The Western left is increasingly anti-Israel, but today’s political left is nothing but a bastardized and fake version of the real left.
Being on the left means supporting workers’ rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, socialized medicine, and government interventionism in the economy. By all these accounts except perhaps the last, Israel is far ahead of any other country in the Middle East. In fact, there isn’t even a measure that would put Israel and its neighbors on the same scale. By this criteria alone, one has to be a very misguided lefty to not support Israel.
This is the obvious part, but it doesn’t stop here.
Being on the left also means supporting the underdog, which Israel very much is when compared to the whole Arab and Muslims worlds that are hostile to it. The members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have a combined GDP of 6.87 trillion dollars compared to Israel’s 0.3 trillion. The imbalance in population is even larger, with 1.6 billion compared to 8.5 million. Even compared to its immediate neighbors, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, Israel was the underdog for the first two decades of Israel’s existence, until Israel was forced by repeated attacks to become stronger.
Being on the left also means supporting the native population that has been attacked, decimated, and forced into exile. In the region of the Levant, the Jews who have 3000 years of history are a prime example of such a native population. They fought attacker after attacker over the centuries, and most were forced into exile but were never accepted by their host countries.
The return of large numbers of Jews to the land that none of them should ever have been forced to leave is one of the most beautiful left-wing successes of modern times. They prevailed despite the British White Paper that tried to severely limit their numbers while they were being slaughtered in Europe. They prevailed despite the coalition of Arab countries that said, no, never will we accept a Jewish state as a neighbor. They prevailed despite a worldwide weapons embargo against them at a time when they desperately needed arms.
Being on the left also means opposing war unless war is absolutely necessary for one’s defense. That is why I reject the legitimacy of every Arab attack on Israel, including the all-out wars of 1948, 1967, and 1973, but also including the attacks from Lebanon and Gaza, the War of Attrition, the two Intifadas, and so on. None of these wars was necessary in order to defend any part of the Arab world. No sane pacifist can ever support the 70 years of wars on Israel and the threats for more.
Being on the left undoubtedly also means opposing antisemitism, just like we oppose all other forms of bigotry and racism. One only needs to look at the picture of antisemitism in the Middle East to understand why opposing antisemitism, bigotry, and racism in the Middle East means supporting Israel.
Unlike most leftists, it seems, I am consistent in my beliefs. I do not abandon workers, women, and gays in the Middle East while I support them in the West. I do not forget who the underdog is just because that underdog has been astute at fending off the attacks by its many tormentors. I do not disown the natives the moment that they found a way back to their native land. I do not stop supporting pacifism when the target of the wars is a Jew. And I do not forget about antisemitism the second that I start discussing the Middle East.
The Palestinians too could get my support in establishing a state because they too have a history in the Levant, albeit a much shorter one. But as a leftist, I cannot give them my support until they agree to live at peace with their neighbors, until they accept Jews as equal citizens, and until they uphold the liberal values of the left on worker, women, and gay rights.
Much of the political left chooses to abandon all its values except one in order to oppose Israel. The only value it does not fully abandon is support for the underdog because the Palestinians are the underdog in comparison to Israel. But this approach is mistaken and simplistic. The Palestinians are allied with the vast Muslim world and have been from the beginning. Without that alliance and without massive financial support, they would not have been able to reject every peace proposal presented to them so far, holding off for a “victory from the river to the sea”, meaning the destruction of Israel.
History will judge very harshly the anti-Israel stand of the political left. In the meantime, those of us who still uphold left-wing values have to accept being isolated, being neither on the right nor on the left, but being where all people of goodwill should be.
Note: Picture added on March 25, 2018.