Israel and liberals

I get all the problems with the Israeli occupation and why it gets many liberals very upset.  As Tomasky puts it:

The occupation is beyond terrible, beyond indefensible. The blockade makes things even worse. Netanyahu’s current position (and his past positions of course–he onceordered Meshal’s assassination) seems intentionally designed to make Israel’s last friends in the world abandon it. All that is understood.

Right, but here’s the thing, as Tomasky points out– here’s the rhetoric from the leaders of Hamas:

Speaking before tens of thousands of supporters to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, Mr. Meshal said the Jewish state would be wiped away through “resistance,” or military action. “The state will come from resistance, not negotiation,” he said. “Liberation first, then statehood.”

His voice rising to a shout, Mr. Meshal said: “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on any inch of the land.” He vowed that all Palestinian refugees and their descendants would one day return to their original homes in what is now Israel.

“We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take,” he said. “We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.”

Ummm, yeah.  More Tomasky:

But I ask you how any progressive person can fully support a movement like Meshal’s. Granted, the world doesn’t always offer us clean choices. We must prioritize, and the clear priority here is opposing occupation and working to end it.

But secular liberal people must also have the fortitude to demand that leaders of the occupied move away from destructive positions like Meshal’s, which just make for a downward spiral to nowhere.Too often in the history of the postwar era, the left in the developed world has let its hatred of imperialism and occupation prevent it from seeing and denouncing the problems within the movements around the world it has supported.

I’ve never been part of the knee-jerk left on these issues and stuff like this is exactly why.  I’m not big fan of Israel’s right-wing government, but I’m much less a fan of movements that embrace terrorism and nihilism.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

4 Responses to Israel and liberals

  1. Bob Andron says:

    Well put, Steve. It has been a problem since Abraham. Two kids, Isaac and Ishmael, who just can’t get along. Deep down, most of us know what’s right – but resolving the dispute is a real challenge.

  2. Mark says:

    I honestly don’t have a problem with this rhetoric. Israeli leaders claim that they want an agreement and speak less radically, but their actions are equally deplorable (and worse I would argue). How would you feel if you were living on a piece of land for generations, and a group of people (with international support) came in and violently evicted you, took the land, claimed it as their own, treated you inhumanely, and denied your right to statehood? Israelis used the exact same terrorist tactics to get their state and now people are outraged that Hamas does the same. This is what happens when people and destitute and see no hope for the future.

  3. John F. says:

    I didn’t realize liberals were running around trying to embrace Hamas. Can he name just one institutional liberal that embraces violent resistance to the occupation? Or is this more of the typical moderation to an extreme which seeks to find even the most obscure examples just so everyone can share in being on the wrong side?

    • Steve Greene says:

      Obviously this is an issue I don’t follow all that closely, but I get a general sense that there’s a lot of liberals– especially in Europe– who are knee-jerk anti Israel just like many conservatives are knee-jerk anti Palestinian.

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