Thursday, February 9, 2012

Some Whining Leftists

Okay, I understand that this title probably sounds harsh. And I really am sympathetic to the leftist point of view some of the time. What I am less sympathetic to is whining of the kind that we often see on the Huffington Post from left-wing Israelis or Jews. You know the kind: "Wah! Why doesn't anyone listen to us? Wah! How dare people with different political points of view disagree with us? Or expose where we receive our funding from? Wah!"

Our first example of this is from a Huffington Post blogger named David Kersh. Mr. Kersh's background is in writing about parenting and culture, thus proving that the Huffington Post will take just about anyone if they are critical of Israel. And what he has written is rambling, pointless monologue about what would have happened to him if he had moved to Israel instead. Why we are expected to care about him, I'm not sure, I guess it is assumed. Anyway, I would mind that so much if at the end it didn't take a sudden nose dive into lambasting Israelis and people who don't hate them:
"Here in the U.S., there is a constant barrage of statements, resolutions, words, silences, articles, actions, speeches coming from our political class, our religious organizations, the media, our community leaders whose resulting consequence is to send the message that it is not okay to be honest and critical about Israel's actions."
Obviously, we all hear this a lot. In fact it's probably become one of the mantras of the left, anti-Israel or otherwise. And as I have said before, I am open to believing it if people like Mr. Karsh can actually back them up with facts. Maybe a speech from a "community" leader saying "it's not okay to be honest about Israel." I would love to see that. But unfortunately this is a perfect example of the circular logic of the left: That something is assumed to be true simply because everyone has been telling each other it for so long. But here in the real world, even the New York Times has op-eds about "pinkwashing," and if Mr. Karsh really wants to claim that there's no criticism allowed on the Huffington Post, I am more than happy to debate him on that topic. Instead he doubles down:
"If you question what Israel does or criticize too hard or seek to treat Israel with the same moral compass as other countries chances are you will be labeled an anti-Semite, a self-hating Jew and be ostracized. In my case, I am ashamed to say I have internalized the censor to the point that in the instances where Israel has been in the wrong and there was a need to speak out loudly and clearly, I have kept my mouth shut and been a moral wimp."
Ah, of course. The whining has become so strong that now Mr. Karsh and his left wing friends believe their own talking points and "censor" themselves. How incredibly ironic. Of course, if he or any reader would like to find someone being called "an anti-Semite, a self-hating Jew" or being "ostracized" for mere criticism of Israel (versus calling for its destruction), let's see it. I for one am completely open to changing my mind about this, but the amount of whining about accusations of "anti-Semite" vs actual accusations of "anti-Semite" stand at about 10,000 to 1 in my experience.

It's actually very classic left-wing behavior. To the left victims are always in the right so therefore leftists must always be the victims of something. Even if they have to make up a boogeyman hiding in the shadows calling them "self-hating Jews" at every turn.

Our second whining leftist is Bradley Burston, who I have praised in the past but am less sympathetic toward this time. He begins by attacking Netanyahu, who I don't care about, before getting to the point of his article:
"This month, for example, Army Radio reported that in the course of a debate in the Knesset, Public Security Ministry Director-General Yaakov Ganot made a slitting-throat gesture toward one of his ministry's female employees...."The employee had made a comment which was not to Ganot's liking, and, in response, he passed his finger across his throat, as if to say 'I will slaughter you,'" it said."
I'm not going to comment on this story now but just remember it because we're going to come back to it.
"A week before, in New York, the deputy consul for Israel pointedly got up and walked out of the annual Human Rights Award Dinner of the Jewish Labor Committee...Because Stuart Appelbaum, ...said in a speech that the Netanyahu government's support for "the construction of illegal settlements on the West Bank .... severely impedes negotiations" with the Palestinians...Israeli Consulate sources explained that the diplomat left because of "inappropriate statements vis-à-vis the Israeli government."
Mr. Burston takes these two stories to mean that a massive shift in American-Israeli Jewish relations is taking place. Don't believe me just take a look at his words:
"Either you support everything the government says, does, and hides, or we will intimidate you or humiliate you, or blacklist you and, failing that, publicly brand you as Post-Zionist or Anti-Israel, or, failing that, Anti-Semitic....This, in the end, may be the legacy of the Netanyahu government -- an ugly rift in Israel, the Jewish world, and within Judaism, an alienation which may prove permanent."
Now as before, Mr. Burston could be 100% right. I am very open to that possibility. However, his two stories did not back up the above paragraph. Why? Well, for starters the story about the "throat slitting" gesture didn't have anything to do with American Jews or anyone outside of the government actually. For all the information Burston gives us they could be arguing over what color to make a new traffic sign. So as unnerving as the story is, I don't think it actually helped Mr. Burston make his point.

