On campuses today Israel is regularly, though falsely, condemned for being created “illegally” – through the “theft” of Palestinian lands and property – and thus has no “right to exist.”
The government is accused of a “brutal,” illegal “occupation” of Palestinian lands, of being a “colonial settler state,” a Zionist “regime,” a land-hungry nation building an “apartheid wall” as a further land grab, a usurper of property that was lived on and owned by a Palestinian “people” “from time immemorial.”
Zionism is regularly equated with Nazism, and the perceived offenses of Israel’s government and military are likened to Nazi crimes against humanity; the notion is that Israel is creating a “Holocaust in the Holy Land” through “ethnic cleansing,” an ongoing “genocide” of Arabs, and the elimination of the rights of an innocent, “indigenous people” who merely seek self-determination and the peaceful creation of a Palestinian homeland.
It was not always thus. Prior to the 1967 war, Israel still garnered sympathy and admiration from the non-Muslim world that saw its pluck and ability to bring a vibrant democracy to the desert as being enviable and praiseworthy. Still weak and living in a perilous realm surrounded by hostile, totalitarian regimes, Israel could count on the liberal Left for support and an ideological nod of approval.
But thanks to its ascension to a status as a militarily and economically powerful nation, coupled with the successful propaganda war waged against it by its Arab neighbors and jihadist foes, many of Israel’s sympathizers began to lose their affection for their former Middle East favorite and instead began conflating their negative views of the United States, capitalism, and imperialism (defined as “occupation” in the case of Israel) with the Jewish state.
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Why the animus against democratic Israel in academe as the nation defends itself from an unending campaign of aggression from Arab countries? One trend that has permeated the university and which has had a subsequent influence on the way Israel is perceived was the coming of two watchwords of higher education: diversity and multiculturalism.
The language of multiculturalism on campuses is sprinkled with the linguistics of oppression, coaxing students in newly-identified victim groups to see themselves as deserving of protection and special political, racial, and cultural recognition.
The obsessive reverence for multiculturalism on the part of universities has also meant that liberal faculty members have come to embrace attitudes that give equal value to very different cultures and nations, a factor that has led – as it did before when the Left embraced the ideology and overlooked the barbaric excesses of Communism – to a dangerous acceptance of radical Islam as equal to and compatible with the culture, values, and ethics of Western democracies.
In United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror, his examination of the traditional impulse of the Left to align itself with political movements with values foreign and antithetical to those of most Americans, Jamie Glazov saw a direct causal link between an acceptance of defective ideologies by the Left as part of the process by which it rejects democratic Western ideals and a slavish fondness for what he characterizes as the “Left’s sacred cow of multiculturalism.”
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The visceral hatred by the Left of its favorite hobgoblins, imperialist America and its codependent oppressor, Israel, finds similar expression from morally defective professors such as Juan Cole, who in his writings regularly takes swipes at Israeli and American defenses while simultaneously excusing Arab complicity for violence or terror.
In fact, according to Cole it is the militancy of the West that causes the endemic problems in the Middle East, and makes America guilty for its moral and financial support of Israel.
“When Ariel Sharon sends American-made helicopter gunships and F-16s to fire missiles into civilian residences or crowds in streets,” Cole wrote in 2004, “as he has done more than once, then he makes the United States complicit in his war crimes and makes the United States hated among friends of the Palestinians. And this aggression and disregard of Arab life on the part of the proto-fascist Israeli Right has gotten more than one American killed, including American soldiers.”
This cultural condescension – the disingenuous lie from the Left that all cultures are equal but some are more or less equal, to paraphrase Orwell – leads liberals into a moral trap where they denounce Israel’s military self-defense as being barbaric, criminal, and Nazi-like (because Israel is a powerful, democratic nation) and regularly excuse or apologize for genocidal Arab terrorism as an acceptable and inevitable result of a weak people suffering under Western oppression.
In fact, when a professor such as Columbia University’s Joseph Massad writes about Palestinian terror, he essentially justifies it by characterizing the very existence of Israel as being morally defective, based, in his view, on its inherent racist and imperialist nature.