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How The Academic Left Came To Hate Israel

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D.

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D.

“What the Palestinians ultimately insist on is that Israel must be taught that it does not have the right to defend its racial supremacy,” Massad wrote during the 2009 Israeli defensive incursions into Gaza, “and that the Palestinians have the right to defend their universal humanity against Israel’s racist oppression.”

The charge of racism also enables liberals to excuse the moral transgressions of the oppressed, and, as an extension of that thinking, to single out Israel and America for particular and harsh scrutiny owing to their perceived “institutionalized” racism and greater relative power.

The self-righteousness leftists feel in pointing out Zionism’s essential defect of being a racist ideology insulates them from having to also reflect on Arab transgressions, since, as Ruth Wisse pointed out in If I Am Not For Myself: The Liberals Betrayal of the Jews, liberals can excuse their own betrayal of Israel by holding it fully responsible for the very hatreds it inspires.

“Ascribing to Israel the blame for its predicament, democratic countries can pursue their self-interest free of any lingering moral scruple,” Wisse wrote. “Israel is examined for its every moral failing to justify policies of disengagement, while the moral failings of Arab countries are considered no one’s business but their own, so that their blatant abuses of human rights should not get in the way of realpolitick.”

Coupled with academia’s fervent desire to make campuses socially ideal settings where racial and cultural strife cease to exist is the other newly-popular impulse to inculcate students with a longing for what is called “social justice,” a nebulous term lifted from Marxist thought that empowers left-leaning administrators and faculty with the false ethical security derived from feeling that they are bringing positive moral and ethical precepts to campuses.

For the Left, according to David Horowitz, a former radical leftist turned conservative, social justice is “the concept of a world divided into oppressors and oppressed.” Those seeking social justice, therefore, do so with the intention of leveling the economic, cultural, and political playing fields; they seek to reconstruct society in a way that disadvantages the powerful and the elites, and overthrows them if necessary – in order that the dispossessed and weak can acquire equal standing.

In other words, the Left yearns for a utopian society that does not yet exist, and is willing to reconstruct and overturn the existing status quo – often at a terrible human cost – in the pursuit of seeking so-called justice for those who, in their view, have been passed over or abused by history.

And in the minds of academic leftists, there are no superior national behaviors; all nations are equal in value and in the court of world opinion. This contorted reason is commonly referred to as “moral relativism,” and is a seminal cause of the way Israel’s actions in defending itself against genocidal Arab aggression over 60 years are seen to be no different from homicide attacks on Israeli civilians initiated by its enemies.

This rationalization, that violence is an acceptable, if not welcomed, component of seeking social justice – that is, that the inherent “violence” of imperialism, colonialism, or capitalism will be met by the same violence as the oppressed attempt to throw off their oppressors – is exactly the style of self-defeating rationality that in this age has proven to be an intractable part of the war on terror. America-hating and Israel-hating academics have not infrequently wished for harm to come to these countries at the hands of the victim groups to whom they readily give their sympathies.

* * * * *

For Glazov, sympathy for jihadists is part of an enduring ideological legacy, and “the Left clearly continues to be inspired by its undying Marxist conviction that capitalism is evil and that forces of revolution are rising to overthrow it – and must be supported.”

Joel Beinin, for instance, a self-avowed Marxist and former president of the Middle Eastern Studies Association, specifically excused Palestinian violence during the first Intifada in a piece titled “Was the Red Flag Flying There?”

“Palestinian attacks on civilians (and even armed soldiers) were widely condemned as terrorism by international opinion and media,” Beinin wrote, but terrorism was clearly the “Palestinians’ primary weapon of resistance” given the political impediment they faced; namely, the “colonialist thrust of the Zionist project” and the complicity of hegemonic, imperialist powers in inspiring the terror wrought against them.

Similarly, Joel Kovel, the rabidly anti-Zionist professor who was finally fired by Bard College in 2009 because of his ideological excesses, has seen terrorism as the logical, and excusable, end result of occupation – something for which, in his view, not only Israelis but all Jews must share in the blame.

“Why have a substantial majority of Jews,” he wrote in Tikkun magazine, “chosen to flaunt world opinion in order to rally about a state that essentially has turned its occupied lands into a huge concentration camp and driven its occupied peoples to such gruesome expedients as suicide bombing?”

About the Author: Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., author of “Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews,” is president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.


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