Progressive-left Jewish Zionists are failing the Jewish people.
If the first way in which progressive-left Zionism is failing is in its ostrich-like reluctance to acknowledge, and seriously discuss, the rise of the Jihad throughout the Muslim Middle East, and another way is through their justifying bigotry against their own people, yet another is in the fact that they always play defense.
It needs to be understood, however, that one major reason for these obvious failures of progressive-Zionist politics is due to what we might call the Moral Equivalency Canard. Over at CiF Watch, Adam Levick relates a story of a young Harvard graduate that he met at a Shabbat seder in Jersualem who intends "to organize a group of Israeli Jews to go to Afghanistan and offer local tribes and governments Israeli assistance in fostering their development."
One guest queried her on whether her plan included protection for her group of erstwhile volunteers from U.S. and NATO forces. Another asked if she had thought through the immense security risks for Jews working in a state which is 99% Muslim – one still terrorized by sadistic Taliban terrorism. (There is reported to be literally one Jew left in the country).
Our Shabbat guest turned to us and said something to the effect of “Muslims aren’t especially antisemitic”.
Other than perhaps an eye roll, I maintained my composure and tried to change the subject, asking our friend about her academic background: what expertise did she possess which would prepare her for such an ambitious diplomatic undertaking?
It turns out she studied intercultural relations at Harvard University
Levick wonders just how it is that so many on the western-left refuse to acknowledge Islamist intolerance? This is basically the very same question that we've been asking on Israel Thrives since we first started publishing in 2009. Just why is it that there are so many things relating to the Arab-Israel conflict that are entirely verboten for discussion, including the rise of radical Islam? We have a whole (and incomplete) list of items arranged on the right side of this screen that cannot be broached for discussion among progressives (and I say this as someone who came out of that movement) because they violate Politically Correct views. These include the centuries of Jewish dhimmitude under the savage boot of Islamic imperialism, the recent construction of Palestinian identity, Arab and Palestinian Koranically-based racism as the fundamental source of the conflict, and the ways in which contemporary progressive anti-Zionism serves as a cloak for gross anti-Semitism.
And on and on and on.
Levick offers the following explanation for the problem:
Western guilt: the post-colonial a priori (often arbitrary) determination of guilt and innocence, based on the West’s past (imperial) sins. Previously subjugated peoples seem never to lose their status as the “oppressed”.
Moral vanity: the desire of enlightened Westerners (often burdened with guilt derived from the dynamic above) to be seen as enlightened champions of those assigned as the the oppressed and downtrodden in the world.
And, finally, the focus of our discourse:
Moral equivalence and the rejection of “good and evil”: the faith that most, if not all, conflicts in the world are based on misunderstandings and that all cultures, nations, traditions, religions, are equal. One is no better than any other.
Progressives often tend to believe that the reason for Palestinian-Arab hostility toward Jews in the Middle East is because those Jews behave badly... and not just badly, but badly on the order of Nazi Germany "badly" or Apartheid South Africa "badly." If the Palestinians often teach their children to despise Jews, well, Israeli Jews often teach their children to despise Arabs. If the Palestinians shoot rockets into Israeli civilian areas, then it is also true that the Israelis "collectively punish" perfectly innocent Palestinians in the Gaza strip. Neither side is really "better" than the other and, in fact, the Israeli side, given its alleged strength, is probably worse than the Palestinian side. Progressives generally believe that Israel was born in the sin of "ethnic cleansing" and "the oppression of the indigenous population" and therefore the ongoing hostility against the Jews of the Middle East is a direct result of that behavior and of that "unholy" birth.
This is what I call the Moral Equivalency Canard and it is endemic on the progressive-left. Other examples include the notion that if the Palestinians engage in terrorism, Israel is, itself, a terrorist state. If Jews suffered the Shoah, the Palestinians suffered al-Nakba.
Yet another example of the trend is in the way that well-meaning progressives assume that reports of Arab-Muslim genocidal hostility towards Jews are overblown and therefore pointing out that hostility is actually a form of racism or "Islamophobia." They know that enlightened liberal westerners usually hold no such hatred towards Muslims and therefore assume that Middle Eastern Muslims, as a group, hold no such hatred toward Jews or the West. This is because they tend to believe that people everywhere are just as fair and rational as they compliment themselves as being and, therefore, the extent to which Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East hold the Jews in contempt it is because those Jews richly deserve that contempt.
Address Hamas’ concerns, liberate them from the shackles of Israeli tyranny and, according to the theory my friend and so many in the Western left would subscribe to, they will transcend their animosity. There will be peace in our time.
This is the failure of the leftist intellectual establishment which my Shabbat interlocutor seems to share: the habit of mind which, a mere 66 years after the grotesque consequences of moral abdication in the face of an indescribable evil, rejects the very notion of immutable (indeed insatiable) Islamist Jew hatred.
What the progressive-left "narrative" fails to take into account, however, is history.
The Jews of the Middle East got their collective asses kicked by the Arabs from the 7th century until early in the 20th when they freed themselves from dhimmitude, in part through the Zionist movement. Century upon century throughout the Middle East, and throughout the entirety of the Muslim world, Jews were second and third class citizens living under conditions that often made the history of Jim Crow in the United States look like the very height of liberal enlightenment.
In some places and times it was better, and in some places and times it was worse, but we were always a "kept" and inferior people subject to draconian laws reflecting that status. To the extent that Arab-Muslims despise Jews it is not because of Jewish autonomy and self-defense on historically Jewish land. Jewish autonomy seriously irritates a precondition of Muslim anti-Jewish racism, but it is not its cause. Zionism, as anyone who knows anything about the history of that movement can tell you, is not the cause of genocidal anti-Jewish racism, but a response to genocidal anti-Jewish racism.
As long as progressive-Zionists continue to blame Israel for its own persecution at the hands of our former masters, the more they will undermine the security and well-being of our brothers and sisters in Israel. As long as progressive-Zionists continue to blame conservative Jews or the Likud or the "settlers" or Yisrael Beiteinu (and that bad boy, Avigdor Lieberman) for Obama's ruination of the peace process, then the Palestinians, the Arabs, and their western-left allies will be more than happy to agree with that assessment, thus encouraging more violence against us.
It's time for fresh thinking on an old problem, and while that fresh thinking may not come from the conservative Jewish right, it definitely is not coming from the dhimmitudenous Jewish left.
That much is certain.