In a New York Times opinion piece following a spate of anti-Semitic attacks and subsequent government crackdowns in France, writer Colin Shindler said that Europe’s left has long distinguished between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, viewing immigrant Muslims as “a new proletariat and the Palestinian cause as a recruiting mechanism,” and asks why European socialists identify with the cause of militant Islam.
The quest starts, according to Shindler, with Hizbullah mastermind Hassan Nasrallah’s statement “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli.”
Shindler says the concept of an “eternal Jew” which is an enemy to Islam is prevalent today, and has intermingled with Europe’s concept of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy, its discomfort with Jews outside the role of post-Holocaust paupers and victims, and its association with the Vietnamese, South African, and Rhodesian anti-colonial movements Israel unwittingly stumbled into when allying with imperialist powers Britain and France in the 1950s.
By the time Israel had overcome its attackers and liberated new lands in 1967, its status as an antagonist was sealed.
Add to that a new dislike for American power – and Israel’s association with it as a strong ally in the Middle East – and you have yourselves a pariah.
The solution is in the works of French philosopher and political activist Jean-Paul Sartre, according to Shindler. Shindler says Sartre’s sympathy for French Jews after World War II and his concurrent support for Algeria’s fight for independence left him with the belief that Jews and Arabs should resolve their problems without European intervention, calling both parties’ causes moral.
Shindler goes on to note the left’s tendency to view “Jews” as vulnerable and “Israelis” as Cossacks. “Yet it is often forgotten that a majority of Israelis just happen to be Jews, who fear therefore that what begins with the delegitimization of the state will end with the delegitimization of the people,” he said.
“Sartre understood that the conflict was not simply between Israelis and Palestinians, but between those advocating peace on both sides and their rejectionists,” Shindler said. “This conflict within the conflict is something that many on Europe’s left, as they ally themselves with unsavory forces, still fail to comprehend.”