The Israeli-Palestinian conflict extends far beyond the “1967 green lines.” There are four major groups that span the globe and involve themselves in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first two groups are obvious; the Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. The next two are just as concerned as the players themselves, but don’t live in the region. They are the advocates for the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians. All four of these groups actively court public opinion through traditional and social media, lobbying for their perspective and at times holding protests and demonstrations.
One of the loudest groups, and ironically, least effective in this space, is a group I call “aggressive progressives.” These are far left groups who claim to have all the facts, stand on high moral ground and play the role of shrill public crier when witnessing what they consider an injustice. They rarely listen to opposing arguments and favor cornering their opponents and yelling at them to calm and rational discourse.
The aggressive progressives understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be black and white with a victim and an oppressor. Refusing all nuance, they believe that the Palestinians are the victims and Israel is the oppressor. Aggressive progressives maintain that Jews occupy Palestinian land and treat Palestinian Arabs poorly, even abusively. They maintain that Israel (not the Palestinian Authority) don’t allow Palestinians control over their lives. To quote one aggressive progressive, “Israel denies Palestinians freedom and dignity by depriving them of civil, political, and economic rights. Nearly 5 million Palestinians live in the occupied Palestinian territories, including 3 million in the West Bank and nearly 2 million in Gaza. All are under direct or indirect Israeli military control.” That the figures and characterization of Israeli rule are incorrect doesn’t matter in the face of perceived injustice.
To correct these injustices, aggressive progressives demand, Israeli Jews must leave Palestinian land and cede control to the Palestinian people. As a people claiming to be a light onto the nations, the only moral path for Israeli Jews to actualize their potential is by giving Palestinian Arabs their own state on current Jewish land. As the loudest and least effective aggressive progressive group, If Not Now, frequently chants, “Jews won’t be free until Palestinians are free.”
In their blind activism, aggressive progressives miss two important factors, Jewish rights to the disputed land and Palestinian violence. The latter causes a real security threat to Israeli Jews (and to many Palestinians as well). A 2015 poll by the respected Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found that Sixty-seven percent of Palestinian Arabs back the use of knives, while 66% of those asked said an armed intifada or uprising would “serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not.” These results paint a terrifying picture of Palestinian support for violence and should give any “justice warrior” pause when defining Palestinians as oppressed victims.
Israel suffers rocket threats from terrorist Hezbollah in the North, Hamas in the West, ISIS in the south, and an entire population in East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Benyamin Korn, a Jewish journalist wrote, “Palestinian terrorism is not a right-wing or left wing issue–it is a matter of justice, on which everyone should be able to agree.” It seems that aggressive progressives don’t agree and purposefully ignore Israel’s real security threats. Instead of seeing the necessity of Israel’s security procedures including checkpoints, closed borders and heavy troop presence, they play all three blind mice and refuse to hear, see or talk about both sides of this conflict.
If aggressive progressives are interested in making an actual difference and improving the lives of the people in the region, they need to become sensitive to Israel’s legitimate security concerns. If the solely want to make noise and remain ineffective they can ignore Palestinian support for violence, virtue signal and watch the conflict continue. As a peace activist living in the conflict zone, I hope they mature and begin seeing both sides of the conflict. If they don’t, they’ll continue to have no effect on the region they claim to care so much about.