While most decent people responded with horror to the Hamas atrocities, the fringes responded with enthusiasm or defenses of the atrocities. The trouble though is that the Left stopped being a fringe and replaced liberalism as the driving ideological force of the Democratic Party. And the Hard Left became the driving force of the Left.
And the Hard Left supports Hamas. That’s uncomfortable for liberals and even leftists to deal with, but now even anti-Israel leftists are having trouble coping with the fact that their movement supports the rape and murder of Jews.
Now by anti-Israel Left, I don’t mean merely leftists that are critical of Israel. I mean leftists who built their careers on hating Israel and justifying the terrorists. Now that Hamas invaded a music festival, kidnapped, killed and raped women, and kidnapped an elderly “peace activist”, and massacred people like them on kibbutzim, they’re shocked that their ideological allies and friends are good with it.
Joshua Leifer, the editor of Jewish Currently, a violently anti-Israel publication which had its most infamous moment defending the rape and murder of Jews in Hebron back when it was part of the Communist Party, expressed discomfort.
Turned on my phone after the holiday and was overwhelmed by the images of death and horror. My partner and I frantically text friends and loved ones to make sure they’re okay. Everyone seems to have lost someone or knows someone who has. The loss, the tragedy—incomprehensible.
There’s also a deep sense that the left abroad has lost the values it was supposed to stand for. I thought we were leftists because we wanted a world without war, torture, the killing of families & children in their beds
I thought we were leftists because we abhor cruelty, detest violence, and believe in the inherent, even divine, worth of all human life. I thought we were leftists because our struggle was for all people to be able to live with freedom and dignity.
Are these not the values that led us to oppose the cruel siege on Gaza? To resist the brutalities of the occupation? To oppose apartheid? Where are these values when Israeli children are held hostage, families wiped out, corpses violated before cheering crowds?
Did Leifer really not understand that this was ‘Palestinianism’ from the very beginning? This is what he was fighting for.
What else have the so-called ‘Palestinians’ that he bled for ever done other than this? Built a state, created a functional society, music and art? No they hated Jews and ached to kill them in the most brutal and grotesque ways.
And they’ve done it with the support of leftists like Leifer.
Naomi Klein at the Guardian, like Leifer, also knows people who lost someone. Unlike many Hamas attacks which targeted ‘settlers’, these struck kibbutzim and people who had connections to members of the anti-Israel Left. That, frankly, is one reason why this touches them where the previous murder of women and children by Hamas did not.
“I spent the evening in candlelight and tears with a dear friend who just learned that a close family member was among those massacred in Israel. I won’t name the kibbutz to protect her privacy but yes, it was unequivocally a massacre,” she writes.
“Harder for us adults is the fact that, in their desire to celebrate the powerful symbolism of Palestinians escaping the open air prison that is Gaza — which occupied people have every right to do — some of our supposed comrades on the left continue to minimize massacres of Israeli civilians, and in some extreme cases, even seem to celebrate them. In fact these callous displays are a gift to militant Zionism, since they neatly shore up and reconfirm its core and governing belief: that the non-Jewish world hates Jews and always will – look, even the bleeding-heart left is making excuses for our killers and thinks that Jewish kids and old ladies deserved death merely by living in Israel.”
Rather than grappling with the reality of her movement, Klein tries to argue fellow leftists that they shouldn’t celebrate the rape and murder of Jews because… it’s a gift to Zionism. This is bad reasoning and worse morality.
Faced with the reality that the Left indeed “is making excuses for our killers and thinks that Jewish kids and old ladies deserved death merely by living in Israel”, Klein acts like the problem is not the reality, but that the reality will uphold a ‘Zionist’ narrative.
Klein then assails Israel for the “current murderous leveling of Gaza is the latest, unspeakably horrific manifestation of this ideology” that being Zionism.
That’s in an article which never gets around to actually condemning Hamas.
