Jonathan Greer

The Self-Righteousness of the American Left is Appalling

Anti-Israel Protest in Philadelphia, November 17, 2023 (©Copyright 2023 Blick Calle via Flickr)

I’m a diehard American leftist, though I prefer to think of myself as a progressive, as in ‘Let’s use our tremendous resources to make significant progress improving the lives of all Americans and others around the world.’ There’s so much work to do, and I do what I can. I generally despise the American “right,” which is almost always wrong about what’s best for the majority of Americans and the world.

But these days, regarding the Israel-Hamas War, I find myself agreeing with those on the right far more than the American left, as the right wing has more consistently come to Israel’s defense and spoken with authority about what’s happening. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I read about or saw American leftists taking a balanced stance about it.

Instead, I am overwhelmed with words and images from the American left self-righteously attacking Israel from all sides while pooh-poohing the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas, as well as Hamas’ indifference to the lives of the ordinary Palestinians they are using as human shields, and the widespread animosity of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank toward the mere existence of Israel and the presence of Jews in our ancestral home.

There are the anti-Zionist American Jews and their supporters who will tell you with confidence that Israel is an apartheid state and that Gaza is an open-air prison, but won’t respond when you ask where they got their certainty from.

There are the obvious know-nothings who insist they know more than you and that you just need to “wake up and get educated.”

There are the people I otherwise identify with, proclaiming their sadness about the plight of the Palestinians at the hands of their evil enemy, dismissing the reason non-combatants in Gaza are in the line of fire and having nothing to say about the Israelis killed, wounded or taken hostage.

There is the utter silence when it comes to Hamas’ role in creating the conditions for this loss of life. I have yet to hear anyone in the U.S. (besides me) demanding that Hamas stop putting its fellow Gazans in harm’s way. That’s why I wrote my first blog post here calling for it.

There are those who will tell you that, of course, they believe Israel has the right to exist, only to go back to chanting “Free Palestine,” not knowing that it’s code for “Destroy Israel and Eliminate the Jews living there.”

There hasn’t been any acknowledgement of this country’s longtime prejudice against Jews, which only eased about 50 years ago, and how that is surely feeding the anti-Israel protests. I’m certain that some of the people I know who are expressing anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian positions are completely unaware of the deep-rooted animosity toward Jews internalized by their parents and grandparents and passed along to them.

At its root, what’s most appalling about how the American left has come out in support of Palestinians, at the expense of Israel and the world’s Jews, is the refusal to learn more about the situation unless it confirms their views.

They don’t want to spend time learning about how fortunate Jews were to finally return to the Holy Land and attempt to re-create the society that was driven out 2,000 years ago.

They don’t care that in 1948, Jews were ready to agree to the partition proposed by the United Nations when the British Mandate ended — a “two-state solution” that would have left much of the Holy Land to the Arabs — but that the Arabs wouldn’t even entertain the idea. Or that the majority of Palestinian Arabs maintain that stance to this day.

They don’t seem to know that as soon as Israel declared itself a sovereign state 75 years ago, the surrounding Arab states attacked from all sides, and that while there have been periods of relative calm, those attacks continue to this day.

All told, it’s lonely being an American leftist who strongly supports both Israel’s existence and its need to respond to the Oct. 7 attack (though I think there are less lethal ways Israel could have responded other than the immediate bombardment and invasion of Gaza).

It’s a strange feeling, especially since I live in one of the ultra-liberal bastions of the country. It’s also a strange feeling being the target of anti-Jew sentiments as a member of the American Jewish population for the first time in my life.

Now I know what my elders were talking about when they described what they lived through in America before I was born. Anti-Jew prejudice, they said, may not be prevalent now but it could always come back. In 2023, it has.

About the Author
Jonathan Greer is a California-based writer and former journalist who comments on world affairs.
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