The Contemporary Left is noisy, thorny and disruptive, but not an existential threat to Jews and Israel. The Jewish press aggrandizes the influence and numbers of the Left, scaring the wits out of Israel advocates.

The Contemporary Left was crushed but hardly knocked out by the election of Donald Trump. They will hunker down, reorganize and advocate for their political agenda with renewed fervor and passion. They will turn up the heat on Israel and the Jews on behalf of Palestinians, uniting the “leftie luvvies,” as one journalist calls them.

To understand why, consider the Justice Holmes axiom: “In understanding a problem a page in history is worth a volume of logic.” The recent death of a major leftist got me to return to the book From Ambivalence To Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel, by Robert S. Wistrich (University of Nebraska Press, 2012). It is the quintessential historical reference book for serious students of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

Tom Hayden died October 23, 2016. His story personifies how the 1960s New Left changed America’s mission, politics, legal system and culture. Hayden was a leader, inciting the social turmoil of the time in collaboration with others whom I came to know through my work. Members were fanatically unified and dedicated to eradicating extant wicked inequities and government malfeasance. They put aside “getting on with their lives” to change society. The New Left dragooned the non-violent anti-War, free speech, civil rights and nascent feminist movements to introduce change through ferocious and physical confrontation.

Hayden described himself as “Jefferson in terms of democracy… Thoreau in terms of environment, and Crazy Horse in terms of social movements.” He proved his salt, as one the infamous Chicago Seven arrested for conspiracy and inciting riots outside the 1968 Democratic Party convention. Hayden co-founded Students for a Democratic Society, and authored its 25,000- word manifesto calling for a “radically new democratic political movement.” Hayden and his wife-to-be, Jane Fonda, spearheaded the anti-Vietnam War Movement, toppling the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

The New Left changed the mission and culture of America, rebuilding a nation on integration, the peace movement, great society and war on poverty. The New Left was an existential threat to old America, mobilizing masses of democrats, students and unionists. It found sanctuary and robust support on college campuses.

tom-and-jane

Some New Left groups expressed sympathy for the Palestinian cause in the 1960s with the rise of antinomianism: free love, flower power, pot smoking and Stokely Carmichael’s populist Black Power Movement.

The Palestinians were redefined as oppressed people of color under the jackboot of America’s lackey, Israel.

The impression gained momentum following Israel’s monumental 1967 annihilation of three Arab armies in six days.

Hayden and Fonda on the other hand visited Israel in 1982. They condemned the PLO’s refusal to recognize the Jewish state. They initially supported Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, but expressed concern about civilian casualties. When the occupation of Lebanon dragged on and peace between Israel and Palestinians appeared elusive, Hayden wrote in 2006, “I didn’t share the animus of some on the American left who questioned Israel’s very legitimacy. I was more inclined toward the politics of Israel’s Peace Now and those Palestinian nationalists and human rights activists who accepted Israel’s pre-1967 borders as a reality to accommodate.”

Wistrich details in 600 pages of small print: the origins of historical antisemitism; the morphing image of Jews from victims to victimizers; the origins of antisemitism and the new euphemism, “anti-Zionism”; the tenacious web of envy, religious, economic and political Jew-hatred resulting in the Contemporary Left denying “the rights of the Jewish people to live as an equal member within the family of nations”; the reasons Jews are disproportionately sympathetic to the Left.

It’s hardly a fireside read. The book is a primer for Jews and Israel advocates seeking arguments against antisemites. It deserves to be read in modern political science classes, and on library shelves. It is a classic tome for understanding the onslaught against Jews, Zionists and Israel by a toxic stewpot of European and American leftists, academics, students and journalists.

The 19th and 20th centuries Old Left (Goldman, Marx, Sigman, Dubinsky) flourished as a conglomeration of Socialists, Marxists, Anarchists, Wobblies and Communists. The unifying message was repressive governments protect capitalism and robber barons by subjugating workers. Organizing unions was their strategy.

The New Left (Rudd, Rubin, Hoffman, Friedan, Steinem, Abzug, Schwerner, Goodman) organized on college campuses that became their academic incubators and sanctuaries.

cont-left-pic

The Contemporary Left is also campus based, but without the academic reasoning of the New Left. Their enervated causes are like a “feather for every wind” (safe spaces, animal rights, Black Lives Matter, gender-race intersectionality). However, they are united in calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, and will continue to be so.

Wistrich exposes how the Contemporary Left dismisses human rights repression, torture, mass murder of innocents and extra-judicial murder by Arab regimes; how they ignore the perfidious application “of sharia law, censorship, female genital mutilation, honor killings, suicide bombings, or making the world safe for Allah’s rule,” while depicting Jews and Zionist as demagogues, demons and Nazis.

“The anti-Zionist left is guilty of betraying core principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity,” the exact opposite position, I suggest, to that which Hayden dedicated his life to. They collaborate with old time religious-based antisemites including Presbyterian and Methodist churches, “fundamentalist mosques, conservative nationalists, professors, the ‘chattering classes’ in Western Europe and the more militant protesters on the streets who scream ‘Death to Israel’.”

They are noisy, thorny and disruptive, but not an existential threat to Jews and Israel. On campuses their minions are unable to mobilize more than small numbers: a hundred anti-Israel students disrupt a speech at a major British university with an enrollment of 174,000; a few hundred Students for Justice in Palestine attack Jewish students and Israel at University of California, Irvine where the enrollment is almost 31,000.

It’s the Jewish press that aggrandizes the influence and numbers of the Left, scaring the wits out of Israel advocates.

Frustrating the Contemporary Left is the modern Jewish persona forged in Holocaust Hell. The new Jew no longer mirrors fathers of the past, the victims, the meek, subject to the whim of haters and self-haters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned them in a Washington, DC, speech: “The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilating us, those days are over. Today we have a voice” – and an army.

The writer was a Research Teaching Fellow at Harvard, worked for four governors, and teaches business and politics in Tel Aviv.

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