August 23, 2005
A recent poll shows that US university students have an increasingly negative image of Israel and Zionism and racist images of "the Jews." It may be tempting to write these off as the views of "leftists" but in fact, these students are the future of America. These frightening findings are not very surprising, and the conclusions to be drawn from them should be action items for everyone who supports Israel, democracy in the USA and the Middle East, and the fight against racist ideologies.
According to Joel Kotkin, A recent survey by pollster Frank Luntz for the Israel Project found that "the left" is no longer pro-Israel, . It may even be anti-Semitic:
For years, American Jews, including liberals, have watched in astonishment as Europe’s left-wing media, academic and
political elites have turned decisively against Israel and, to some extent, Jews, as well.
Now it may well be America’s turn, at least according to a recent survey by pollster Frank Luntz for the Washington-based Israel Project. In a shocking review of the largely left-leaning opinion leaders from America’s top colleges, Luntz found that Israel was clearly “losing the battle for the hearts and minds of America’s future leaders.”
For the most part, Luntz found the bulk of these young people — 150 randomly selected products of elite Ivy League colleges, as well as such West Coast wannabes as UCLA — viewed Israel as the unquestioned aggressor and villain of the Mideast crisis. In contrast, Palestinians were seen sympathetically as victims.
Luntz goes even further, suggesting that anti-Israel feelings are “also having a negative impact on attitudes to Jews right here in America.” Such sentiments also tend to spill over into negative views about Jewish Americans, in part due to their sympathy for the Zionist cause.
Overall, Luntz concludes, Jews are being categorized as a wealthy minority unsympathetic to the needs of poor people, particularly those of nonwhite and Third World backgrounds. The Ivy League-level graduate students surveyed also considered Jews to be overly politically powerful, “over-represented” on their campuses and a clannish people, many of whom inexplicably insist on associating with and marrying each other.
That is not exactly an earth-shaking discovery for anyone who follows Middle East commentary. What is remarkable about this article is that it was written about 5 or 10 years (or 20?) too late. There seems to be a wall of indifference to the problem among Zionist and Jewish organizations, and a willing lack of awareness - a suppression of the problem. That may account for the fact that these findings can be presented as "news." What is also remarkable is that Kotkin has somehow automatically made a transposition between "Ivy League students" and "leftists." This was a survey of "Ivy-League level graduate students" in the USA, not Democrats, or members of the Comintern or self-identified "leftists." Let's rephrase the findings then, so we understand their true significance: Israel is losing the support of young, educated people who are the leaders of tomorrow. This is clear from a more objective report.
The antipathy of "the left" to Israel and Zionism is surely not news in itself, since the Soviet anti-Zionist campaign of the 60s and the "Zionism is Racism" UN resolution of 1975. The Nation and the Village Voice, Counterpunch and a few other publications that support liberal, left and far left opinion, have been around for a while, and they have been anti-Israel and in the case of counterpunch, probably anti-Semitic, for quite a while.
Noam Chomsky has been a fixture of the far left for a long time. Since about 2000 if not before, he has been moved from a totally marginal position in debate to a fairly central one, thanks to the Internet, a wide academic support group and acolytes like Norman Finkelstein.
What is new is that these views, some of which are frankly racist, have begun to penetrate into the bastions of liberal respectability, including the Democratic party, and have gained a wide following on campuses.
In fact, many Zionists with right wing views now insist, wrongly in my view, that only the US right can be pro-Israel. Those who hold this view have very short memories, it seems. They forgot James Baker III and his famous, "F-- the Jews, they didn't vote for us." They forgot the anti-Israel, pro-Saudi policies of the Eisenhower administration, and they forgot that George Bush's father tried to ram a "peace settlement" down Israel's throat by threatening to withhold loan guarantees for Soviet immigrants to Israel, and insisting that Operation Desert Storm was fought for the benefit of the ungrateful Jews. "Freedom" for the US right and fighting "communism" have always been secondary to the need for Saudi oil and protection of US business interests. The current love affair between George Bush and Ariel Sharon is a marriage of convenience. Those Zionists who place their faith in the continued support of the Bush administration for Israel will be sorely disappointed.
