Enabling Palestinians' piranha nationalism: Check your blindspots

Every soldier killed, each rocket fired, every tunnel uncovered, each detail of Hamas’s planned Rosh Hashanah swarming of Israeli civilians from the tunnels revealed, solidifies Israel’s anti-Hamas consensus. Most Israelis, from right to left, from ultra-orthodox to ultra-atheist, support Israel’s actions in this “ein breira” no choice war against an evil entity seeking our destruction. Give Hamas’s terrorists credit for honesty – their charter advocates exterminating Israel – and the Jews. And “Thanks” to these aspiring mass murderers, Israelis have not been so united in a long time.
Most nationalist movements seek to express a collective culture politically in a state; Hamas’s Piranha Nationalism seeks another state’s destruction.  This poisonous hatred harms Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas blew its chance to govern; now it must be deposed.
Although in Israel, even the head of J-Street Israel Yael Patir expresses “deep admiration for our courageous soldiers in battle,” the totalitarian Jewish Left abroad is so blinded by anti-Israel hatred it collaborates with the sexist, homophobic, fascists of Hamas.  The Jewish Voice for Peace targets “Friends of the IDF” for a New York sit-in, trying to bully an organization which benignly “support[s] educational, social, cultural and recreational programs and facilities” for young soldiers. An anti-Israel activist, Gabor Mate, publishes a hateful screed in The Toronto Star asking rhetorically: “The Palestinians use tunnels? So did my heroes, the poorly armed fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto.” And – in the moral outrage of the week, which prompted multiple responses – Salon.com blamed Birthright Israel for the tragic death of one of its alumni who enlisted in the IDF, Max Steinberg. Each of these assaults on decency reveals different facets of anti-Zionist bigotry, with Jews so blinded by anti-Israel hatred they betray their own people – and their own humanity. Campus totalitarians say “check your privilege,” dismissing particular messengers; I say “check your blindspots” assessing true meanings of particular messages.
By invading a charity’s offices, JVP fanatics showed they reject the kindest, most Kumbaya pro-Israel solidarity moves. My daughter, serving on Israel’s internationally-sanctioned Egyptian border, recently received a care package. She appreciated this embrace from the most intimate of strangers, Israel supporters who feel close to her even though they live far away and have never met her. These JVP haters see that lovely gift to a hardworking, idealistic, 19-year-old as endorsing the “on-going occupation and … war of destruction against the Palestinian people." These illiberal liberals did not consider the stress their own aggression triggered among innocent administrators working for the Friends of IDF, who turned up for work only to be menaced by faux-humanitarians whose hooliganism shows they actually hate real humans.
Gabor Mate’s rant reflected that, for these fanatics, criticizing Israel is not enough; they must vilify and Nazify the Zionist project. Jews used the Warsaw ghetto “tunnels” -- the sewer systems -- to smuggle food in and people out, fleeing history’s worst mass murderers. Recent revelations – mostly ignored by the mainstream media – have shown that Hamas killers used the Gaza tunnels to smuggle weapons in – while preparing underground staging areas for a massive assault targeting thousands of Israeli civilians planned for September. Comparing these contrasting historical phenomena is despicable, as is Mate’s exaggerated ahistorical accusation charging Israel with the “longest ongoing ethnic cleansing operation in the recent and present centuries, the ongoing attempt to destroy Palestinian nationhood.” The Palestinian population has soared since 1967, disproving the ethnic cleansing lie.
Finally, in another act of inhuman insensitivity, Salon ran Allison Benedikt’s anti-Birthright hit piece while Max Steinberg’s corpse remained unburied, awaiting his parents’ arrival in Israel. Her rush to try sullying his memory so quickly was indecent. Her caricature of Birthright as a phantom IDF-recruiting mechanism and young American Jews as dupes was sloppy and specious. She and her comrades praise “coming out” as gay or feminist or activist, while delegimitizing parallel Zionist and Jewish identity processes as manipulative.
The totalitarian leftist mind has become so profoundly anti-Israel, so obsessively anti-Zionist, it cannot see any subtlety in Zionist education, or acknowledge anything good in the Jewish State. When anti-Israel fanatics confronted Israelis’ progressive gay rights as opposed to Palestinian and Islamist homophobia, they concocted the notion of “pinkwashing.” Better to imagine that Israel respects LGBTQ rights to perfume attacks on Palestinians, than to struggle, as honest Israeli and American Jewish liberals do, with the tensions of a liberal democratic country forced to fight fascistic, homophobic, sexist, religious totalitarians seeking its destruction. Similarly, when these anti-Zionist extremists confront Israel’s allure to many of their peers, they decide their friends have been brainwashed rather than introduced to the real country, beyond the politics, which many sensitive, open, meaning-seeking young American Jews like Max embrace enthusiastically, independently.
“It turns out that it’s not that hard to persuade young people to see the world a certain way and that Birthright is very good at doing it,” Benedikt sneered. Mocking Max Steinberg’s tragic demise, she writes, “This is what you get.”
This mean assertion violates Occam’s Razor, which seeks the most direct explanation for phenomena with the fewest assumptions. The critics impute nearly-magical manipulative powers to one ten-day trip while assuming that the hip, savvy, skeptical 18-to-26 year old participants – who have lived more than 8000 days -- are suckers.  The logical explanation for Birthright’s phenomenal popularity – and for Max Steinberg’s own  process – stems from deep ties young Jews feel to the Jewish people and the notion that Israel, when experienced directly, is remarkably appealing.
Palestinian Piranha nationalists exploit their totalitarian Left collaborators, these guppies who, like their delectable fish namesake, blindly follow their own school, often into danger. Meanwhile, their moral sloppiness enabling Hamas’s aggression and European anti-Semitism, is triggering a backlash. As in Israel, these shrill attempts to pry us apart have brought us together.
Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and will be a Visiting Professor at the IDC in Herzliya this fall. The author of eight books on American history, his latest book,  Moynihan''s Moment: America''s Fight Against Zionism as Racism, was recently published by Oxford University Press. Watch the new Moynihan''s Moment video!