I read an article in the Jerusalem Post by Richard Marceau about the curious phenomenon of Jews so zealously opposed to the State of Israel that they make common cause with some of the vilest anti-Semites on the planet. This is not a matter of opposing certain aspects of Israeli policies. These are people who work to discredit the very existence of Israel.
The attempt to persuade the US Presbyterian Church to apply a policy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel was led, among others, by a fringe, supposedly Jewish group called Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).
While a minuscule group in the Jewish world, as a result of being so exceptional, these Jews opposed to Israel attract a lot of media attention. Perhaps most astonishing is the insistence of anti-Israel Jews that they are being “courageous,” as though their actions were fraught with painful consequences.
On the one hand, religious anti-Zionism is mainly the purview of an ultra- Orthodox fringe movement called Neturei Karta (“Guardians of the City” in Aramaic). Anyone who has had the pleasure of passing by an anti-Israel rally has no doubt seen these folks. I have no intention of explaining their theology – and their absurd engagement with the Holocaust-denying Iranian regime – in this column.
Since he won’t explain their theology, I guess I will have to. The Neturei Karta is a faction of Ultra-Orthodox or Heredi Judaism that numbers perhaps 5000 worldwide. They believe that the Jews were sent into exile from the Holy Land because of their sins and that it is illegitimate for the Jews to create a Jewish state until the coming of the Messiah. Any attempt to create such a state, as with the modern State of Israel is sinning against the divine will. Most of the Neturei Karta simply try to ignore the Israeli government but a few join protests against Israel and work with its enemies.
Most of the critics of Israel can be found on the left and they are the ones that Marceau is interested in.
Extreme Left anti-Zionism, even if it is also marginal, attracts attention because of its bizarre willingness to ally itself with groups whose values are the polar opposite of the Left’s own principles. They are willing to close their eyes to this fact as their hate – yes, hate – for Israel consumes them more than does their desire to defend the values they claim to hold dear.
The main founder of IJV is an Ottawa woman by the name of Diana Ralph, whose political opinions are very peculiar.
I myself have met Ralph a few times (the Ottawa/Gatineau Jewish community is small) and I can indeed confirm her radical outlook.
In an article titled “Islamophobia and the ‘war on terror’: The continuing pretext for imperial conquest” for the book The Hidden History of 9-11, Ralph says that the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington were not carried out by al-Qaida, but by American and Israeli conservatives in order to implement “a secret, strategic plan to position the US as a permanent unilateral super-power poised to seize control of Eurasia, and thereby the entire world.”
Of course, Israel is the one pulling the strings.
But that’s not all. The Federal Court of Canada, not once but twice commented unfavorably on Diana Ralph and her politics in the case of Almrei (2007), when she volunteered to be a surety for the alleged terrorist. The Court noted her complete lack of objectivity, that her judgment was clouded by her political beliefs and her lack of respect for the court.
In a meeting of the left-wing movement Peace Now, held in 2009 at the Reform synagogue Temple Israel in Ottawa, Ralph tried to distribute a text extolling the virtues of – wait for it – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This so angered the genuine peace activists present that they forbade the distribution of Ralph’s text and clearly dissociated themselves from her outrageous and extreme views.
The ironic and sad thing is that if Ralph’s allies were ever in power, she, as an openly lesbian woman, would be one of their first victims.
Why do these Jewish supporters of minority, women and gay rights ally themselves with people who are totally opposed to these values, in order to demonize the Middle East’s only democracy? I have been considering this for some time now and I am not sure I know the answer.
Could it be because Israel is a liberal democracy, with a market economy, and an ally of the US, whereas this far Left is anti-globalization, anti-capitalist and anti-American? But there is probably more at play here.
I think I know part of the answer. These Jews who would see Israel destroyed do not identify themselves as Jews first but as leftists. In effect, they have converted to the religion of Leftism or Progressivism. Progressivism is a totalitarian religion that does not tolerate competing interests. Since hatred of Israel is currently a progressive position, they must hate Israel, even if that seems against the interests of their own people. This may also explain how an openly homosexual woman can support regimes that would kill her, if given the chance. It is politically correct to support such regimes, perhaps on the principle that the enemy of my enemy (Israel and America) is my friend. There my also be a certain amount of self hatred involved. Marceau might agree with this analysis.
British (and non-Jewish) author Robin Sheppard came to the following explanation, which makes sense to me:
“…This also sheds different light on the status of that small but vocal group of secular Jews in the Diaspora who consider themselves anti-Zionist and who therefore oppose the existence of the Jewish State.
Since their secularism blocks their route to a sustainable Jewish identity through immersion in the religion and their anti- Zionism blocks their route to a sustainable Jewish identity via a deepseated identity with Israel, they are effectively positing for themselves a state of long-term conversion away from Judaism. Anti-Zionist Jews react to charges of this kind with a rejectionism bordering on bitterness. In a sense this is unsurprising. They are being presented with an edifice of argument to which they have serious responses and which they are likely to take personally.
They are therefore reduced to sophistry and denial centering on extremely vague and unconvincing definition of Judaism – Judaism as a set of ‘non-essential’ political- philosophical ideals, for example – whose weakness they themselves must be only too well aware of. …They may or may not be self-hating Jews but they are certainly self-negating Jews. They have adopted a maxim which, if adopted by all Jews, would negate absolutely the possibility of Jewish identity itself as a long-term constituent of the human race (with the exception, I repeat, of ultra-religious, closed communities).
The secular, anti-Zionist Jew is a self-negating Jew because he and she lacks the ability to project a meaningful Jewish identity into the future.”
French intellectual Pierre-André Taguieff goes in the same direction:
“Those ‘alterjews,’ who systematically take the side of the Jews’ enemies, can they still be considered Jewish? Beside the fluke of their birth, in what way are they Jewish? Can we apply to them the old Talmudic formula according to which ‘the Jew who has sinned stays Jewish’? How can one tolerate the fact that they self-identify as Jews only to attack the Jews (the ‘Jewish Jews’). Deutscher’s ‘non- Jewish Jew’ was at once inside and outside (like Heine or Freud). The contemporary ‘alterjew’ is inside only to be against.”
Perhaps they should be excommunicated, if such a thing is possible in Jewish practice. As I said, this is not a matter of perfectly legitimate criticism of Israeli policies but actively siding with those who seek to destroy the Jewish state.