Time to define — Part One (The Left)

This is a two part article where I take on the Hard Left and Hard Right with regards to their true positions as they concern Israel – this is part One.

Throughout the web on the Right and the Left, both sides extreme’s have offered a lot of criticism and little in the way of any kind of solutions on any number of issues. This raising “concern”, I believe, is a reticence to let people see what is really part of their agenda, and instead to sway the vast majority of people whose views lie within the existing polls of political discourse to their rather extreme point of view. They believe that by constantly raising only utopian or one-sided criticisms they can sway a generally moderate populace to embrace extreme view points.

In today’s world people don’t want to appear anti-Democratic, or anti-human rights or really let their inner bigotry show. So they couch their extremism in the terms of “we are only asking questions, or “Well I really disagree with you regarding xxxx issue, but your voice is important (even when advocating huge crimes against humanity and terrorism) and I hope that you will continue to publish your words”.

This really is an obvious attempt to hide the extremism they try hide in  personal agendas and is an attempt to make the words of the extremist more palatable. So let’s take the following example of just what I am discussing here

New darling of the anti-Zionist / Pro-Palestinian side of the conflict David Harris Gershon provides just the example one can find of this. Harris-Gershon who just wrote a book titled What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, discusses his personal experience of having to deal with the on-going issues behind dealing with the aftermath of the 2002 Hebrew University bombing which wounded his wife and killed some of her friends. Harris-Gershon though is also a very popular blogger at “progressive” ( I put this in quotes because honestly some of the policies that those sites support also merge with the very hard right) such as like Daily Kos and Tikkun Daily.

At these sites Harris-Gershon publishes articles that are frequently extremely critical of Israel, the Obama Administration (from a very hard left perspective), the American Jewish community and occasionally Jewish tradition itself (he once wrote that he was glad his children were girls so that he did not have to decide to have his boys circumsized if it came to that). Yet there is nary a word dealing with the other side of the conflict and their issues. Never does Harris-Gershon address the terror that Israelis face (except to actually praise propagandists who were tossed from a site like Daily Kos FOR their support of terror), never does he talk in terms of human rights violations by the other side. He simply won’t discuss it.

Harris – Gershon’s articles frequently feature “sensationalized” headlines meant to grab attention with no thought as to what kind of attention they may actually be receiving.In his comment sections at both places Harris-Gershon’s words find a great deal of support from a mixture of neo-isolationists, anti-Semites, terror supporters, and self hating Jews.

Now in many of his pieces Harris-Gershon presents himself as a supporter of Israel, Labor Zionism, and  the Two-State Solution. And in all of those pieces Harris-Gershon refuses to define exactly where he stands. He speaks the words but doesn’t define his terms. When asked  just why he doesn’t address his critics complaints he often responds in a nasty manner and when pressed on the issue of his one sided criticism’s of Israel, Jews, and Zionism, Harris-Gershon refuses to answer any critical questions that are asked of him.

Here at Tikkun Daily is a perfect example of this. Here is an exchange from a true Labor Zionist / Supporter of the Two State Solution and Harris-Gershon:

Albert K

David — you miss the mark in a big way to the extent that you are suggesting that you are placing blame for the lack of peace between Israelis and the Palestinians on the Administration’s failure to “[wield] the incredible influence it has over Israel in direct and clear ways.” That phrase, while attractive to the BDS crowd that you align yourself with, ignores the fact that Israelis and Palestinians must stop looking at each other to take the first step and make the first grand gesture. Israelis need to stop their expansion of settlements . . . now. And Palestinians need to clamp down on the terrorist violence against Israelis, be it in the Hebron (as occurred a couple days ago), in Israel proper, or elsewhere. And these actions need to come from within, otherwise they are meaningless. Unless and until Israelis and Palestinians cease engaging in conduct specifically designed to destroy any shred of the good will and good faith that is absolutely necessary to make a peace agreement even remotely possible, no amount of influence wielding will by the Administration is going to turn this thing around.


The people who want the Administration to exert extreme and harsh pressure on Israel are those that hate Israel and would just as soon see it gone. They are not interested ina two-state solution — unless, that is, it is with a full Palestinian right of return to Israel, which would thereby lead to the end of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. Those that want a true peace based on two states know full well that while U.S. influence is indeed necessary, achieving peace is a lot more complicated than having a third party (even an essential third party) exerting immense pressure.


