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Lebanese Canadian writer Fred Maroun explains how the Israeli-Arab conflict has exposed the social democratic parties to be as obsolete as the communist parties due to their belief in always supporting the underdog, even when that perceived underdog does not support liberal values.
Photo Credit: Fred Maroun
As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, people should “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. I also add ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation as grounds by which people should not be judged.
Most of the Western world claims to hold this belief, particularly on the left of the political spectrum. Respect for diversity is one of the main reasons why I am glad to live in the West, and it is one of the reasons why I support the state of Israel and why I take issue with Israel’s neighbors, including Lebanon where I was born and raised.
An objective indicator of whether a country is favorable to diversity is the change over time in minority populations. A healthy and steady increase in the size of the population over time would indicate that the minority is free to grow and prosper and is not coerced to emigrate. The following two graphs show the growth in religious minority populations in Israel since it gained its independence in 1948 (source).
During the same period, the Jewish population in the Arab world was reduced from about 850,000 to practically none. The Arab world’s ethnic cleansing of Jews was one of the most effective ethnic cleansing enterprises in history, far more effective than even the Nazi ethnic cleansing of Jews from Europe. The same Arab world is also engaged in ethnic cleansing of the Christians, and all indications are that it will succeed.
Israel is now the final refuge of religious diversity in the Middle East, not only for Jews but also for Christians, Druze, and even Muslims. Unlike everywhere else in the Middle East, in Israel, religious diversity is not only allowed but also encouraged and supported.
Israel and the Arab world also contrast sharply in the way that they treat other disadvantaged groups, including women, blacks, and gay people. These groups have equal rights in Israel, and they are as well integrated into society as in the Western world. In the Arab world, however, these groups face widespread and often systemic discrimination.
Judging by the Western left’s support for diversity and its opposition to intolerance, it should be a strong supporter of Israel and a strong critic of the Arab world. In fact, based on all left-wing values, including income fairness, affordable access to education, the social safety net, freedom of speech, freedom to organize, freedom of assembly, the environment, research and development, humanitarian aid to the third world, and development assistance to the third world, Israel is consistently ahead of the Arab world, often by far.
By all accounts, the Western left should be Israel’s most loyal fan, yet, it is increasingly hostile to Israel and increasingly sympathetic to its enemies, Iran and the Arab world.
The left claims that Israel is a colonialist enterprise that denies the Palestinian right to self-determination, but that double accusation is a thinly-veiled fabrication. Israel is the natural consequence of thousands of years of continuing Jewish presence on the land of Israel. Few countries in the world can claim as much historic legitimacy as the state of Israel. On the second part of the accusation, it is well known that Israel readily accepted the two-state solution when the United Nations proposed it in 1947, while the Arab world rejected it. In fact, as I demonstrated in a previous article, the Arabs had many opportunities to create a Palestinian state, but they rejected each one, and they still reject it today. The left’s excuses for demonizing Israel do not hold up to scrutiny.
Hostility towards Israel appears to make no sense unless one remembers that a trademark of the left is its steadfast sympathy towards the weak and the disadvantaged. On the surface, such a sympathy sounds laudable, but what the Israel-Arab conflict reveals is that the left places that sympathy above all else, even when the sympathy is based on shaky grounds.
It does not matter to the Western left that the Palestinians and their Arab and Iranian allies are the enemies of every value that the left holds dear while Israel is a champion of those values. It does not even matter to them that the Palestinians and their allies hold most of the responsibility for the situation that the Palestinians find themselves in today. All that matters is that the Palestinians claim the status of victims.
The Western left has a victimhood fetish that overshadows all its values. This is probably not a new development, but before the Israeli-Arab conflict, there was no conflict that presented itself in such stark terms, where left-wing values were highly developed on the side of the strong party while the party perceived by the left as weaker was hostile to those same values.
The Western left is not technically anti-Semitic. It was sympathetic to Jews when it saw them as victims, and it would likely feel the same way if the Jews became victims again. The left, however, supports and augments the anti-Semitism of others, and it is visibly perturbed that Jews, through Israel, are standing up for themselves and have no intention of ever being victims again.
The Israel-Arab conflict reveals to us that left-wing values are not left-wing values. They are grudges, resentments, and jalousies built on top of an obsession with victimhood. The left supports gays, women, workers, Muslims, and Jews, but only as long as those groups wallow in a victimhood complex. Those who decide that they are no longer victims are abandoned by the left and are considered the enemy of progress, even if they are at the forefront of progress.
A question that is often debated is how much of the left is anti-Israel. Some people, like Julie Nathan, Research Officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, generously suggests that the left’s anti-Israel hatred is confined to a “small fraction of the political Left.” I am not as generous as Nathan.
While only some of the left may be under the total control of the victimization fetish, its influence over the rest of the left is obvious and widespread. It explains why the British Labor party elected an anti-Zionist as its leader, why Canada’s NDP refused to denounce the anti-Semitic BDS movement, and why Sweden’s left-wing government is openly hostile towards Israel, among other examples.
There have been attempts by moderates to wrestle left-wing parties away from the clutches of the anti-Israel zealots, but Canada is an example where such attempts are failing. NDP leader Tom Mulcair’s policy of rejecting anti-Israel candidates is now being used to question his leadership abilities and the vote against the resolution condemning BDS was clearly an attempt by Mulcair to appease those critics.
Truth about communism in the old Soviet block exposed the shallowness of the Western communist parties and now the Israel-Arab conflict is exposing the shallowness of the Western social democratic parties. If the left’s moderates are serious about restoring the left’s credibility, they will have to do much better. As the center and right are increasingly adopting what used to be considered left-wing values, social democratic parties may become as obsolete as the old communist parties.
Photo Credit: Fred Maroun