A statement at a New York rally opposing the Trump Administration’s Mid-East peace plan seemed to me to epitomise the bizarre, nonsensical view of Israel and Zionism that has entrenched itself in much of the global far-left.
The small “Say No to the Steal of the Century” protest in Manhattan’s City Hall Park on Jan. 31 was organised by a number of different American Islamist and far-left groups. Speakers and demonstrators were pretty clear that they were not just against the Trump peace plan, but Israel’s continued existence. Predictably, demonstrators chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Speakers praised Hamas, spoke about the coming end of Zionism and liberation of all of Palestine, and called for “resistance”, a euphemism for terrorism.
But what was particularly striking was a statement by Bill Doares, representing the Marxist Workers World Party:
“We must all stand with the people of Palestine because Israel is part of a global apartheid that keeps the world divided into rich and poor, exploiters and exploited, oppressed and oppressors… And when the State of Israel goes, that whole edifice will fall, Free, free Palestine!”
That statement is an illustration of the far-left view of Israel which is striking because of how completely divorced from any normal concept of reality it is.
It is one thing to believe Israel is a usurpation of Palestinian or Islamic land, which should be returned to its rightful owners, as most at the rally appeared to, and many Palestinians clearly do. This view is extreme, but at least it makes some intrinsic sense once you understand the stolen land premise – untrue and ahistorical as it is.
But to believe that destroying Israel is the key to ending a whole global system of “apartheid that keeps the world divided into rich and poor, exploiters and exploited, oppressed and oppressors” takes the craziness to a whole other level.
Israel is a tiny sliver of land containing nine million people. Even if you believe, ridiculously, that Israel is the most evil regime in the world, or think, also ridiculously, that the 11 million or so Palestinians are the most oppressed people on earth, this claim makes no sense.
This one conflict, directly affecting some 20 million people – 0.27% of the world’s 7.5 billion human inhabitants – and concerning 0.0146% of the world’s total land area, is the key to ending all oppression, exploitation and inequality in the world? Seriously?
However, this nonsensical claim has its origin in something I have written about before in this column – antisemitic conspiracy theories about the terrible secret global power of “Zionists” acting behind the scenes to prop up imperialism, colonialism and capitalism that were vigorously propagated by the KGB and other Soviet bodies during the Cold War. Archival sources show that key Soviet leaders really believed in “Jews secretly control the world” conspiracy theories straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Many on the left and in international “liberation movements” came to accept this belief – that Israel is the lynchpin of imperialism – as an article of faith, so that Marxists like Doares are still claiming it today, despite its obvious absurdity. And even those on the far-left who did not directly or fully imbibe this belief from Soviet sources and their many echo chambers would have picked up the general belief in left-wing circles that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most urgently important issue in the world.
This explains the ridiculously excessive focus on Israel in far-left circles even today, such as huge amounts of energy put into the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel on university campuses and elsewhere.
Proponents of this movement deny that their obsessive focus on alleged Israeli wrong-doing has anything to do with antisemitism – despite the frequent invocation of traditional antisemitic tropes in pro-BDS circles. Yet the bottom line is that, even when no such tropes are invoked, the obsessive focus on Israel by such groups and individuals largely has its ultimate origins in beliefs about Israel’s key role in “global imperialism” that are a direct product of a traditionally antisemitic worldview.
Terrorist Water Wallies?
Here’s a fun fact. Israel’s Public Security Ministry is having to spend NIS 2.3 million (A$1 million) to install water control systems in all the maximum security prisons in Israel.
Why? Because Palestinian security prisoners (eg. those charged with terrorism-related offences) in those prisons are apparently seeking to sabotage Israel in perhaps the only way available to them – by leaving the water running all day long.
Israeli Prison Service (IPS) data shows that security prisoners use about 3.5 times more water a year than the average Israeli – 250 cubic metres compared to 70 cubic metres.
They also use many times more water than prisoners convicted of non-security related crimes.
Security prisoners spend much of the day in their cells and often have showers and lavatories in them. The only reason the IPS can think of for the water discrepancy is that these prisoners are deliberately letting the water run for hours daily.
In all, the 5,800 Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails were wasting an average of 750,000 cubic metres of water a year, costing taxpayers some NIS 5.6 million (A$2.45 million) annually.
This behaviour cannot help but recall the largely false claims frequently made by Palestinian representatives and advocates that Israel is constantly stealing water that rightfully belongs to the Palestinians.
It also cannot but make one wonder about the strange zero-sum and ultimately self-destructive behaviour that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often seems to inspire.