The Left’s doctrinaire insistence that
Israel is the root of all evil is not limited to campuses.
1960s, the American Left embraced the anti-Vietnam War movement as its cri de coeur.
1970s, the Left’s foreign policy focus shifted to calling for unilateral
nuclear disarmament by the US and its Western allies.
1980s, supporting the Sandinista Communists’ takeover of Nicaragua became the
catechism of the Left.
1990s, the war on global capitalism – that is, the anti-globalization movement
– captivated the passions of US Leftists from coast to coast.
2000s, it was again, the anti-war movement.
time the Left rioted and demonstrated against the war in Iraq.
this decade, the main foreign policy issue that galvanizes the passions and
energies of the committed American Left is the movement to delegitimize
Israel’s right to exist.
week has been a big one for the anti-Israel movement. In the space of a few
days, two quasi academic organizations – the American Studies Association and
the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association – have launched boycotts
against Israeli universities. Their boycotts follow a similar one announced in
April by the Asian Studies Association.
groups’ actions have not taken place in isolation. They are of a piece with
ever-escalating acts of anti-Israel agitation in college campuses throughout
the United States.
the growth of Israel Apartheid Day (or Week, or Month) from a fringe exercise
on isolated campuses to a staple of the academic calendar in universities
throughout the US and Canada, and the rise of the boycott, divestment and
sanctions (BDS) movement to wage economic war against the Jewish state,
anti-Israel activism has become the focal point of Leftist foreign policy
activism in the US and throughout the Western world.
week brings a wealth of stories about new cases of aggressive anti-Israel
activism. At the University of Michigan last week, thousands of students were
sent fake eviction notices from the university’s housing office. A
pro-Palestinian group distributed them in dorms across campus to disseminate
the blood libel that Israel is carrying out mass expulsions of Palestinians.
Swarthmore College, leftist anti-Israel Jewish students who control Hillel are
insisting on using Hillel’s good offices to disseminate and legitimate
Left’s doctrinaire insistence that Israel is the root of all evil is not
limited to campuses.
York’s 92nd Street Y, Commentary
editor John Podhoretz was booed and hissed by the audience for trying to
explain why the ASA’s just-announced boycott of Israel was an obscene act of
commentators have rightly pointed out that the ASA and the NAISA are fringe
represent doctorate holders who chose to devote their careers to disciplines
predicated not on scholarship, but on political activism cloaked in academic
regalia whose goal is to discredit American power. The ASA has only 5,000
members, and only 1,200 of them voted on the Israel- boycott resolution. The
NAISA has even fewer members.
would be wrong, however, to use the paltry number of these fringe groups’
members as means to dismiss the phenomenon that they represent. They are very
much in line with the general drift of the Left.
Israel’s right to exist has become part of the Left’s dogma. It is a part of
a negative view of the Jewish state is a condition for membership in the ideological
camp. It is an article of faith, not fact.
the background of the president of the ASA. Curtis Marez is an associate
professor in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, San
Diego. His area of expertise is Chicano Film and Media Studies.
doesn’t know anything about Israel. He just knows that he’s a Leftist. And
today, Leftists demonize Israel. Their actions have nothing to do with anything
Israel does or has ever done. They have nothing to do with human rights. Hating
Israel, slandering Israel and supporting the destruction of Israel are just
things that good Leftists do.
Marez was not out of step with his fellow Leftists who rule the roost at UCSD.
This past March the student council passed a resolution calling for the
university to divest from companies that do business with Israel.
Because hating Israel is what Leftists do.
Left’s crusade against the Jewish state began in earnest in late 2000. The
Palestinians’ decision to reject statehood and renew their terror war against
Israel ushered in the move by anti-Israel forces on the Left to take over the
movement. And as they have risen, they have managed to silence and discredit
previously fully accredited members of the ideological Left for the heresy of
week, Harvard Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz retired after 50 years on the law
faculty. His exit, the same week as the ASA and the NAISA announced their
boycotts of Israeli universities, symbolized the marginalization of the pro-Israel
Left that Dershowitz represented.
years, Dershowitz has been a non-entity in leftist circles. His place at the
table was usurped by anti-Israel Jews like Peter Beinart. And now Beinart is
finding himself increasingly challenged by anti-Semitic Jews like Max
progression is unmistakable.
