Since the recent presidential election in the United States, Jon Haber of Divestthis! has moved his discussion from a very specific concern with the BDS movement to a broader conversation around left-right Jewish politics and anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, more generally, or what he refers to as The Big Ugly.
In his most recent piece, Bigger Picture – What the Big Ugly is Not, Jon makes this claim:
But a simple thought experiment can help dispel the notion that this “Big Ugly” I’ve been talking about is just another flaw in the through process of one political camp. For if the problem is “The Left,” then Jews have an obvious solution: to abandon the Left and join “The Right” whose love for Israel is secure.I would argue that one need not join “The Right” in order to acknowledge that anti-Israel sentiment is mainly a progressive-left sentiment in today’s west.
Or is it? For if you look at the same period of history covered in Wistrich’s book, you’ll find political anti-Semitism originating within nationalist and right-wing politics with much of the debate among the Left being whether to fight against or partake in a tactic that seems to being such enormous electoral benefits to its practitioners.
In fact, the notion of Israel having a “natural” constituency among conservatives (including conservative Christians) is a very recent (and very American) phenomenon.
The truth of the matter, nonetheless, is that the conservative-right in the United States has done a very good job of ridding itself of anti-Semitism ever since William F. Buckley addressed the issue as early as the early 1950s when he resigned from The American Mercury under protest. Furthermore, as you guys well know, American polling consistently show that conservatives and Republicans, particularly Evangelical Christians, are far, far more friendly to the Jewish State of Israel than are liberal Democrats who, as a group, tend to disdain that country.
The solution, if there is a solution, is not to join the conservative-right, necessarily, but to speak honestly about what is happening. The truth is that the progressive-left, as a movement, has betrayed its Jewish constituency through accepting anti-Semitic anti-Zionism as part of its larger coalition.
Like it or not, this is true.
What we do with that truth is up to each of us to decide, but I would suggest that pretending it isn’t so, as some do, or drawing some false moral equivalency between the large and rising tide of progressive-left anti-Zionism and some obscure and largely irrelevant right-wing movements in Europe or, say, from the Westboro Baptist Church in the United States, is an option that is both counterproductive and entirely disbalanced. Anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the west is fueled by the left, by many Muslims, and in only in the most tertiary and marginal fashion from these obscure and tiny right-wing fringe groups.
It has to be understood that part of the reason that the western left has become so comfortable with anti-Semitic anti-Zionism is because western Jewish progressives, including western Jewish progressive supporters of Israel, have so often confirmed their worst anti-Zionist assumptions. This is certainly true of progressive-left western Jews who rail at Israel for turning toward the conservative-right with Netanyahu or Lieberman or Bennett, or who tend to dislike and regret Israeli efforts at self-defense such as Cast Lead or Pillar of Defense, or who spit hatred at their fellow Jews in Judea and Samaria for daring to live where neither Barack Obama nor Mahmoud Abbas want them to live, or who continue to think that the failure of Oslo is mainly Israel’s fault rather than the fault of the PLO and Hamas.
Again, until such a time as we truly convince ourselves that the Jewish cause in Israel is both right and just we can never effectively convince anyone else of it. The argument is not only between Jewish supporters of Israel and anti-Semitic anti-Zionists, but also between the Daniel Gordis’s of this world and the Peter Beinarts.
Gordis is not “right-wing” (he voted for Jesse Jackson, for chrissake) but he understands that Beinart’s dislike of Israel has negative consequences for Israel and is more a reflection of Beinart’s ideological grounding than it is of the Jewish State’s behavior.
Below is a video of a recent debate between the two gentlemen.