Thursday, June 17, 2010
Is the Israeli Left High-Minded or Treasonous and Pathologically Ill??
Steven E. Plaut
Graduate School of Business
University of Haifa
Letters to the Editor
June 17, 2010
Re: Assaf Sagiv's "Left in Despair"
There is a certain weakness of the Western mind that requires that one always insist that all groups of humans are high-minded, morally driven, and decent. This manifests itself in such mantras as "Most Palestinians want Peace," "Most Arabs are Moderate," as well as in the belief that terrorists are just as interested in material comfort and consumerism as are denizens of the suburban West. There seems to be a psychic need to prettify and bend over in respect towards every enemy, and this posture fills Assaf Sagiv's essay. The Israeli radical anti-Israel "academics" he reviews are painted throughout the essay as decent high-minded folks, so devoted to ethical goodness that they are driven to despair and sadness. "The radical left prides itself on purism, on its unwillingness to compromise its principles," writes Sagiv.
He is wrong.
The Israeli radical Left is as single-mindedly devoted to hatred towards Israel (and increasingly towards Jews) as the American Left is devoted to anti-Americanism. Indeed, since the late 1960s, the virtual raison d'etre of the American radical Left has been anti-Americanism. Since the early 1980s the Israeli Left has become a similar one-issue movement and that one issue is anti-Zionism and hatred of their own country. Anti-Americanism explains every position taken by the Far Left outside of Israel, ironically even its anti-Semitism. A casual look through the web magazine "Counterpunch" will drive home the point. And while Counterpunch is today so openly anti-Semitic as to be properly thought of as an anti-American far-leftist neo-Nazi magazine, one can find published there almost all of the members of the Israeli radical Left Sagiv discusses.
Contra Sagiv, the radical Left in Israel (and in America) is less a political phenomenon than it is a psychiatric one. Membership in it and the political positions promoted by it are ultimately reflections of the psychiatric complexes of those self-recruiting to it. The great psychologist Erik Erikson once attributed radical political ideology to an infantile rage against one's parents. And he did so decades before Noam Chomsky or Ilan Pappe. Treating such people as serious ethical thinkers is to join in the charade and become part of the problem.
Sagiv, for some reason, fails to mention the large numbers of those he cites who are card carrying members of the Stalinist HADASH communist party. He fails to mention that the ones who are NOT members just think HADASH is too tame. The number of communist anti-Israel professors at Tel Aviv University, many discussed in the essay, is no doubt larger than the sum total of people in all of Eastern Europe who still believe in communism. Some of the great "thinkers" in Sagiv's essay are little more than airheads and frauds. The claim to fame of Ariella Azoulay, who figures prominently in the essay, is her penchant for collecting photos and arranging them tendentiously to make Israel look evil. For some reason Sagiv forgets to mention her also being Adi Ophir's spouse. Then there is Stalinist Shlomo Sand, an expert on the French cinema, who published a book recently filled with recycled Neo-Nazi myths about modern Jews all being converted Khazars, with no legitimate claims to Israel. These are the buffoons whom the essay treats as deep thinkers hyper-ethically sensitive to the point of despair.
It is not coincidental that these people have repeatedly embraced as their role models the worst spies and traitors in the country, from Mordecai Vanunu to Anat Kamm to Tali Fahima. Then they turn around and express "despair" that treason failed to garner the votes of the Israeli electorate for them. These are people who want to see Israel annihilated because it will really, really upset Mommy and Daddy. They devote their lives to recreational treason, to public anti-Israel posturing for their anti-Semitic friends. If these people are attacking their own country and their own people, so their friends chant, then just IMAGINE how sublime their sense of justice and ethics must be. In reality, their thinking is as deep as that of Jihad Jane and Taliban John in the US. And increasing numbers of them even collaborate with Holocaust Deniers and Neo-Nazis.
A more interesting target group for Azure might have been the Zionist Left, which Sagiv insists is farther away from the anti-Zionists than the former are from the Right. I am skeptical as to whether a Zionist Left even exists at all. What may once have been the Zionist Left long ago split, with half migrating into the Zionist non-Left and the other half joining the Traitors-R-Us. Meretz today differs little from Uri Avnery's little cult. Peace Now differs in nothing significant from the ultras in Yesh Gvul and Ta'ayoush. The slogan of the so-called Zionist Left today is: Israel - Hate it or Leave it! My country must be attacked, right or wrong. The enemies of my country must be supported, right or wrong. The rump Left sees the suicide bombers, jihadists and the Gaza Flotilla terrorists as its ultimate constituency.
And the Israel Left is also increasingly anti-democratic and hostile to freedom of speech. Most of those cited in the Sagiv essay could more properly be described as leftwing Neo-fascists. They are openly and explicitly opposed to allowing non-leftists to exercise freedom of speech, and they are openly opposed to allowing Israel to conduct its affairs democratically.
The solution to this disease is not pretending that such people are high-minded patriots of a different ethical bend. Only when these Israeli haters of Israel are seen for what they are, a bizarre psychiatric ailment expressing itself in Jewish anti-Semitism, can any real analytic progress take place. The adjective "sad" in Sagiv's headline is not the first that should come to mind in describing these people.
(Prof.) Steven Plaut