The silence of the Left
By Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post
March 1, 2012
Israel's Left is notoriously garrulous and effusive. Never ones to hide their sentiments about the issues of the day, our comrades on the other end of the political spectrum rarely mince words. Normally loud and clear about where they stand, the Left seldom shies away from controversy. And that is what makes their recent reticence so remarkable. For despite a surge in violence between Arab and Jew, including incidents at some of the most sensitive flashpoints in the region, the voice of the Left has all but fallen silent.
The ubiquitous righteous indignation, the pervasive and ever-present cries for justice and human rights are suddenly nowhere to be heard. And just why, you might be wondering, have the would-be defenders of decency abruptly grown inaudible?
The answer is as revealing as it is disturbing.
Put simply, it is because the victims in recent incidents are Jews.
Take, for example, the near-lynching that took place over the weekend in Haifa, when two off-duty soldiers were nearly beaten to death by a group of Israeli Arabs. After parking their car, the two young men were accosted by at least seven Arabs, who asked them if they were Jewish, began chanting, "Jews, Jews" and proceeded to pummel them with clubs and metal bars. The culprits grabbed one of the victims, pounded him into the pavement, and then carved the words, "you dog," in Arabic, into his head using a sharp object.
"At certain moments I felt my end was near," one of the soldiers told Yediot Aharonot.
Fortunately, security guards from nearby Rambam hospital heard the commotion and intervened, saving the two soldiers from near-certain death. Incredibly, the police initially sought to downplay the incident, preferring instead to label it an act of "hooliganism," as though it were a late-night bar brawl that got out of hand. Subsequently, however, they backtracked and acknowledged that it was a hate crime.
Indeed, by all indications, this was a vicious and unprovoked anti-Semitic attack on two young men who are giving the best years of their lives to defend this country and safeguard the liberties that each and every one of us take for granted.
Every Israeli, regardless of political outlook, should be outraged by this assault, and yet not a word of condemnation was heard from the Left. There were no denunciations of the anti-Jewish bigotry that exists among some Israeli Arabs nor any calls for their leadership to demonstrate greater tolerance and understanding.
Can you imagine the outcry had the situation been reversed and a group of soldiers had mauled two innocent Arabs?
We all know how that would have played out.
But for some reason, when the perpetrators are Arabs and the victims are Jews, the Left sees fit to hit the mute button. They seem to adopt a similar approach when it comes to the exercise of fundamental freedoms by Jews as well.
Consider the unrest on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem over the past week, where the police had their hands full quelling numerous outbreaks of Palestinian violence. On Friday, more than 100 Palestinians rioted following prayers at the Aksa Mosque and stoned policemen. It was the fourth time in five days that Muslims on the Mount had attacked Israeli police or groups of Jewish and Christian visitors.
In one incident, they sought to intimidate a group of would-be pilgrims by hurling stones and shoes at the police accompanying them. These incidents are all part of a coordinated Palestinian effort to subvert the rights of Jews and Christians to visit the Temple Mount and worship there.
Anyone who claims to cherish the values of tolerance and liberty should be out in front condemning such incidents with all the passion they can muster. The right to worship freely should apply equally to all, regardless of whether they are followers of Moses or Muhammad.
And yet here too, the Left had nothing – absolutely nothing – to say, as though breaching Jews' freedom of religion is not a human rights issue worth fighting for.
None of this, of course, is at all surprising. Israel's Left has never shown a propensity for intellectual consistency, let alone a penchant to apply its principles in an evenhanded manner. But what makes this all so ironic is that they are undermining the very liberal principles they claim to hold dear. You can't be selectively open-minded and expect people to take you seriously, just as you can't willfully ignore acts of injustice simply because they run counter to your political agenda.
Perhaps that explains why the power of the Left has been steadily in decline in recent years. Disingenuousness and deceit will only get you so far. Even in the political realm.
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