Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where is the Jewish Pro-Israel Left?

Michael L.

If the great majority of Jews are liberal-progressive and if the vast majority of progressive-left Jews believe in Israel as the national homeland for the Jewish people, just where is their media presence?

I do not see it.  Do you?

Given the fact that most Jews are progressive and given the fact that most progressive Jews are Zionists, one would think that there would be a significant media presence to support the progressive Zionist viewpoint, but there is not.

Jon Segall and fizziks had a little something going for awhile, but they're just a couple of guys with a blog, just like we are.  I find it difficult to believe that all of western liberal Zionism cannot muster enough support to even have a significant media presence or political hub of some sort.

Why is it that almost all the pro-Israel magazines, newspapers, and blogs are considered "conservative"?  Ha'aretz, of course, is not, but pretty much everything else is.  The Jerusalem Post features Martin Sherman and Caroline Glick and would definitely be considered a conservative news outlet.  The almost brand-spanking new Times of Israel is moderate, under editor David Horovitz, as is the venerable Jewish Daily Forward.

But Commentary is conservative.

Arutz Sheva is conservative.

Algemeiner is conservative.

The Jewish Press is conservative.

Israel Hayom is conservative.

And among the blogs, fuggedabout it.  The pro-Israel / pro-Jewish blogs are considered conservative almost entirely across the board.  Israel Thrives is non-partisan and we welcome voices from across the political spectrum with the obvious exception of anti-Semitic anti-Zionists.

However, the Elder of Ziyon is moderate-conservative.

Jews Down Under is moderate-conservative.

CiF Watch is moderate-conservative.

The Gatestone Institute is moderate-conservative.

David Shapiro's Truth Revolt is conservative.

Gates of Vienna is conservative.

Pamela Geller's Atlas Shrugs is conservative-libertarian.

Israpundit is conservative.

Geoffff's Joint is conservative.

Abu Yehuda (formerly of Fresno Zionist fame) is conservative.

Sultan Knish (aka the brilliant Daniel Greenfield) is conservative.

Mark Golub of Shalom TV is, I would argue, moderate, along with Jon Haber's Divestthis!.

And, at this point, I don't think that anyone quite knows, or cares, what the New Republic is about.  (Marty Peretz should never have trusted Peter Beinart with the reigns.)

There is, however, an anti-Israel Jewish left snuggied up to, or thoroughly embracing, the anti-Semitic BDS movement.  Jeremy ben Ami and J Street got comfy-cozy with BDS so that even Jon Segall felt it necessary to distance himself from the group.  There is Jewish Voice for Peace that is viciously anti-Zionist.  There is the notorious Mondoweiss that no one with a clue could possibly call either pro-Israel or pro-Jewish.  There is Adam Shapiro's International Solidarity Movement that got the ignorant, naive, and pissed-off Rachel Corrie killed.

And G-d only knows how many left-liberal anti-Israel Jewish college groups have sprung up over the last few years.

But the point is this:

Where the hell is the Jewish left-liberal pro-Israel media presence?

There is Ha'aretz and precious little else and calling Ha'retz "pro-Israel" is, in itself, a significant stretch.  And it is not as if I stand with them.  On the contrary, I have been exceedingly open with my specific criticisms of the Jewish left.  These criticisms include:

1) Refusing to Discuss Islamist Threat

2) Whipping Up Hatred Toward Other Jews

3) Forever Playing Defense

4) The Moral Equivalency Canard

5) Ignoring Jewish History

6) Disregarding Friends and Supporting Enemies.

What I fail to understand - among the very many things that I fail to understand - is how it is that if progressive-left Jews represent the majority of diaspora Jews and if the majority of diaspora Jews favor Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, that there is virtually no liberal Jewish pro-Israel organizations in the media, either mainstream or bloggish?

Where are the liberal Jewish venues making the liberal Jewish pro-Israel argument?

I suppose that they must be out there, but as someone who keeps an ear to the ground on such things their voices are barely audible.


