Barry Werner – Part 5 The Far Left’s Obsession with Israel Is Harmful to the Middle East
The underlying motivation for the Leftist agenda and how it affects the Middle East
Why is the Leftist agenda so prejudiced against Israel?
We end this essay with an observation, a question and an attempt at an answer to the question, and then a summary of this essay as a conclusion.
- Observation: As it was in Communist Russia not all that long ago, the Leftists have once again become oppressors, and once again the oppression is directed against the Jews.
- Question: How could Leftists, who are generally known for being intelligent, believe such irrational ideas since a dispassionate review of the facts would dispel the claims as preposterous?
- Answer: There are two categories of explanation, first with regard to Zionism and second with regard to the history of Leftist ideology.
Explanation with regard to Zionism
We can divide the Left into two groups, Zionists and anti-Zionists, who generally agree in their actions although they differ in their underlying motivations.
Left wing Zionists believe that Israel’s security can better be achieved by making major concessions to the Arabs, and therefore when Israel defends itself (for example by fighting wars in Gaza and Lebanon, and by maintaining checkpoints in the West Bank) it harms Arabs unnecessarily and creates more enemies. Leftist Zionism was the mainstream view in Israel up until roughly the 1970’s. Israelis expected that after Israel demonstrated its ability to defend itself, its Arab neighbors would accept its right to exist. Israelis were surprised and disillusioned when the Arab world adamantly refused to accept land for peace after the 1967 war (the three No’s from the Arab League meeting in Khartoum), they were deeply shaken by the nearly catastrophic Yom Kippur War in 1973, and further disillusioned by the failure of the Arabs to make peace during the Oslo Process. The Israeli electorate became convinced that the Arabs can’t be trusted and moved to the right politically, and the political strength of Left wing Zionism diminished considerably.
Left wing Zionism reestablished itself in the West where it became strong especially on college campuses, and it managed to persuade Left-leaning politicians, such as Barak Obama, of its point of view. They bemoan the changes that have occurred in Israel since Left wing Zionism was the reigning political philosophy. For them, Israel was good when Socialists controlled it (Oh, those wonderful Communist kibbutzim!), but Israel is evil now that Socialists are no longer in control.
Anti-Zionists, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, simply believe that Israel should not exist. Therefore, in agreement with the Left wing Zionists, they believe that when Israel defends itself it harms Arabs unnecessarily.
Explanation with regard to the history of Leftist ideology
Socialist anti-Zionism started in opposition to the nationalist aspect of Zionism. Purists understood Socialism to be internationalist and thought Jewish nationalism had no place in a movement that called itself Socialist. However, antisemitism was mixed into it very early on, especially in the Soviet Union. This important subject is discussed in the essay, “The Holocaust, the Left, and the Return of Hate”, by Jamie Palmer, The Tower, Issue 37, April 2016, http://www.thetower.org/article/the-holocaust-the-Left-and-the-return-of-hate/ Jamie Palmer, writing about the Soviet Union’s contribution, says:
“The claims that Zionism is racism, the instrument or puppeteer of Jewish and American imperialists, a project of Western colonialism, or a template for Jewish world domination; that Zionists were co-conspirators and ideological ancestors of Nazi Germany who control markets, industry, and media; and that Israel is a “terrorist regime”—all such claims originated in Soviet propaganda and are widespread on today’s activist Left. And just as Jewish communists were mobilized by their local parties to circulate anti-Semitic propaganda in the West, so today Jewish activists are at the forefront of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”
Some Jewish Socialists believe nationalism is the wrong approach for the Jewish People and feel they have to defend their Socialist credentials by opposing Zionism especially vociferously.
There are also anti-Zionists, Socialist or not, who oppose Israel’s existence on other grounds. Some Jews feel that Israel is of no value to them and fiercely resent being associated with Jews who defend Israel. There are antisemites who join the Leftist anti-Zionism campaign because attacks on Israel are a “politically correct” protected form of antisemitism. The Left doesn’t question their Leftist credentials.
There are also radical far Leftists who are angry with both the West and Israel for rejecting Communism in favor of Capitalism. Like anarchists, they are trying to bring down the Capitalist system and they embrace radical Islamists for doing just that. However they believe that when Capitalism falls Communism, not Islamism, will replace it, and of course, the ends justify the means.
Edward Alexander presents a scathing review of Jewish anti-Zionists in his insightful book, “Jews Against Themselves”.
Concern for the suffering of your enemy does not necessarily promote peace
There are three ways of relating to the suffering of your enemy, the way of the hawk, the dove, and the traitor.