The reasons why students and the left have become anti-Israel are myriad:
Failure to look to the Future - Luntz's survey results are disturbingly reminiscent of the Nazi youth in Carousel who sings "Die Morgentag" - "tomorrow is ours." Middle East policy and thinking in the US are determined by a relatively small group of academics and their students, who become State Department and government officials, journalists etc. The small group of anti-Zionist students who were part of the "new left" in 1968, are now the movers and shakers of Middle East Academia in the USA. Projecting what will happen in 20 years, the results are frightening. That is why it is important to understand that the views Luntz studied are not the views of "the left" but the views of graduate students in general.
Labor Zionism lost power in Israel - After the Israel Labor Party lost power in 1977, Israel stopped identifying itself with leftist and socialist causes and the socialist international, and Israel came to be seen less and less as a friend of the left. Yitzhak Rabin, appearing in shirt-sleeves before Jewish and left-leaning audiences in the US as the ambassador of Israel, made one type of impression. Benjamin Netanyahu, representing Israel in a business suit was much more convincing to establishment Jews and born-again Christians, but he could never speak to leftist students.
Right-Wing establishment groups represent Zionism in the USA - The ZOA, AIPAC and kindred organizations in the US came to be the
self- appointed spokespersons for Israel. Students do not identify with the establishment, and they do identify with
underdogs. For its own purposes, AIPAC has cultivated an image of power and alignment with the establishment. This
positioned it, in the eyes of Jewish contributors, as an effective lobby worthy of their financial support. In fact,
AIPAC's effect on US policy was probably minimal. Lobbyists work through congress. Congress does not have the major role
in setting US foreign policy. On the other hand, AIPAC's publicity image set it up as the perfect target of
so-called anti-Zionists - the incarnation of the world Jewish conspiracy. Anti-Zionists were able to use AIPAC's own
publicity campaign and the image it had created, as powerful negative symbols of Israel and the supposed sinister
'Zionist" and "Neocon" (synonyms for "Jewish") influence in the United States.
The Zionist Organization of America seems to have the idea that the best way to support Israel is to oppose the policies of the duly elected Israeli government, and to try to make "Zionism" synonymous with everything that is loathsome to the liberal ideology: the occupation, irredentism and falsification of Israel. Few people are aware that the Zionist Organization of America is actually a right-wing fringe group that doesn't represent American Zionism.
Decline of Labor Zionism in the USA and its abortive re-emergence as a protest movement - The Israel Labor party and Labor-Israel movement in the USA more or less fell apart. Now the progressive Zionists in the US are trying to re-assemble themselves, a task that might not be doable by all the king's horses and all the king's men. Apparently, US Progressive Zionists have gone about reconstructing themselves on the principle of "If you can't beat them, join them." Rather than defending Israel against extreme anti-Zionist propaganda, progressive Zionist publications and groups have focused on criticizing Israel to earn a place for themselves in the currently "PC" opinion spectrum. Labor Israel and Progressive Zionism in the USA is mostly a protest movement against the occupation, not a standard-bearer of Zionism. Organizations and publications that claim to represent Zionism feature anti-Zionists like Hanan Ashrawi, Azmi Bishara and Edward Said as part of their "Hasbara" (Hebrew word for pro-Israel propaganda) and bring disaffected Bedouins to the US to show how the Israeli government is supposedly persecuting the Bedouin. Surely, we need to criticize Israel when necessary, but Said, Ashrawi, Bishara and disaffected Bedouins are not going to to it either fairly or constructively. It is not their fault - it is simply not their job. They are entitled to their opinion, but Zionist groups do not need to give them a platform - someone else can do it.
