Monday, July 8, 2013

The Shocking Indifference of American Jews

Mike L.

{Cross-posted at the Times of Israel.}

Laurie and I held a party at our house in the Oakland hills on Saturday.

It was probably, in fact, one of our more successful get-togethers. A good time was had by all, including one of my progressive-left Jewish friends. I would mention this gentleman's on-line moniker, which some of you would know, but he seems to be going through something of a difficult time at the moment and I have no desire to contribute to his issues in the world by turning the more vicious "progressive Zionists" against him.

The conversation, at one point, naturally turned to Israel, Obama, and the progressive movement and I found myself rather shocked at his apparent indifference to the fact that Barack Obama has supported the rise of political Islam throughout the Middle East and his casual minimization of the role of the progressive-left in supporting anti-Semitic anti-Zionism and the BDS.

When I mentioned the fact that Obama invited the Muslim Brotherhood to his 2009 Cairo speech, my friend simply didn't believe it. He asked me to send him some verification of this fact, which I have done, but my suspicion is that this little fact will not impress him much. It will probably be seen as one small thing, isolated from everything else, and in no way indicative of Obama's larger foreign policy approach or agenda.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle that liberal Jewish critics of the progressive-left have is in convincing our progressive-left Jewish friends and family that the Obama administration did, in fact, support the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and political Islam, more generally, and that their very own movement has betrayed them through accepting anti-Semitic anti-Zionism and BDS as part of its larger coalition.

Conveying these messages - which just so happen to be the truth - are among the core goals of Israel Thrives.

The problem, in my opinion, is what I like to call ideological blinkertude. It's also known as confirmation bias. We all have a tendency, including myself, to look for evidence that supports our views and to downplay or ignore evidence that contradicts them. None of us are Mr. Spock, after all. There is no such thing as perfect objectivity and none of us have a G-d's Eye View on the doings of the world. Yet I am perpetually amazed at the capacity of most American Jews to simply turn a blind eye to the behavior of the current administration in regards Israel and the utter failure to acknowledge the significance of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism within the larger progressive-left.

As for the former, inviting the Muslim Brotherhood to the 2009 Cairo speech was merely the beginning of Obama's friendly outreach to political Islam, i.e., to the very people who took down the twin towers on 9/11. Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic wrote this in early June of that year:
"A sign that the Obama administration is willing to publicly challenge Egypt's commitment to parliamentary democracy: various Middle Eastern news sources report that the administration insisted that at least 10 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's chief opposition party, be allowed to attend his speech in Cairo on Thursday."
Obama supported the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He supported radical Islamic forces in Libya and now he is arming radical Islamic forces in Syria. The only rational conclusion that one can come to is that the Obama administration has supported, and continues to support, radical Jihadi forces throughout the Middle East.

Just why he does so is open to question, but that he does so is not.

Clare Lopez, in an article for the Gatestone Institute entitled, U.S. Keeps Joining the Forces of Jihad, wrote the following:
With the June 13, 2013 confirmation by senior Obama administration officials that the president has authorized sending weapons directly to Syrian rebels, there is a trend developing that can no longer be ignored. This is the third country and the third instance in which Barack Obama has leapt into the fray of revolution to the defense of al-Qa'eda and Muslim Brotherhood...
This is not a matter of interpretation that can simply be disregarded. It is a matter of fact. In the last national American election 69 percent of American Jews voted for a president of the United States who supports a misogynistic, homophobic, genocidally anti-Semitic, and anti-American movement that is rising throughout the Middle East.

This is not hyperbole, nor is it exaggeration. It is merely a fact.

As for the progressive movement, itself, my friend insisted that only a tiny, fringe element on the left was in any way responsible for the BDS and the presence of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism within the movement. What I failed to get him to appreciate is that BDS is not a matter of an irrelevant fringe that has taken up residency on the western left, but that the western left has made a home of itself for the BDS and anti-Semitic anti-Zionism. It's not that most western progressives are, themselves, anti-Semitic anti-Zionists, but that they provide a place at the table for them.

