For as long as I’ve been able to hold political beliefs, I have been known as the lonely Leftie in my family. I’ve always liked to think of myself as more Centre Left than radical left but compared to my family, I’m as left-leaning as they get. Which has resulted in many a passionate discussion at the dining table when the whole family gathers, especially around election time – any election really. The last time my brother and I got into a ‘discussion’, my 9-year-old niece tearfully asked ‘why don’t you love each other anymore?’ and we had to laugh and explain that we still loved each other, we just thought the other was an idiot… in a loving way.
But now, as Israel is at war, my beliefs have started to waver. As I look at my left-leaning Twitter followers, I’ve noticed something disturbing. They all seem to be on the side of whoever they perceive to be the underdog, regardless of the situation. They also seem to only be aware and interested in trendy causes. Allow me to explain.
They are not posting about what’s happening in Syria, where the civil war still lingers and hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed.
They know nothing about what was happening in Venezuela, where protesters were killed for the act of protesting.
They don’t seem to care about fighting in Sudan. Or what ISIS is doing in Iraq.
And yet, suddenly, they are experts in the complex situation of the Middle East, where tensions have been taunt for centuries, where victim and villain is not always obvious to the outsider. This is an area of the world that confounds many and yet suddenly, in the space of a few weeks, every left-wing person out there KNOWS that Israel is wrong; KNOWS that the Palestinians are all innocents and KNOWS that it would all be peaceful if only Israel gave in. And if you try to engage with them about the complexities of the situation, you’re called a Nazi, you’re told that Hitler should have done the job better and you’re told that, regardless of what Hamas does, you’re a murderous scumbag for trying to explain that it’s not a simple situation.
In the course of the past two weeks, I’ve watched left-wing people who I’ve respected cherry-pick the news they share online, I’ve watched them blindly follow a bias all the while proclaiming that they ‘know’ what’s happening and how can ‘the world’ ignore it.
Let me get this out of the way: I am Jewish. I am a Zionist in that I believe that Israel as a secular Jewish state should exist. I also believe that Israel is not always blameless, so I’m not a one-eyed supporter. I do not support the settlements and, while I’d like to think this is obvious, I don’t support the killing of innocent civilians on either side. I like to think that I am intelligent and can look at different sides of a situation, all the while accepting that there is a history that I may never understand completely. Unfortunately, it seems that so many of those on the Left refuse to accept that life is not simple, that life does not always follow the ideal path. And so they engage with fascists and Nazi-sympathisers and descend to the level of name-calling, threatening and fear in order to make their point.
Case in point: French anti-Israel protests have descended into pro-Nazi ralllies, calling to ‘Gas the Jews’. Store-fronts have been smashed, Jews have been forced to leave. The same has been seen in Germany, in Belgium. Nobody cares because there can only be one right and one wrong in a situation and the Left have decided that, unilaterally, Israel (and ergo, Jews) are wrong.
As I’ve been watching the news, reading the coverage, watching the world react, I’ve been forced to re-evaluate my political affiliations because I don’t know how I can fit into the Left while they insist on descending to these levels. I refuse to align myself with the Right but where does that leave me? I feel abandoned simply because of my religion. I feel marginalised because of my affiliations.
I do not believe that every person who criticizes Israel is anti-Semitic. I do not believe that anti-Zionist automatically means anti-Semitic. But I do believe that too many of those on the Left refuse to accept their own biases all while telling the world to ‘check their privilege’ and ‘think of the children’. I believe that too many of those on the Left descend in the anti-Semitism too quickly. I believe that too many on the Left tend to see the world as they wish it to be and not how it is.
I realise that I’m not the first to acknowledge these issues and I’m not the first to face a crisis of political identity. But I don’t know where to go from here.