We’ve already gone after Colin Shindler’s irresponsible piece in the New York Times yesterday that rubbed out the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism because he relied on a dubious quote attributed to Nasrallah.
The piece is also irresponsible because it whitewashes the Nakba and the occupation, by framing contemporary anti-Zionism in an earlier generation’s dewy-eyed vision of Israel:
Given the deep remorse for the misdeeds of colonialism, it was easier for the New Left of the 1960s to identify with the emerging Palestinian national movement than with the already established social democratic Israel….
AMID this rising hostility toward Israel, the French philosopher and political activist Jean-Paul Sartre advocated a different way forward. He was scarred by the memory of what had happened to France’s Jews during World War II — the discrimination, betrayals, deportations and exterminations. He understood the legitimacy of Israel’s war for independence and later commented that the establishment of the state of Israel was one of the few events “that allows us to preserve hope.” Yet Sartre also strongly supported Algeria’s fight for independence from France.
This double legacy of supporting Israel and the Algerian struggle symbolized the predicament of the entire postwar European left.
The obvious answer to this is, That was a long time ago. We’ve learned a lot since about the virgin birth of Israel involving the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians. Ilan Pappe’s book about this is a core text at any anti-Zionist gathering. And today there is apartheid in a colonized Palestine and even Jeff Halper warns that the Algeria model is gaining ground among activists.
More of Shindler’s blindness:
as Israeli settlements proliferated after 1977, strengthening the left’s caricature of Israel as an imperialist power and a settler-colonial enterprise.
Why is that a caricature? It’s not. Palestinians talk about ethnic cleansing because they are being forced out of their homes in East Jerusalem and in Area C. Why isn’t settler-colonial a precise characterization– with some messianism thrown in?
Then this mischaracterization of the left:
Sartre understood that the conflict was not simply between Israelis and Palestinians, but between those advocating peace on both sides and their rejectionists. This conflict within the conflict is something that many on Europe’s left, as they ally themselves with unsavory forces, still fail to comprehend.
This is inaccurate. The organized left I associate with is generally for BDS, a call that originated in 2005 and is a nonviolent means of seeking to resolve a conflict that involves the destruction of a historic consensus on partition (Oslo) by the fact that one side has occupied the entire land.
The piece identifies Shindler as “author of ‘Israel and the European Left: Between Solidarity and Delegitimization.’” But as the late sociologist Daniel Bell said in the 1970s, post-Vietnam, delegitimization is an inevitable tool of critics when a society faces an insoluble fundamental problem that involves racial discrimination and militarism.
And again I’d point out, there’s an op-ed editor at the Times, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, who wrote a fine book on Israel and South Africa in which he stated that Israel was a “pariah” state. He ascribed this status to Israel’s policies, not to anti-Semitism.