Weekend long read

Writing at the Tower, Jamie Palmer has produced a long and thoughtful piece relating to the ongoing issue of the British Left and antisemitism.Weekend Read

“Over the past few years, a palpable sense of alarm has been quietly growing amongst Jews on the European Left. At the heart of an often-fraught relationship lies the following dilemma: The vast majority of Jews are Zionist, and the vast majority of Left-wing opinion is not.

But the problem goes beyond the question of Israel itself. It also involves a general sense that the Left is unconcerned with Jewish interests and unwilling to take the matter of rising anti-Semitism seriously, preferring instead to dismiss it as a consequence of Israeli policies or a censorious attempt to close down discussion of the same. The horror with which many Jews greeted the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party was outstripped only by the realization that his supporters felt that his fondness for the company of anti-Semites was unworthy of their concern.

This is a complex subject, with roots that stretch back to the beginning of the last century. I have attempted to outline in necessarily broad fashion some of the trends of thought that have informed the relationship between Jews and the Left, as well as the shifting attitudes towards Israel in particular. In doing so, I hope to shed some light on their implications.”

Read “The Holocaust, the Left, and the Return of Hate” here.

At the Times of Israel, Haviv Rettig Gur has some very interesting observations on the topic of Israeli democracy.

“Israel boasts many of the features of highly successful democracies: an open and contentious public square, free and egalitarian parliamentary elections, robust judicial recourse and oversight.

But no one quite knows why.

Built by East European and Muslim-world immigrants with no actual experience of democracy, the Israeli state is, on paper at least, worryingly monolithic and intrusive. […]

Nor did Israel’s early history favor democracy. For the first 29 years of the state’s existence, the center-left, today called the Labor Party, never lost an election. This de facto one-party regime controlled not only the country’s powerful security services, but much of the economy. Israel’s largest industries were state-owned and -run (and thus de facto Labor-owned and -run) in those decades. […]

Only in 1992 were some key rights delineated in two pseudo-constitutional “basic laws,” yet even these are in an important sense only halfheartedly constitutional. The Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, which articulates fundamental rights such as bodily safety, privacy and freedom of movement, can be changed or overturned by a simple majority of MKs present in the Knesset plenum.

Add to that Israel’s bitter history of near-constant warfare that gave the military a central role in the formation of national identity, the heroicizing of military leaders that naturally flowed from this experience – indeed, add in the enormous number of generals who moved seamlessly out of uniform and into the highest elected offices in the land: Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak – and one begins to feel that it is not the allegedly looming collapse of Israeli democracy that should surprise us, but the fact that so robust a democracy ever took root here in the first place.

Why did it take root?”

Over at ‘Legal Insurrection’ one can listen to a recent lecture given by Professor William Jacobson at the University of Chicago Law School under the title “When Does Anti-Israelism Turn Into Anti-Semitism?”


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