Few facets of today’s politics are more obvious or more startling than the Left’s hatred of Israel. Be it the United Nations, elite universities or The New York Times, the Left unashamedly uses its institutions as forums from which to conduct its relentless campaign of vilification.
What makes the Left’s behavior especially puzzling is that it runs counter to one of its supposedly most cherished principles – concern for oppressed minorities. Its opprobrium of the country sheltering a group that has been persecuted longer, more unjustly and more cruelly than any other thus presents a seemingly irreconcilable contradiction.
To see what’s behind it, we need to begin with the Left’s overall disposition, which is one of entrenched anti-westernism. Making no secret of its contempt for the West’s traditions, values and achievements, the Left is as much offended by the West’s Judeo-Christian religion as it is by its moral code. The Left deems the West’s cultural triumphs no more unique than those of other societies and sees its past as little more than a story of oppression, exploitation and ignominy. And the Left despises free market capitalism – our socio-economic foundation – which it claims to be exploitative, unfair or worse.
The Left does not confine itself to criticism, but also expresses itself in practical action. These efforts take place on two fronts. Internally, it seeks to undermine the West by corroding its values and institutions. Externally, it renders assistance to its enemies which is why, for instance, many on the Left sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Belligerent and armed, the Soviets vowed to consign the West to the abyss of history and large numbers of leftists relished the prospect. Needless to say, the collapse of the Soviet Empire came as a bitter setback.
Then, on 9/11, radical Islamists burst on the scene. Their attacks and subsequent statements left no doubt that their goal was the West’s destruction. Perceiving a unique opportunity, the Left sprang into action and since then has done all it can to undermine our ability to prosecute the war. Impugning the president, attacking our military, calling for the closure of detention centers and outing secret programs are all part and parcel of this effort.
Intent on using Islam as a battering ram against the West, the Left has pressed on with hopeful zeal, for the terrorist attacks in America and Europe revealed just how vulnerable we are. Even more significantly, most Western nations are quite obviously unwilling to defend themselves and they castigate the one country willing to confront the threat head on. The West has shown itself weak and vacillating, and there is indeed much reason for optimism as far as the Left is concerned. The Left’s hopes, however, are being seriously threatened from an unexpected quarter: Israel.
The Islamic movement derives much of its impetus from the belief in the coming of a worldwide caliphate which, most Muslims believe, is ultimately destined to rule this earth. One of the great obstacles on the road to this vision is Western civilization, which will have to be overcome if Islam is ever to reign supreme.
Given the West’s economic and military superiority, conquering it is a task whose magnitude could easily discourage even the most ardent believers. In order to shore up the fighting spirit of their followers and unleash their destructive passions, Islamic ideologues employ a two-pronged strategy. They portray the West not only as a beehive of godless infidels, but also as a decadent, corrupt, depraved and dysfunctional culture. This ensures that many are driven to jihad as much by their outraged moral sensibilities as by a desire to bring about Allah’s kingdom and securing their place in paradise should they die on the way.
But this strategy of vilification has one profound weakness. It is based on lies.
Nothing makes this more obvious than the State of Israel, a flourishing Western-type democracy in the heart of the Middle East. Decent, just and fair, the country’s mode of existence is completely at variance with Islam’s claims about the West’s inherent wickedness. Furthermore, Israel’s success and prosperity accentuate the backwardness, poverty and stagnation of the Islamic regimes themselves.
Israel thus puts the lie in devastating fashion to Islam’s claims about the West while throwing into sharp relief the depth of its own failures. Situated right in their own backyard, the Jewish state continually threatens to expose Islamic ideologues for the demagogues they are in the eyes of the very populations they seek to manipulate.