get targeted.”

Even more disturbingly, Jenkins claimed that there is a movement of prominent progressives who plan on boycotting the 2024 elections if the Jewish Caucus is approved.

He continued his reprehensible tirade, telling WFAE: 

“If the Democratic Party caves to it, that’s the end of the Democratic Party. We’re not Democrats, we’re the Jewish Caucus. We’re a Zionist group. Because they control everything. We’re telling them very clearly they are allowed to threaten and bully us and they will get their way every single time and that our rules don’t apply.” 

It doesn’t take a trained ear to hear echoes reminiscent of the pre-Civil-Rights North Carolina Democratic Party’s resistance to the inclusion of African Americans and opposition to sharing political power and integrating party functions. One might feel as if they are listening to the words of an old-fashioned segregationist. 

Tell me: what about Jenkins’ words promote a culture of diversity, inclusion, and tolerance? How is it that Democrats and their supporters are going to dismiss this as “harsh criticism,” but when an individual like Trump says things that align with Jenkins’ style of rhetoric, he is labeled xenophobic, Islamophobic, and racist? 

It seems to me the appropriate thing to say, in the case of Jenkins, is that his language is clearly antisemitic. Saying that having a Jewish Caucus would make the Democrats a Zionist group, saying that they (NC Jewish donors? Jews in general?) “control everything,” saying that the Democratic Party would be over and would be nothing but a Jewish group, all of that is far beyond the pale of approving another party caucus.

For those who aren’t aware, there are countless “caucuses” in the NC Democrats, including ones for teens, college students, young people, and on and on; none of which has completely taken over the party after approval.

For now, voices like those of Jackson and Stein, himself of Jewish ancestry, are there to push for a space within the party. But if this space continues to be officially blocked, due to overblown fears of a Jewish takeover, Jewish voices will have been silenced in one of the two major parties in our state.

One recoils at the possibility of another major political party in the West adopting an officially anti-Jewish posture, after devastating examples from last century. But if this pattern continues within the Democratic base and leadership, it seems only appropriate to label them for what they have become: a group more accepting of antisemites than Jews.