A particularly interesting and telling debate has broken out over New York Times columnist Roger Cohen's recent opinion piece about how well (allegedly) Iran's Jew-hating regime treats its remaining Jews.
Cohen trying to explain the humanity showed to Jews by a regime bent on another Jewish Holocaust is yet another disturbing reminder of the liberal-Left's traditional romance with tyranny and terror. It is a subject tackled by my new book, "United in Hate," which gives a historical background to, and analysis of, the Left's dalliance with the greatest monsters of our time.
The controversy sparked by Cohen's column provides a fitting occasion to highlight a continuing and most-troubling phenomenon: Why so many left-leaning Jews in the West make excuses for – and even support – regimes and ideologies that seek to annihilate Jews.
We just witnessed how the Left rushed to the defense of Hamas in Gaza while Israel took action so that Palestinian rocket fire would stop terrorizing and killing Israeli civilians. This leftist behavior was, of course, a continuation of events in the summer of 2006, when the Left rushed to the defense of Hamas and Hezbollah after Israel went into Gaza and Lebanon to try to counter terrorism. During that time, American academia spearheaded the anti-Israel movement. One thousand leftist professors signed a petition that denounced Israel for its "brutal bombing and invasion of Gaza" and its "acts of Israeli state terrorism" in Lebanon. There was, typically, no denunciation of Hamas or Hezbollah in that petition, only a call for the immediate release of jailed terrorists (whom the petition described as "Palestinian and Lebanese political prisoners") and a condemnation of "Israel's destructive and expansionist policies," which the petition said were "primarily to blame for the seemingly perpetual 'Middle East crisis.'"
Three of the most prominent signatories of this Jew-hating petition were themselves of Jewish ancestry: leftist guru Noam Chomsky, Holocaust denier Norman Finkelstein, and terror-apologist Joel Beinin.
Why would certain Jews engage in behavior that strengthened the forces that seek to annihilate them?
The answer is what "United in Hate" explains: These leftist Jews perfectly represent the self-hate and instinct for death in which the Left's overall solidarity with totalitarianism is rooted.
Chomsky, for instance, has dedicated much of his life to siding with those who perpetrate genocide against Jews. In Chomsky's view, Israel has committed the crimes of failing to pursue socialism, being allied to the United States, and of being the cause of the entire conflict in the Middle East. Thus, Chomsky has never cast any real blame on Palestinian terror. He has habitually argued that Palestinian terror leaders have been far more sincere and forthcoming than either Israel or the United States in trying to reach a peace agreement, and he has argued that Israel and Nazi Germany share things in common.
As is characteristic of leftists, Chomsky's support for the Palestinians has always increased when their program of genocide against Israelis escalates. For example, when Arafat punished Israel for offering the peace agreement at Camp David by unleashing the Second Intifada in 2000, Chomsky ecstatically took Arafat's side. Indeed, it was exactly at the height of the suicide bombings that Chomsky signed a petition demanding that universities withdraw their investments from Israel.
Chomsky's romance with Islamic terror also involves a flirtation with Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis. By denying the Holocaust, Jew haters attempt to erase historical memory and to increase the chances of another Holocaust taking place. And so Chomsky has dedicated himself to defending the freedom of speech of neo-Nazis. He has been a particularly passionate defender of the leaders of Holocaust "revisionism" in France.
Academic Norman Finkelstein is another example of a leftist Jew venerating those who seek to extinguish him. A Hamas and Hezbollah apologist, Finkelstein has made a career out of minimizing the magnitude of the Holocaust and of denouncing what he calls the Holocaust "industry," which he believes is a group of fraudulent Jews who fabricate their past to collect compensation. In Finkelstein's sick world, a global Zionist conspiracy exploits and exaggerates the Holocaust to extract reparations, gain a mantle of victimhood and to legitimize the Israeli "oppression" of the Palestinians. It is the Jews, according to Finkelstein, who are to be blamed for anti-Semitism. It is no great surprise that Finkelstein counts neo-Nazis among his staunchest defenders.
Finkelstein has taken his Jew-hating show on the road. He regularly visits college campuses across the U.S., usually at the invitation of the Muslim Students Association, where he indulges in his favorite themes and embraces homicidal Palestinians. One of his most passionate themes is praising Hezbollah. He honors the terror group for its "heroic resistance" and its "historic contributions."
In January 2008, Finkelstein embarked on his own political pilgrimage, traveling to Lebanon to embrace Hezbollah in person. During this role of fellow traveler, he met with a senior Hezbollah official, Nabil Kaouk, in south Lebanon, in his office in the coastal city of Tyre and told reporters that "Hezbollah represents hope." He also went on Lebanese television, expressing his "solidarity" with Hezbollah and calling Israel an "invader."
Finkelstein's Hezbollah sojourn serves as a haunting mirror image of Chomsky's Hezbollah voyage in May 2006. Here, we see two leftist Jews embracing Jew-hating terrorist entities that seek to exterminate Jews – an eerie symbol of the continuation of the Left's dark tradition of political pilgrimages.
Chomsky and Finkelstein's love affairs with those who perpetrate genocide against Jews serve as a powerful reflection of the overall disposition of leftist Jews. This phenomenon is part of the same psychological virus that motivates leftist intellectuals to venerate adversarial tyrannies that exterminate intellectuals and that inspires leftist feminists to support totalisms that persecute women. Leftist Jews supporting Jew hatred is just another extension of the main death-wish impulse of the radical Left.