  1. Shhhhhhhhh.....their progressive friends might hear and they wouldn't get invited to parties and stuff.

  2. The one thing I would take issue with in this post is your point that Peretz should not have trusted Beinart with the reins of TNR. I am aware of what Beinart is like now on Israel, but during his TNR tenure, he did not deal much with Israel himself, leaving most of it to Yossi Klein Halevi. The best depiction of Beinart's positions then is his essay after Bush's reelection about the conflict within liberalism between the staunch anti-Communists and the neutrals/sympathisers of Communism in the early Cold War era. If there are any problematic figures from Peretz's tenure, it would be John Judis, and even he did not write anything on Israel in TNR during Peretz's tenure, the first indication of his positions on Israel being the book on Truman and Israel release well after Peretz had left.

    Under Peretz, TNR was a staunchly pro-Israel publication. No problems until after Peretz left. It's a bit more balanced than OpenZion was, but plenty that is objectionable nonetheless.

    1. And this, Sar Shalom, is the reason that I love that fact that you have joined us here.

      And another thing that people tend to forget is that the young Beinart sapling during the early Bush years supported this war in Iraq.

      This is not a liberal peacenik, for chrissake.

  3. "And G-d only knows how many left-liberal anti-Israel Jewish college groups have sprung up over the last few years."


  4. This is a thought provoking insight, Mike. Thanks.

    1. And Geoffff's Joint is moderate-conservative, as well!

    2. Mike, as you know the political spectra and structures, including language, of our countries do not exactly coincide. I must admit to some self indulgent amusement at the thought of what an American liberal makes of a guy who uses as a political badge himself in a gorilla suit in sunglasses with a cigar with a red starred Che Guevara beret while standing in front of a genuine US flag giving a radical leftist salute.

      But moderate-conservative?

      OK. Coming from you that sounds about right in both languages

      Looks like my cover has been blown.

  5. Argh. I've now lost TWO giant replies to this post. One was my phone's fault, the second was I-dunno-what. I'll try to recreate it again in a bit...

    1. Just posted this and it vanish... take 2

      Always when you post on Blogger, copy it before posting. Blogger has a few bad glitches and one of them is that posts vanish into cyberspace

  6. My partner of many many many years is an attorney who always says "You take your clients as you find them"

    If you can't find a purple unicorn it probably means there are no purple unicorns.

  7. You left out Truth Revolt, Legal Insurrection, Blazing Cat Fur, Yid with a Lid, Daled Amos, Daphne Anson, Israel Matzav, Richard Millet's Blog, My Right Word

    I'll give you Harry's Place (hurryupharry) though. I think they're fairly left wing. Also The Tower is somewhat leftwing. As is The Forward of course. And Mosaic Magazine though they really mix up everything together with a diverse group.

    1. I know.

      There are plenty of venues that could have been included. Tablet and Mosaic both come to mind as politically moderate and diverse.

    2. How did I get promoted from moderate conservative to conservative Mike? Not that I'm not honoured and all but I'm curious about what I did to deserve the honour and when.

      Consider this

      Truth is I'm probably to the left of you. I still believe in a two state solution is possible.

      I know, don't laugh.

      But that meeting that Caroline Glick reports that Abbas said to Fatah that Egypt offered Fatah a healthy chunk of the Sinai and 80% of JS and he said no as if he was proud of himself and not right up with one of history's greatest schmucks and everyone is now saying did not happen except ...

      I know. Grasping at straws.

      There is hope for some kind of secular revolution out of Egypt at least into Gaza that with Saudi Arabia and any other filthy rich and not so rich sleaze holes in the region that we agree to continue to save their depraved hides from imminent demise at the hands of some very serious head choppers at the gates and their worst nightmare across the Gulf so long as everyone is nice to Israel and keeps their depraved Jew hating muck out of our mosques and schools and broadcasting it into our countries and .....

      This raises something about how sloppy and local are these gradings.. If there is any truth at all to this story, or even if there isn't , Abbas and Fatah are supposed to be the moderates..

      Interesting take by David Singer at Daphne Anson and elsewhere
      A slab of Jordan as well
      Any other counties we can cut a slice or two from before they say yes?
      A Greek island of two? The Turkish bit of Cyprus?

      "Elite" opinion is that Sykes/Picot is being torn down and and that is a good thing because it sounds awfully European and imperialistic and therefore is the root cause of the problem.

      I actually agree with the left on this one. Indeed let's do the job property. It is 1917 (or 18?) A terrible toll has been paid to knock out the Ottoman Empire and its very worst in Europe.

      So let's do what the Left suggest on Sykes/Picot.

      Time to slice the Turkey.

      Who wants to be Sykes and who wants to be Picot?

