Michael Jackson

The Left and Israel  

President Luiz Lula da Silva of Brazil of the left-wing Worker’s Party made a comparison of Israel’s actions in Gaza with the Holocaust.  This statement caused a diplomatic uproar between Israel and Brazil.  The socialist government of Bolivia cut ties with Israel.  The left-wing government of Chile recalled its ambassador to Israel, citing “unacceptable” violations of international humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip. Center-left Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada urged Israel to stop “this killing of women, of children, of babies” in the Gaza Strip.  Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, of the Socialist Workers Party, criticized Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip and called for an “immediate ceasefire”.

Some progressive Democrats in the US are very critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza.  Similarly, some members of the UK Labour Party are protesting Israel’s actions.  Elsewhere in the world, some moderate left-wing lawmakers, journalists, and average citizens are critical of Israel’s actions.  These groups are in marked contrast to the more vociferous members of the far left who demonstrate with Arabs and Muslims in protests calling for the destruction of the Jewish state. 

Biden and most Democrats have been supportive of Israel, i.e., words of support, transfer of ammunition, weapons, and money, and U.N. vetoes of ceasefire resolutions.  Senator Bernie Sanders, of the progressive left, called for a ceasefire in Gaza very early.  In the past, there were many communist far-left regimes.  Today, just North Korea and Cuba remain and these are poor, marginalized countries.

In contrast, most Republicans and conservative parties in the democratic developed world have been supportive of Israel or non-committal on the Israel-Gaza war. The far-right governments of Italy and Hungary have supported Israel.

Why?  Is the Left, at its core, antisemitic?  Is the Right inherently philo-semitic (despite its occasional flirting with antisemitic fascists and white supremacists)?

We can only speak in generalities about the Left and Right, even if we restrict our sphere of interest to the few dozen stable developed democracies.

The Left is usually concerned with the downtrodden and the oppressed, e.g., Uighurs, Rohingya, Palestinians, Ukrainians, and the poor, disabled, marginalized, etc. in their own societies.

Most people on the Right do not care about the suffering of others.  This is particularly true concerning distant foreigners of whom they know little, e.g., Ukrainians, Uighurs, Saudis, Tutsis, Kurds, undocumented immigrants to the US and Europe, etc.  Any sympathy rarely displayed for such people is for political talking points only.  Tucker Carlson, one of the most prominent right-wing media leaders, had a fawning interview with the Russian dictator, Putin.  The CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), a right-wing American conservative conference, has held its annual meeting in Budapest, Hungary,  the capital of would-be right-wing dictator, Victor Orban.  It has always been right-wing governments in Britain and France that tried to extend their colonies.  More extremely, fascist (extreme right-wing) governments in Germany and Italy in the 1930s embarked on territorial acquisitions in Eastern Europe and Ethiopia, respectively.

We must remember that right-wing politicians do not care about the poor, oppressed people in their own country.  The UK Conservatives ran down and underfunded the once-fine UK National Health System.  Republicans wanted to kill the Affordable Care Act with no replacement.  Republican states do not allow mandatory Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion to their states. This action has cost the lives of thousands of poor people in the past decade.  Many Republicans oppose women’s right to an abortion and LGBTQ rights.  Australian conservatives voted against a referendum proposal to create a new Aboriginal advisory body to the country’s parliament.   Generally, Rightists have no empathy for those who are suffering.

If right-wing politicians ignore the Kurds, why should they care for Palestinians?  If they ignore the Rohingya and Uighurs, why care for Gazans?  In the US, Republicans, by their actions, have held up or denied aid to both Gazans and Ukrainians.  Trump, when President, cut aid to the Palestinians by $200 million in 2018,

The Left will generally express more sympathy for and demand more action to protect the suffering groups in the world;  be they national, ethnic, or religious.  Any objective observer sees that there are many suffering civilians, many suffering kids, and many suffering innocents in Gaza.  A Haaretz podcast discussed the fact that Israeli media show less of the horrors of Gaza than media outside Israel.  A commentator pointed out that Israelis can access the BBC, CNN, Fox, etc., and get other coverage.  This is true, but the question is do they?  And the answer is, for most, probably not.  

Hamas precipitated this conflict with their atrocities and terror on October 7th.  Israel invaded and destroyed about 80% of the buildings and about 20,000 civilians, mainly women and children.  Thus, many on the Left will support Gazans who are suffering terribly.  They have supported West Bank Palestinians over the past half-century of occupation.  They condemn the small number of extremist settler thugs who perform pogroms on some local Palestinian communities.  They condemn the fascistic views of Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, both of whom support these rioters.

Israel has expanded West Bank settlements and suppressed Palestinian nationalism.  Some Palestinians fight back.  Israel employs more harsh measures. The harshness of the discriminatory behavior towards the Palestinians will cause much of the Left to condemn Israel.  There will be no short-term reconciliation.

About the Author
Born in London in 1949. Studied Maths at Warwick University. Came to Israel (WUJS program at Arad) in 1971. I became a citizen and served in the army in 1973. Returned to the UK in 1974. Worked in Information Systems. Married an American Orthodox woman in 1977 and moved to America. For a few years I have led a retiree philosophy class.
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