Paul Mirbach

To the Progressive Left: The Questions You Never Ask

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. The Occupation of the West Bank and Israel’s settlements – and the concomitant oppression of the civilian Palestinian population employed to protect the settlers from terrorist attacks, has given the Palestinian claim that Zionism is illegitimate, a deceptive verisimilitude. By our own doing, we have given them a platform of moral substance on which to build a specious case against us to undermine the ideological essence of Zionism and the fundamental justice for Jews to build a homeland in the land of our forefathers, where the heart of our heritage resides. However, while I can acknowledge that the Palestinian claim to the land has validity, it is no more valid than ours. And, while Israel’s policies in both the West Bank and Gaza are often unjust, these policies should not constitute justification to strip the basic concept of Zionism of its legitimacy, or make the right for Jews to have a homeland any less just. Yet, this is what the “progressive” Left, who have aligned themselves with the Palestinian cause, asserts. How a movement which prides itself on being the guardian of human, LGBTQ and trans rights and a movement for social justice, tolerance, and gender equality, is able to not only form an alliance with people whose religious tenets are antithetical to all these values – a religion which is illiberal, misogynistic, racist and homophobic – but also to embrace a cause which is by its very definition antisemitic and genocidal, is beyond me. Perhaps it is the result of a predisposed antisemitic prejudice in the Left? Whatever, when they demand “justice”, it is one-sided.

The Hamas invasion on October 7 unleashed an antisemitism that had lain dormant, festering in the Left for a while. As soon as Israel’s vulnerability was exposed, and sensing that antisemitism is no longer unacceptable but legitimate, like termites, the antisemites from the Left have come out of the woodwork. While cynically exploiting the humanitarian situation in Gaza, which naturally happens in any war, they have released their vitriol in all its ugliness, portraying Israel – who was brutally attacked and has been forced to forcefully defend itself, just like any other country facing an imminent threat to its existence would do – as inherently evil. While spuriously screaming about “genocide” of the Palestinians, in the same breath, they condone the commission of atrocities, mutilations, burning people alive, kidnapping defenseless civilians and beheading babies as “legitimate resistance”. Because the victims were Zionists. And then they deny the systematic rape of Jewish women, despite all the evidence and testimonies. Tell me: If Hamas was capable of committing such atrocities with sadistic pleasure, what makes them think that they would stop at raping women?

Destruction on Kibbutz Be’eri, October 7, 2023. (Courtesy of Times of Israel, 11/10/23 – published Twitter post by Almog Boker)
The stain on the Left will last for a very long time. It has lost all its credibility.
I am angry. I feel betrayed by the very movement in whose values I deeply believe, which have guided me since I was sixteen. I will not stay at home with the intention of riding out the storm until the war ends and it all blows over; I will challenge the Left to look in the mirror and to confront its hypocrisy, and to address the truth, without equivocality and cynical moral equivalence.
So, I am going to ask questions the Left never asks.

1. Genocide: What do you think would have happened if Israel had not eventually managed to repulse Hamas’s invasion on October 7? In 12 hours, they killed more than 1200 Jews, with malicious, sadistic, brutal intent. Every single Jew that came their way – babies, women, elderly and infirm, or crippled. They spared no one. Their lust for Jewish blood was insatiable. Terrorists even phoned their parents to boast and sent them pictures to show off what they did. There are 7700 people living in the kibbutzim they invaded. There are 36000 people living in Ofakim, 27600 people living in Sderot, and 37500 people in Netivot – all of which they invaded. That’s 108,800 people. At what point do you think they would have stopped, if the IDF and the police had not stopped them? Is that not genocidal intent? It sure as hell is in my book. Where is your outrage against Hamas’s intent – the same Hamas you came out to support and who you lionized as a valiant Palestinian resistance, even though throughout the entire assault, not one Palestinian flag was flown. Only the jihadist Hamas flag?

