The growing hostility of the progressive community toward the existence of Israel has become “profoundly unsettling” to American Jews, Bret Stephens wrote in a column for The New York Times published Friday.
Stephens recalled a number of recent incidents that showed the growing acceptance of the “radical left’s militant hostility toward the Jewish state.” These included pro-Palestinian protesters taking control of an L.G.B.T.Q. Task Force event last month demanding a boycott of Israel; the ties between the leadership of the Women’s March and Nation of Islam leaders Louis Farrakhan; and the ascendancy of Democratic politicians including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D – Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D – Minn), who support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Though the extreme Left’s hostility towards Israel’s isn’t new, Stephens argued that this hostility appeared to be “becoming a respectable position among people who would never support the elimination of any other country in any other circumstance.”
The columnist described the progressive hostility towards Israel as being based on its failure to make “peace on equitable terms,” and to end the occupation.
But Stephens also observed, “Israel’s enemies were committed to its destruction long before it occupied a single inch of Gaza or the West Bank. In proportion to its size, Israel has voluntarily relinquished more territory taken in war than any state in the world.”
In addition, he noted that Israel offered the Palestinians a state in 2000 and again in 2008, only to be refused both times. In 2005, Israel ended the occupation of Gaza, which “allowed Hamas to seize power two years later and spark three wars, causing ordinary Israelis to think twice about the wisdom of duplicating the experience in the West Bank.”
Taking all of this together shows that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is far more complicated,” than Israel’s detractors acknowledge.
But further, Stephens shows that there is a clear connection between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. He wrote:
To say, as progressives sometimes do, that Jews are “colonizers” in Israel is anti-Semitic because it advances the lie that there is no ancestral or historic Jewish tie to the land. To claim that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, when manifestly it is not, is anti-Semitic because it’s an attempt to Nazify the Jewish state. To insist that the only state in the world that has forfeited the moral right to exist just happens to be the Jewish state is anti-Semitic, too: Are Israel’s purported crimes really worse than those of, say, Zimbabwe or China, whose rights to exist are never called into question?
While Stephens acknowledges that there is more that Israel could do to ease the lives of Palestinians, he rejects the idea that Israel is practicing apartheid.
He also noted that anti-Zionism poses a significant threat to the well-being of the Democratic Party. Stephens wrote: “the Labour Party is now led by a militant anti-Zionist whose deep-seated anti-Semitism occasionally slips out.”
He called on Democratic Party leaders to ensure that they don’t follow the path of the Labour Party “by insisting that anti-Zionism has no more a place in the Democratic fold than any form of prejudice.”
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