The long history of progressives and perversity

Israel and/or Jews are overrepresented as targets of progressive perverts, but they are far from the only targets.

NOT APPLICABLE to Israel. Protesters take part in an anti-fascist rally in Athens in 2013. (photo credit: REUTERS)
NOT APPLICABLE to Israel. Protesters take part in an anti-fascist rally in Athens in 2013.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Many progressive organizations and individuals claim that they promote a better world. The perverse elements among them assert moral positions while they themselves are immoral or corrupt. In September 2001 the World Conference against Racism (WCAR) convened in Durban, South Africa. It became this century’s first major manifestation of a new type of progressive perversity. Adjacent to it an NGO conference took place, with thousands of participating organizations that can best be characterized as an anti-Israeli hate fest.
Irwin Cotler is a former justice minister and attorney general of Canada, and a leading international human rights advocate. He described the WCAR as “a festival of racism against Israel and the Jewish people... a conference dedicated to the promotion of human rights as the new secular religion of our time increasingly singled out Israel as a sort of modern day geopolitical anti-Christ.”
Israel and/or Jews are overrepresented as targets of progressive perverts, but they are far from the only targets. Recently the hypocrisy of various international humanitarian aid organizations was exposed. Oxfam UK was a leader among the deceivers. The head of its mission to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake regularly engaged in paid sex with a minor.
An internal investigation in 2011 led to the voluntary or forced departure of seven employees involved in sex abuse in Haiti. The detailed report was kept secret yet many had access to it. These included the heads of the Dutch sister organization, Oxfam Novib. The latter made the report available to the Dutch Foreign Office as well as to the National Accounting Office.
The scandal become public only in 2018. Thereafter additional information about sex abuse elsewhere by employees of Oxfam UK came to light. The same happened at other aid organizations including Save the Children and Doctors without Borders. All three organizations have been pseudo-moral inciters against Israel.
Amnesty International recently released its annual report. On its website it is titled “‘Politics of demonization’ breeding division and fear.” NGO Monitor’s website contains a long list of the organization’s biased positions against Israel. One can say that they add up to demonization.
Progressives usually see themselves on the Left of the political spectrum. Communism also claimed to be a progressive movement. Its ideology led to giant mass murders, mainly in Russia and China. In its margins there were peace movements whose members attended gatherings organized by communist front organizations.
Nowadays anti-fascist movements are supposedly also progressive. The Paris branch of the far-left Antifa organization has called for Israel’s destruction.
Social democrat and labor parties are also on the progressive side of politics. Among their elected representatives one finds quite a few promoters of perverse statements. Once again Israel is a good example to uncover the hypocrisy. Leading politicians such as the late Social Democrat Swedish prime minister Olof Palme and the late Greek Socialist prime minister Andreas Papandreou have accused Israel of Nazi practices.
The British Labour Party has among its representatives a number of classic progressives next to progressive perverts. Antisemitic incidents in the party are frequent and perpetrators are far from always expelled.
Several green parties can also be included in the category discussed above. Peter Pilz, a veteran Austrian Green Party parliamentarian, left the party and ran in the 2017 elections with his own list, which gained entry into the parliament. Pilz did not take up his seat due to sexual harassment allegations. He called the Palestinians “victims” that one should side with and promoted partial sanctions against Israel.
The history of perverse progressives goes back many centuries. Erasmus of Rotterdam, who lived at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century was called the “Prince of the Humanists.”
Dutch theologian Hans Jansen investigated Erasmus’ antisemitism, which was extreme even for its time.
This “humanist” called Judaism the “worst pest.” He even turned down an invitation to Spain in 1517, 25 years after the last non-converted Jews had left Spain, saying there was no more “Judaized country” than Spain.
The largest student exchange program of the European Union is named after this hard-core antisemite.
Erasmus College in Brussels and the Erasmus University in Rotterdam are well known as well. Many other institutions are also named after Erasmus.
The famous French eighteenth-century Enlightenment philosopher, Voltaire, was an antisemite, as were several of the French socialist precursors of the nineteenth century. So was Karl Marx. The late Robert Wistrich’s book, From Ambivalence to Betrayal, The Left, The Jews and Israel, provides many additional examples of progressive perverts.
Progressive perversity partly overlaps with the narrower “humanitarian racism.” Progressive perverts often simply lie about Israel, as Palme and Papandreou did. Humanitarian racists may make true claims against Israel – but remain silent about the grave crimes of the Palestinians and their leadership. Progressive perverts and humanitarian racists frequently find willing partners among those Israelis and Jews who continue the millennia-long tradition of Jewish masochism.
After the Second World War, the ugly aspects of extreme right-wing movements have been analyzed in many detailed studies. Similarly in-depth assessments of contemporary perverse progressives are long overdue.
The author is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, and the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.