Monday, April 20, 2015

Politicide: How the Western Left is Killing the Israeli Left

Michael L.

{Originally published at the Elder of Ziyon.}

FingerThere is much discussion, particularly after Benjamin Netanyahu's recent re-election, about Israel's continued slide politically toward the right.  Anti-Zionists and Israel-Haters generally attribute this move rightward as a reflection of the inherent nefarious nature of Zionism, if not Jews. On the left, in the United States and Europe, Jews who care about the Jewish state are sometimes tolerated, and sometimes not, but always subject to charges of racism by the element on the left that dislikes Israel and Zionists and AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League and all other Jewish organizations that are not either anti-Zionist or contemptuous toward the Jewish state.

J Street is usually acceptable, but J Street is not a pro-Israel organization.

Leftists, however, who do not share the anti-Zionist contempt for Israel, and who know a thing or two about the Arab-Israel conflict, will usually acknowledge that the failure of the Oslo process and Arafat's unleashing of the Second Intifada played a big role in moving Israel toward the political right.  Anyone who understands the history of the conflict knows that during the 1990s, when Arafat and Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton were sitting around the big table, there was considerable optimism within Israel that they would be able to broker a negotiated settlement with the local Arabs and thus bring peace to the region.

It all seemed so rational and sensible, after all.  The notion of land for peace seemed like it should work.  Give the Palestinian-Arabs 100 percent of Gaza, nearly 100 percent of Judea and Samaria in a contiguous area with land swaps, and the Arab sections of eastern Jerusalem as a capital.  When Arafat rejected this more than generous offer, refused to make a counter offer, and unleashed the equivalent of 9/11 every two weeks for over three years upon the Jews of the Middle East, those Jews became demoralized with the non-peace process and thus began to move toward the right.

Would anyone expect anything else?  It is just so easy to sit in our comfortable offices, houses, and apartments in the United States, almost completely safe within one of the largest and most powerful countries on the planet, and lecture those Jews, in that tiny beleaguered nation, on morality and politics.  The Second Intifada destroyed the Israeli left because the Oslo peace process was the baby of the western left and it led to nothing but violence, death, and a furious denunciation of Israel.  Between 2000 and 2005, the Palestinians launched a civil war against the Jews, featuring suicide bombings.

Thus it was that Israel turned away from Meretz and Labor and began to look more and more toward Likud and right-leaning political parties.  What virtually no one acknowledges, however, is that a major part of the reason that Israelis rejected the left is because it was during the height of the Second Intifada, the height of the Palestinian orgy of violence and killing of Jews in the Middle East, that the left's hatred for Israel reached toward hysteria, as Paul Berman has pointed out.  As Jews were being slaughtered in pizzerias by fools who wanted to die for their religion, western leftists were jumping up and down, pointing the trembling finger of blame at those Jews, and telling them that IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT!

Israelis, for the most part, are not stupid people.  They know who their friends are and they know who their friends are not.  When the western left turned against Israel and laid the entire blame for the conflict on the Jews of the Middle East, even as those Jews were being slaughtered in a frenzy of Palestinian violence, Israelis came to understand the international left was, if anything, their enemy.  It came to look more and more like the western left was simply siding with the Arabs in their ongoing war against the Jews.

So, naturally Israelis moved to the right.

By essentially siding with suicide bombers and Jihadis and Hamas, the western left killed the Israeli left.

The question for left-leaning diaspora Jews today is, do we side with Israel or do we stick with left?  It is, however, becoming increasingly difficult to do both.  How does one support a political movement, or a political party, that is unjustly aggressive toward one's own people?  Because, if I have to choose between the Jewish State of Israel and the western progressive-left, that choice could not be easier.


  1. Mike,

    I think the choice is even greater than that.
    I think it is ( or has been made to be) a choice between sticking with the western left, or siding with the Jewish people. Not just in Israel; but all around the world.
    Particularly, here in Europe, these choices are becoming more and more real. And more and more people seem to be aware of that. What they do about that; I do not know. The western left's behaviour has, as you say, made a big impact on how Israelis perceive their situation. I would also say that the western left have had - and are continuing to have- a very serious impact on the Jewish populations of their own countries.
    And are affecting how comfortable - or not- and how secure, Jews can feel in their home countries.

    I would also say that the western left's views on Israel, and its treatment of Israel, are a
    feature not a bug of their wider ideological philosophy.

    That might be a useful issue to examine, at some time.

    1. Was it Jeff that referenced Ruth Wisse?

      I just dug out my little copy of Jews and Power and her central point is that anti-Semitism is, at its core, a manifestation of politics.

    2. Mike,

      I haven't read Ruth Wisse. I should. But I have a rough idea of her thesis.

      Of course, anti-Semitism has haunted the world, and continues to do so, in all its manifestations. It is a phenomenon. It is entirely understandable that thinkers and scholars will continue to try to explore the reasons and possible dynamics ( historical and otherwise) that help to make it such a complex and unresolvable force.

      It is a force that underlies much of the world's culture, and its politics.

      That,of course, feeds into the obsessional nature of much of our political landscape concerning Israel /Palestine - and, Jews.

      There is a unique factor to that. That is clear.

      However, I think that what is being lost in discussions about the specific 'behaviour' of the western / progressive left concerning Israel/Palestine, is something more. That their 'behaviour', and I use that word deliberately, mirrors much of their 'behaviour' on all sorts of other issues. Some big, some less so.
      I am beginning to believe that it is impossible to understand exactly what is going on without placing the way in which they approach this particular subject in the wider landscape of how they approach so much else.

      The western left's ' Palestinian narrative', for example, can be seen as something that is
      symptomatic of much more than just their problems with Jews. Or even, their problems around ' power imbalances '. It seems to me that there are patterns to be found in much of the contemporary left's thinking, but also, in the way they 'behave'. I do not think we can understand them on this issue, without 'understanding' them across the board.

      Much of what they do seems to lend itself to distortion and mythologizing. Again, this appears to be a 'feature', not a 'bug'.

      Facts and evidence rarely seem to be priorities.

      Huge emotional outbursts and endless manufactured outrage, seem to be normal. More than normal, they seem to be desired . As do hallucinated problems, and the need to keep hallucinating them.
      I think it is necessary to analyse what the left - in the last 2/3 decades - has become. And why.

    3. Yes Mike,
      I think it was me that referenced Ruth Wisse in one of my comments. I'm a fan, but still have not got a copy of Jews and Power. I've only seen her talk about it and read some things penned by her in internet land.
      As you know, she defines anti-Semitism as the organizing of politics against the Jews. I think it's the best definition I've ever heard. (I'm a fan of concision, remember?)

    4. Here is an analogy that Wisse has used in lecture.

      Imagine a neighbor comes by and says that he considers you a friend, but you really need to clean up your lawn.

      Now, if your lawn really is a bit messy you might not be offended or think poorly of the man. You consider him a friend, after all.

      Now let's say, however, that all your neighbor's yards and houses were in far worse condition. And let's say they regularly threw garbage at your house and rocks through your windows and demanded that you leave the neighborhood.

      What you think of your "friend" then and his advice to clean up the yard?

    5. I might just think that he is the neighbor about whom I should worry the most.
      He's the one that has left me with the sudden and startling epiphany that I have no friends at all.

  2. I looked up damaged goods and saw Max Blumenthal's photo. But I do admire the way he rose from a background of depravation and poverty to make it on his own. Which reminds me, I need to go to the store and buy a can of Raid.

    I don't think a black man should feel comfortable that it took only a few short decades to re-invigorate racism toward Jews. I might just take it as a cautionary tale and think twice about 'joining in on the fun.'