The progressive movement's main claim to political legitimacy is a moral claim. The movement claims to stand for social justice and equality of rights throughout the world. Any legitimacy the left has as a political movement is grounded in the notion of universal human rights. But if the left has quietly abandoned that ideal then it loses both moral and political legitimacy. After all, if the left does not stand for universal human rights, then just what in this world does it stand for?
The sad truth is that the left has abandoned its core reason to be. By holding different people, and different countries, to different moral standards it has effectively abandoned the ideal of universal human rights. You cannot claim to stand for social justice if you only care about the human rights of some people, but not others. If you constantly speak out against alleged Israeli human rights abuses but remain silent about the truly horrific situations in Darfur or Congo... circumstances that make the Arab-Israel conflict look like a picnic on a summer Sunday afternoon... then you cannot claim to stand for universal human rights and, therefore, any claims you may have for moral or political leadership are unfounded.
This is the situation that we find ourselves in, currently, and it probably represents at least part of the reason why Jews are abandoning both the Democratic Party and the progressive movement. Most diaspora Jewish supporters of Israel are people who at one time, if not currently, considered themselves on the progressive-left. Certainly, I did. As someone who grew up in the political aftermath of the counterculture and the New Left, I was impressed with the ideals of those movements. I was impressed with the counterculture for its apparent spontaneity, its anti-authoritarian values, and its sense of community, if not communalism. I was impressed with the New Left for standing against jingoism, for its anti-war agenda, and for its championing of the human rights of women and Gay people and other minorities.
Today, looking back on the movement that was for decades my political home, what I see are the ruins of what was and the rank hypocrisy of what is. The left has essentially broken itself on Israel's back and they don't even know it, yet. The reason for this is that if, as a movement, the progressive-left intends to constantly fire-off Katyushas of Hatred and Qassams of Malice toward Tel Aviv, while snuggying up to Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran, then they lose all moral legitimacy. This is particularly true given the fact that the left could hardly care less about the 5.5 million dead in the Congo, about Tibetans living under Chinese occupation, about rape as a tactic of war in Darfur, about the hanging of Gay people from cranes in Tehran, or about an Arab and Muslim world rife with anti-Semitism, homophobia, and gender apartheid.
In this way the left, which claims to be both moral and anti-racist proves itself to be, in fact, neither.
On the progressive-left, Israel is the Jew among nations. Just as prior to establishment of the state of Israel, Europeans tended to ascribe a host of negative characteristics to the Jewish people, so today they ascribe those same specific characteristics to the Jewish state and they do so... gallingly enough, hypocritically enough... under the banner of "universal human rights." For 2,000 years we lived in diaspora, that is, we lived or died according to the pleasure of non-Jews. For 1,300 years we lived as second and third-class citizens under the imperialist boot of Muslim rule, i.e., as dhimmis. And today, directly after the historical moment in which we re-took our freedom, progressives tell us that the institution within which we manifest that freedom, the state of Israel, is a racist, colonialist, imperialist, apartheid country which, if it should not be dismantled as the national homeland for the Jewish people, must jump through whatever hoops they lay down. If Israel fails to jump through each and every one of those hoops then clearly they do not want peace and thus deserve whatever they get.
Well, some of us have definitely had enough of this nonsense.
The Palestinians refuse to negotiate a peaceful conclusion of hostilities and the progressive-left blames Israel. The Gazans shot thousands of rockets into southern Israel for years, but the progressives only spoke up when Israel sought to defend its civilian citizenry from those rockets. Does the progressive movement have anything to say about the Fogels? No, it doesn't. Does the progressive movement have anything to say about Hamas's genocidal charter or the larger Radical Jihadi movement out of which Hamas sprang?
No. It doesn't.
In fact, as Egypt transitions from a military dictatorship to an Islamist dictatorship this result will be, in part, through the efforts of the current president of the United States. But, then, the left has always had a weakness for the very worst actors in world history. Just as leftists often supported the Soviet Union for decades, despite the tens of millions of innocent dead due to that regime, so it now (usually tacitly, but sometimes directly) supports the Radical Jihad.
For me, personally, the real wake-up call came during the Mavi Marmara incident in May of last year. There were two groups of people aboard that vessel. There were the violent Jihadis seeking martyrdom... which progressives referred to as "peace activists." And the second group? Well, they definitely weren't Tea Party people. They were, in fact, progressive-left activists from around the world. Progressive-left activists literally, physically, morally, and financially supporting Jihadis in an effort to kill Jews, while telling the world that their mission was humanitarian.
The irony and cruel hypocrisy could not be more rich.
So, just why would you expect Jewish people to remain a part of such a political movement? The progressive-left may have been our home for a very long time, but clearly their values have shifted away from anything that could possibly be acceptable to the great majority of western Jews. Most of those Jews don't really get it, yet, but people are awakening. There are reasons why more and more of us are leaving the Democratic party and the progressive movement.
Because the progressive-left accepts, if not encourages, generalized malice toward the Jewish state it thereby shows the rest of us the door.
I say we walk through it.