The Death of the Left

The tidbit below was written by Allan Goldstein and published in the Algemeiner.

Israel is fighting for its right to exist with one hand tied behind its back. The left hand.

Conservatives strongly support Israel. We have won that battle. Only on the extreme right wing, the lunatic fringe of fascists and skinheads, do we find Israel haters and Jew bashers on that side.

But it’s a different story on the left. One needn’t travel far from the center of conventional liberal opinion to find anti-Israel sentiment—even virulent anti-Israel sentiment—on the left.

Among otherwise sensible liberals, the question of an entire nation’s existence is an acceptable subject of polite conversation.

‎That state of affairs would be shocking if we weren’t so used to it. But, as a liberal, I will never get used to it, because it is a perversion of everything liberalism stands for.

I have been making a very similar argument for quite some time.  What has been most amusing, however, is when pro-Israel leftists – the moniker “fizziks” suddenly comes to mind – insist that anti-Zionism is not coming from the left, as if Rachel Corrie was a hard-line, right-wing Republican.

The writer of this Algemeiner piece, Mr. Goldstein, is, like me, a liberal.  Also like me, he is disgusted with the way that progressives have thrown their own values down the toilet.  What I would argue, however, is something broader than he does.  Goldstein suggests that standing up for Israel is to stand up for liberal values and I certainly agree, but it’s not just a matter of standing with the besieged Jewish minority in the Middle East, but also the besieged Christian minority, the besieged and much maligned Gay minority, and all women throughout the region who live under a religious system that is deeply misogynistic and that fails to respect their fundamental human rights.

The failure of the left is not merely the betrayal of its Jewish constituency, but also a moral failure to stand with Christians, Gays, and women throughout Arab-Muslim zones of influence.

Goldstein writes:

The choice for liberals worldwide is stark. They can either support a country that validates their values better than their home countries, or they can support woman-enslaving, gay-hating, democracy-fearing, America-phobic, anti-Jewish theocracies, thugocracies, and failed states that torture their own publics with endless civil wars and sectarian demagoguery.

This either-or moral imperative is apparent, but not real.  The leftist tendency to back the most atrocious actors on the planet today, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, is not universal among leftists.  Many people on the left do, in fact, support the right of the Jewish people to live in peace within a Jewish state of Israel, however one need not support either Israel or groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.  One can be neutral on such issues and very much still be a member in good standing on the left.

In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that most people on the left are entirely ambivalent about the Arab-Israel conflict and while they do not necessarily support Israel, likewise they do not necessarily support the enforcement of al-Sharia throughout the region.  But they do not necessarily oppose it either and that’s the rub.  Many of them still think that the so-called “Arab Spring” had something to do with democracy – pssst, it didn’t –  and the great majority turned away their eyes when Barack Obama decided to support the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization with ideological roots that go, at least in part, to Nazi Germany.

They simply shut their eyes, jammed their heads into the ground, and refused to acknowledge what could not have been more obvious.

Goldstein is therefore mistaken when he claims that for liberals the choice is stark.  For most liberals the choice is not the least bit stark, but entirely muddled.  They want to do what is right.  They want to do what is ethical.  They want to support social justice and human rights and they simply wish that Israel would embody their ideals to a greater degree.  On the other hand, of course, they hold Arabs to no standards of human decency whatsoever due to the unacknowledged and ingrained racism riddled within a political movement that flatters itself as anti-racist.

Make no mistake, the progressive-left is not anti-racist.  On the contrary.  The progressive-left is the single most racist political movement in west today outside of political Islam, itself.

How, in G-d’s name, have we lost that argument? It shouldn’t even be close. You can’t be a passionate promoter of woman’s equality, an indefatigable defender of gay rights, a champion of social welfare, environmental justice, and religious tolerance at home and abandon those beliefs at the water’s edge and still call yourself a progressive.

Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  We have a winner!

This is precisely what I have been arguing for a number of years now.  Either one believes in universal human rights or one does not believe in universal human rights.  However if one does believe in universal human rights that means that people should have such rights even if they do happen to live in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia and, therefore, we should advocate for those rights.  If we fail to do so, how can we be said to stand for universal human rights?

The fact of the matter is that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where a Jew can live in freedom.  It is also the only country in the Middle East where women, Christians, and Gay people can live in freedom.  Furthermore, the Arabs of Israel have more civil liberties and greater economic opportunity than Arabs anywhere else throughout that part of the world.

I’m an unshakable defender of Israel and progressive political values, both at the same time. There is no contradiction in those positions; they are mutually reinforcing. Many of my fellow liberals feel the same way.

‎For some of us, it is impossible to shackle ourselves—against all Jewish tradition of learning, of tolerance, of acceptance, of, dare I say it, social justice—to the right – a right that shares none of our liberality in mores or attitudes, a right that has made common cause with some of the most intolerant, reactionary, even racist groups in American society in a cynical attempt to make a majority out of a motley assortment of haters.

In the above two paragraphs Goldstein falls into the traditional knee-jerk broad-brushing of the right by the left.  After so many years of nodding along with our fellow progressives when they shake their little fists at the right, it becomes ideologically difficult to break from old stereotypes and preconceptions.

The question is, does one break from the left due to its betrayal of its Jewish constituency, as well as its own alleged values, or do you stay and fight?  Some like, for example, our own JayinPhiladelphia, have chosen to stay and fight.  That is, he self-identifies as on the left, supports various progressive-left causes and candidates, and yet fights for Jewish interests within progressive-left venues.  Other pro-Israel liberals are simply in denial about the fact that anti-Semitic anti-Zionism is mainly a progressive movement in the west today, not a right-wing movement.

And then there are some of us, like me, who have simply gone rogue.

I am an independent.  I am neither a Democrat, nor a Republican, nor a member of any political party at this point.  While I lean leftward on the issues, I am no longer automatically opposed to anything and everything that comes out of the right; which is to say that I am no longer an ideological partisan.

I’m just saying we need to engage the liberal/leftist half of humanity with all the energy and passion we can muster. Right now our enemies hold that field by default. Liberal supporters of Israel—and don’t kid yourself, we are legion—are mostly scared into silence by the perverted peer pressure of a high-decibel minority, full of rage and wrath as only those possessed by an irrational, unsupportable, political fetish can be.

This is partly true, but ultimately it fails to satisfy.  The real problem is not that pro-Israel liberals are afraid to stand up for the Jewish State.  For the most part, in my experience, at least, they are willing to stand up.   The real problem is what I have called the Palestinian Colonization of the Jewish Mind, but what could more accurately be dubbed the Palestinian colonization of the liberal mind.

We have, as liberals and as Jews, largely accepted the “Palestinian narrative” of victim-hood at the hands of Zionist aggressors.  This is a problem not only because such a notion is largely false, but it erodes Jewish ability to defend ourselves as a tiny minority seeking to maintain autonomy on Jewish land.

From the comments:

BH in Iowa

What was once the party of Bobby Kennedy is now the party of Sirhan Sirhan.

Ummm…

I do not think that I would go quite so far!

Dr. Denis MacEoin

A perfect set of arguments in the proper direction. Too many of Israel’s defenders come from the conservative right, but most of Israel’s enemies are from the left, especially the far left, and it’s time more time and money was put into addressing this issue. I have advanced several of the same arguments in my blog ‘A Liberal Defence of Israel’. If you liked this, do look at some of my entries too.

For those of you who do not know, Professor MacEoin is at the forefront in the fight within Europe to defend the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel.  He publishes very sporadically at A Liberal Defense of Israel, but his material is always worth reading.

He also wrote An Open Letter to Tamar Fogel shortly after the Fogel family massacre at the hands of young Jihadis in March of 2011.  I signed that letter and when it was presented to Tamar, who was 12 years of age at the time, my name was among the thousands of names from around the world extending our sincerest sympathies and support.  I tried to get a few of the people who later became associated with the failed Progressive Zionist blog to sign the letter, as well, but they refused.

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Michael Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.

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8 comments

  1. I recently asked an acquaintance (Jewish and an outspoken counter-jihadist), how come he joined “the dark side” since he appeared to me rather like ticking all the boxes prerequisite for a good lefty Liberal. He told me: I was of “the Left”, I have not changed, the Left has”.

    What I personally resent of the euphemistically named “Progressives” is their pack rape of lovely words – they took them as antique worriers took women (some still do) and abused them. I now have a bitter taste in my mouth when I pronounce: Progressive, Human Rights, Liberal, Refugee, Rebels, Freedom Fighters, caring etc… I would like to add the suffix “istas” to all of those, as in “compassionistas”.

    And a last thing: Make no mistake: Those who do, dont hate the Jews because of Israel, they hate Israel because of the Jews.

  2. There is no doubt that in the parallel universe of the official left wing organisations, feminist movements and the Gay and Lesbian movements to say nothing of Journalists that the misogynist, antihuman rights , religiously intolerant, honour killing dictatorships of the Arab countries surrounding Israel are never as reviled, condemned or judged as is the only Jewish , multi cultural and democratic country in the world.

    • From an ideological standpoint they’ve turned their own world upside down.

      What are we to make of a widespread political movement throughout the west that advocates anti-racism, yet is among the most racist and bigoted political movements in the west today?

  3. The incomparable Melanie Phillips also makes that point, Rita. For years a writer on the Guardian, once a respected organ of liberal opinion but now a leftist Israel-baiting rag, she points out that she has remained a “classical liberal” but of course gets tagged these days as a rightwing extremist.

    • Hi Daphne,

      Although I disagree with Phillips on any number of issues, such as global warming, after so many years of progressive-left histrionics and platitudes, I find her absolutely refreshing.

      I also wonder about this new model of on-line publishing that she is promoting.

      Does it really make any financial sense to publish new authors of books on-line?

      I am not so certain.

  4. I think the terms left and right are no longer relevant or meaningful. Why is it a right-wing position to support of democratic nation like Israel, yet left-wing to support the Palestinians, which invariably involves supporting a totalitarian mindset?

    I agree with Rita that progressivism has appropriated many worthy words and ideas (most of which are of Judaeo-Christian origin), and used them as a cover. For instance, they claim to support human rights, yet they are indifferent to Arab atrocities against other religions, employing the term to denigrate Israel for some (usually trumped up) allegation of ill-treatment of those seeking to destroy the Jewish State.

    If the term human rights means anything, it has to be applied consistently. For example, one cannot excuse Arabs who throw rocks at Israelis, because by doing so you are denying the Israelis their human rights. Similarly, you cannot be a vociferous supporter of women praying at the Wall (an act which to me seems odd, as most progressives believe such things are now obsolete and seek to modernise Judaism), yet ignore the fact that women in Arab countries are second class citizens.

    And that is the problem with some, but certainly not all, progressives.

  5. “Woe to those who call good evil and evil good!” We seem to be facing some sort of long standing campaign of misappropriation and manipulation of language and concepts . We have been trapped into allowing the redefinition of all those words that have come to mean the opposite. By using these words ourselves without some sort of caveat we concede control of the argument . Apart from all the preceding examples that have already been quoted, I read in Algemeiner an article which argues that by rights the term Palestinian refugees can strictly only apply to those who left In 1967. The rest who are born elsewhere can only be called ” descendents ” . The same for many other terms and concepts that we have allowed to be uncritically adopted . Just think of the word “occupied”. We need to be vigilant in not allowing the debate to be controlled by those who call good evil and evil good.