Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Yes, extremist rhetoric can normalize violence - and that includes "anti-Zionist" rhetoric

Historian Matthew Dallek writes in a New York Times op-ed:

The assault on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, last week shocked even those who have become inured to rising violence in the United States. The erosion of norms restraining extreme behavior that began well before the election of Donald Trump in 2016 appears to have accelerated. Society looks as if it is coming apart at the seams.

...Under Mr. Trump’s leadership, groups on the right have felt increasingly comfortable incubating, encouraging and carrying out violence.

The consistency of the rhetoric (“enemy of the people”; “Our house is on fire”; “You’re not going to have a country anymore”; “the greatest theft in the history of America”; “Where’s Nancy?”) has ingrained dehumanization of Republican opponents in parts of the political culture; conservatives have often painted their critics as enemies who must be annihilated before they destroy you. As the Department of Homeland Security has reported, domestic violent extremism — such as the white supremacist Charlottesville riots and the Jan. 6 insurrection — is one of the most pressing internal threats facing the United States.
I don't disagree with any of this except for the term "conservatives" instead of "the far-right" in the paragraph above  - there is little conservative about those who support political violence.

Dallek makes a half-hearted attempt at even-handedness:
Some on the left, too, have increasingly abandoned norms of civility and respect for rules and institutions. The gunman who in 2017 targeted Republican members of Congress and shot five people playing baseball — the Republican House whip, Steve Scalise, was seriously wounded — drew inspiration from his hatred of Republicans and Donald Trump. In June, a California man was arrested outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home and charged with attempted murder after posting on the social platform Discord that he was going to “stop Roe v. Wade from being overturned.”
But then Dallek draws a distinction that isn't really there, as the rest of the article ignores far-Left incitement:
While Democratic leaders for the most part are quick to condemn violence, Republican leaders increasingly minimize its severity or turn a blind eye.   

But Democrats are no less guilty at minimizing the violence on their side. 

One obvious example: Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 were violent, but the political Left emphasized that 93% of the protests were peaceful - as if the hundreds of violent protests shouldn't be reported. 

Has anyone reported on the percentage of rallies on the Right that are violent compared to non-violent? I'm sure the percentage that are non-violent is far higher than 93%. 

Both sides are guilty of emphasizing the excesses of the other side and downplaying those on their own, not just the Right. And the Left's blind side is not only for anti-racist protests but also for anti-Israel rhetoric that can easily escalate into violence.

Most of the anti-Israel protests in the US are sponsored by far-Left groups like Samidoun and Within Our Lifetime. They feature chants that call for violence against Zionist Jews, sometimes implicitly and sometimes explicitly. After all, the chants of "Globalize the Intifada" are a call for violence against Jews worldwide. "From the river to the sea" is a call to ethnically cleanse Jews from the Middle East. "By any means necessary" is explicit support for terror attacks against Jews.  Yet this incitement is  minimized by the larger Left.

Some of these protests have indeed escalated into violence, as we saw last year in New York and Los Angeles. The vicious beating of a Jew in New York was blandly reported as "clashes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel protesters." Only this past week, a yeshiva boy in New York was attacked by someone who demanded he say  "Free Palestine", mirroring a similar attack in May.  The line between Leftist rhetoric and violence against Jews has already been crossed multiple times - but it is downplayed, over and over. 

Overseas, the same socialist sponsors chant pro-violence messages that are even more explicit, and they can be seen as a preview of what we will be seeing soon in the US. This past weekend in Brussels, a rally organized by Samidoun included these chants:

Stand firm until it ends, by throwing a stone or shooting bullets. My people have a war and have no fear, either with a stone or with a Kalashnikov. And fire your rockets, O Motherland...O Motherland, we are coming to you. O my love, O Grand Rocket, hand over this land to me. In war and sword, we will return.

 The rally featured people dressed up as masked Palestinian terrorists and holding signs supporting specific terrorists.


This is not just inciting to violence - it is romanticizing it. And the ideological basis for murdering Jews comes from the socialist PFLP, whose philosophy of violence against Zionist Jews was written in the 1960s are remains unchanged today. The PFLP is a terror group that has been behind countless attacks on civilians worldwide. 

How many people on the political Left call out the PFLP and Samidoun and Within Our Lifetime when they call for violence? On the contrary, the Left supports the PFLP as a social justice political party that has founded human rights groups.

Incitement to violence is wrong no matter who does it. It will not stop until those on the same political side are brave enough to call it out, even if it means there will be dissent within the party. 

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