International Court of Justice in the Hague, convening to hear the Petition of genocide against Israel, 12/1/2024. (Courtesy Times of Israel – screenshot)
How many innocent Israelis would have been killed by the 12,000 rockets fired indiscriminately on Israeli cities since October 7, if Israel did not have safe rooms and bomb shelters for its citizens, and missile interception technology and weaponry? How many of them are children, that we could have displayed endlessly on television, like Hamas does, to evoke world sympathy – if the world was at all capable of expressing sympathy for Jewish deaths, judging by its reaction to our hostages and the victims of October 7’s massacre? Would that have horrified you? Or would you have said “legitimate resistance against Zionism”? I would guess the latter. You are real humanists (sarcasm intended).
So basically, what you are saying, is that because Israel can effectively defend its citizens, that absolves the Hamas and the Palestinians of genocidal intent? How now, your ideological integrity?
2. The Palestinians are indigenous and Zionists are colonists:
If all the Palestinians are indigenous to the area and have been living in the region “from time immemorial”, please explain why the UNWRA criterion to qualify as a refugee was that of being resident in the area for only the two years prior to the War Of Independence. To quote directly from the UNWRA site: “This term was defined in 1952 as any person whose “normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict. Palestine refugees are persons who fulfill the above definition and descendants of fathers fulfilling the definition”.
– Why would UNWRA need such a specific and lenient definition, if all the Palestinian refugees were long-term residents in British Mandate Palestine? The only logical explanation is that there was a significantly large number among the displaced Arabs who required such a minimal qualification to be eligible for aid.
This conclusion is bolstered by population census surveys undertaken by the British Mandate authorities during the period of their mandate:
In the 1922 survey, there were 590,890 Muslims, 73,024 Christians and 83,794 Jews.
In the 1945 survey, there were 1,061,270 Muslims, 135,550 Christians and 553,600 Jews.
The increase in the Jewish population is obviously the result of immigration in the period preceding and following the Holocaust. However, the startling increase in the Muslim and Christian populations cannot be explained by natural population growth, improved birth rates and extended longevity as a result of better medical treatment. It is just not logical. Therefore, the only conclusion is that there was a constant stream of Arab immigration into the region in the period following the Balfour Declaration as well. It is estimated that around 50% of the 650,000 Arab refugees who became Palestinians, were recent immigrants.
This is supported by many family names which belie their origins: al-Masri (Egypt), Fares (Persia), Mugrabi (the Maghreb, North Africa), Sama’an (Lebanon), Bagdadi (Iraq, Baghdad), Turkemani (Turkey, or Turkmenistan), Hussein or Husseini (Saudi Arabia), and many more.
I want to be clear: I do not begrudge any displaced person humanitarian aid. And clearly there WERE hundreds of thousands of refugees who HAD lived in the region for generations, who were displaced from their homes. However, why should these “Johnny come latelys”, a significant number of whom had lived in British Mandate Palestine for only a few years have the right to claim a “right of return”, let alone “ownership”, or “indigeneity”, and at the same time brand Jews coming to live in Israel as “colonialists” ?
And if you believe that the right of return is valid also for the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees of 1948 (including the aforementioned recent immigrants), then why should their right be more valid than that of the descendants of Jews, who were exiled by the Romans over 2000 years ago?
I know what you are going to say; it is impossible now to distinguish between those refugees who are descendants of those who had lived in the region for centuries, and the “newcomers” – and for justice to be done, the right should apply to all Palestinian refugees. By the very same token and logic, it is impossible to definitively determine which Jews were direct descendants of those exiled by the Romans 2000 years ago. So where do you set your “statute of limitations” for the right of return, and by what criterion of justice? One generation? Maybe two? Why not 2000 years? If you accept the most lenient criterion of just two years to recognize Palestinian refugees and bestow upon them and their descendants the right to return, yet you begrudge the very same rights to Jews, that is prejudice. Hypocrisy, much?

Which brings me to the charge of “colonialists”: With all the archeological evidence in Israel of Jewish existence in Israel, from the City of David to the Dead Sea Scrolls and far more, how can a people returning to the land so rich with proof of their existence in the area, be colonialists? How can a people returning to where their culture and religion was born, from which they were forcibly exiled, substantiated by the aforementioned evidence, and historical testimony by Josephus, be colonizing Israel by returning? Ironically, the unrecorded immigration of Arabs into the region following the Balfour Declaration, was an act of attempted Islamic colonialization, stemming from the belief that the Middle East must be exclusively under Muslim control!

Excavations at the City of David, Jerusalem. Believed to be from the time of the First Temple. (Courtesy Times of Israel, August 2023. {Kobi Harathi/City of David})

So, understand that when you chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, you are calling for genocide. Because those would be the ramifications. REAL genocide, not the sophistic genocide of which you accuse us. And before you chant it, if your integrity means anything to you, it would be best if you first considered the above questions.

“From the river to the sea!” Pro-Palestinian protestors gathered at the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan. (Courtesy Times of Israel {Jacob Henry})
About the Author
Paul Mirbach (PEM), made Aliya from South Africa to kibbutz Tuval in 1982 with a garin of Habonim members. Together they built a new kibbutz, transforming rocks and mud into a green oasis in the Gallilee. Paul still lives on Tuval. He calls it his little corner of Paradise.
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