|WHY THE LEFT HATES ISRAEL?
by Don Feder
|A SPEECH BY DON FEDER TO THE HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE REPUBLICANS (AMHERST, MASS.) FEB 20, 2003.
Let me begin by putting this in historical perspective. If you go back to the years immediately following World War II, American
Liberals were among Israel's best friends. Israel's independence was secured with the active support of Harry Truman perhaps
the era's quintessential liberal. Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, The New York Times all were stalwart supporters of the
From the liberal perspective, the Jews had impeccable credentials. They were, after all, a certified victim group (one out of every
three having just been murdered by the Nazis). If that weren't enough, Zion was resettled by progressives of the Kibbutz move-ment. Among mainstream liberals of the period, sympathy for Israel was boundless.
Of course, liberalism of the 40s and 50s was a far cry from the liberalism of today. This was before the creed was corrupted by
Marxism and multiculturalism when liberalism could still be distinguished from leftism. From the end of World War II until the
late 1960s, liberalism was optimistic, individualistic, anti-totalitarian and pro-American.
Today, just as the nature of liberalism has mutated, so has its attitude towards Israel. While there are a few exceptions, today,
Israel's enemies are found primarily on the left and in those institutions most closely identified with the new American liberalism including the news media, academia and the mainline Protestant churches.
I'd like to take a few minutes to examine each and consider how their hostility towards Israel -- which at times borders on the pathological -- is manifested. Then I'll come to the heart of my thesis: What it is about Israel that drives the Left nuts.
First, the news media of which I was a member for over 20 years. Despite Arab propaganda about the U.S. media being control-led by Jews control of the fourth estate isn't religious or ethnic, but ideological. The media is overwhelmingly liberal a reality routinely reflected in biased coverage on a broad range of issues. How liberal? According to a survey of Washington bureau chiefs and congressional reporters, in the 1992 election, 89 percent voted for Bill Clinton, compared to 7 percent for George Bush Sr., and 2 percent for Ross Perot.
What little support Israel has in the media comes almost exclusively from conservatives Fox News, The New York Post, the edi-torial pages of The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, syndicated columnists like Cal Thomas and Charles Krauthammer and talk show host like Rush Limbaugh. It's axiomatic: The more liberal a media outlet, the more antagonistic it is toward Israel. The anti-Israel lynch mob is led by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, CNN, network news depart-ments, talk show hosts like Phil Donahue and anchors like Peter Jennings.
On November 21st of last year, ABC's Nightline had a segment titled "Desperate Acts: Suicide Bombers," which compared
Japanese kamikaze pilots of World War II with Palestinian homicide bombers.
Ted Koppel informed us that,"the level of anger among many Palestinians against the Israeli military is so profound that there,
too, suicide bombers are often elevated to heroic status."
For the left, anger and frustration justify almost anything unless, of course it's anger and frustration by while males. Come to
think of it, the Germans too were angry and frustrated in the early 1930s. They'd lost a war and over a million men, were humiliated by the Versailles Treaty and went through economic and political upheaval during the Great Depression. Perhaps the
level of anger among many Germans was why storm troopers and the SS were elevated to heroic status.
If they're angry with the Israeli army, then why are the victims of Palestinian terrorism overwhelmingly civilians: toddlers eating
ice cream cones, children sleeping in their beds, women shopping, and elderly holocaust survivors attending Passover seders?
Between September 2000 and February 18, 2003, 38 % of Palestinian fatalities were noncombatants. However, during the same
period, noncombatants accounted for 77% of Israeli fatalities. There are civilian casualties on both sides, but (unlike the Israelis)
the Palestinians intentionally target noncombatants.
The "level of anger" (actually hatred), referred to by Koppel, precedes the so-called occupation of the West Bank, and even the
establishment of the State of Israel, by decades. (There were pogroms in Hebron in the 1920s and 30s. The Grand Mufti of
Jerusalem helped Hitler carry out the Holocaust.)
Anti-Semitism is inculcated at all levels of Palestinian society. It's in the textbooks, in the government-controlled media and in
sermons from the mosques.
But the myth -- (beloved of Arab propagandists) endlessly repeated by useful idots like Koppel is that setting off nail-packed
bombs on busy streets and dragging 13-year-old boys to caves and stoning them to death, is the "only means" the Palestinians
have to respond to the "brutal, Israeli occupation."
Speaking of which, it's almost impossible to hear a news report about violence in Israel without a reference to "the occupied West Bank" or "the occupied territories."
When the Germans overran most of France in 1940, it was legitimate to speak of occupied France. After all, France had been a
sovereign nation for hundreds of years. Prior to the German invasion, it had a government that exercized authority within defined
borders. When was the last "Palestinian nation" ? Who was its ruler? Where was its capital? What are its more notable achieve-ments in art, literature and science?
