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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Return of the Failures of Progressive-Left Zionism (Michael Lumish)

Michael Lumish, of the Israel Thrives blog as well as a regular blogger at Times of Israel and Jews Down Under, continues his weekly column here at EoZ.




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When I look at my numbers over at Israel Thrives I see that the material that received the most attention within the last few years is my Failures of Progressive-Left Zionism series.

According to Google stats, The Failures of Progressive-Left Zionism: Political Islam, has been the most popular individual piece of writing at Israel Thrives with over 5,000 unique readers

I have to say, I find that gratifying.

It is important to know, and to acknowledge, the failure of the progressive-left to speak up in favor of the plight of women in the Middle East, the plight of Gay people in the Middle East, and the plight of all non-Muslims in the Middle East.

The Jews are under siege, but are holding up nicely, thank you very much.  Christians throughout the region are under the gun and being run out entirely.  Gay people stand no chance unless they remain firmly in the closet.  And, frankly, women are merchandise and it is one of the great shames of the western left today that it refuses to speak up for its own alleged values, as professor Phyllis Chesler, one of the pioneers of Women's Studies, would certainly argue.

I write within a niche within a niche and understand that 5,000 views for a bit of writing is a "spit in the ocean," as my dear old ma might have said, but I take my small victories where I can gather them and hope to convince people that my point of view has some merit.

As a Jewish apostate from the progressive-left, my initial criticisms are toward the left, itself, but also secondarily, toward the Jewish left.  Those criticisms are the ones that receive the most backlash.

The Elder of Ziyon has been kind enough to offer me a little bit of his Sunday afternoon real estate which, I have to tell you guys, I appreciate very much.  As someone who has been laboring in the backwaters of the Jewish blogosphere - lo, these many years - there is no question but that the Elder's home represents a clearing house for information that no one who cares about the Jewish people, or the Jewish State, can ignore.

I think that so long as he is willing to indulge me, I want to go back to my roots because, as I have always insisted, the entire point of writing about the Arab-Israel conflict (or the Long War Against the Jews of the Middle East) is to meditate upon what we have gone through as Jews and as friends of Jews and to figure potential paths forward.

Our criticisms must start with ourselves.

Thus I want to argue that diaspora Jewry, particularly of the left-wing variety, of which I am one, has made a number of significant mistakes since the Six Day War and the rise of the New Left in the post-Vietnam Era of American politics.

The first of those big mistakes is outlined in the brief piece below and is, quite simply, the failure of progressive-left Jewry, including myself not that long ago, to stand up clearly and directly in opposition to political Islam.

The first way in which progressive-left Zionism is failing is in its ostrich-like reluctance to acknowledge, and seriously discuss, the rise of the Jihad throughout the Muslim Middle East. This failure is exceedingly dangerous because the Jews of the Middle East represent something like 1/70th of the total population there and much of that total is moving toward genocidal Islamism. Just as progressive diaspora Jews were basically silent during the rise of Nazi Germany, so they are silent now. We cannot know what the rise of political Islam will mean to the Jewish people in the long term, but we do know that this particular trend is anti-Semitic, and genocidal, to the core.

The failure of progressive-left Jews to address this issue represents a very dangerous form of cowardice and / or ideological blinkertude.

Throughout the 1990s and the Bush II era, I did not give much credence to Republican or conservative concerns about terrorism or, as they might say, "Islamofascism." During the Clinton years I assumed that Islamist terrorism was a bogey-man and during the Bush years I resented what I took to be the using of the so-called War on Terrorism to cynically move funds in various directions and to bolster the political careers of prominent conservatives and Republicans.

It is this, by the way, which represents the backdrop for progressive Jewish unwillingness to understand that times have changed. And times have changed. When I was still a Democrat, the radical Jihad was pretty much limited to Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Qaeda, and the Taliban. One country and a number of fringe organizations, one of which gave us 9/11.

Now we have Iran, Hez, Hamas, Qaeda, the Taliban, and increasingly, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen, Bahrain, Nigeria, and Sudan. When progressive-left Jews ignore the Jihadi fruits of the so-called "Arab Spring," or explain it away as "the blessings of democracy," as Obama does, they are veiling the fact that the entire Middle East is going through an Islamist awakening, not a democratic one. The Muslim Brotherhood, an organization with an historical provenance that goes to Nazi Germany, is finally taking over Egypt.

The American president does not mind and, sadly, neither do progressive-left diaspora Jews.

I would suggest that this is a major problem, but the question is "why?" Why do progressive-left diaspora Jews absolutely refuse to acknowledge, and seriously discuss, what is perhaps the foremost geo-political happening since the demise of the Soviet Union? How is it possible that, just as with the rise of Nazi Germany, progressive-left Jews are failing to acknowledge what is before their very eyes? The answer is cowardice and ideological blindness. They are afraid to say anything, or even really think anything on this question, not out of fear of Jihadis, but out of a social fear of their fellow progressives for whom any reference to political Islam is taken as a form of "Islamophobia."  The Jews of the Middle East are increasingly surrounded by a vicious political movement which would see them dead, yet progressive-left diaspora Jews close their eyes and turn away because they do not want to be called mean names by their fellow progressives.

They are, in a sense, swapping Political Correctness for the well-being of the Jewish people. The best that they will do is go after safe, but largely irrelevant, targets like fringe-right Skin-heads or Klansmen, wherein their fellow non-Jewish progressives will give them a nice kitsel behind the ear.

This represents the first, but not the only, sad failure of contemporary progressive-left Zionism. 
{They might as well be mutes.}