The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, October 02, 2015

In the First Place

There are many things that I find objectionable about the Leftist world-view. Whether it's the promotion of a victim's culture, the championing of Big Intrusive Government (BIG) programs, the dampening of free speech, or a redistributionist philosophy,  the Left seems to double down on a combination of muddled ideas and emotionally driven, fantasy thinking. They worship the god of good intentions, but reject the more important god of actual, measurable results in the real world.

There is, however, one Leftist position that goes beyond being objectionable, flies right past being despicable, and can rightly be characterized as profoundly immoral and malevolent. The Left endorses the demonization of Israel—a liberal democracy located in a cesspool of intolerance, violence, and state-sponsored anti-Semitism that is the Arab crescent in the Middle East.

For many years, anti-Israel rhetoric has been voiced in the salons of the intelligencia, the ivy covered walls of academia, among some in Hollywood, and at the fringes of Democrat politics in Washington and at the White House.  This has accelerated with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, but the problem precedes his presidency.

Charles Lipson describes this when he writes:
At bottom, the bien-pensant view is that (a) Israel is wrong because it's strong; (b) Israel has no right to exist because it is a European state in the Muslim Middle East; and (c) Palestinians and fellow Muslims are not responsible for their fate, or their crimes, because they are oppressed victims.

The left hates Israel’s military strength and its willingness to use it for the same reasons it hates American power. As right-thinking cosmopolitans, they would never approve such brutality. Obama captured this perspective in a Freudian slip. “Whether we like it or not,” he explained, “we remain a dominant military superpower.” The left doesn’t like it. They don’t like it in America, and they don’t like it in Israel. As for Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea brandishing military threats, well, let’s not think about that. The threats may vanish from their minds, but they still threaten everybody else with working synapses.

Not only is Israel powerful, the left (like the Muslim world) sees Israel as a remnant of Europe's crimes: imperialism and the Holocaust. University faculties are preoccupied with imperialism and post-colonial legacies, which they blame for many of the world’s ills. They see Israel through that lens, as a colony of white settlers in an Arab-Muslim region. They blithely ignore the Jewish people’s age-old connection to the land, its continuous presence there, and its central religious significance. And they ignore how many Israelis were driven out of Arab countries, which have become virulently anti-Semitic.

The combination of Israel’s religious heritage, its nationalism, its prosperity, and its unapologetic self-defense combine virtually everything loathed by secular, cosmopolitan intellectuals. That’s why Obama's 2009 Cairo speech offered such a tepid “defense" of Israel's right to exist. Israel was needed, he said, because Jews needed somewhere to go after the Holocaust. That is the view of the average professor of French literature: Israel is the bastard child of Europe’s crimes.

In the left’s worldview, Palestinians and fellow Muslims are not seen as agents of their own history, for good or ill. They are righteous victims. This condescending view is grounded in Jean Jacques Rousseau's gauzy, romantic vision of "noble savages," not yet cursed by civilization. What can be expected of such people? Their crimes are merely "weapons of the weak.” And who are we, the oppressors, to criticize them? That would commit an unforgivable sin, blaming the victim.
There is little point in trying to refute each of the Left's delusional claims about Israel. It is impossible to reason those out of a position that they never reasoned themselves into in the first place.

The natural rebound that occurs as a consequence of the Left's visceral hatred of all things Israeli (consider for a moment that boycotts of Israeli goods and companies, Israeli academic papers, and Israeli speakers is the norm among leftist institutions) is the Left's fawning treatment of all things "palestinian." No matter that the palestinians target civilian population centers with random rocket fire, no matter that they starve their own populace to build tunnels, no matter that they throw gay people off buildings, the palestinians are "victims," so all else is forgiven.

I ran across an interesting piece written by Nick Cohen, a liberal author living in the UK. In it Cohen wrote:
The shift of left-wing thought towards movements it would once have denounced as racist, imperialist and fascistic has been building for years. I come from a left-wing family, marched against Margaret Thatcher and was one of the first journalists to denounce New Labour’s embrace of corporate capitalism — and I don’t regret any of it. But slowly, too slowly I am ashamed to say, I began to notice that left-wing politics had turned rancid.
And nothing is more rancid that the Left's concerted campaign to demonize Israel and hasten the destruction of our only true friend in the Middle East. Disgusting.