The Respectable Prejudice (Part Three)
Topic: Liberal Fascism
The term “progressive anti-Semitism” may seem like an oxymoron. Not only is the Left formally opposed to racism, but Jews have always played a prominent role in the international socialist movement. So you might think that progressivism automatically excludes anti-Semitism. But that’s not the case—in fact the converse is the case.
As the Occupy Wall Street movement has demonstrated, Jew hatred is not at all incompatible with progressive principles. Some of the old Right’s anti-Semitic canards, e.g. the conspiratorial activities of “Jewish financiers,” are grist for the mill of the anti-capitalist Left. But the principal source of progressive anti-Semitism is the existence of the State of Israel.
Zionism—Jewish nationalism—has always been a controversial doctrine. Even among Jews themselves, there has been considerable disagreement over the advisability of creating a Jewish state. The horrors of the Holocaust, however, convinced the vast majority of Jews that a Jewish national homeland was a necessity. And the world’s bad conscience in the years immediately following World War II made it possible for that homeland—the State of Israel—to be created despite furious Arab opposition. But the Left in Europe and America soon repented of its early support of a Jewish national homeland.
Today, progressive anti-Semitism is largely based on perceptions of the alliance between Israel and the United States—at least, that’s how progressives justify their obsessive jihad against Israel. And like most forms of race hatred, progressive anti-Semitism contradicts itself it every point. Simultaneously, the nefarious Jews are said to be controlling US foreign policy and wicked Israel is said to be acting as a tool of US imperialism. Though not exactly compatible, these two charges are psychologically resonant. So too is the oft-repeated charge that a cabal of Jewish Americans (“neocons” in the code language of the progressive anti-Semite) are guilty of “dual loyalty”—e.g. posing as Americans while giving their primary allegiance to Israel.
Nor are progressives bothered by the contradictions inherent in their condemnations of Zionism, which exist simultaneously with fervent support of Palestinian Arab nationalism. That progressives wish to see the Jewish state destroyed, whether violently or through demographic changes, is scarcely to be denied. While ignoring the existence of xenophobic nationalism, Western progressives routinely condemn Israel as a racist, “apartheid” state—this despite the fact that there are over a million Arabs living inside Israel, while almost all Jews have long since been expelled from Arab lands.
To point out the glaring bias in progressive attitudes toward Israel is not of course to imply that the Jewish state is one hundred percent virtuous or that the Arabs are irredeemably wicked. The Palestinians have legitimate grievances. But their own genocidal nationalism, so fervently supported by Western progressives, prevents those grievances from being addressed. With a modicum of good will on both sides, the Mideast conflict between the Jews and the Arabs could easily be resolved. Yet good will is precisely what progressives are working hard to suppress. Their one-sided support for the Palestinians tacitly proclaims a belief that Israel must be made to disappear—by whatever means necessary, as the New Left used to put it. The rhetoric of Arab nationalism need not be pursued too far to discover how bloody those means would be. Thus in the name of peace, justice, democracy and all good things, progressives make common cause with the proponents of a second Holocaust.
I don’t think that the sheer illogic of the progressive position on the Jewish-Arab conflict, not to mention the crude Jew bashing that crops up in progressive venues like the Occupy movement, can simply be put down to ideology. For many people, I suspect, they provide a politically correct cover for the expression of a long-held albeit deeply buried prejudice.
All this is extremely embarrasing for the Democratic Party, whose left wing overlaps with the broader progressive movement. The question of how mainstream liberals cope with the anti-Semitism of those to their left will be the subject of my next post in this series.
Posted by tmg110
at 10:06 AM EST