As my friend Joe Farah, an Arab-American points out "Palestine is as real as Never-Never Land". From the destruction of the
Second Jewish Commonwealth in the first century AD until the Israeli liberation in 1967, there was never a sovereign state on the land the media designates the "Occupied Territories." Israel didn't take the West Bank away from the Palestinians. It reclaimed it from Jordan, which had illegally occupied it for the previous 19 years.
There is no distinct Palestinian language, religion or culture. There are 22 Arab states in the region whose inhabitants are virtually identical to the Palestinians. If Arafatistan is ever established, that will give them 23 Arab states. Do you think they'll be satisfied then? Don't count on it.
By using the term "occupied territories" (instead of "disputed territories") the media implicitly takes sides against the so-called
"occupiers" and with those who supposedly are being "occupied."
CNN founder Ted Turner is a priceless human resource. There's no internal monitor on his mouth. Turner is so dumb that he
says things others in the media are thinking, but have the good sense not to proclaim publicly.
Thus, in an interview last year with the left-wing British publication The Guardian, Turner expounded: "The Palestinians are
fighting with human suicide bombers; that's all they have. The Israelis, they've got one of the most powerful military machines
in the world. The Palestinians have nothing. So who are the terrorists? I would make a case that both sides are involved in
terrorism." By the way, this brilliant analysis is from the same deep thinker who told us that "poverty" caused the World Trade
Let's see: Al Qaeda hijacks a plane and murders 3,000 Americans. America responds by bombing its host country, Afghanistan.
Based on Turner's logic, America and Osama bin Laden are each involved in terrorism. What choice did Al Qaeda have? After all,
America has one of the most powerful military machines in the world. Who can blame Bin Laden for striking back with the only means at his disposal?
Or, take another favorite media expression, "the cycle of violence." Last September, after 2 homicide bombings in a single day,
Israel moved into Arafat's compound in Ramallah. On the NBC Nightly News on September 19, Tom Brokaw sadly intoned, "It sounds so familiar, a cycle of violence that seems to be escalating all over again."
Cyle of violence? Who started the violence? Who perpetuates it? Which side glorified murder? Which side says the other is
sub-human? Hamas and Arafat's security forces spread body parts around a Jerusalem pizzaria or blow up a Tel Aviv disco.
Israel responds by sending its security forces to Ramallah or Nablus to dismantle the terrorists infra-structure. For the media, action and reaction aggression and self-defense both are part of "a familiar cycle of violence." Ladies and gentlemen, this is moral equivalency at its worst.
However, the media actually looked objective and fair-minded next to the religious left. Whether the issue is social policy, econo-mic policy or foreign policy, the mainline Protestant churches are reliable leftest. During the Cold War, the U.S. Council of Churches and its affiliates were inveterate apologists for the Evil Empire, advocates of disarmament at any price and opponents of U.S. military intervention to stem the communist advance.
In the 19th century, the church of England was described as "the Tory party at prayer." Today, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church and their ilk could aptly be designated as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn at prayer. Given liberalism's antipathy toward Israel, you would expect these churches to be anti-Zionist, and you would not be disappointed.
Typical of this mindset was a statement issued by the National Council of Churches in October 2000 that declared: "We decry the severity of the Israeli response, and condemn their disproportionate use of force. The massive and one-sided loss of life and
infliction of injury and property damage belie the Israeli claim to legitimate self-defense."
Or, consider this from a report by Churches for Middle East Peace (composed of the usual suspects) in June, 2001, "Few things have done more to destroy the hope and pursuit of peace through negotiations than Israel's unrelenting settlement activity."
These relentless Jewish "settlements" comprise roughly 2 % of the land on the West Bank, most are contiguous with pre-1967
Israel. Just to put the matter in perspective, since the '67 war, Israelis have established 144 settlements in the area ranging from
communities of a few trailers to thriving cities. At the same time, the Arabs have built 267 new settlements.
It never ceases to amaze me that 250,000 Jews living amidst 2,000,000 Arabs on the West Bank "destroys the hope and pursuit
of peace," but 1,000,000 Israeli Arabs living among 5,000,000 Jews in pre-1967 Israel does not or that Churches for Middle East
peace has indorsed a principle which would have delighted the Nazis making a designated territory (in this case Biblical Israel)
"Judenrein," free of Jews.
In October 2000, the United Methodist Church confessed "we recognize the current popular protest is an expression of deep
Palestinian frustration of the ongoing disrespect, dehumanization and denial of their basic human and national rights by an unjust
political system." That "unjust political system" (Israel's) happens to be the only democratic system in the Middle East, one that's had 4 changes of government in the past 10 years. Arabs sit in the Israeli Knesset, next to Jewish socialist, rightists and Orthodox Jews.
In a 2002 statement, the Episcopal Church USA observed, "the unbreakable cycle of violence which was set in motion by Ariel
Sharon's provocative visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, has led to a tragic loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives." Now,
really. Even officials of the Palestinian Authority admit that the current Jihad was planned for months before Ariel Sharon's
"provocative visit" to what just happens to be Judaism's holiest site. The visit was an excuse for the latest Intifada. It did not
In a March 2002 letter to Sharon, an official of the Presbytarian Church USA, babbled, "While we do not condone the acts of
violence by certain Palestinian extremists (not terrorists but extremists), we are appalled that Israel, in response, has continued to punish the entire Palestinian population and its leaders who have been your government's partners in the peace process." News flash circa 1944 "The Allies continues to punish the entire German population and its leaders who were its partners in peace at Munich."
Just because Palestinian society celebrates the slaughter of Jewish children, just because Arafat's own Fatah and Tanzim militias joyfully participate in the murders, just because a plurality of Palestinians say that even if Israel withdrew from every inch of
the territories and gave them a state with East Jerusalem as its capital, they would still want the slaughter to continue until the
Jewish State was utterly obliterated Israel has responded harshly. As my grandmother would say -- go figure!
Which brings us to the colleges and universities. There is no place in America where leftism is more entrenched than on the cam-pus. The number of Republicans on the average liberal arts facility could be counted on the fingers of one hand. David Horowitz, of The Center for the Study of Popular Culture, says that in the month after 9/11, there were over 150 anti-war demonstrations at colleges and universities, almost every one led by faculty members.
The newest weapon of the anti-Israel academic left is divesture the demand that educational institutions sell their stock in corpora-tions doing business with Israel. On more than 50 campuses including Harvard, Columbia and Yale faculty petitions calling for divesture are being circulated.
The current campaign echoes that of the apartheid era and equates Israel with South Africa. But Israel is a democracy, the only
one in the Middle East, where all citizens enjoy equal rights.
In Egypt, a dictatorship, Coptic Christians are regularly persecuted and occasionally murdered. In the Sudan, more than 2,000,000 have been killed and 4,000,000 displaced, and slavery is rampant, in a war prosecuted by its Islamic government. Lebanon has
become a virtual satellite of Damascus, with 30,000 Syrian troops occupying the country. In Saudi Arabia, a medieval monarchy
Christianity can't even be practiced in private, and imams on the government payroll regularly call for the murder of Christians
Not one of these nations is the object of a divesture campaign. Then again, they're merely dictatorships (most anti-American),
engaged in persecution or wholesale murder for political or religious reasons. No big deal.
By the way, the American people have a perspective on Israel and the Palestinians that is diametrically opposed to that of the media, academic and clerical elites. According to a just-released survey by McLaughlin & Associates, 71% of Americans believe Arafat's Palestinian Authority should not be granted statehood (against 13% who believe it should). By a 2-to-1 margin, the American public believes that if such a nation is established, it would be a terrorist state. And, by a 3-to-1 margin (61% to 19%), Americans believe that the long-term goal of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority is the destruction of Israel.
When it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, the American people essentially are of one mind and the left, once again, is out of its mind. Why? In a world full of genocidal regimes and terrorists states that pose a mortal danger to America, why is the left oppressed with Israel? I would like to suggest five reasons.
REASON # 1: Israel is pro-American.
To site but one example, in the UN General Assembly, Israel votes with America more than any other nation. Well, you may say, isn't that because Israel is a major recipient of our foreign aid? But so is Egypt, and it rarely votes with us at the UN or supports our foreign policy initiatives.
Israel is an American ally because it shares our values: democracy, respect for human rights, religious tolerance, the free market
and an open society.
But its very support for America makes it suspect in the eyes of the left, which is intrinsically anti-American. Since the left views America as the major repository of evil in the world, it stands to reason that it would have essentially the same view of our embattled allies. Just as it considers America a corrupt, repressive, racist, bully it follows that those nations / governments aligned with us are seen as similarly tainted.
In other words, the left hates Israel for the same reason the left hates America.
REASON #2: Arafat and his thugs, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are seen as another national liberation movement the Middle East equivalent of the Viet Cong and Sandinistas.
Prior to World War II, the stated goal of Marxism was liberating oppressed classes, workers and peasants. When that enterprise
failed spectacularly (witness 30 million dead in the Soviet Union and 50 million murdered in the People's Republic of China), Marxists moved on to national liberation freeing oppressed people from colonial exploiters.
For the left, Palestinians and Israelis fit this paradigm perfectly. The Palestinians are living on land they claim as their's but don't
fully control. We are told that they're oppressed, subjugated, denied a nation of thier own. Liberals don't examine the validity of that claim. They don't ask how the Palestinians got there. They don't look at their record with the limited self-government they have. They don't ask what will happen to the rest of Israel once its border is 8-miles wide at its narrow waist and with the
Palestinians armed with rockets and mortars-controlling the high ground of Judea and Samaria -- allied with Syria, Iran, and Iraq.
All they know is the Palestinians are "An indigenous people." The Israelis are denying them self-determination. That's all they
want to know.
Actually, if Ariel Sharon wore fatigues and had a three-day growth, he'd probably improve his standing with the left.
REASON #3: Along the same lines, the Middle East conflict is seen as a power struggle between a Third World people and a transplanted European colonial power.
Thanks to multiculturalism, the left believes that morality is determined by ethnicity and income. Compared to Israelis, most
Palestinians are relatively poor. For the left, poverty is a mark of virtue.
It's quite true that Israeli society reflects the Western values mentioned earlier, not withstanding that today many Israelis are
sephardim, Jews whose families have lived in the region for millennia.
Whether it's strikers vs. corporate executives, cops vs. accused, the homeless vs. the middle class, black vs. white, oil companies
vs. caribou, the left invariably sides with those it perceives as victims. For liberals, life is an endless psychodrama pitting horrible
"haves" against saintly "have-nots."
Israel does indeed have the heavy weapons. On the other hand, the Palestinians have the support of the entire oil-rich, populous,
armed-to-the-teeth Arab world. Are the Saudi oil shieks who support the destruction of Israel the wretched of the earth? Is
Saddam Hussein, who pays a bounty to the families of suicide bombers? Are Syria, Iraq and Iran powerless? When viewed in
isolation, the Palestinians appear to be the underdog. However, when they are properly preceived as an advanced column for
the Moslem Arab world, they are hardly an embattled people.
REASON #4: Israel is a Jewish State.
The left is notoriously hostile to religion. (This includes the religious left, which long ago abandoned salvation for social action).
Not all religion, but Western religion. Islam which is viewed as a Third World religion, a religion of the downtrodden has become
the liberal's special pet, ironically, given that its agenda isn't exactly synonymous with that of the National Organization for Women and the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.
On the other hand just as conservative Christians are drawn to Israel because they see Biblical prophecy therein confirmed, the
left is repulsed for the same reason.
In an era of science and socialism, the G-D of the Bible, the G-D of Christians and Jews, was supposed to disappear. But more
than any other phenomenon, the existence of the modern state of Israel after 2,000 years of exile, despite overwhelming odds
challenges that assumption.
Thus many on the left, who also view the founding of Israel as an injustice, would be happy to see all of the Jews pack up and
move somewhere else. The idea of a Jewish State offends their universalism. For a nation to be a Moslem state is fine. But
for a country to be a Jewish state is just too particularistic.
REASON #5: It is an article of faith for the left that all people are basically good, that conflict arises from misunderstandings and that everything can be resolved by negotiations.
Liberalism thus may be contrasted with Christianity and Judaism. Christianity holds that man is inherently sinful, a condition
which may be rectified by faith and grace. Judaism believes that man has both a good and evil inclination but, as the Bible
says, from birth man's heart is inclined toward evil. Liberalism believes in innate goodness that man is basically virtuous and
corrupted, not by his nature, but by society.
How does this worldview apply to the Middle East? The left blames Israel for fighting terrorism with military force, instead
of with diplomacy.
Since Israel is in a position to surrender territory, it stands to reason that if the violence is continuing, its because Israel hasn't
given up enough.
What exactly has Israel given to the Palestinians? Since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, it has turned over to the Arabs
all of Gaza and 40% of the West Bank including areas with 80% of the population as well as Hebron, Judaism's second holiest
In return, Israel has gotten over 600 dead and 4,000 wounded (based on our population, that is the equivalent of 38,000 dead
Americans and 230,000 wounded), the destruction of the Tomb of Rachel, and a worldwide wave of anti-Semitism.
Diplomacy only works when both sides are sincere, when each is committed to democracy and the rule of law. (Arafat is
sincerely committed to the destruction of Israel). Negotiations with totalitarians, tyrants and thugs lead to Munich and
World War II, lead to the 1973 Paris Peace Accords (the grave of South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos), lead to our anti-nuclear agreement with North Korea, which we now know Kim Jong II violated all along, lead to Oslo. Nations have been buried with
a scrap of paper.
Actually, the left wouldn't mind Israel so much if it wasn't an American ally, if it wasn't a democracy with Western values, if
it wasn't a Jewish State, if its opponents weren't an indigenous, Third World people and if it was willing to give them whatever
they want and trust in their word for Israel's future security.
Since the opposite is the case, the liberal-left's hostility toward Israel will only deepen. Given the liberal degeneration over the
past six decades, it could not have been otherwise.
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