In the mean time, you have worked hard to establish street cred with those on the P side, but all you do is fire up the worst kind of Israel-hatred with your rhetoric that mimics the kind coming from the one-state crowd, who want Israel replaced by the non-Jewish state of Palestine. I get that you are trying to sell books to these people, but has it ever occurred to you to try and use your new-found street cred to do something other than fire up the hatred coming from the worst of one side? Or is your new-found alignment with this crowd too essential to your ability to sell books and make a living? Just know that when you align yourself so closely with the “we hate Israel” crowd, as you have done through your years of one-sided anti-Israel blogging that spins everything against Israel (even if it means leaving out essential facts that might cut away from your your thesis), it is hard to take seriously your statements claiming to be a Zionist and in favor of a two-state solution. Rather, it sounds like empty words that indicate a lack of integrity.


I have an idea. Why don’t you come to the J-Street conference, and show that you can find common cause with the progressive pro-Israel community that truly desires a two-state solution to the conflict. My guess is that you won’t do it, because you believe that finding such common ground would somehow hurt your popularity with the one-state/No Israel/BDS crowd that you have aligned yourself with. I hope I’m wrong.


David Harris-Gershon


I’m a member of J Street and a vociferous two-state proponent, Albert.


I know you’d prefer that weren’t the case — it would make your approbation so much more effective — but such are the facts.

Notice there is no addressing of the critique that “Albert K” brought forth. People who are staunch Labor Zionists, Two Staters, and supporters of Israel have leveled this charge and yet nary a peep.

At this point in his Tikkun Diary I asked the following:


David – you may feel that you are a supporter of J Street, but, honestly your positions run contrary to theirs on almost every level. You have come out publicly in support of BDS and while you claim not to be affiliated with any official BDS movement, you still support it. I am quite sure you are aware that J Street explicitly REJECTS BDS or the use of any sanctions with regards to Israel and it’s policy.


You state that you support the Two-State solution. Ok.. let’s take you at your word, but what do you feel is an equitable solution for claimed Palestinian Right of Return. J Street also explicitly rejects that as well. You have never expressed WHAT it is that you feel regarding this issue but you have alluded to what the BDS/One State “crowd” calls “a just solution”. Do you agree with them that Israel should offer to repatriate all those Palestinians as defined by the UN to pre-1967 lines? Honestly, I wonder if you will answer this – I doubt it, but,,, you never know.


Honestly, I think you are far more in line with JVP and Rebecca Vilkomerson. If you do differ from them, then please let us know, in what way are you different from them. And really, look at your Blogroll… Mondoweiss… Really? They are extremely harsh critics of J Street and indeed host commentary and articles that are outright anti-Semitic. Oh yeah and your wishing for more photo diaries of Friendly Stranger (who posted straight out propaganda pieces from Hamas, the PFLP, and before she was warned Press TV). Exactly how do you square THAT with your claims of support for Zionism.


I think Albert pretty much has hit “the nail on the head” here. Your writing is reflective of only two perspectives and that is the “Post-Zionist” / “anti-Zionist” perspective. I am not sure why you don’t simply come out and admit it, or why you won’t answer simple questions regarding your beliefs to clear things up.


Anyway… would it kill you to engage and deal honestly with criticism. You ask the Pro-Israel side to do that, why can’t you do the same thing.



Now honestly, I don’t really expect an answer from Harris-Gershon or any of the so-called “Peace” or “Human Rights Activists” as to why they only look at Israel and not the other side, and what they propose as a solution. Why is that? Because generally, they know that the solutions they propose are so far outside of the mainstream that they will lose any credibility with those people who they wish to attract, or as in the case of Harris-Gershon it will cost him his position as someone who claims to be a “Liberal Zionist”.. (As a Liberal / Progressive Zionist, I can assure you that he is neither in this case).

But Harris-Gershon is hardly alone as part of the Hard Left. There are plenty of people that pretend to be “human rights advocates” and “advocates for Peace” who in reality stand against both peace and human rights. They will seek only to support the most extreme parts of their “side” but when called to explain their positions relative to a solution will only speak in the vaguest of terms.

It is time to make them Define their positions. We need to insist that people are clear and honest with regards to their points of view. IF on the Left (and I will get to the Right next article) one claims to support Human Rights and Peace… then how do they support groups and polities that have zero aspects of either peace or human rights as part of their make-up. How can one call themselves a liberal and yet support a polity that voted for a proto-fascist religious group like Hamas to lead them?

We need to engage on this level, and as a consequence we need to be honest in our own assessments. We need to be able to answer what we really believe.

Indeed.. it is Time to Define.


About the Author
Jon Segall is creator of the blog The Progressive Zionist. Jon has lived in Israel and studied Israeli and American Policy in the region. Currently Jon, is re-learning Hebrew, and is an active practitioner of the Israel Self Defense Martial Art Krav Maga.