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Have Haifa?s Leftists Learned Their Lesson?

Haifa is Israel?s third city, but by international standards it is a small town. It is also the least Israeli of Israel?s cities. It has weather like the Riviera. It is cosmopolitan: On the top of the mountain German is still spoken, at the bottom Arabic, and in the middle Russian. It has the country?s only subway train. It has lots of trees and a huge environmentalist movement. In Haifa, children dare not venture outside nor make noise during the siesta hours of the afternoon. A dirty park bench will produce storms of protests and letters to the editor.

Haifa was always the least religious city in the country, and buses ran on the Sabbath long before they did elsewhere. It is reputed to have the best Jewish-Arab relations in the country. A bleeding-heart institution for Jewish-Arab dialogue named Beit Hagefen is a major symbol of the city.

Haifa is also arguably the largest remaining bastion of the Israeli Left. It has never had a mayor not from the Labor party. Its current mayor postures to the left of Ehud Barak, hoping to grab his position as leader of the Labor party.

?Red Haifa,? as it was once known thanks to its trade union ruling class, is in fact a middle-class city of yuppie elitists and employees of the high-tech industries. It was the only serious city that voted for Barak in the last elections. It is home to the Technion and the University of Haifa, the second of which contains the largest Arab student body in the country as well as a gaggle of extremist anti-Zionist ?New Historians.?

Haifa is home to the largest chapter of the Israeli Communist party, and the comrades are largely Jews, unlike chapters elsewhere. The Haifa Theater is a bastion of anti-Zionism, where any play purporting to show that Zionists are Nazis is sure to be staged.

The university is almost wall-to-wall Leftist, and the semi-Marxist Meretz party is considered as far right as most academics are willing to venture. The leftism infiltrates everywhere, and even my colleagues in the business school have ideological positions ordinarily only to be found among social workers or deconstructionist sociologists.

Haifa leftists have long been convinced their city would be spared PLO atrocities because Haifaites are such nice, progressive people, and because they purport to have such good relations with local Arabs. When many Jews stopped coming to restaurants and stores owned by local Arabs briefly after the high-holiday pogroms last year, teams of Haifaites, including many tenured lefties, made a point of showing their solidarity with their Arab neighbors, at the same time that their Arab neighbors were making a point of showing their solidarity with PLO bombers and Hamas suicide bombers.

Haifa lefties believed they were protected due to their progressive image, their obsession with recreational compassion and environmentalism, and their leftist solidarity with Arabs. They were sure that the wave of Arab atrocities in which Israel is being bathed would pass over them, like a Palestinian angel of death in a parody of the story of the Exodus.

Needless to say, they were wrong.

Will there be an awakening at last in this quiet dream world of leftist delusion?

No there will not. For one, Haifa yuppies do not take buses. Within a day or three, they will return to their habitual peacespeak. The Peace Now stickers will reappear. The university leftists will resume their activities. The mayor will call for a return to peace talks with the PLO with greater Israeli flexibility.

The local Jewish communists will resume their protests against occupation, as will the Arab student unions. The local politicians will resume their sacred mission of making sure the malls stay open on the Sabbath.

The Arab students will hold celebrations and parties in which the bus bombing today will be toasted tomorrow, while the leftist Jewish students and faculty will rote-recite their solidarity with them and pat themselves on their backs for sticking to their ideological guns in the face of adversity and atrocities by their peace partners.

The Kishinev pogrom in 1903 is supposed to have changed history. It shocked Eastern European Jews into seeking to escape czarist Russia for safety. It inspired a famous poem by Bialik. And in many ways it was the trigger for the formation of mass immigration by Jews to the Land of Israel, then misnamed Palestine. It brought down the wrath of the world on czarism. During the Kishinev pogroms, 45 helpless and defenseless Jews were killed and about 600 wounded.

Shimon Peres and the Israeli Left have created a situation in which a new Kishinev Pogrom takes place in Israel every week, while Israel?s legendary army sits along the sidelines, shackled by the politicians, and exercises restraint, while its leaders await the day when they can conduct peace talks with the pogromchiks.
Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa.
© National Review Online.

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


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