An anti-Semitic left hook
By Patrick Chisholm | csmonitor.com
March 23, 2004
WASHINGTON – Anti-Semitism traditionally has been associated with the
extreme right. Now, it is becoming more common among the extreme
left. Leftist president Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe huffed that “Jews in
South Africa, working in cahoots with their colleagues here, want our
textile and clothing factoriesto close down.” Former Malaysian Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is no right-winger, lashed out against
Jews who “rule the world by proxy.” One finds pockets of anti-Semitism
at anti-globalization rallies, and plenty of it at pro-Palestinian
rallies. And in recent years anti-capitalist campaigners have been
networking with radical Islamists and neo-Nazi groups via their
websites, according to a draft report by the Technical University of
Berlin’s Center for Research on Anti-Semitism. (This was the same
report commissioned by the European Union, which decided for
who-knows-what-reason not to officially release it.)
Contrary to what one would think, left- and right-wing extremists are,
in major respects, ideological soul mates. Don’t be fooled by labels;
applyingthe simplistic terms of “right” and “left” to complex
political realities naturally begets confusion.
While ultra-rightists are generally thought of as racist and
ultra-leftists as nonracist, the latter are by no means immune to such
And both camps share these core attitudes: a readiness to buy into
conspiracy theories, hatred of the rich, contempt for speculators and
financiers, a deep suspicion of large corporate enterprises, and a
conviction that the privileged few oppress the masses.
These notions manifest themselves in the party platforms of radical
groups. Here are excerpts from one such platform (courtesy of
Australian writer John J. Ray):
– We demand that all unearned income, and all income that does
not arise from work, be abolished.
– We demand the nationalization of businesses which have been
organized into cartels.
– We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy
middle-class,the immediate communalization of department stores which
will be rented cheaplyto small businessmen….
– We demand a land reform in accordance with our national
requirements, and the enactment of a law to confiscate from the owners
without compensation any land needed for the common purpose. The
abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in
And here is a quote from one such leader:
“We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic
system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair
salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to
wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we
are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.”
Karl Marx? No. Vladimir Lenin? No. Ho Chi Min? No.
Adolf Hitler. And the above platform positions were those of his
National Socialist party. Note the formal name of that party: the
National Socialist German Workers Party.
The far left scapegoats rich people for causing the world’s ills. But
what if you live in a society where most rich people happen to be
members of a different religion or skin color? That makes them
particularly easy to recognize and identify. In the popular psyche,
the wealthy class becomes synonymous with members of that minority
group. So if you’re an envy-laden, paranoid conspiracy theorist,
there’s hardly a distinction between scapegoating the rich and
scapegoating the minority group.
That’s how the Nazis viewed the Jews. It’s how Stalinist Russia viewed
the Jews. It’s how Islamic militants view the Jews. And it’s how many
among today’s far left view the Jews.
Jews are by no means the only (relatively) affluent minority group
that has suffered mass slaughter. The same has been true of Armenians
in the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey), Tutsis in Rwanda, Tamils
in Sri Lanka, ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, and many others.
Palestinian hatred of Israelis, I suspect, is based on more than just
land disputes and the policies of the state of Israel. Much of it
likely derivesfrom envy. Jews as a whole are among the most able,
hard-working, and intelligent people ever to inhabit the
earth. Wherever they go they succeed. They turned Israel into an
economic powerhouse for its size, and “made the desert bloom.”
Success breeds envy. Envy breeds hatred.
Terrorism is the end result. So is an envy-driven economic philosophy
best described as hard-left or socialist: Islamic radicals generally
advocate government ownership of most sectors of the economy. They
detest “middlemen” and the rich. They loathe “foreign exploiters.”
They’re disgusted with materialism and consumerism. And they desire
complete economic equality among all citizens (which, in practice,
translates into everyone being equally poor).
Obviously, a mutual dislike for Israel’s policies is not the only
thing that binds Islamic radicals and ultra-leftists together.
Leftism is generally tolerant of different races and religions. But
not always. Extremists are not going to let Jews off the hook just
because theyhappen to be a different religion. When it comes to envy
versus tolerance, envy very often wins out.