The Jews and the Left

Israel relies on bipartisan support in the United States Congress. Of course, the US-Israeli alliance would survive without congressional support since this special relationship is built upon common interests between the two nations. Saudi Arabia does not enjoy support in the US Congress and presidential candidate Joe Biden was intensely critical of Saudi Arabia. Yet it is clear that the US-Saudi relationship survives simply because it is based on common interests.

However, public support for Israel in countries around the world is nevertheless an important Israeli interest considering the Anti-Zionist campaigns to delegitimize Israel as a prelude to militarily destroying Israel and annihilating its Jewish population. In Europe is the left generally pro-Palestinian while the right is pro-Israeli, however Israel’s relations with European countries are nevertheless good irrespective of whether the left or the right is in power as relations are based on common interests.

The left in some countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa has increasingly been taken over by Anti-Zionists. This is fueled by Anti-Semitic tropes such as claiming that Jews are oppressors (a Nazi idea) and the assumption underlying the Apartheid accusation that Jews are a race (a core idea in racial Anti-Semitism), despite the racial diversity in the indigenous Jewish nation and the existence of converts to Judaism from all racial origins.

The Israeli left has become increasingly critical of the indigenous restoration project in Judea and Samaria due to not being informed about the strategic thinking behind it and small parts of the Zionist left has turned to Anti-Zionism. Thus has the Israeli left increasingly focused on criticizing Israel rather than defending Israel.

However, Israel and the Zionist movement must not give up on the international left. While it is true that Anti-Semitic tropes have become increasingly common in the rhetoric of the international left does this not mean that most leftists are not open to leftwing arguments in favor of Israel and Zionism. In fact, not many leftists would repeat the false claims that Palestinians are an oppressed group (based on the Anti-Semitic idea that Jews are oppressors) and that Israel practices apartheid (based on the Anti-Semitic idea that Jews are a racial group) if they knew that these are core Nazi ideas which have been incorporated into leftwing rhetoric.

The Western left was once mostly concerned with economic issues in promoting the welfare state. However, after economic Marxism was thoroughly discredited subsequent to the fall of the Soviet Union, the Western left increasingly focused on cultural issues as influenced by critical theory. Intersectionality is entirely a product of critical theory. Critical theory is an academic field which studies structural oppression and prejudice and particularly so in discourse. It is highly unfortunate that the study of Anti-Semitism in its three stages (Anti-Judaism, Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism) have not been integrated into critical theory. Instead critical theory has strangely developed into a bastion of Anti-Semitism without any Jewish resistance whatsoever in the field. 

The Zionist reappropriation of the international left must have three legs:

  1. Exposing Anti-Semitic discursive premises in the rhetoric of the left. Leftwing anti-racism must hence be reappropriated from the Anti-Semites.
  2. Explaining Israel as the project of a structurally oppressed indigenous nation that has managed to reestablish independence in its own indigenous land despite repeated Arabist/Islamist imperialist attempts and continuing ambitions to exterminate Israeli Jews.
  3. Introducing rabbinic modes of thought in the context of critical theory through Jewish critical theory in a new uniquely indigenous field within critical theory devoted to indigenous peoples that would debunk the third world imperialist perspectives of the ferociously Anti-Semitic postcolonial theory.

Why has the left increasingly given up on Zionism? The question should certainly be asked why Zionism and the State of Israel have increasingly given up on the left? The American Jewish Committee (AJC) was once an epicenter of the American left in very effectively mobilizing American Jewish organizations to lobby for the full spectrum of oppressed groups in America and abroad. What has taken place with intersectionality in recent years is that Jews have been increasingly marginalized on the left except for those who profess Anti-Semitic beliefs. The reason for this is the marginalization and resulting demonization of Zionism within critical theory and thus also in intersectionality, in academia and on the left in general. The underlying problem is the failure of Jews to articulate a) the cause of Zionism, b) the problem of Anti-Semitism and c) rabbinic discursivities within critical theory itself and this must urgently be corrected. This should have been done decades ago but it is not too late to repair the damage although it will take years to reach impact within critical theory and thus academia and the left in general. This effort needs to be well-funded and the Israeli state needs to discreetly support this cause by encouraging and funding promising Zionist doctoral candidates specializing in critical theory at academic institutions worldwide.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization.

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