Anti-Semitic anti-Zionism is part of the larger western left coalition and this should not be ignored, yet diaspora Jews have turned away their faces. They simply do not want to face the implications of this because doing so would have considerable social, and even financial, repercussions. But if we do not face it then we can never deal with it.

I say that it's better to face it.

The international left, as a movement, has betrayed the Jewish people precisely because it does accept anti-Semitic anti-Zionism as one voice among others within their ranks. That being the case, what I fail to understand is how they can also expect to maintain diaspora Jewish support?

Yet they do and, furthermore, they get that support.

And that's precisely what needs to change.


  1. Perhaps the biggest hurdle that liberal Jewish critics of the progressive-left have is in convincing our progressive-left Jewish friends and family that the Obama administration did, in fact, support the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and political Islam, more generally, and that their very own movement has betrayed them through accepting anti-Semitic anti-Zionism and BDS as part of its larger coalition.

    I might say the hurdle is to have an open mind to what you are saying, rather than dismissiveness or blaming others as a form of justification.

    I am not willing to support the implication that Obama chose political Islam because he believes its principles or has anti-Israel beliefs, but do to a fly by the seat of your pants approach to governing, adopting a progressive orientation on an ad hoc basis, but not looking to see what may result. Plus his view that only he has the knowledge and power to create utopia on Earth.

    If any of that makes sense.

    1. School, I would tend to agree with you that Obama is not some crypto-Jihadi.

      I don't think that he's an actual Islamist. What I think is that he has some sympathy for political Islam - that much is clear - and that he doesn't know what the hell he is doing.

      The fact that he does have sympathy for political Islam, however, should see his Jewish constituency to the door, but it doesn't.

      And that is what I find most peculiar.

      I suppose that Obama's Jewish devotees will have their excuses for why this is, but they are nothing more than excuses.

      The president of the United States should not be in the business of backing Jihadis and American Jews should not support a president who does so - in my opinion.

    2. Which is why the biggest hurdle may be to get the Jews, and others, to at least have an open mind, rather than a dismissive one, when it comes to inquiry and discourse on the matter.

    3. Part of the problem is that liberal diaspora Jews want to have it both ways.

      They want to oppose BDS, but support the progressive-movement. Since they want to support the progressive movement they often pretend that the two have virtually nothing to do with one another. This is what fizziks kept insisting.

      The problem is that so long as we tend to support the progressive movement we ultimately end up supporting BDS, as well, for the simple reason that BDS comes out of that movement.

      If we want to challenge BDS then we must challenge the progressive movement and if we fail to do so then we are not really challenging BDS at all.

  2. As much as antisemitism comes from Muslims and Islam, it also comes from Mainline "liberal" churches.

    Ironically, some progressives complain that Jews should be more concerned by the evangelicals that need Israel for the Apocalypse while there is silence to those posing a present threat.

  3. I'm not most charitable person on this point but I'm willing to frame it in terms of this -

    Dispora Jews are not Israeli and so don't necessarily have that connection, knowledge, information, experience. And given the overwhelming political and social bent of American Jews it's not a stretch to imagine they're adhering to the standard leftist groupthink and checking all the obligatory checkboxes including anti capitalism, anti globalism, multi cultural love, post modernist folly, old left/new left desperate fondness for little-c communism and general rage and despair and all enveloping anti Americanism.

    Better a gay handicapped Muslim Mexican Vegan Stalinst in the White House than anyone think we're not evolved and tolerant and loving of all creeds. After all it's 'radical feminists' like Naomi Klein who are HUGE fans of the Taliban...not because they torture women but because they hate the US.

    I mean is any of this any different from the ravings of Akiva Eldar? Dear me the man should just strap a bomb to himself already.

    This is why you can't ask them would facts would change their points of view. What information or chronology or information. Because nothing would.

    I think it was William James, when asked about the nature of faith and belief or disbelief who said "To the unbeliever no amount of proof is sufficient, to the believer no amount of proof is necessary."

  4. Wistrich makes the point that political Islam and radical Leftism (and through its influence, "progressives" ) do have some things in common including a vision of war as being the natural and unavoidable state of humankind and a division of humankind into forces of good (House of God/Communism/"progressive" enlightenment and forces of evil (House of Satan/Capitalism/USA/Israel.