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Anorak | The Left wing hates Israel because it despises the Western way of life

The Left wing hates Israel because it despises the Western way of life

by | 17th, July 2013

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TODAY I took part in a debate about the left’s attitude to Israel at the Jewish Free School in London. My opening remarks are published below.

For me, the most striking thing about the left’s attitude to Israel is how much it has changed, how sweepingly it has been transformed over the past couple of generations. I don’t think there’s any other issue on which the left has so dramatically changed its thinking. In a nutshell, the mainstream Western left has gone from loving Israel to loathing it, from singing its praises to blaming it for all the world’s ills and accusing it of being a uniquely barbaric state.

It’s hard to believe now, in this era when being vitriolic towards Israel is such a central part of what it means to be left-wing, but not that long ago British leftists were in awe of Israel. In the 1950s and 60s, including the period of the Six Day War in 1967 and even later, you would have been hard-pressed to find a mainstream leftie who had a bad word to say about Israel. Leading Labour leftists like Michael Foot and Tony Benn were pro-Israel. They wrote what have since been called “über-Zionist” articles for a magazine called Jewish Vanguard. In the late 60s, even some radical leftists flirted with the idea of going to fight on the side of Israel in the 1967 war.

In fact, if there was a problem with the mainstream left’s attitude to Israel back then, it was that it was too uncritical, naive. The left promoted a moral narrative about Israel being a plucky, admirable young state, which failed to examine any of the problems that the emergence of Israel created for surrounding populations. It was a narrative very often bereft of empathy for the problems faced by Palestinian and Arab peoples.

Fast forward to today, and the change in the left’s view of Israel has been truly gobsmacking. Today, the left loathes Israel with a peculiar intensity. It views Israel as a shitty little country. It holds Israel responsible for all the world’s ills. It’s now commonplace to hear leftists claim that an “Israeli lobby” has Washington and London in the palm of its hands and frequently encourages them to launch wars in the Middle East, in the same way you would once have heard racist conspiracy theorists talk about a “Jewish lobby” running world affairs.

The left now uses extraordinary double standards to judge Israel. It views everything Israel does as automatically awful. So you can have a situation today where the very same leftists who cheer Barack Obama, even though he bombs militants in rural Pakistan, will accuse Israel of being evil and fascistic for bombing militants in Gaza. In recent months both Israel and Turkey have launched air strikes in Syria, but it is only Israel’s strikes that caused a commotion and led to claims about Israel stirring up global conflict once again. Most people don’t even know Turkey carried out military action in Syria, because the only thing that gets the modern mainstream left going is the behaviour of the apparently nasty and destabilising Jewish State.

The double standards in relation to Israel are now so enormous that you will often hear British and American leftists calling on their governments to condemn Israel over its militarism in Gaza and elsewhere. So, our governments, which destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan, whose wars overseas make Gaza look like a tea party in comparison, are invested by leftists with the moral authority to lecture Israel. This totally surreal situation springs from the fact that Israel is seen as different to every other state, as a lower form of life effectively, as criminal, and therefore it falls to the apparently more civilised Western nations to put it in its place. There is an ironically imperialistic streak to this left-wing agitation for the superior West to condemn stupid, backward, uncivilised Israel.

The double standards can also be seen in the campaigns to boycott Israeli academics and Israeli produce. Decent middle-class people will quite happily listen to a professor from authoritarian Belarus, or use an iPhone that was made in undemocratic China, but if you introduce them to an Israeli professor or give them an Israeli apple they will go mad and pretty much break out in hives. They have a weird allergy to all things Israeli Israeli writing, Israeli music, Israeli food. They scream and jeer when an Israeli violinist starts to play at the Proms. Such irrational behaviour doesn’t only speak to the left’s double standards on Israel

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Posted: 17th, July 2013 | In: Key Posts, News Comments (61) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink