I would like to propose a rather unique explanation for the growth of anti-Israel sentiment around the world. Before I do so however, one thing must be established. It has become undeniable that the growth of dislike for Israel is coming predominantly from the left. It is in the University, one of the preeminent left leaning institutions in the world, that anti-Israel rallies are held most often. Of the two major parties in U.S. politics, it is the Democrats, the representatives of left-leaning Americans, who have wavered most in their support for Israel in recent years. And finally, of the major American news outlets, it is the center/left ones that portray Israel most negatively during times of conflict- it is not Fox News.
Is this just a coincidence, or is there something about the left’s thinking that produces such a dislike for Israel? I think there is. And believe it or not, the culprit is of a most unexpected nature. I think the culprit is pacifism. I believe that there has been an increase in pacifistic sentiment among the political left , causing much of the growing distaste for Israel around the world.
What exactly is Pacifism? Pacifism is an absolute opposition to war. Period. The basic assumption here is that the world can achieve “peace” if countries (usually the one the pacifist resides in) would simply refuse to fight. This makes sense, ostensibly. The problem, however, is that it necessitates an extremely rosy view of the world, to an extent that it is not at all realistic. Take the following quote for example. It was written by a quasi-pacifist Bertrand Russell, a 20th century British philosopher:
“When disarmament is suggested, it is natural to imagine that foreign conquest would inevitably follow, and would be accompanied by all the horrors that characterize warlike invasions. This is a mistake... Probably, if we had neither armaments nor Empire, foreign States would let us alone. If they did not, we should have to yield without fighting, and we should therefore not arouse their ferocity.”
It is astounding how trusting he is of the basic goodness of humanity. The excerpt displays a drastic distortion of reality; to the point that it is practically satirical. But assuming this is not the case, why would someone think this way? What would bring someone to engage in such fantasy- to think that he could remain safe by refusing to defend himself? Does such a person not realize that there is such a thing as evil- that there are people who will seek to harm you whether you fight for yourself or not?
The answer to this question is difficult. Suggesting that pacifism stems from a psychological neurosis would obviously come across as arrogant, but it is probably the closest thing to the truth. Pacifism may simply be a strong manifestation of “wishful thinking”- the psychological need to see difficult problems as easily surmountable. Pacifists, in seeking the most elusive achievement known to mankind-“world peace”- resort to proposing that it can be achieved easily- by putting down weapons and surrendering.
Such pacifistic notions have infiltrated the modern left. I can go through a long litany of examples where our current president has denounced the use of force and blamed America for the aggression of foreign religious extremists, but that wouldn’t be necessary. I don’t think it even has to be argued that Democrats are less hawkish than Republicans. But, just as a sampling, one (very egregious) example of left leaning pacifism is called for. After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the liberal website Salon tweeted the following: “Real terror unfolds in Paris. Perhaps this will convince the right to tone down their incessant violent rhetoric.” After you finish reeling in shock, take a moment to notice how he/she places the blame squarely on the right, and completely forgets to blame those who actually committed the terror, aka the terrorists. Seemingly, he/she believes that the incident could have been avoided simply by making sure not to anger the terrorists who were involved! He/She naturally assumes that the terrorist attack on the West was caused by the West, or its “violent rhetoric.” That is the essence of pacifism- the hopeful delusion that others will only be as bad as we cause them to be.
How does this all connect to Israel? It is very simple. Since pacifists believe that all the aggression directed towards an individual must have been caused by that individual, they believe that all the aggression aimed at Israel must have been caused by Israel. And since Israel is recipient of a gargantuan amount of hatred from Muslim countries, it follows that Israel must have done some pretty egregious things to foment that hatred.
Of course, there are other factors in play. Nobody can seriously claim that old-school Anti-Semitism doesn’t play a role in the world’s hatred of Israel. But anti-Semitism cannot be the only cause. How then would you explain the incredible fact, as attested to by Alan Dershowitz, that overwhelmingly, people who hate Israel also hate America? Perhaps it is second degree anti-Semitism (because America supports Israel), or perhaps it is something more. Maybe people see how both of these countries unabashedly use military force to fight evil. Maybe they see how both of these countries take pride in their militaries, and see them as a medium for peace and order.
And then maybe the pacifists in the crowd see the exact opposite. They see two countries that are always at war, constantly causing deranged people to engage in violent activity. They see the two countries as chronic instigators, and as obstacles to a peace that would be so achievable, if only they would just put their weapons down. But then, in self-defense, these countries refuse to stop fighting, and while at first the pacifists only resent them for their aggression, this resentment quickly turns to hatred. Add this hatred (in Israel’s case) to the already extant anti-Semitism that is systemic to so many cultures around the world, and you have a putrid concoction of Anti-Israel/Semitic sentiment that is so virulent, it is making Jewish college students across the Western world fear for their safety, just for being Jewish.
If you think this whole theory is farfetched, just think of this for a moment. In 2003, a survey was taken in the European Union asking Europeans what countries they thought are the greatest threat to world peace. The top two responses in the survey were, you guessed it, Israel and America.
Feel free to respond: