Which Side Are You On, Boys?
Hating Israel is forever, not just for Christmas. Or Chanukah. Or May Day.
The fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War in 2017 is likely to be overshadowed by commemorations for the one-hundredth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Each is monumentally important.
Leftist detestation of Israel did not begin with Israeli statehood in 1948 or the Suez crisis in 1956.
It started with the war in June 1967, particularly on the sixth day, when the Jewish state emerged victorious.
Western leftists now saw Israel in its true colours: ‘colonialistic’ and ‘militaristic,’ even ‘fascistic.’
This was a strange if not altogether surprising verdict.
Israel fought an essentially defensive war. If Egypt’s President Nasser had not blockaded the Strait of Tiran and moved his troops to threatening positions, the war would not have occurred.
In 1967, the clear aggressors were the Arabs who, if victorious, would have subjected Israel’s Jews to the ultimate in ethnic cleansing – genocide.
In 1967 it was Egypt her Arab allies who were ‘militaristic.’
Colonialistic? From 1948 to 1967, Egypt occupied the Gaza strip, and Jordan occupied and then annexed Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Although neither Egypt nor Jordan had any intention of handing those areas over to the Palestinians, these land grabs did not concern the anti-Israel left at all, which focused only on imagined or invented Israeli perfidy.
If You Remember It, You Weren’t There
To understand this blinkered, biased approach, it is necessary to recall the ambience in the West in 1967.
Accuracy, clarity and consistency were not exactly hallmarks of the anger- and drug-fuelled Sixties, a frenetic time of anti-Vietnam-war, feminist and civil rights protests. The movement’s bible was Frantz Fanon’s anti-colonial Wretched of the Earth. America was Amerika.
Black Power leaders were openly and viciously anti-Semitic, their influence amplified by no criticism at all from their white comrades, who simply lacked the courage to oppose, let alone denounce blatant Jew-hatred emanating from Blacks.
In that hippie-yippie court of radical opinion, facts were irrelevant. Israel was, predictably, guilty.
It still is, and has been throughout the five decades since the Six Day War. In any dispute involving Israel and the Palestinians, the left has eyes only for Israel.
The Name of the Game is Blame
When the Camp David peace talks collapsed in acrimony in 2000, President Clinton blamed Arafat, while supporters of the Palestinian leader defended him, arguing that he was right to reject Israel’s ungenerous offers.
It was difficult to determine who was right. Hard evidence was scarce at the time.
But numerous authoritative accounts of the talks started appearing a few years later, and they basically concur in their portrayal of an Arafat who produced no plan of his own, and presented no counteroffers to plans proposed by Israel and President Clinton. The talks failed because Arafat’s vocabulary contained of only one word: ‘No!’.
But radical leftists still stick to their original assessment of an ungenerous Israel and a justifiably defiant Arafat. They maintain this position either by disagreeing with the now copious evidence to the contrary (without actually disputing it), or ignoring it altogether.
The hardly pro-Israel Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, on the other hand, said that Arafat had committed “a crime against the Palestinian people.”
Similar leftist manipulation of the truth occurred more recently when the anti-Israel left claimed that Israel’s apparent acceptance of gays was just that, apparent – nothing more than a PR exercise.
Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of Israeli society knows that the freedoms that gays enjoy in Israel is genuine. Gay Palestinians certainly know it. They know, too, that homosexuals are discriminated against, even murdered, at home.
Palestinian abuse of homosexuals attracts no censure from radical leftists, whose accusations of pinkwashing actually whitewash brutal Palestinian intolerance.
In criticising Israel not for what it does but for what it is, leftist demonisation of Israel is on weak foundations morally and intellectually, as George Orwell knew.
“There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when ‘our’ side commits it,” he writes in “Notes on Nationalism.”
“Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified — still one cannot feel that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function.”
The anti-Israel left consequently feels no sorrow, expresses no compassion, for Jewish children killed by a terrorist bomb in a pizzeria.
They are silent when Palestinians and other Arabs are murdered for the crime of being gay. And when Hamas deals with political opponents by tossing them from rooftops. And when young women are slaughtered by fathers and brothers who disapprove of their boyfriends or even husbands.
With its wilful disregard of reality, autopilot leftist criticism of Israel has been a minor irritant for the Jewish state and has not helped the Palestinian cause at all.
Loyalty – Orwell’s term – does not require Western supporters of the Palestinians to robotically condemn everything Israeli, and endorse everything Palestinian.
Constructive criticism from the outset might have helped steer the Palestinians onto a more moral, rational and pragmatic course five decades ago.