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The Left Gears Up For Battle (Part I)


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It took American leftists about 48 hours or so to find their voices after the Sept. 11 attack on America, but find them they did. There were no surprises.Once the initial shock wore off and it became clear that this was not Oklahoma City, not the doing of any home-grown terrorists, the rationalizations and excuses began to fly. And, as always seems to be the case with those on the left, the real culprits were not Islamic extremists but the U.S. and Israel.Mainstream liberals weren’t jumping on the anti-America or anti-Israel bandwagon just yet, though experience teaches that given enough time, arguments heard on the left-most fringes will eventually make their way into New York Times editorials.

Speaking of the Times, already one senses the inevitable doubts and hesitancy creeping into its editorials. The paper’s ridiculous pompousness was captured perfectly and with appropriate bite by The New Republic’s Lawrence Kaplan: “Plotting strategy from the cheese line at Zabar’s, the editorial writers at The New York Times have let it be known they find the ‘war talk we have heard from Washington … disconcerting.'”

(In a monumental case of bad timing, the Times embarrassed itself by running, on the very morning of the terrorist attacks, a piece that the syndicated columnist Michael Kelly described as “very typical of the Times in recent years.” The article was a gushing profile of Bill Ayers, an unrepentant former 60’s radical whose new book recounts his exploits as a domestic terrorist involved in bombings of New York City police headquarters, the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon in the early 1970’s.

(“The Times,” wrote Kelly, “found Ayers to be possessed of an ‘ebullient, ingratiating manner,’ and accorded him the respect of 2,000 words in the paper plus a generally fawning and deeply stupid interview in the Sept. 16 New York Times Magazine, which was printed before the events of September 11.”)

The Times at least recognizes, in its own muddled way, the gravity of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and the need for some kind of strong American response. The same can’t be said for the loonier denizens of the left, those souls fond of such mindless platitudes as “War is no solution to anything,” which was uttered with such conviction last week by 78-year-old “peace activist” Lu Irvin at an anti-war rally in San Francisco. (The Monitor might be mistaken, but wasn’t it war that solved the Nazis?)

Seeking justification for Islamic terror in the “plight of the Palestinians” has long been a pastime of leftist European journalists, many of whom have begun to appear with increasing regularity in American publications like The Nation, the sclerotic far-left bulletin board for anyone with a grudge against capitalism, democracy, Western culture and, of course, Israel.

In its first issue after the attacks on New York and Washington, The Nation imported the ravings of the vigorously anti-Israel British reporter Robert Fisk, who informed his readers that “this is not really the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about U.S. missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and U.S. helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia – paid and uniformed by America’s Israeli ally – hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps.”

In a rambling piece that matched Fisk’s in its sheer hostility to Israel, Salon.com executive editor Gary Kamiya declared: “We must pressure Israel to take the concrete steps necessary to provide justice for the Palestinian people…. If this were a case of good vs. evil, the righteous Israelis fighting for their survival against the evil Arabs, it would be a cause worth America enduring the hatred of millions of people. But it is not. No one in the world, aside from some segment of the Israeli public and, apparently, the U.S. government, believes this.”

(Continued Next Week)

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


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