      Mike does that make me progressive, moderate conservative or conservative?

      Or just hungry?
      And have you considered the downstream impact of this classification?
      If I'm conservative what does that make Trudy?

    3. A terrible toll has been paid to knock out the Ottoman Empire and its very worst in Europe.

      sb and it is still at its very worst in Europe

      I might have added that it was an old and terrible war by then for the British and the French. If it was left to me I would have invited an American to the banquet but they didn't even invite an Australian and they did most of the fighting

      Another thing I agree with the left about. The British and the French..

    4. Hi Geoff,

      these terms are just... I don't know... guidelines, maybe.

      Left. Right. Center.

      Far left. Far right.

      Liberal. Progressive. Conservative.

      I think of you as "moderate conservative" in the sense that you are, to my impression, conservative without being hard right, one might say.

      But, as I say, this is merely an impression.

      On some level, of course, there is an arbitrariness to this terminology, yet these terms still serve as helpful markers, so long as we do not allow these terms to define other people in a negative way.

      I have been called "right wing" by those who simply want to use that term as a way of dismissing others without actually addressing what they have to say.

      Anyways, I never promoted you to conservative!

      I have declared you "moderate-conservative" and you are just going to have to live with that.


  8. One thing I would do in terms of categorizing media outlets by where they are on the spectrum would be to separate outlets that are Mideast specific, or even Israel specific, from those that are broad political outlets. The former group would include blogs like EoZ and this blog while the latter would include Legal Insurrection and Truth Revolt.

    What there is a clear dearth of is media outlets that are liberal on issues outside the Middle East that are clearly pro-Israel on the Middle East. Among outlets covering non-Mideast issues from a liberal perspective, the best there is is a mixture of pro- and anti-Israel for Mideast coverage, as is the case at TNR now and at HuffPost.

    It would be interesting to find out where the PEPs get their information. Do they turn to sources other those that are reliably liberal outside of Mideast coverage? Do they venture into Mideast specific media at all? If they only use non-Mideast-liberal outlets, the dearth of pro-Israel outlets within that subsection of the media would mean that the PEPs will get a one-sided perspective on what is happening in the Middle East with the result that if the facts were as they believe they are, Zionism would be truly problematic. All the more reason to find lament the lack broad-spectrum liberal outlets with solid pro-Israel stances.

  9. Well Mike... since you mentioned me....

    I think the answer is that a lot of people on the Pro-Israel Left are a bit burned out on the internet. That does not mean that they are burnt on actual advocacy but I do believe that they are simply tired of the viciousness (on both sides) of internet discourse and are advocates either in real life (as many are) or are keeping to their own forums and discussions (as many of my friends do).

    In my case, I find the "rational Left" to be losing out to the "Hard Left" in internet forums and that the "Hard Left" is veering straight into anti-Semitic hatred of Israel and Jews, not too mention hatred of anything American. These folks have taken over blogs like DKos or other opinion sites on the left. So I don't find that those blogs are reflective of my own beliefs.

    At the same time, I believe the "rational Right" is being taken over by those who are anti-Democratic (not the party but the actual political philosophy) in the case of I/P and who frankly can't seem to present a factual opinion on anything. Why don't I and other Left Center leaning (which is most of us) Jews post on Right, Israel friendly sites? Because, most of us want rational discussion that is based in fact AND one that doesn't simply descend into just that much "OBAMA is TEH EBILZ" or "Arabs / Muslims suck" discussions.

    For me (again, since you mentioned me), I just don't really see many sites out there that reflect my personal agenda of Pro-Centrist Israel advocacy mixed with Center-Left politics. So really... why do I want to mess dealing with a bunch of a-holes on both sides screaming at one another and instead keep my advocacy to my writings at Times of Israel or in a few Facebook and Real Life groups. Do I really need the aggravation that online advocacy has become?

    Nah, not really and particularly since no one really cares what gets said in internet forums and no one in Israel who affects policy gives a crap what we say here in the States, what good is it doing?

    1. Agreement that so much of this stuff is pure white noise where there is too much self-importance that goes in circles and to extremes in what is predictable fashion.

      But curious if the Hard Left, besides its antisemitism and anti-Americanism, also is anti-democratic in the case of I/P, and can't seem to present a factual opinion on anything. Seems it is no less guilty than the Right, but much of the Left, regrettably, sees Israel and America as bad things, while the Right generally sees Israel and America as forces for good.

