Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Follow-up to this Sunday's EoZ post

Sar Shalom

leftMike's post this Sunday at Elder of Ziyon raised the important question of what use would an alliance with the Left be for us. In the comments, I pointed out that the Left encompasses those who are irreconcilable, those who are committed to our side, and those to whom we must reach out. Mike replied by asking how I propose to reaching out to that segment of the Left.

To summarize my point from my comment at EoZ, opposition to Israel from the Left generally stems from a combination of a conviction that whatever positions the Left takes, anti-imperialism trumps all, and that Israel is an outpost of Western imperialism. The Left consists of factions that are committed to those two points, factions that are ardently opposed to those two points, and factions that have not made their assessments on either point. In actuality, there is a fourth group on the Left, that which doesn't really care about any of the Left's agenda other than demonizing Israel and Jews, but wants to couch its judeophobia in the language of basic human decency that the Left ascribes to anti-imperialism.

With that, the challenge is to move as many members of the non-committed factions of the Left to one of the factions opposing the notion of anti-imperialism trumps all and/or the notion that Israel is a colonialist outpost. I don't have sufficient information to answer the question of how to reach out to them for that effect. However, I would like to suggest what information would be needed in order to formulate an outreach strategy. The main criterion is interfering with how the BDS activists seek to convince the non-committed elements of the Left to support their side.

Getting more specific about how to reach out to the non-committed factions, there are two possible ways to sway them. One is to convince them that while opposing imperialism is a positive value, it should not trump all other liberal value. This avenue might be tricky because the relative importance of opposing imperialism compared to other liberal values is strictly a matter of opinion. The one suggestion I can offer would be to highlight the motives of those who are pushing the notion that anti-imperialism should trump all. Specifically, we could point to the sector of the Left that does not care about any of the Left's objectives, but latches onto the Left in order to exploit the language of anti-colonialism for the purpose of promoting their judeophobic ends.

The other potential way to sway the non-committed Left would be to challenge the notion that Israel is a colonialist outpost. There is an objective case to be made that Israel is not an imperial entity, but not within the eurocentric narrative. The reality is that for any wrong committed by Europe against us throughout history, including the Holocaust, the BDS activists will claim that answering them by "dispossessing" the "Palestinian people" by the establishment of Israel constitutes answering a wrong with another wrong. What's needed is a focus on Middle-Eastern Jews and their history. The purpose of doing so would be to cast the Middle-Eastern Jews as the historically dispossessed people and Zionism as the movement which as a side-effect brought them dignity.

9 comments:

  1. Looking for the moderate Jew hater is bit like looking for the moderate terrorist or the fair weather Nazi. As these Jew haters think of ever more nuanced ways to attempt to split the Jews from one another we are entirely justified in ignoring and lumping them all together in the same basket of Jew hating fascists. I make no attempt to reconcile for instance why 'radical feminist' Naomi Wolf is a huge fan of the Taliban. I make no attempt to work out the finer points of why Nazis like Glenn Greenwald or Peter Beinart still pretend to cling to their own purported 'Jewish' identity. Because any of this only makes sense in their own minds. It's not my role, it's not our role to craft some kind of moral calculus through which that makes sense. If there's 4 kinds of 'left' or 24 or 400 makes no which never mind. Because somewhere in that bizarrely nuanced mission statement for any of them is 'we hate Israel, we hate the Jews...' and the 'because....' that always follows on that is irrelevant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you saying that believing that labor relations are currently stacked too much in favor of management over labor qualifies someone as a Jew-hater? Does arguing that some degree of access to health care is an inherent right qualify someone as a Jew-hater? Progressive taxation? Gay rights? Opposition to South Africa's Apartheid regime?

      You are free to accept of oppose any and all of those individual items. The issue is imputing one's position about Jews based on their position on any of those positions. The first two groups in my listing subordinate all of those objectives to Jew-hatred. However, the rest of the Left does not subscribe to their program. A small of them prioritize opposition to Jew-hatred over the Jew-hating definition of anti-imperialism. The remainder is the battleground. My post was about contesting this battleground.

      Delete
    2. Contest all you like, the baggage they drag along with them is more important than the issue itself. Look at the labor unions in the UK and South Africa. The only issues they speak out about AT ALL is how much they hate Jews.

      Delete
    3. This has happened because the Jew-haters have done their outreach over decades.

      Some points about British and South African labor unions being hijacked for the purposes of judeophobia:

      Has the US, outside of academia, had the same rash of labor unions joining the BDS campaign?

      Does the hijacking of one cause to advance an unrelated cause reflect on the cause that was hijacked?

      Delete
    4. Underlining my point about American unions, look at this post about the UAW intervening when the BDS movement attempts to hijack their union: http://proisraelbaybloggers.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/california-teamsters-issue-scathing.html (h/t EoZ).

      Delete
  2. "French philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Lévy also argues in his book Left in Dark Times [26] that modern anti-imperialism is nothing more than thinly disguised anti-Americanism and has been too commonly evoked by Third World dictators and extremist movements to distract their audiences from their own crimes and abuses of power."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-imperialism

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds about right. There was a time not too long ago that the was genuine western imperialism, but all of those empires have been overturned. There are empires remaining, such as the Chinese empire (occupying Tibet and the Uighurs) and the Persian empire (occupying Khuzestan and Sistan and Baluchistan), but those empires don't offend the Left the way western empires do.

      It should be noted that Bernard-Henri Lévy is a figure of the Left. It is such voices on the Left that we need to strengthen.

      Delete
  3. I am with option number two, Sar Shalom.

    Israel is emphatically NOT a colonialist outpost.

    From a historical perspective, given 3,500 years of Jewish history on Jewish land, to call Israel a "colonialist outpost" is a lie to history and a demeaning insult to the Jewish people.

    I do not think that we need to be an honor / shame society, but I think that when we get kicked in the head, we might want to acknowledge it and respond.

    A people cannot be colonists, nor "settlers," on the land of their own people over millenia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It IS if enough lying sack of poop propagandists say it and Jew haters run with it, Mike. That's how that works.

      Delete