In pursuit of a personal relationship with the divine, religious faith frequently leads men and women to act with great nobility and selflessness. But when a political doctrine evolves, in essence, into a religious dogma—blind and deaf to reason, to evidence, and to the real-world consequences of its agendas—it invariably results in moral illiteracy. Among the most committed exponents of such a political doctrine are the many Israel-hating leftists who insist, against all evidence to the contrary, that if not for the depredations of Israeli Jews, the Palestinian people would now be living peacefully and prosperously in an idyllic homeland of their own. Seventy-seven-year-old activist Dorothy Zellner offers us a most revealing window into the mindset of these individuals.
Zellner is a co-founder of Jews Say No, an organization that condemns “Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.” She once described a 2002 Israeli military response to a massive wave of Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank, as a “horrible Israeli invasion.” Without even mentioning the many suicide bombings and murders that preceded Israel’s action, Zellner instead recalled that, during a visit to Israel later in 2002, she had been moved to tears by the sight of “the barbed wire on the wall, and the guard tower on top of the wall.” These “images flooded back to me from World War II,” she lamented, implying that modern-day Israelis reminded her of Hitler-era Nazis.
In 2009 Zellner signed a petition imploring members of the Israeli Defense Forces to stop the “atrocities,” “war crimes,” and “crimes against humanity” that they were allegedly perpetrating “against the people of Gaza.” The source of Zellner’s angst, in this case, was Operation Cast Lead—another Israeli military response to a relentless barrage of rockets and mortars that Hamas-affiliated terrorists in Gaza had been launching into southern Israel. Again turning a blind eye to those provocations, Zellner and her co-signers exhorted IDF soldiers to defy the “flagrantly illegal orders” of their commanders. In short, according to Zellner’s political religion, the victims of the “atrocities” and “war cimes” in this case were the members of an organization—Hamas—whose founding charter openly condemns “the Nazism of the Jews,” calls jihad “an individual duty binding on every Muslim,” and demands the fulfillment of the Koranic scripture exhorting Muslims to “come on and kill” every last Jew on earth. And of course the villains were … yes, the Jews.
When Israel in July 2014 initiated yet another military incursion designed to eliminate Hamas’s stockpiles of armaments, destroy its vast network of secret subterranean tunnels, and put an end to its renewed firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel, Zellner dismissed the notion that the Israeli action was in any way necessary. “We don’t buy it,” she said. “This is blaming the victim to the extreme.” You read that correctly: Zellner’s political religion requires her to believe that Hamas is Israel’s “victim.”
Today Zellner supports the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to isolate Israel politically and cripple its economy. She contends that the “root cause” of “all the death and destruction” in Israel and the Palestinian territories “isn’t Hamas,” but rather, “the injustice of one group controlling the lives and future of another group.” “As long as Israel occupies Palestine,” Zellner elaborates, “and as long as Palestinians resist (which, according to International human rights law, they have the right to do), confrontations and death will result. The root cause is the occupation, which itself flows from the previous dispossession of Palestinians from the land they inhabited for generations.”
When asked in a 2014 interview whether Israel even has “a right to exist as a Jewish state,” Zellner was blunt: “My answer is I do not think that states that privilege one group over another are viable states.”
Not surprisingly, Zellner’s contempt for Israel is mirrored by her abhorrence for the irredeemably “racist society” of the United States, where, for instance, she says that “voter ID laws and other impediments were invented” not to ensure the integrity of elections, but to prevent blacks from casting their ballots. And when black teenager Michael Brown was infamously killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri last August, Zellner didn’t bother to wait for the facts of the case to become clear before shooting her mouth off. Instead she quickly and confidently announced that the killing was just “another incident of violent racism [by police] in our country”; “one more example of the basic inequality that still exists in the U.S., where communities of color are still unrepresented in their police departments or their city governments and live amidst poverty and neglect”; and further evidence that America’s intransigent bigotry had bred “an unequal criminal-justice system that retains more than two million people, mostly Black and Brown, in prison.” The “root cause” of what occurred in Ferguson, Zellner concluded, was “a basically flawed economic and social system that sanctions exploitation and needs racism and division to survive.”
Obviously, the actual facts of the Ferguson case don’t matter one bit to Dorothy Zellner—just as the facts of Palestinian terrorism and Jew-hatred are entirely meaningless to her. Though she identifies herself as a “100 percent atheist,” Zellner is in fact a woman of deep and unshakable faith … faith in the ever-enduring leftist narrative of oppressor-vs.-oppressed, victimizer-vs-victim. Leftism is her religion, and she’s never going to give it up. There are millions of Dorothy Zellners in America.
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