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Ryan Gardiner

Hamas Exposes the Rot of the American Progressive Left

On the heels of the October 7th, 2023 massacre perpetrated by Palestinian terrorist group Hamas that murdered over 1,300 Israelis and kidnapped 200, shrill cries from an ever more insidious pro-Palestinian movement have dominated university campuses nationwide sympathizing not with the victims but with those who committed the atrocities.  From universities across the United States to the streets of Europe’s capitals, the voices of hate and violence directed towards Jews have been bolstered by a professional class of journalists and professors who filter this hatred into faux social justice and humanitarian talking points that make their way into headlines and the classroom.  These voices have created a toxic concoction of hatred for the Jewish State of Israel that reveals not only a massive moral failure as noted by the progressive Atlantic, but a rot in America’s progressive left.

“Glory to the martyrs,” “resistance is not terrorism”, “fight settler colonialism.” These are the slogans of so-called progressive activists only hours after the darkest day for Jews since the Shoah, where Hamas terrorists filmed themselves commit one atrocity after another reminiscent of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen hit squads of World War Two. For those of us who stand with Israel (I should be careful for saying that, according to journalist and columnist Howard W. French) and keep up to date with happenings in the region, we understood that sympathy for Israel would immediately be met with “whataboutism” apologist rhetoric and downright support for the terrorist group’s tactical achievement of “killing as many people as possible.”

Perhaps less surprising was that this attitude would be blasted through megaphones by college pro-Palestinian solidarity groups and upon condemnation by mainstream outlets swiftly watered down so as to fit in headlines and academic blogs by the professionals in journalism and academia that we know support them. But for many, this was a watershed moment that exposed the anti-Semitic rot that has taken place in the American progressive movement that we knew had existed in Europe for years.

There is extensive documentation of the sinister anti-Semitism in America’s activist class, centered around both Israel’s poor standing with progressives and the leveraging by these groups of social justice phraseology and turning it against Jews. From outing Jewish members of the Women’s March movement through 2018 to the progressive environmental Sunrise Movement singling out Jewish organizations for removal from their coalition, American Jews were being discriminated by the left-wing groups we had long believed stood against the ideas they themselves begun practicing. But the Hamas massacre of Israeli citizens has blown the door open from suspicion to acknowledgement that the progressive left has and continues to harbor ingrained anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Zionism. Appalling and disgraceful? Yes. Shocking? Of course not

For Jews that didn’t know before, we now know that although university presidents are trying to clean up the mess made by its students and faculty, academia and activist circles are further becoming hostile territory. Outwardly showing our identity will risk being judged, outed, and targeted by intimidation tactics and exclusionary practices for being Jewish. Although disgusted now, we will come to expect it in the future as this same amalgamation of activists, academia, and media continues to believe it is they who are righteous while Jews are the hegemonic bad guys. The question though remains, will colleges and universities eliminate this strain of hatred in their ranks and in their student bodies or will they merely tolerate it? And will left-wing print and television media continue to take the bait of the hucksters on the progressive left who lump Israel into America’s social justice narrative, even after it faces the most heinous of attacks? If this past week has taught us anything, mental contortionist acts to justify terrorism within the progressive class, and the rot that exists within their ranks, will certainly continue.

About the Author
Ryan Gardiner, a Navy Veteran and 2016 Presidential Management Fellow, previously served as Managing Editor for Harvard Kennedy School's Journal for Middle-Eastern Politics and Policy in 2016, and an Assistant Managing Editor for Young Professionals in Foreign Policy in 2020. His previous works can be found in the National Interest and in Small Wars Journal.
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