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An anti-Semitic left hook

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  • An anti-Semitic left hook

    An anti-Semitic left hook

    By Patrick Chisholm |
    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.