Monday, January 7, 2013

Rejecting the left doesn't mean joining the right

Mike L.

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.

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.
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.

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.



  1. "Democratic Jewish State." Seems to me the debate is who gets to define what that is. Guys like Beinart have a vision that is some kind of mini-America rather than a realistic version of Israel in the hood where it lives. ziontruth touches on this in his most recent remarks.

  2. True Mike. And Gordis basically told him he's part of the problem rather than the solution. Beinart et al could stand a little cuppa of STFU.

    1. Gordis has an awful lot of heart. I trust the guy.

      I think Beinart is something of a jackal and one thing that no one ever seems to remember is that he supported the Iraq war. He was the uberkinder editor for the New Republic.

      The guy is no lefty peacenik.

  3. There's really only one question here.

    Does Israel have no peace because it has hampered an Arab-Palestinian state or because the Arab and Muslim worlds oppose the existence of Israel?

    That's the bottom line question and the answer is obvious.

    The historical record clearly demonstrates that it is they who have always refused peace, not us.

    And until progressive-left Jews really understand that we are not guilty for Arab hatred of us we can never win over the western neutrals.

  4. Speaking of the phenomenon -

    "Before Chavez came to power in 1999, there were 30,000 Jews in Venezuela. Now, the community has dwindled to just less than 9,000. Having experienced virtually no anti-Semitism in their history, the Chavez years ushered in a set of new and frightening experiences for Venezuela’s Jews, from cartoons in the press that could have been lifted from the notorious Nazi newspaper, Der Sturmer, to the vandalism of the main synagogue in Caracas in 2009. As a depressing summary by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism noted last September, “Recent years have witnessed a rise in anti-Semitic manifestations, including vandalism, media attacks, caricatures, and physical attacks on Venezuelan Jewish institutions.”

    Members of the Venezuelan opposition that I’ve spoken to over the last year have all remarked on the virulence of Chavez’s anti-Semitism. In 2012, Israel was temporarily displaced by the emergence of a domestic Jewish target, in the form of the rival presidential candidate to Chavez, the youthful and energetic Henrique Capriles. While Capriles is a practicing Catholic, his mother’s family, the Radonskis, arrived in Venezuela after surviving the Holocaust in Poland. Other members of the family perished in the Nazi concentration camps.

    In their attacks on Capriles, Chavez and his press lackeys referred to him with an array of derogatory terms—“gringo,” “bourgeois,” “imperialist,” and, above all, “Zionist.” Moreover, there was no doubt that by “Zionist,” the regime meant “Jew.” Perhaps the ugliest headline during the election campaign appeared in a muckraking magazine, Kikiriki, which read, “We are F--ked if the Jews Come to Power.”

    Why, then, did anti-Semitism become such a potent force in a country that eschewed it for so long? Some analysts, like Daniel Duquenal, the author of a vibrant dissident blog, regard it as the inevitable outcome of Chavez’s alliance with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Yet there is another factor. The main ideological influence on Chavez was a relatively obscure Argentinian sociologist, Norberto Ceresole. An ardent admirer of Peronism in Argentina, Ceresole was living proof of what happens when the obsessions of the far left overlap with those of the far right. A Holocaust denier and all-round conspiracy theorist, Ceresole’s theories became the basis for what Venezuelans know as Chavismo, the matrix of social institutions and values created by the Chavez regime. The first chapter of a book in which Ceresole extolled the virtues of such a system, in which the relationship between the “leader” and the “people” is privileged, was entitled “The Jewish Problem.”

    The story also provides yet another lesson (as if one more was even needed) why Israel exists, and why it must remain the Jewish homeland.

  5. Hi Mike - Just getting around to visiting friend's sites that I owe a visit/comment to.

    As I hope you're seeing as the "Big Ugly" series I'm writing progresses (thanks for linking to it, by the way), I am not making any new claims regarding the Left vs. Right discussion we've been discussing over the last few months. Rather, I am positing a "Third Force" (which I have termed "The Big Ugly") that pre-dates both Left and Right for many Millennia which is the actual force you and I are fighting – regardless of what label it travels under today.

    I hope this will all be clear by the time the series wraps up over this week and next.

    1. Heya mister,

      thanks for dropping by.

      I think that you are getting at something exceedingly helpful and I am very much looking forward to contributing to the conversation going forward.

      You should know that I certainly do not think that you have your head in the sand in regards the fact that today the major venues of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism come from the progressive-left.

      I've been reading you practically from the beginning, so I know that is not the case.

      Peace to you, please, good sir.