    2. I agree and disagree here...

      I agree that the Hard Left is anti-Democratic in the case of I/P given their support for the proto-fascists of Hamas and the theocratic dictatorship of Iran (and Hizbollah, though Hizbollah is not the "official" leadership in Lebanon) not to mention Muslim Brotherhood rule anywhere and everywhere. Of course that is more due in part to the Brotherhoods hatred for the West and America than anything else. Basically they are against ANYTHING that smacks of Western political philosophy, SO.. in this case I would agree with you that the Hard Left mirrors the now mainstream Right (and notice I say "now" here / I think those elements of the "rational right" have been taken over - something that is happening on the left now) in their use of fact-free and context free political arguments.

      As for seeing Israel as the enemy or as a bad thing. I would disagree that the majority of the left sees things that way, I think they think some of the things that Israel and America do are bad but don't necessarily believe they are bad things. If you are talking about the "Hard Left" then yes I agree with you.

      Finally as for the "fact free" presentations. I would more accuse the Left of "Context free" rather than "fact free". The Left does use facts but conveniently leaves out Context. Hence you see things like this diary: where a curious mixture of stand alone facts minus context are blended to create a rather damning history of Israel.

      Currently, the Right is more friendly to Israel in a "rah-rah" cheerleader manner, though I am not sure that this either friendly or helpful to Israel in reality. Certainly it is better than the friendship that those like the Useful Idiot (David Harris Gershon) or other noted anti-Zionists offer. Still....

      But even with that friendship, the odiousness of the Rights general policies outweigh anything else. Hence while I may recognize that the Right supports a certain set of Israeli policies 1000% I could not support them here or there. Further, I would say that the Right's "friendship" with Israel only extends as far support for Israeli Rightist policies. I have a feeling that it would be far less supportive is someone like Isaac Herzog (someone I support) was sitting in the Prime Ministers chair.

    3. So Hard Left is the same as Mainstream Right? The Left only sees facts out of context while the Right is fact free? The Right's like of Israel is not really genuine, but "rah rah" cheerleading for "Rightist" Israeli policies?

      Seems to me a very skewed interpretation.

      Why does the Left like Israel anyway? Does it require a Leftist Israel for the Left to come on board?

      There is way more anti-Israelism and anti-Americanism on the Left and in Progressive circles, including those anti-Israel proponents of mainline Christianity, academia, and the media, among others. It is rather obvious that the Hard Left's animosity bleeds into the Mainstream Left.

      Republican sympathy for Israel, at 73 percent, is five points higher than it was in April. Democratic sympathy for Israel is considerably lower -- now 44 percent, down two points.


      The groups most critical of Israel were the core constituencies that make up the New America coalition that elected and re-elected President Obama: women, racial minorities and especially young people.

      Though I agree it is not worth internet arguing that solves nothing, I was more interested to see if there would be an acknowledgement that the Left is no prize package, considering the initial comment and the fact that more widespread dislike of Israel is present among Democratic ranks.

      Once more, at least the Mainstream Right, compared to the Mainstream Left, does not have a significant segment that sees America, not to mention Israel, as a negative force.

    4. Speaking of "skewed interpretations"....

      So Hard Left is the same as Mainstream Right?

      No.. The Hard Left and the Mainstream Left are not the same.. BUT they are similar in tactics that they use. Where the Right generally just makes up things, the Hard Left takes things and while certainly making some of them up, relies more on taking facts out of context. I believe the Hard Left and Mainstream Right are very different, but I believe their tactics are similar in presentation of their P.O.V.'s

      The Right's like of Israel is not really genuine, but "rah rah" cheerleading for "Rightist" Israeli policies?

      Whoever said that? I think the Right at this point in time supports Israel in a genuine manner. However, I also think that if there was a Center-Left Government in Israel, one say run by Avodah... there would be less "hardcore support" from the Right for Israel. However, as the Right in Israel is ascendent and that the Right in general more agrees with their tactics and Ideology, I think that contributes to Rightist support of Israel. Since there is absolutely zero chance of the Center Left gaining power in Israel in the coming years though we can only speculate on that.

      Does it require a Leftist Israel for the Left to come on board?