question is, is it irreversible? Must supporters of Israel choose between their
support for Israel and their affinity for the Left? Certainly it is true that
the more the issue of support for Israel splits along ideological and partisan
lines, the more reasonable it is for supporters of Israel to move to the
ideological camp and the party that supports Israel, and away from the ones
that do not support Israel.
average voter is not in a position to change the positions of his party or the
dogma of his ideological camp. He can take it or leave it. With rejection of
Israel now firmly entrenched in the Left’s dogma, and with the Left firmly in
control of the Democratic Party under President Barack Obama’s leadership, for
those who care about Israel, the Republican Party is a more natural fit.
too, the ideological Right is far more congenial to the Jewish state than the
the most sensible place for supporters of Israel to be today is on the
political Right, it is also true that it is neither smart nor responsible to
abandon the Left completely. Jews should be able to feel comfortable as Jews,
and as supporters of Israel everywhere. Ideological camps that castigate Jews
for their pride in the accomplishments of the Jewish state, and for their
support and concern for its survival and prosperity, are camps in desperate
need of fixing.
should not fool ourselves. Challenging the likes of Marez, or the Swarthmore
students, or Max Blumenthal or Peter Beinart to a reasoned debate is an exercise
in futility. They do not care about human rights. They do not care that Israel
is the only human rights-respecting democracy in the Middle East. They do not
care about the pathological nature of Palestinian society. They do not care
about the Jewish people’s indigenous rights and international legal rights to
sovereignty not only over Tel Aviv and Haifa, but over Hebron and Ramallah.
hypocrites doesn’t bother them either.
talk until you’re blue in the face about the civilian victims of the Syrian
civil war, or the gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia and the absence of religious
freedom throughout the Muslim world. But they don’t care. They aren’t trying to
make the world a better place.
cannot compete with their faith. Reason has no place in their closed
accept reason and facts would be an act of heresy.
may be a hypocrite, and even a servant of evil. But he is no heretic.
only real way to mitigate the hard Left’s devotion to Israel’s destruction is
by changing the power balance on the Left. For the past decade, donors like
George Soros have been open in their commitment to elect Democrats who oppose
the US’s alliance with Israel. A decade ago, Soros and fellow Jewish American
billionaire Peter Lewis funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into
Moveon.org. Moveon.org became a clearinghouse for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish
messages that became the stock in trade of the ideological Left, and of
Democratic candidates in need of campaign funding.
due to then-Democratic senator Joe Lieberman’s refusal to get on the Soros- and
Lewis-funded anti-Israel bandwagon in the 2004 elections, that they turned
Moveon.org against Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic primary for his seat in the
Senate. His Democratic challenger, Ned Lamont, who won the primary, ran a
campaign laced with anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda.
are Democratic funders, like Penny Pritzker, Lester Crown and Haim Saban, who
support Israel. If they were so inclined, they could use their considerable
funds to change the power equation in the Democratic Party. They could
cultivate and support pro-Israel Democratic candidates. They could take the
Democratic Party back.
week ended with Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer finally breaking his silence on
Obama’s Iran deal and joining forces with his fellow Democrat Sen. Robert
Menendez and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk to defy Obama on Iran’s nuclear weapons
program. Given Obama’s floundering popularity, it is possible that Schumer’s
move will open the door for a change in the Democratic Party.
truth, there is no reason for the Democratic Party to remain in place. It isn’t
ordained that the Democrats must cleave to the hard Left.
rejection of Israel is not a natural component of leftist dogma. It’s just that
for the past decade, the smart money and the rising power on the Left has been
with those who oppose Israel’s existence as a strong, independent Jewish state.
the ASA and its comrades are on the fringes of academia, they are not fringe
voices on the Left. The Left has embraced the cause of Israel’s destruction.
And its financial power has made it difficult for pro-Israel Democrats to act
on their convictions, and those of their voters.
combination of an exodus of supporters of Israel – Jews and non-Jews alike –
from the Left and from the Democratic Party on the one hand, and generous
funding for pro-Israel Democratic candidates on the other, can change the
lost the Vietnam War. The Sandinistas are back in change in Nicaragua. But if
people are willing to stand up now and be counted, America need not harm