A Lesson for Israel Advocates from the OBL Reaction

The nonsense spewing from the various usual suspects–the European left, left-wing NGOs, leftist international law experts [update: here's an excellent example from an Israeli commentator]–regarding the takedown of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces should provide an important lesson for advocates of Israel.

The hostility emanating to Israel emanating from these sources is not, primarily, a result of anti-Semitism or other Jewcentric mental maladies. Rather, it is a natural result of a cauldron of ideologies–pacifism, anti-liberalism, Third Worldism, hostility to the West, warmed-over Marxism, and so on, combined with a dash of naive human rights idealism–that dominates certain intellectual circles.

Israel receives more grief than almost anyone else from such circles for several reasons: (1) because of its precarious security situation, it uses military force more regularly than other potential targets; (2) because of its precarious political situation, it is far more vulnerable to such criticism than, say, the U.S. (which will studiously ignore criticism of the OBL operation); and (3) unlike in the U.S, Israel has a significant and influential domestic far left that encourages and magnifies such criticisms. Indeed, given universal military service among Jewish non-Haredi adults, Israel often faces criticism from its own leftist soldiers and reservists of the sort quite rare in the U.S.

That’s not to deny that some leftist critics of Israel are anti-Semites, and that an even greater number are content to play on anti-Semitic themes when they find it rhetorically useful. But let’s face it: if you can’t get the leftist Europeans, NGOs, etc. behind a surgical strike on Osama Bin Laden, they are hardly going to approve of much broader Israeli military action in Gaza or Lebanon.

Given that many Jewish supporters of Israel have left-wing tendencies themselves (though the hard leftist types have long abandoned Israel), it’s far more comfortable for them to identify anti-Semitism as the main source of anti-Israel hostility. But the first step in defeating an intellectual enemy is to identify that enemy’s underlying, motivating ideology, and, in this case, for the most part, anti-Semitism isn’t it.