      No.. because the Hard Left will NEVER be on board with the Israel. They hate Israel. However, if there was a Center / Center-Left Government I think there would be more cooperation between say Left leaning Euro Big "D" Democratic movements and Israel.

      I was more interested to see if there would be an acknowledgement that the Left is no prize package, considering the initial comment and the fact that more widespread dislike of Israel is present among Democratic ranks.

      No one ever claimed the Left was a "prize package". There are plenty of flaws in the Left and in particular it's disdain for Israel or an understanding of Israeli history.

      But this comment is typical of Rightist propaganda. Saying that there is more widespread dislike of Israel as opposed to what the poll says is telling. Understand that "Sympathy" or lack thereof does NOT indicate "dislike". What it does indicate that more people in the Democratic Party disagree with Israel's current Government and it's policies in this context of this conflict. It does not mean that there is widespread dislike of Israel. You should know better and I suspect that you actually do.

      Being critical of Israel does not mean one "dislikes" Israel. If it did you would have to then say roughly half of Israels populace then dislikes Israel which I assure you is certainly NOT the case. But you know this as well.

      If you want me to say that the Left has a problem with Israel or that the Left is becoming increasingly critical of Israel, you will get no argument from me.

    5. Actually, you said this:

      SO...I would agree with you that the Hard Left mirrors the now mainstream Right

      In fact, I never intimated an equivalence, that the Mainstream Right mirrors the Hard Left. Can you show where I did?

      I only took your EXACT words as an assertion.

      My initial response was to suggest the Hard Left is as bad, even worse, as the Hard Right, NOT the Mainstream Right, as anti-democratic and anti-fact. Further, the Hard Left is anti-Israel and anti-American, which is why it is worse.

      You also said:

      the Right is more friendly to Israel in a "rah-rah" cheerleader manner, ... Further, I would say that the Right's "friendship" with Israel only extends as far support for Israeli Rightist policies.

      That's why I said: "The Right's like of Israel is not really genuine, but "rah rah" cheerleading for "Rightist" Israeli policies." So why do you say something, then run from what you said?

      The prize package quip was simply to point out that I thought your comparisons of the sides was unfair, and the Left can stand just as much if not more criticism, and the polls back up that, IN FACT, Mainstream Left is more antagonistic to Israel.

  10. I got banned from Harry's Place for being too "Anti-Jihadist' (code for exposing Islamic Judeophobia) they're not conservative.

    1. Gene is a queer duck, no? He rants and raves about Jihad is a threat to the realm but if he doesn't like YOU personally he deletes your comments even if you agree with him. Well what can you expect from a gaggle of burnt out old ex Marxists and Trotskyites? I remember once about 3 years ago I commented that there was a better than even chance at head chopping fanaticism coming to London and I got 30 or 40 people screeching at me how I was a paranoid neocon loon. This was pre Lee Rigby.

  11. re Empress Trudy's one comment, Harry's Place is left-wing but cannot be said to be pro-Israel, when push comes to shove. It has banned commentators (like myself) for daring to point out the intrinsic extremism in Muslim religious texts such as the Koran and Hadith, even though you simply quote or cite factual textual commentary. I am not talking about nasty anti-Muslim bigotry here. HP has made a bigger fuss about the settlements in the West Bank than it has the Jihad in places like Nigeria, the Sudan and Asia, and Sharia law for that matter. It is a blog that has swooned over the anti-Semite Obama (and still refuses to acknowledge his increasingly obvious anti-Semitism) and it has vilified Robert Spencer as a racist and a redneck.

    Harry's Place is proof that when it comes down to it, there is no decent Left. Some are worse than others, better than others, but at the end of the day the Left have no credibility on Israel, not the Jewish Left neither. There is, in other words, no decent Left. Even Nick Cohen, who authored a book on how the Left have lost the plot, echoes the Harry's Place crew on the 'eeeeeeeeevil' settlements and Islam, a religion of which he knows nothing.

  12. I stopped reading the "venerable" Jewish Forward due to their bias against Israel. Am I a sick old man, have they changed, or are you mistaken. Let's not forget its socialist beginnings.

    1. You think the Forward is anti-Israel?

      Someone just told me the same thing about Ha'aretz over at EOZ.

    2. Ha'Aretz is a mixed bag, but ultimately anti-Israel. I live in Israel, so yeah I know this paper, as some call it, the Palestinian newspaper in Hebrew.

