Sunday, November 23, 2014

  • Sunday, November 23, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon



Divest This Logo New 300x80Most participants here are familiar with Jon Haber and his divestthis! blog.

Jon and I are having an ongoing conversation concerning the western-left and its relationship to the BDS movement, i.e, the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish State of Israel.

We both agree that BDS in the west is largely a product of the Left.  And we both agree, therefore, that many western-left venues have made homes of themselves for that movement, a movement that I would characterize as anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist.  It should be noted that to claim the liberal-left is the emerging home of political anti-Semitism was practically considered heresy among liberal-left western Jews merely a few years ago.

But, times are changing.

That BDS, itself, is anti-Zionist is without question because BDS leaders like Omar Barghouti have told us so directly and thus anyone - or any Jew - who supports BDS is promoting the dissolution of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people... which given the mood of so much of today's Middle East is tantamount to promoting genocide within living memory of the Holocaust.

If you click-through to Jon's most recent response, which he titles The Left and Anti-Zionism (or my “dinner” with Mike) he asks an excellent question:
So if this is the nature of the battle being fought, are we doing ourselves a disservice for condemning a Left that might include the inheritors of an anti-Communist tradition (my emphasis) that is trying to find a way to apply lessons learned in the 20th century fight against Marxism to our current conflict...

The "nature of the battle" in this case is a conflict within the western liberal-left for the meaning of its soul.   The direction the western-left takes viz-a-viz Israel and the Jews in the coming years will determine the nature of who they are, morally and politically, for generations.  My suspicion is that the more anti-Israel the western-left becomes the more anti-democratic it will become, as well.

Haber writes:
But let’s not forget that last-century’s Marxists lost the Cold War (better termed World War III).  And, as much as I admire those conservatives who stood fast against Marxism for a century (which does not include opportunists like Joseph McCarthy who, among other crimes, provided Communists with ideological ammunition they have still not depleted), part of the front against Marxism included progressives, liberals, Leftists (whatever you want to call them) who stood fast against the bullying and blackmail that played such a large part in the revolutionists’ agenda of subversion.
Thus the perfectly reasonable question, do supporters of Israel do a disservice to the cause of safe-guarding Jewish sovereignty when we condemn the Left?

If the Left represents the terrain upon which the argument between Zionists and anti-Zionists is largely taking place, is it not better to cultivate the broader Left rather than alienate it?

This is a tactical question and while tactics are obviously important in politics they can also easily find themselves in conflict with the truth.  Pointing out flaws within trends of progressive-left thinking does not automatically suggest condemnation.  What always counts most is the truthfulness of the claim.

Let me give you a specific example.  Just a few yeas ago we saw the rise of the so-called "Arab Spring."  At the time many people, including president Barack Obama, interpreted Arab street action as the great upwelling of Arab democracy.

On May 19, 2011, President Barack Obama said this before the United Nations:
"There are times in the course of history when the actions of ordinary citizens spark movements for change because they speak to a longing for freedom that has been building up for years. In America, think of the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a King, or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat."
Now, it could hardly be more clear that Rosa Parks and, say, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were not part of political movements that in any way resemble one another.

I am smiling as I write this because the notion is so ridiculous that it is just funny.

But while the Arab Spring was happening and while people allegedly far less intelligent than Barack Obama were not the least bit ready to endorse it, the President of the United States stood up before the world and made comparisons between the rise of an entirely savage form of Muslim politics and both the Spirit of '76 and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

{Take a moment a ponder that one, if you will.}

So, I suppose my question would be this:

Should we not acknowledge the obvious due to fear of offending allies who are already behaving less and less like allies?  The implication of Jon's question if answered in the affirmative - that, yes, we do ourselves a disservice by condemning the Left - is that we must be careful not to offend.  What can one say, however, but that the truth is the truth and sometimes truths are obnoxious and offensive to those who, for ideological reasons, simply do not want to read those truths or incorporate them into their larger political world-view.

Jon knows this at least as well as I do and with that I leave it to him.


Michael Lumish is a blogger at the Israel Thrives blog as well as a regular contributor/blogger at Times of Israel and Jews Down Under.

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