Then she urges, “so how do we confront this violent ideology? (Zionism) For one thing, we can recognize that when Israeli Jews are killed in their homes and it is celebrated by people who claim to be anti-racists and anti-fascists, that is experienced as antisemitism by a great many Jews. And antisemitism (besides being hateful) is the rocket fuel of militant Zionism.”
To “confront” Zionism stop supporting the rape and murder of Jews. It’s both pathetic and despicable.
At the New York Times, Michelle Goldberg tries to psychoanalyze and dismiss portions of the Left cheering the murder of Jews while acknowledging that much of this is personal. It’s their friends and neighbors that are doing this.
Of all the people he spoke to, he said, those most devastated were either people who had lost close friends or family, or young Jews “completely shattered by the response of their lefty friends in New York,” who were either justifying Hamas’s atrocities or celebrating them outright.
This sense of deep betrayal is not limited to New York. Many progressive Jews have been profoundly shaken by the way some on the left are treating the terrorist mass murder of civilians as noble acts of anticolonial resistance. These are Jews who share the left’s abhorrence of the occupation of Gaza and of the enormities inflicted on it, which are only going to get worse if and when Israel invades. But the way keyboard radicals have condoned war crimes against Israelis has left many progressive Jews alienated from political communities they thought were their own.
“They thought were their own”. There’s a brief honesty in that before she turns back to attacking Israel and trying to psychoanalyze those leftists as an aberration.
“The left has always attracted certain people who relish the struggle against oppression primarily for the way it licenses their own cruelty; they are one reason movements on the left so reliably produce embittered apostates. Plenty of leftists have long fetishized revolutionary violence in poor countries, perhaps as a way of coping with their own ineffectuality. Che Guevara didn’t become a dorm room icon only for his motorcycle and rakish beret.
We also shouldn’t underestimate the role of antisemitism in warping people’s moral sentiments. I’m reminded of the German New Left militants of the 1960s and ’70s. Though they were radicalized by abomination of the Nazism of their parents’ generation, some, in a grotesque irony, ended up committing anti-Jewish terrorism themselves. A group suspected of trying to bomb a Berlin Jewish center on the 1969 anniversary of Kristallnacht wrote in a communiqué, “The Jews, who have been driven away by fascism, have themselves become fascists, who in collaboration with American capital want to exterminate the Palestinian people.”
Does the hard Left attract people who relish cruelty for no apparent reason, or because the Left provides justification and structure for the expression of such cruelty?
Then Goldberg suggests that it might lead to a split like Stalinism did.
“It’s too early to know how the left’s widespread failure of solidarity will change our politics, but I suspect some sort of fracture is coming. Part of me thinks this could be a moment like after the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, which, coupled with revelations about the evils of Stalinism, led many left intellectuals to break with communism. “
I doubt it. There were a multitude of reasons that liberals broke from Communism and the revelations about Stalinism (which had been in the air for decades by that point) were probably the least of them. (But that’s a whole other extended topic.) The Left celebrating the murder of Jews may drive some out of the movement. And considering the role that Jewish ex-leftists played in the conservative movement (you’re on the site of one such man) that may prove significant. But a split within the Left? I doubt it.
“On social media, some scholars and activists are repeating the line “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” suggesting that the homicidal spree we just saw in Israel is not a departure from their ideology but the embodiment of it. I suspect they will come to regret it if people take them at their word.”
Goldberg is that genocidal rhetoric like “decolonization is not a metaphor” has wider implications. But does she really think that they’ll regret calls for mass murder as a form of decolonization when their entire argument is premised on the idea that revolutions are violent and brutal purges of ‘settlers’ and ‘colonists’?
The only reason they’ll regret is if they end up on the other side.
A few anti-Israel leftists have briefly tasted the feeling of potentially being on the other side. They don’t put it in those naked terms.
They don’t say that “if my family had been visiting friends at that kibbutz and I was being raped and my children were being kidnapped or murdered, would you support that?”
That’s because they already know the answer and they don’t want to deal with that.
Instead, they’ll go on being useful idiots for a movement that they know wants to kill them.