  13. When it comes to Israel-centered media, what are your criteria for classifying their place on the political spectrum? For media that cover a broad spectrum of political issues (such as NR, TNR, Commentary, Jewish Press) you can use their slant on non-Mideast issues. For instance, an outlet that before Obamacare went into effect dismissed its potential to reduce spending on healthcare and then when it did take effect complained about the economic harm caused by reducing income in the healthcare sector is clearly conservative whereas one which makes sure that the positives are acknowledged with or without acknowledging the downsides is clearly liberal.

    On that axis, sites like EoZ, while not posting anything about non-Mideast issues, link considerably more to conservative sites than to liberal ones. However, that is more a function of pro-Israel views being found more reliably on conservative sites than on liberal ones and would occur whether or not Elder has any bias towards conservative views on any other issues.

    There is a spectrum on the narrow issue of the Middle East. However, categorizing this spectrum as right-left almost defines right as Israel-supporting and left as Arab-supporting. For instance, a common view is that Israel should have full rights west of the Armistice line as well as the right to protect what west of the line, but that east of the line properly belongs to the Arabs. Most pro-Israel sites, including I-T, reject that position. Is there anything else on the Mideast-centric sites you listed leading to a conservative or moderate-conservative designation? A further point is the lack of media outlets taking a liberal position on any non-Mideast issue entertain the notion that Jordan's 1949 conquest does not end Jewish rights on that land for eternity.

    1. I have to say, I am pleased with this piece not only because it seems to be getting some attention, but I think that responses such as yours are exceedingly helpful to help breakdown and analyze the question. All I am essentially going on is anecdotal evidence that the Jewish pro-Israel left seems to be vacating the discussion.

      This is merely my perception, but most of the evidence in terms of what is published, seems to support that perception.

      The boundaries between newspapers, social media, and political blogs are blurred, but the distinction that you make is important. There is an important difference between the Times of Israel and the Elder of Ziyon. The former is a new prominent Israeli newspaper with blog elements that speaks to much broader questions, while the Elder is a blog almost entirely concerned with the Middle East.

      So, yes, one important distinction is between pro-Israel blogs, like EOZ, IT, and others, and Jewish pro-Israel newspapers like TOI or the JPost or Ha'aretz and where they come down politically on broader issues.

      I have to say, I do not have a grand thesis on this, but it strikes me that this phenomenon is much underdiscussed. We know that conservatives and Republicans are far more friendly to Israel, according to all the polls, than are progressives and Democrats by generally about 20 points, which I think is a highly significant number.

      But, again, if most diaspora Jews are progressive and if most progressive diaspora Jews are pro-Israel, just where are the progressive Jewish pro-Israel venues? Perhaps I am wrong, Sar Shalom. Perhaps I am simply not seeing what is evident. But I can think of few Jewish media outlets that are both pro-Israel and generally progressive.

      There are some. Segall's and fizziks Progressive Zionist is/was one, but an exceedingly small one.
      The closest we might come are the more culturally-inclined, Jewish-oriented magazines like Tablet or Mosaic, I suppose.

      But, still, the question remains, just where are the Jewish progressive pro-Israel venues and what are their arguments at this point?

      Times are changing, but it is not the least bit clear to me the ways in which the Jewish pro-Israel left is changing with them.

    2. I'm not disagreeing about the lack of liberal pro-Israel outlets. In terms of prominent individuals, I would be hard-pressed to name anyone beyond Alan Dershowitz. Among institutions, there are even fewer. The issue is how to define an outlet as liberal or conservative.

      You mentioned that there's a difference between EoZ on ToI. However, there is also a difference to ToI and Commentary. My experience with ToI is limited to articles linked from EoZ and similar sites, but it is likely that ToI complains about Obama's Israel-policies but pretty ignores his policies that don't affect Israel (can anyone chime in on the accuracy of my conjecture?). In contrast, Commentary complains about Obama's policies across the board. They have a right to do so, but we should not be surprised that their arguments on Israel hold limited water with those who disagree with them on everything else, all the more reason to lament the dearth of pro-Israel progressives.

      What I do agree with you on is that there is a lot of fleshing out that will be required.

  14. The question that I ask in this piece is this:

    "Given the fact that most Jews are progressive and given the fact that most progressive Jews are Zionists, one would think that there would be a significant media presence to support the progressive Zionist viewpoint, but there is not.

