Recent events have been clarifying for many of us. While many left-wing Jews have grasped that they wound up political bedfellows with people who at best downplay and at worst celebrate massacring, torturing, raping, and kidnapping several thousand innocent civilians, from babies to the elderly, even those distinctly not on the left have had some epiphanies. This includes me.
Recall my post on October 9: “There has been too much pointless debate over whether those who call for Israel’s destruction are necessarily antisemitic. The important point is that such people know that the end of Israel most likely means genocide for 7.5 million Israeli Jews, and they are okay with that.” But why? As I noted, antisemitism is only a partial explanation: “Most antisemites aren’t full-on Nazis, and as much as they dislike Jews would object to mass murder (just like most people who have racist opinions of black people would object to mass murder.)”
Moreover, some of those exhibiting indifference or much worse to the fate of Israeli Jews, on Oct. 7 or otherwise, have Jewish partners, Jewish friends, or are even Jewish themselves, and don’t otherwise exhibit hostility to Jews, and would reject various antisemitic notions if put before them.
So what I have come up with is that these folks have imbibed and adopted a version of anti-racist, anti-colonial theory that divides the world into two classes by group: the oppressors and the oppressed. The oppressors, in this worldview, are permitted nothing in their battles with the oppressed. Because they are oppressors, they have no right to self-defense, no right not to have their children slaughtered, their women raped, and so on, if it’s done by the oppressed, in particular if done in the name of anti-colonial resistance. Members of the oppressor class, regardless of age, regardless of individual attributes, are innately guilty, and thus none can claim innocence.
The oppressed are the opposite. Members of this group are, by definition, innocent. Nothing they do to oppressors, no matter how morally depraved it might seem to normies, is blameworthy. Each side is just acting out the historical struggle of liberation of the oppressed vs. the oppressors.
Grasping this has led me to understand, for example, various interactions I’ve had over the years with those, most famously Glenn Greenwald, who condemn any Israeli actions in self-defense against Hamas, but consistently decline to state what actions *would* be permissible. The answer, though they won’t say so publicly because they usually are purporting to rely on international law, rather than ideology, is that nothing is permitted to the oppressor (Israel), nothing is forbidden to the oppressed (Palestinians).
Of course, this does not explain how Israelis came to be “the oppressor,” given that Israeli in this context effectively means “Israeli Jews,” and almost every Israeli Jew is no more than two generations away from an attempt by their government in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa to murder or expel them. A very good part of the how Israelis came not just “the oppressor,” but perhaps, in competition with the United States, THE great representative of the oppressor is a product of antisemitism, and in particular antisemitism spread by the USSR from the 1960s to the 1980s and absorbed into Western post-colonial theory.
Anyway, once we understand the underlying theory far left “antizionists” have, we can also understand how morally depraved it is. Israeli babies are guilty, because they are members of the oppressor class. Medieval Hamas theocratic butchers are innocent, no matter how many babies they murder. You may occasionally puzzle over leftist “Queers for Palestine” marching on behalf of people who would kill them on sight. Post-colonial theory, like other forms of fanatical belief, is impervious to reason, common sense, or common decency.
UPDATE: This also explains the desperate pleas of Jewish progressives over the last few years to persuade their comrades that Israelis and/or Jews in general aren’t white. If you’re not white, you’re presumptively not the oppressor. This has been a largely unsuccessful gambit. In any event, while this may get to part of the antisemitism issue, it doesn’t get to the root of the problem, which is that assigning people moral worth and agency based on whether they belong to a broad ideologically contoured “class” is abhorrent and inevitably leads to defending atrocities.