The hawk emphasizes the need to mobilize his society to fight the enemy. The best motivator is anger. In this view, empathy for the enemy is dangerous because it can lower the motivation of your people to fight. All Western nations have intentionally dehumanized their enemies during war.
The dove recognizes that everyone, both in our society and in the enemy’s society, suffers in a conflict. In this view we need to be careful not to cause our enemy more suffering than is necessary, and we have to leave open the chance for reconciliation when the fighting stops. But even for doves, concern for your enemy’s suffering has to be secondary to winning the war in the first place.
When at war, it is good to have both hawks and doves.
The traitorous view is to be overly concerned for the suffering of the enemy and insufficiently concerned for the suffering of your own society. The traitorous view provides a false sense of goodness but it is wrong; losing the war does not necessarily guarantee that the future will be better than if you win the war, especially if your enemies are barbarians.
The Left advocates the traitorous view.
For an interesting discussion of empathy for the enemy see “Empathy for the enemy: Yet another Western pipe dream” by Manfred Gerstenfeld, The Jerusalem Post (Opinion section), 5 April, 2015
In this 5-part essay we looked closely at the positions the political Left takes in the Middle East and found that their highest priorities are not: concern for human suffering and the defense of liberal values; opposition to genocide, specifically the threat to annihilate the Jews of Israel; ensuring long-term stability in the Middle East and in the world and opposing the rise of religious extremism; Israel’s security; opposition to terrorism; opposition to racism and religious prejudice, specifically antisemitism; the welfare of the Palestinians; bringing the benefits of European modernity to the Middle East; saving the Jews of Europe from death in the Holocaust; opposing the spread of Nazism to the Middle East; or the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Close observation also shows that the Left has a racist attitude toward Arabs, they don’t consider Arabs capable of taking moral responsibility for their actions.
The Left indulges in a simplistic form of thinking in which a relatively small number of prepackaged concepts carrying heavy emotional baggage, such as aggressive warfare, oppression, Colonialism, racism, and Islamophobia, are liberally misapplied to simplify a reality that doesn’t conform to preconceptions. Relevant concepts such as “Islamist terrorism” and “antisemitism” do not seem to be in their vocabulary.
The Left sees their interpretation of history as a moral crusade. But their crusade masks an antisemitic prejudice, which they use to bludgeon Israel.
The Left’s blind and stubborn adherence to inapplicable concepts renders it unable to understand the Arab/Israeli conflict and causes it to make matters worse. The left doesn’t understand that it ought to help the pragmatic Arab leaders bring Israel into the region as a constructive player instead of helping the radical Islamists and Arab nationalists isolate Israel. The Left distracts the world’s attention from the racist and religious fanatic motivations of the radical Arabs. The Left encourages the PA to resist reasonable peace proposals from Israel, giving them reason to believe that the West will get them a better deal in the international arena than they can get for themselves if they negotiate directly with Israel as they had agreed to do in the Oslo Accords. The Left scares Israel into resisting efforts to implement a bad deal that would lead to war not peace. The Left accepts the PA’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Left is oblivious to the tyranny and religious oppression of the Palestinian Arabs by the PLO and Hamas. The Left has little to say about Arab attacks on Israelis or about the murderous antisemitism the PLO and Hamas teach their people. The Left makes no objection to the radical Arab claim that the Jews have no historical claim to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Left employs a deceitful, disinformation campaign to accuse the Zionists of crimes Israel hasn’t committed, exaggerate excesses Israelis made in self-defense, dismiss as inconsequential what should be considered intolerable aggression against Israel, and in general make Israel appear to be a pariah state. And, it facilitates the reawakening of antisemitism.
The world is changing. From Africa to Asia the colonial period left a legacy of multicultural countries and regions populated by people whose primary identities are tribal. Their communities are split between those trying to politically unify their world and those who won’t let go of ancient tribal enmities and jealousies. This tension results in conflicts, more or less violent, everywhere but the conflicts in many parts of the Middle East are especially brutal. Extremist Muslims are attacking anyone, even other Muslims, with whom they disagree on religion. Ancient Jewish communities, some dating back to the Babylonian Exile, over 2,500 years ago, have been violently and totally eliminated. Christian communities are in the process of suffering the same fate. Tribal warfare is back in full force.
Virtue is on the side of those trying to create unity while retaining respect for cultural diversity. But when it comes to the Middle East and the Arab/Israeli conflict, the liberals of the Western world are on the wrong side. They are supporting old fashioned tribalism over modernity.
The Left should reassess it’s obsession with Israel and adopt a more constructive agenda. Concern for the Arab world and Israel should go together.