    How come?

    I cannot really know the answer to that question without a sociological study, so I can only speculate in a manner that strikes me as making sense.

    We have two facts that are probably interrelated.

    1) Almost across the board, the conservative venues are pro-Israel while western anti-Zionist discourse has mainly found its home in left-wing venues.

    2) Progressive-left Zionists are yielding the field.

    This is, of course, not just a matter of blogs, but of significant magazines, newspapers, and journals.

    So, again, the queston is, why?

    My suspicion is that, indeed, the pro-Israel people on the left have lost the debate. We have not lost the argument because the facts of history and of the current moment are on our side in all sorts of ways, which I have no intenton of elaborating on now.

    The probable main reason why the Jewish left is failing to stand up for Israel is because of the terrible tension between maintaining one's left-liberal credentials while supporting Israel. We all understand this very well, I think.

    In a certain unspoken way we are being given choice.

    We can support Israel or we can support the progressive-left, but we cannot do both without the anti-Zionist left putting an entirely unjust moral knife to our collective throats.

    Y'know, I went back to Richard Landes, recently, who is among the most insightful guys that I have ever read on the conflict, because he comes at it from an historical-cultural perspective that includes aspects of sociology

    If you guys are unfamiliar with this material you might take a little time when you can.

    Post-Modern Anti-Semitism: Part I

    This is the first two paragraphs:

    The exception to the rule for my reading of anti-Semitism [largely a "right-wing" phenomenon from people opposed to the liberal impact of Jews on prime-divider cultures] comes when I try to explain the anti-Zionism of progressives. According to my analysis, those who favor the humanistic commitments of civil society – government responsible to the people, freedom of expression, treating the life of commoners as a valuable social good, broad empowerment of populations, both as individuals and as groups, women’s rights, etc. – should side unequivocally with the Israelis. Indeed this is the common cry of Israelis when they appeal to the West for support.

    And yet the opposite has happened. Rather than the morality tale I describe above, a radical inversion has occurred in the retelling of this story in modern progressive (leftist) circles. The toxic imperialism and fascist nationalism with genocidal tendencies so prominently on display in the Arab world, appear now as Israeli traits. The Zionists are an imperialist settler colony like the Boer in South Africa or the pilgrims in America. Israel, in this narrative, represents only the latest of that vicious imperialism and nationalism that Europeans and Americans, as they increase their commitments to civil values, come more and more to regret – slavery, genocidal policies that killed millions of natives, ruthless suppression of indigenous culture. The Palestinians, in this reading, represent the oppressed people trying valiantly to free themselves from European-style occupation.

    1. "the terrible tension between maintaining one's left-liberal credentials while supporting Israel"

      There definitely was some of that at TNR during the Peretz-era. While the published material was all staunchly pro-Israel during that era, the commenters were not all of that viewpoint, frequently complaining about Peretz's "racism," which may have referred thing Peretz wrote not connected to the Middle East.

      As to Jews, the left, and support for Israel, there are a number of issues. One is that there is a zeitgeist that says the Israel is racist towards the Arabs. There are two ways one can be pro-Israel with surrounded by that zeitgeist. One is to reject that zeitgeist. The other is to hold that there is nothing wrong with being racist against Arabs. While there are those on the right who come to support Israel through the former, by and large the right is not as heavily anti-racist the way the left is. Thus, the ones who are not judeophobic themselves would have less objection to bias against Arabs and are thus less hindered in supporting Israel. This is the flipside of point made at EoZ some time ago that right-wing judeophobes are more prone to admit that they are judeophobes wherease left-wing judeophobes will instead say "I have nothing against Jews, it's just that the Jews ..."

  15. Late to the party, but a (this is perhaps only blog-specific) point I'd like to make is that it seems to me most blogs are started by those who feel marginalized within their particular group. Be that group an ethnicity, religion, political movement, civic organization, etc.

    This goes far beyond just the Arab-Israel issue, of course. I think the dearth of specific, individual pro-Israel blogs from a liberal perspective has more to do with the fact that supporting Israel while being a liberal Jew is simply not a controversial issue amongst liberal Jews. Hence, no need for liberal Sultan Knishes?

    Jewish anti-Zionists are certainly over-represented, and their voices magnified, on certain progressive political blogs, but they are truly a fringe of a fringe within the Jewish community, despite what the antisemitic hordes at places like Daily Kos want to believe.

