The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS, or whatever we’re calling them now) is inflicting unspeakable cruelty on Iraq’s Kurdish Yazidis, an ancient religious sect that predates Islam and Christianity. Many men, women, and children have been beheaded, and many others have been buried alive. Others have been crucified. Hundreds of women have been raped or enslaved. U.S. intervention has come too late for thousands of Yazidis, and some remain stranded on a barren mountaintop with no food or water. Iraqi Christians have been suffering a similar fate at the hands of ISIS brutality.
Last week, I tweeted: “If Jews were as defenseless as the stranded Yazidis, is there any doubt Hamas (and others) would do to Jews what ISIS is doing to Yazidis?” Among the clear-thinking and informed, there is no doubt. But what about all those people around the world who have made Hamas’s “resistance” to “Zionist occupation” (which ended in 2005, by the way) such a fashionable cause célèbre? Do they realize that there is zero distinction between Hamas’s Islamist supremacist ideology, which exhorts its followers to murder Jews and other “infidels,” and ISIS’s ideology? Do they realize that the only difference between Hamas and ISIS is that former has the Israel Defense Forces standing it its way? (That is not to disparage the Kurdish Peshmerga, a fierce and courageous group of fighters who could stand up to ISIS if properly armed.)
Islamist HamISIS ideology stands for everything the left claims to stand against: subjugation of women; intolerance — often to the point of murder — of minorities, gays, and others who don’t conform to Islamic orthodoxy; forced religious fundamentalism; militarism; fascism. Why, then, has the left embraced Hamas’s “armed struggle” against Israeli’s much more tolerant and inclusive society? Why do they whitewash the bigotry, misogyny, and homophobia that Hamas espouses?
One can speculate about the psychological pathologies that drive the more extreme leftists to such intellectual dishonesty. The Bill Ayers’s of the world have long since settled into a comfortable bourgeois lifestyle. However, they secretly admire the way radical Muslims violently attack the Western institutions that leftists hate. They see Islamists like Hamas as proxies for themselves, embodying the rage that the leftists viscerally feel at the power structures of their own societies. Contemporary Western radicals dare not express their rage in the violent manner that Islamist terrorists do, because they rely upon the freedoms and comforts provided by the very institutions they despise. Their rage is therefore impotent, and at least subconsciously, they revere Islamists like Hamas for doing what Western leftists dare not do.
It doesn’t help that Israelis are characterized by leftists as European colonizers of Palestinian land. In the leftist version of hell (or the atheist equivalent thereof), the lowest rung is reserved for European colonizers. To label Israelis as such, of course, ignores one of the most compelling arguments for Israel’s existence: Decades ago, Jews were chased by religious hatred from their ancient communities throughout the Arab world. Israel has provided millions of Middle Eastern and African Jews with refuge, so they can continue to live in the region that has been their home since antiquity.
It is also grossly unfair to say that Israel is “occupied” Palestinian land. Had that been a valid charge, rather than simply an attempt to delegitimize Israel, it would also have been leveled at Egypt prior to 1967 and Jordan to this very day. (The Palestine Liberation Organization’s own charter admits that Jordan sits on 78 percent of historic Palestine.) Seven million Hindus and Sikhs were driven from their ancient communities in 1947 so that Pakistan (and later Bangladesh) could be created in the name of Muslim self-determination. Millions more Hindus and Sikhs were later ethnically cleansed from Pakistan and Bangladesh; two and a half million Hindus were slaughtered in the 1971 Bangladesh genocide alone. If Israel’s displacement of some Palestinians was truly an “outrage,” then why does no one complain of the Hindu/Sikh displacement that was larger (and bloodier) by orders of magnitude?
The hardcore left has even adopted Hamas’s anti-Semitism — or perhaps Islamists like Hamas have simply brought out the left’s pre-existing anti-Semitism. Hamas’s charter openly calls for killing the Jews. (Western leftists assiduously substitute “Zionists” for “Jews” because they think it masks their anti-Semitism; Islamists are more upfront about their intentions.) Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan recently asserted in a television interview, with earnest credulity, the paranoid lunatic fantasy that Jews kill Christians to mix their blood into matzo (Jewish unleavened bread). All those leftist demonstrators shouting “We are Hamas!” should be so proud of themselves.
A prominent feature of leftist anti-Semitism is the insistent and pointed use of terms like “Nazis” and “genocide” to refer to Israelis and their actions against Palestinians. Only the historically illiterate would buy such hysterical hyperbole, but unfortunately, “historically illiterate” describes most of the population. Those terms are part of a malevolent communications strategy to trivialize what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust. It is also an outrageous attempt by Palestinians to usurp whatever moral authority they think that Holocaust victimhood confers upon the Jews. Sadly, there are plenty of low-information lefties out there who are more than happy to repeat such nonsense.