Is the Left anti-Semitic?
Sadly, it is heading that wayBrendan O'Neill
29 July, 2014
Brendan O'Neill is editor of the online magazine spiked and is a columnist for the Big Issue in London and The Australian in, er, Australia. His satire on environmentalism, Can I Recycle My Granny and 39 Other Eco-Dilemmas, is published by Hodder & Stoughton. He doesn't tweet.
There has been a lot of talk over the past two weeks about whether it is anti-Semitic to oppose Israel’s attack on Gaza. Radical Leftists and liberal commentators have insisted (perhaps a bit too much?) that there is nothing remotely anti-Semitic about their anger with Israel or their fury on behalf of battered, bruised and bombed Palestinians. And of course they are right that it is entirely possible to oppose Israel’s militarism without harbouring so much as a smidgen of dislike for the Jewish people. Some will oppose the war in Gaza simply because they are against wars in general, especially ones that impact on civilians.
However, it seems pretty clear to me that much of the left in Europe and America is becoming more anti-Semitic, or at least risks falling into the trap of anti-Semitism, sometimes quite thoughtlessly. In the language it uses, in the ideas it promotes, in the way in which it talks about the modern world, including Israel, much of the Left has adopted a style of politics that has anti-Semitic undertones, and sometimes overtones.
The key problem has been the Left’s embrace of conspiratorial thinking, its growing conviction that the world is governed by what it views as uncaring “cabals”, “networks”, self-serving lobbyists and gangs of bankers, all of which has tempted it to sometimes turn its attentions towards those people who historically were so often the object and the target of conspiratorial thinking – the Jews.
Yes, one can hate Israel’s attack on Gaza without hating the Jews. But there’s no denying that the hatred being expressed for Israel’s attack on Gaza is different to the opposition to all other acts of militarism in recent times.