    (And what exactly qualifies Jewish anti-Zionism -- either as practiced in the hardcore antisemitic form by people like Phil Weiss; or in the dumbed-down, mushy, safe-for-the-more-naive-mainstream-leftists, and therefore perhaps probably more dangerous form, as practiced by people like David Harris-Gershon -- as 'progressive' is another question altogether, I suppose)

    I once, a few years ago, was involved in the planning of what was hoped would become a significant liberal / progressive / Democratic blog, focusing on all aspects of Jewish culture, and of course being pro-Israel, as well. That never came about, but I did think there was an opening for such a venture. I still do today, in fact.

    I would no longer be personally interested in such a thing, since I'm no longer partisan enough to care -- or perhaps to be more precise, I'm no longer interested in 'engaging' with 'progressive' bigots like those I just freed myself from at Daily Kos -- but I would still appreciate seeing one come about.

    As you've pointed out already, Mike, such voices do seem to be missing, and largely "yielding the field" to non-Jewish Israel haters on progressive venues is certainly damaging.

    On the Arab-Israel issue, at least in America, I think factionalism does far more damage than good, and that's why I favor nonpartisan pro-Israel sites like IT, EoZ, DivestThis!, etc.

    Needless to say, I view all pro-Israel people as my allies on that one issue, even if I agree with them on nothing else politically.

  16. "Needless to say, I view all pro-Israel people as my allies on that one issue, even if I agree with them on nothing else politically."


  17. **sigh**

    I read this and I go....aha...and I stare at the light bulb that goes on from time to time...far too often unfortunately:

    "Vice President Joe Biden drew fire from a prominent Jewish group on Tuesday after he described unscrupulous bankers who prey on servicemen and servicewomen deployed overseas as “Shylocks” — a term frequently condemned as an anti-Semitic caricature."

    And this guy is the freaking VP of freaking America. I just don't know....I mean, he's not an EVIL REPUBLICAN is he? Or a sekrit Republican?

  18. And just so I don't get totally depressed by Biden, there's this strange story:

    "Study: Conservatives and liberals smell different

    A new study from the American Journal of Political Science indicates that different political affiliations may actually correspond with different body odors...."

    No sniffing, please.

  19. Don't get you Americans with your funny terms for things.

    What on earth is a liberal-progressive? And Progressive-left ?

    I get that Liberal is your left, whilst it's our right.

    I am glad to say that in this country we are left or right wing and that's it.

    1. A lot of it has to do with this specific issue, and also the recent growing trend of a merge amongst American far-leftists, with the far-right isolationists whose recent lineage descends from Charles Lindbergh to Pat Buchanan to Lyndon LaRouche to Ron Paul.

      A common thread is antisemitism, too, unsurprisingly. Blatant 'classic' antisemitism in the case of the latter group; while in the case of the former, they tend to stick to the new antisemitism of 'mere anti-Zionism,' though increasingly many are beginning to even drop the pretense of that 'distinction,' such as it is.

      I'm a liberal, of the old-school labor union variety. I break with the general American left consensus on a few issues (for instance, guns and immigration), but I believe there is absolutely a difference between my sort of mainstream liberalism, which in some cases leans toward democratic socialism, and the 'progressive' brand.

      Which said 'progressive' brand tends to stand for those who seem to spend every waking hour wallowing in one of their many forms of twisted guilt, while using the privilege and freedom afforded to them by the only one singular culture in the world that they actually seem to oppose (or even despise), in order to fashionably rock keffiyehs made by slave labor in China while hoisting signs equating Jews to Nazis and standing in solidarity with those who violently oppress women, seek to murder gays, perhaps consider the beheading of infidels to be a righteous form of expression, etc etc.

      I have also never used that term ('progressive') to describe myself, personally, even if many others would, since as amongst other negative connotations, I believe it's also part of a cowardly legacy certain contemporary leftists, which was adopted in order to distinguish themselves from the semi-successfully demonization of the 'liberal' label during the era of President Reagan.

      Anyway, that's just for starters, I suppose...

  20. How about the Jewlicious blog? Or is that not considered important enough?

    1. Hi Joanne, thanks for dropping by.

      I'm actually not that familiar with Jewlicious, but I checked out the blog and have added to my blogroll.