Effective use of ideas and of the Internet by the opposition- Students
use the Internet and rely on the Internet as a primary information source. Fringe and extremist groups of all types
understood the potential of the Internet and began using it early and effectively, linking to each other and spreading
their views through publications like Indymedia, Zmag, Counterpunch, Marxists, Stormfront, Bible Believers,
Neturei Karteh, abbc.com, radioislam, biblebelievers, rense, Badil, Sabeel, PSM, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Electronic
Intifada, Common Dreams etc. These represent not "the left" but a very broad alliance of leftists, reactionaries, Nazis,
Palestinians, Muslims Christian groups,
and real humanitarians - all united around the cause of delegitimizing Israel, and using every argument to support their
case, from Nazi ideology to conservative economics to radical politics, in order to appeal to the broadest possible
audience. These groups and their Web sites link to each other and support each other regardless of their actual
political affiliations and beliefs. If you are for democracy, then you must be against Zionism according to them because it is "undemocratic" and if
you are a Nazi-sympathizer you can equally well join the struggle against Zionism because it is supported by "Jewish
Anti-Zionist propaganda is carefully crafted to appeal to the left on themes like "democracy" "justice" "helping the underdog," a propaganda line that was pioneered by Edward Said and Hannan Ashrawi. Rather than presenting the true goal of wiping out Israel, anti-Zionist propaganda focuses on issues that could get support - ending the occupation, ending the "Apartheid Wall" and created symbols that could be rallying points - the Sabra and Shatila massacre, the "Apartheid Wall" the bulldozer killing Rachel Corrie, "Palestinian David vs Israeli Goliath." The Palestinians more or less announced, in 1999, that they would launch a campaign to delegitimize Israel and Zionism, and they did it, especially through the Internet, and they were quite successful at it. (see also - Zionism on the Web),
Failure of the Zionist response on the Internet - Zionist organizations have largely ignored the potential of the Internet, which is "not respectable." Zionist and Jewish Internet sites do not link to each other and do not make an effort to publicize their views.
Defending the Indefensible - The anti-Zionists succeed because they attack Israel where it is weak, scoring against checkpoint brutality, the occupation, Greater Israel ideology, the regrettable deaths of anti-Zionist activists like Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndahl and anomalous historical incidents like the infamous Deir Yassin massacre. The strategy of groups like ZOA seems to be to "attack the enemy where he is strong." They insist on identifying Israel with all of these issues. ZOA in particular published an embarrassing denial of the Deir Yassin massacre that reflects the views of right-wing extremists in Israel, and was presented as if it is the view of "the Zionists" collectively. They turn the Deir Yassin massacre and the accidental killing of Rachel Corrie into "Zionist" causes rather than aberrations, playing into the hands of anti-Zionists.
Rigidity and Defensive attitudes -
According to the survey:
In arguing that Israel is losing the image war, Luntz said the graduate students
do not talk about Mideast issues with their Jewish friends, whom they perceive
as “indoctrinated” and “emotional.”
The notion that supporters of Israel automatically have to defend every action of Israel, and respond to every criticism as "anti-Semitism" has produced a loss of credibility.
Zionist advocates work themselves into an ideological corner
- Those who claim to represent Zionism have systematically undertaken to alienate
every group from the Zionist cause. "Leftists" like Kerry and Gore are attacked mercilessly as anti-Semites and "soft on
terror." In fact, they are neither leftists, nor anti-Zionists nor "soft on terror." Peace initiatives are attacked as treason. The Zionist cause is generally advocated by right-wing
groups. Their materials are constructed to appeal
to the extreme right: "Israel is the ally of the USA" "God gave Israel the land." It focuses on defending the occupation, delegitimizing Palestinians and Palestinian right to self-determination,
and Israeli political parties of the left. Shimon Peres, Yossi Sarid, Uri Avnery and others are all lumped together as
"self-hating Jews." "Zionist" commentary even attacks the policies of the Israeli
governments since 1994: The Oslo peace process and the disengagement. The same people who insist that it is treason and anti-Semitism to
criticize the occupation, also insist that it is right to call Peres a traitor or to insist that the Israeli government
is violating the "Human Rights" of the settlers.
Kotkin's article, which automatically labeled all US students as leftists, is symptomatic of the problem. If Zionists alienate themselves from all students as well as "the left," who will be left to support Israel?
Laundering monstrous ideas - Anti-Zionists have used the Internet successfully to make despicable ideas
like "Zionist Occupied Government" acceptable, as we can see in the quoted image of Jews and Zionism in Kotkin's
“Jewish people have lots of influence on the finances of our entire political systems ... Palestinians are poor, thus they have less value to American politicians.”
That view is now politically correct. It is not a "Left Wing" view, but rather the view of the Stormfront and David Dukes and supporters of David Dukes Lyndon Larouche. In the transformation that occurred, racist ideas were made acceptable. Holocaust denial was painted over and made respectable as opposition to the "Holocaust Industry" and the campaign to wipe out Israel was turned into the struggle of a Palestinian David and an Israeli Goliath.
