Distorting liberalism – opinion

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To the Israelites, the Jews, and mankind, October 7 It was a sad day when the sky seemed to fall on us. The morning darkened over the brutal killing of children, the rape of women, the destruction of families, and the brutal massacre of young people celebrating at the Nova music festival.

More than 1,200 people were killed, more than 3,000 injured, and about 240 hostages, including infants, children, women and the elderly, in what was a heinous crime against humanity and the largest attack on Jews since World War II.

Anti-Semitism in all areas

As Jews, we are once again confronted with anti-Semitism reflected in the streets and campuses around the world. Being human, we are horrified to realize that the violent ideology of fundamentalist Islam has found refuge and justification in so-called leftist and progressive circles.

Fractures – personal, national and human – run deep, leaving us searching for stable ground in a violently shaken world. But, searching for an anchor in our broken reality, it is saddening when we encounter a self-proclaimed morality that allows and even justifies these evil practices.

Demonstrators protest against the lack of police action at pro-Palestinian demonstrations and condemn anti-Semitic hate crimes in London, Britain, October 25, 2023 (Credit: REUTERS/Susanna Ireland)

Some wear a self-righteous silence, others enjoy our anxiety, and some even blame the victims.

The first group consists of organizations and institutions based on moral principles that prioritize justice and human well-being, many of which proudly declare clear positions on various conflicts. However, when it comes to Jewish victims, they are conspicuously silent.

This includes civil rights organizations, women’s rights activists, LGBTQ groups, historical societies, and various professional associations protecting women, children, the elderly, and the innocent from harm. Their deafening silence undermines basic human truths and challenges our resolve to “never again.”


The second group, which revels in Israel’s suffering and celebrates the dangers it poses to our victims – mostly Jews, but also Israeli Bedouins, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, foreigners and others – is the radical left.

This group is a social justice, free speech and expression group that proudly holds the slogan “Genocide from the River to the Sea” which refers to the destruction of the State of Israel and the displacement of all its inhabitants by exile or death. Human rights.

Unfortunately, in this process, the dignity of the Jews and their right to exist has been trampled upon. Expressions that are considered unacceptable to other minorities are considered legitimate and receive clear support and validation in public spaces.

At the same time, any kind of anti-Semitism – delegitimization, dehumanization and double standards – is applauded. Moreover, due to the alliance between the radical left and radical Islam, the right of the Jewish people to self-determination has been denied, and it has cast doubt on the right of Jews to secure a life in various countries. While the reality of the Middle East is complex, articulating a clear moral position regarding the murderous terrorist organization Hamas should not be complicated.

A particularly troubling third group—including those specializing in Holocaust and genocide studies—are academics who offer pseudoscientific answers. The concern arose not only from their professional standing as colleagues, but also from the abuse of their academic mantle.

Some scholars say Israel is on the brink of genocide (New York Times, November 10), while others say Israel is already committing genocide.

But despite their academic training, the assessments of these scholars are far from academic. Rather, they are one-sided polar positions based on superiority and selective citation, which violate academic integrity and standards.

These discussions focused specifically on Israel’s perceived intent as an integral part of the genocide in Israel, citing statements made during the war and various other statements that unequivocally show Israel’s focus on fighting Hamas and not all Gazans.

Although it is true that the current Israeli government includes individuals who have made unacceptable statements, such comments are mostly brief and have been criticized across Israel’s political and social spectrum. The IDF’s commitment to morality regarding civilians is unwavering, with Israeli officials constantly warning soldiers not to harm the innocent.

Along with this selective quote, these academic critics deliberately use Israel’s actions within the framework of international law as a human shield to protect not only its own citizens, but also the citizens of Gaza. In accordance with international law and with the aim of protecting Palestinian civilians, Israel has warned residents of northern Gaza to leave before the actual war begins.

Moreover, these scholars make no mention of Hamas’s genocidal intent or actions in their condemnation analysis. Professional integrity should have led them to investigate Hamas’ calls for jihad and the massacre of Jews – men, women and children.

Over the years, the field of comparative genocide, based on contextual and balanced analysis, has questioned the fact that scholars have chosen to ignore the motives and actions of those who initiated the killing spree.

This indifference is surprising not only because Hamas’s genocidal intent against Jews (and not just Israelis) is well-reported, clear, and publicized, but because Hamas committed genocide in southern Israel at a time of unrestricted freedom. The insurgency was intense and a month after the incident, some bodies have not yet been identified.

If Israel had the will to commit genocide, it could have done so long ago. However, even with the power, Israel has never done so and has no desire to do so now. As noted by prominent human rights activist Etai Mak (Haaretz, November 1), the Israeli government’s actions should not be seen as genocide, but as a legitimate struggle by an attacked sovereign state.

This brings us to the most dangerous aspect of anti-academic academics, silent activists, and “progressives” who oppose liberal values ​​by associating Israel with murderous and violent ambitions and not acknowledging it. As a victim of groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and fundamentalist Iran.

This, whether in silence or in action, adds another voice to blaming Israel for purging its enemies, regardless of the real situation. These scholars and activists ignore the asymmetric war that a democratic nation is waging against a radical terrorist organization.

It seems to them – in a war between a democratic country that abides by moral laws and the laws of war and a terrorist organization that does not respect any moral agreement or convention and uses inhumanity as a tactic – the fault lies with the democrats. At least describe it in the context of Israel.

Instead of attacking the brutality of the terrorist organization, which does not distinguish the fighting force from the civilians, Israel and the Jews are presented as the perpetrators of the violence.

This should be clear: the actions of Hamas, the demands of Hezbollah, and the threats of fundamentalist Iran are not just attacks on Israel. This is a global struggle between the West, which promotes egalitarian values, liberalism and progress, and the genocidal ideas and practices of radical Islam.

It is not Islam but a fatal perversion of its principles. These are the extremist forces that were excited by 9/11, these are the forces that were operating as part of ISIS, and these are the forces that attacked Israel.

So the basic question is how can democratic governments that consider themselves part of the enlightened world and obey the rules of human conduct not respect the laws of war or even use them in disguise? How can human values ​​be protected in the face of enemies who use the liberal framework to destroy it?

Ultimately, as US President Joe Biden and many European leaders have acknowledged, the atrocities of October 7 have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, they are part of a larger issue, and therefore, supporting Israel today is tantamount to supporting humanity.

It shows that Hamas is completely indifferent to the security of the Palestinians. This is not only because they do not accept the continuation of the peaceful struggle, but also because of their corruption, misappropriation of money and resources collected for the safety of the people, hiding weapons and military bases in places such as kindergartens and hospitals, and using civilians as human shields.

For those who care deeply about the Palestinians, there is an urgent need for a change in discourse that encourages them to distance themselves from the destructive influence of terrorist organizations. They had to be the first people and organizations to distinguish between good and evil, truth and falsehood, acts of compassion and acts of cruelty. Fighting distortions, simplifications, one-sidedness, and anti-Semitism can be a first step in that direction.

The author is a professor of Jewish history at Tel Aviv University and directs the Holocaust Research Center at Yad Vashem in Poland.

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