Why does the Left hate the Jews?
The Labour party in the United Kingdom is being convulsed at the moment with a public reckoning of the anti-Semitism of some of its most prominent members, including the former mayor of London, “Red” Ken Livingstone, who has just been suspended from the party for arguing that Adolf Hitler was, effectively, a Zionist. He was trying to explain away the anti-Semitic remarks of MP Naz Shah, who suggested that Israel be liquidated and its population forcibly resettled in the United States.
Others insisted that the Harvard case and the Labour cases are — this, too, will be familiar — not at all about anti-Semitism but about anti-Zionism.
And it isn’t because the establishment of Israel is, relatively speaking, fresh in the historical memory, and therefore an open wound. Before the end of World War II, there was no Pakistan, and to the extent that there was an “India,” it was a geographical rather than a political term, much like “Palestine.” There was no independent Ireland until the 1920s and no Republic of Ireland until 1948. There was no People’s Republic of China until 1949. There was no Zimbabwe until 1980, no Czech Republic until 1993, and no modern Democratic Republic of the Congo until 1997. Israel is an ancient state compared with geopolitical newcomers such as the 30-odd countries created since 1990.
RELATED: The Israel Double Standard
Yet it is the Jewish state, and the Jewish state alone, that is permanently marked for extermination. No one is throwing a fit about Timor-Leste or Serbia. The old saw about American racial politics was that in the South whites accepted blacks individually but rejected them corporately, whereas in the North it was the opposite, with the Yankees embracing integration and equality in theory while ensuring that they rarely encountered a black American in person. (Senator Bernie Sanders, proud son of diverse Brooklyn, now represents the whitest state in the Union.) And that’s the best that the Left can say for itself: “We don’t hate the Jews individually, just as a nation.”
That’s not much of a defense.
The Jews can be whatever their enemies need them to be.
The Jews can be whatever their enemies need them to be. For Henry Ford and more than a few on the modern left, the Jews are the international bankers secretly pulling the strings of the global economy. As one widely circulated Occupy video put it: “The smallest group in America controls the money, media, and all other things. The fingerprints belong to the Jewish bankers who control Wall Street. I am against Jews who rob America. They are 1 percent who control America. President Obama is a Jewish puppet. The entire economy is Jewish. Every federal judge [on] the East Coast is Jewish.”
For those who learned at the feet of that old fraud Edward Said, the Jews are the colonialists, the European modernists inflicting capitalism and technology upon the noble savages of their imaginations. The Israeli Jews commit the double crime of insisting upon being Jews and refusing to be sacrificial victims. They were okay, in the Left’s estimate, for about five minutes, back when Israel’s future was assumed to be one of low-impact kibbutz socialism. History went in a different direction, and today Israel has one of the world’s most sophisticated economies.
For the Jew-hater, this is maddening: Throw the Jews out of Spain, and they thrive abroad. Send them to the poorest slums in New York, and those slums stop being slums. Keep them out of the Ivy League and watch NYU become a world-class institution inspired by men such as Jonas Salk, son of largely uneducated Polish immigrants. Put the Jewish state in a desert wasteland and watch it bloom, first with produce and then with technology. Israel today has more companies listed on NASDAQ than any other country except the United States and China. The economy under Palestinian management? Olives and handicrafts, and a GDP per capita that barely exceeds that of Sudan.
The Arab–Israeli conflict is a bitter and ugly one. My own view of it is that the Palestinian Arabs have some legitimate grievances, and that I stopped caring about them when they started blowing up children in pizza shops. You can thank the courageous heroes of the Battle of Sbarro for that. Israel isn’t my country, but it is my country’s ally, and it is impossible for a liberty-loving American to fail to admire what the Jewish state has done.
And that, of course, is why the Left wants to see the Jewish state exterminated.
— Kevin D. Williamson is the roving correspondent at National Review.