The article quotes Fred Siegel of Cooper Union as saying:
“Liberalism is increasingly the politics of ignorance — it’s amazing what these kids don’t know about the Middle East or about Jewish history,” he suggests. “This is real trouble for Israel.”
Furthermore, the article quotes Frank Luntz as saying:
“Someone is educating these kids, and it is not the pro-Israel community,”
Whose fault is that? Is it the fault of anti-Zionists that they are so effective in spreading their propaganda or is it the fault of Zionists, for not getting the facts out there. Is it really "Liberalism" that is the politics of ignorance, or just "anti-Zionism?" Are Lyndon Larouche and Pat Buchanan supporters really better informed than liberals, or more pro-Israel? Or perhaps it is implied that Pat Buchanan and David Dukes are "liberals" just because they are anti-Israel. Who was it who decided to smear "Liberalism" in general and without reservations as "the politics of ignorance." Is that likely to attract liberal thought to the cause of Zionism?
The left-leaning British Guardian famously ran a cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating a Palestinian child — it won first prize in the Political Cartoon Society’s contest for 2003.
Actually, it was the Independent that ran the cartoon, not the Guardian. It is a very shocking cartoon. Amazingly, most people have not seen this cartoon, which is reproduced below and speaks for itself. If you never saw this cartoon before, ask yourself why. Ask yourself why this bit of racist infamy, reminiscent of the worst blood libels of the Middle Ages, is so obscure that even Kotkin couldn't be bothered to find out where the cartoon actually appeared.
If people don't have the information, it would seem that the obvious thing that must be done is to get the information to the people. Instead, Zionist groups concentrate their efforts on attacking each other, attacking Israeli government policy, putting any and all critics of Israel in the same basket as racists, who are then considered equivalent to "leftists," "liberals" and "students," and vain attempts to shut up anti-Zionists and anti-Semites as well as legitimate critics of Israel.
Democracy means that the people who disagree with you have a right to disseminate their opinions, however distasteful. It is your responsibility to get your views and information out there.
See also - The Occupation, Palestinians, Israel and Zionism Disengagement in Gaza: The unsettling end of orange?
History of Zionism and the Creation of Israel
You are reading this article at E-Zion - The Zionism and Israel Viewpoints Online Magazine
Copyright belongs to the author. Please contact the author for reprint permission
External Zionism Links
This site provides resources about Zionism and Israeli history, including links to source documents. We are not responsible for the information content of these sites.
Please do copy these links, and tell your friends about http://www.zionism-israel.comZionism Website
Sister sites http://zionism.netfirms.com Zionism and Israel Pages and Zionism and Israel On the Web
Friends and informative sites:
Zionism - Definition and Brief History - A balanced article that covers the definitions and history of Zionism as well as opposition to Zionism and criticisms by Arabs, Jewish anti-Zionists.
Labor Zionism - Early History and Critique - Contribution of Labor Zionism to the creation of the Jewish state, and problems of Labor Zionism in a changing reality.
Dvar Dea - Israel and Zionism advocacy
La Bibliothèque Proche Orientale- Le Grand Mufti Husseini
The Grand Mufti Haj Amin El Husseini
Zionisme- israelinformatie- Zionisme Israel/Jodendom Israelisch-Palestijns Conflict Anti-Semitisme Shoa - a Dutch Web site with many useful Jewish, Zionism and Israel links (in English too).
Israel-Palestina - (Dutch) Middle East Conflict, Israel, Palestine,Zionism... Israël-Palestina Informatie -gids Israël, Zionisme, Palestijnen en Midden-Oosten conflict... Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a European perspective - Dutch and English.
Googletestad - What is it, and why it is important for us
ZioNation - Zionism-Israel Web Log Israel News Israel: like this, as if Albert Einstein Bible Palestine Nakba 1948 Israel Independence - Birth of a Nation Six Day War War of Independence History of Zionism Zionism FAQ Zionism Israel Center Maps of Israel Jew Israel Advocacy Zionism and its Impact Israel Christian Zionism Site Map