From the Australian:
Israel is the aggressor and terrorists are the victims, argues Brian Wimborne
"IN her book The New Anti-Semitism (2005), American feminist academic Phyllis Chesler writes: "The American and European Left have made a marriage in hell with their Islamic counterparts. The same Left that has still never expressed any guilt over its devotion to communist dictators who murdered millions of their own people in the service of a Great Idea has now finally, fatefully, joined the world jihadic chorus in calling for the end to racist Zionism and to the Jewish apartheid state."
This is an especially interesting comment in view of the fact that, immediately after World War II, this same political Left lent support to the Jewish people and favoured the creation of a homeland for them in Israel. Even the Soviet Union voted in the UN Security Council for the establishment of the state of Israel, albeit for its own political ends. So what went wrong?
To understand why the Left has done a U-turn on this issue, one needs to appreciate that activists such as Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and Antony Loewenstein feed on a constant diet of victims and define the progressive cause by hatred of whichever group they hold responsible for victimisation. Hatred has always been an essential characteristic of leftist ideology, providing the motivating force for its theory of dialectical materialism.
Traditionally, the Left's favoured victims were the proletariat or working class who were oppressed by the hated bourgeoisie, aristocrats, landholders, factory owners, small businessmen and managers. Only recently, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the shrinking of the working class in developed economies, have numerous other groups become the Left's favoured victims. These include indigenes, welfare dependents, homosexuals, refugees (especially if they are illegal immigrants) and displaced populations of dysfunctional states primarily in Africa and South America. Failure, in addition to class, has become a desired prerequisite for joining the Left's brotherhood of victims. Through its support of those it deems less fortunate, the Left assumes a moral high ground from which it feels self-righteously justified in attacking those it designates as oppressors.
At the conclusion of World War II, the Jewish people were added to the Left's list of stereotypical victims.
After 1500 years of religiously inspired anti-Semitism that culminated in the Nazi Holocaust, Jews were an obvious choice; they were poor, mainly working class, discriminated against, often landless and powerless. Implicit in the Left's stereotyping of Jews was that, despite incidents such as the Warsaw ghetto uprising, they were incapable of defending themselves. Their history suggested that, although individuals could be successful, Jews might not be as a group.
The image of Jews being persecuted throughout Europe and being led finally into the gas chambers of concentration camps would touch the consciences of people everywhere. As a result, although the state of Israel owes its origins to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, a more potent impetus for its establishment was the Holocaust and the need to find a homeland for the remnants of European Jewry. However, the odds of the new state surviving were not sanguine.
Designated a victim-state by the Left, Israel did not live up to expectations.
To begin with (and despite being under constant Arab attacks from the day of its foundation in 1948), Israel has been internally stable and politically mature. Unlike most post-war emerging states that followed decolonisation, it did not experience widespread corruption, dictatorship or military takeover. From the beginning it was the only democracy in the Middle East, and through hard work, planning and foreign aid its people built a thriving economy. Worse still, the Left's stereotype of Jews was proved wrong. Jews were prepared to fight back and defend their lives and homes.
Paradoxically, the state's success has been the reason the Left turned against Israel. Within a few years of its foundation, Israel had broken the first commandment of the Left's ideology: "Thou shalt not succeed." Success is anathema to the Left because it puts an end to victimhood; without victims the Left has no reason to exist. In the eyes of the Left's supporters, Israel's great accomplishments meant that the country no longer qualified as a victim. Israel, through being successful, effectively turned its back on the role chosen for it by the Left.
From the Left's rigidly dialectical viewpoint, the world is made up solely of victims and oppressors, and if Israel is no longer a victim it has to be an oppressor. The consequence is that the mantle of victimhood once thrust on Israel now cloaks the Palestinians; it is a cloak they may come to regret.
The deep-rooted problems of the Palestinians are not attributable to Israel but to their own corrupt leadership, culture of mendacity, lack of foresight and duplicity of their supporters (originally Egypt, Jordan and Iraq; more recently Syria and Iran).
However, Realpolitik cuts no ice with the Left, whose preference for ideology over reality means Israel is judged to be the cause of all the Middle East's problems.
For instance, in his 1983 essay Fateful Triangle, American polemicist Noam Chomsky portrayed Israel as a terrorist state similar to Nazi Germany. Chomsky's central premise is that Israel should cease to exist because it is "a state based on the principle of discrimination". That only in Israel have Palestinians enjoyed full citizenship rights for more than a half-century is something he conveniently ignores.
Closer to home, Australia's counterfactual journalist John Pilger argues that Israel's "brutal subjugation of the Palestinians is, under any interpretation of the law, an epic injustice, a crime". This is despite the historical evidence that the real subjugation of the Palestinians has occurred in Arab countries and in Gaza and the West Bank, under the tyranny of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
In short, Israel has become the aggressor; terrorists or so-called insurgents, by contrast, are the darlings of the Left.
In addition to Israel's failure to play the role of victim-state, there is another reason for the Left's about-face in respect of Israel. The Left has long been permeated with anti-Semitism. It should not be forgotten that the Nazis (an acronym for National Socialist German Workers Party) had strong left-wing antecedents. The Nazis' doppelganger, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, not only supported traditional Russian anti-Jewish movements but organised pogroms for its own political purposes.
Socialist parties in Britain, France, Australia and many other countries, despite having Jewish adherents, had a strong anti-Semitic thread running through them. It is not surprising that as the Left's support for Israel faded, a latent anti-Semitic ideology replaced it, with the result that the centre of world anti-Semitism is now firmly rooted in the Left.
If there is a lesson to be learned from this, it is that where morality is concerned, the Left is value free. It draws no distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice. Hence, in the minds of leftists, the terrorist becomes a freedom fighter and murderers are transformed into heroes. This should surprise no one. In the past century the Left gave rise to national socialism and international socialism; today it continues to function without a semblance of moral rectitude, offering support of any group it designates as victims."