The second is better, but we still don't really know why the diplomat walked out. Maybe he wasn't allowed to be present at places like that, but either way it's not the point. The point is that there's a big difference between a government official refusing to endorse a point of view that is contrary to his government's policy an that same government "intimidating, humiliating, publicly branding and blacklisting" all critics. If Mr. Burston would like to provide some evidence of that, go for it. Fortunately he tries:
"Taking their cue from the snotty inquisitors of Im Tirtzu, every inch the spiritual heirs of Roy Cohn, the government and its hard-line adherents abroad have done everything they could to demonize and boycott NGOs, the New Israel Fund, J Street, Peace Now and other groups and individuals who strongly support Israel but take issue with its policies and its current direction."
A classic leftist talking point. As much as I wish it were true, Mr. Burston, not every NGO that criticizes Israel's actions has their hearts in the right place. All of those organizations that you mentioned have dirty laundry, and just because the right pulled an Anat Kam on you doesn't make them fascists who hate criticism. I have no doubt that Netanyahu's government would probably like to silence all critics but they have yet to prove this with their actions.
"The irony is that in a period in which the BDS campaign against Israel is faltering, leading to internal debates over its usefulness as a tactic, the official Israeli campaign to boycott and delegitimize progressive and liberal Zionists rolls on....The irony is also that many progressive Zionists have played key roles in defeating BDS efforts. No matter. As it turns off and repels moderate Jews from Boston to Berkeley, the "pro-Israel" Inquisition has become the only Israel boycott that is actually having an effect."
Hysteria much? This is the scare tactics of the left that we have been seeing for a while. As a liberal Zionist myself, I can tell the difference between my own views, those of the Netanyahu government, and those of J Street. I'm sorry for repeating myself so much, but I'd like to see some proof that "progressive and liberal Zionists" are being "delegitimized and boycotted." Of course I don't consider people like J Street who treat Israel unfairly to be "progressive Zionists," and I don't think other Zionists do either.

As someone who is pro-Israel, I know the difference between "critics" of Israel and those whose motives are darker. I would appreciate it if Mr. Burston did the same, but so far he doesn't seem too interested in finding out. His priority appears to be putting the left back in power. What a surprise.


  1. The truth is that it is the progressives, themselves, who are turning many pro-Israel liberal Jews, such as myself, against their political movement... a political movement that I, myself, came out of.

    Israel Thrives

  2. This smacks of the same idiocy we saw during the George Bush era when Fox would complain that the US which is 80% Christian was ground zero for anti Christian oppression. A self professed antizionist complaining on an antizionist magazine that he's picked on is childish and stupid. Like the NYT travel writer who complained his trip to Israel was nice except it was 'too Jewy'.

  3. Michael, that is true for me also. And I no longer will have anything to do with people who express what I consider to be anti-Israel, let alone anti-Zionist, whether I have been friends with that person for thirty years or whether that person is a member of my family. It has become a separation fence for me.

  4. I'm with all of you.

    Having grown up in a very liberal Jewish home in a non-Jewish neighborhood, and being taunted and teased, as well as attacked, physically, mentally and emotionally, for being Jewish,
    I always found solace in people with similar political views. Being liberal and Jewish, is who I am, and what I am, and I am proud of that. However, I must say, that never in my life have I experienced people who call themselves 'liberal' or 'progressive', who are such anti-semitic Jew haters; at least not until I experienced the Huffington Post. What an eye opener that was!
    I find myself turning away from the political movement I have always believed in and been a part of as well. It sickens me to no end to read comments about Israel on Huffington Post, and to know that Huffington Post obviously shares those same 'liberal and progressive' feelings. I am disgusted with people who call themselves liberal or progressive, when in reality, they are largely a bunch of bigots, racists, and anti-semites.

    Michael and Irit, I agree 100%, and it saddens me, deeply.


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