Saturday, August 05, 2006

Strange Bedfellows

Many on the Left have taken an anti-Israeli stance in discussing the Middle East conflict. Here's a sampling of (negative) comments from one lone thread on Left news site Raw Story.

- why don't they just load the lebanese up in cattle cars for transportation to their demise. well, no, it would not be economically feasible.

- the israeli are the nazi killing machine of old and this war mongering group has zero sympathy from me althougth sometime in the distant past they did

- Israel should enjoy its last few remaining days of military superiority, because once Iran gets Nukes, they won't be so apt to kill civilians and wreak havoc on the infrastructure of their neighbors.

- mel speaks the truth !!!

- Israel MURDERS 900 Civilians
Israel = NAZI

- once Iran gets atomic all the killing of innocence will stop

- Israel is a terrorist state. US interests are now better served if Israel ceased to exist. Israel (and US support for it) is the problem.

- Typical Republichimp, he thinks it is okay for Israelis to kill civilians. And Hezbollah is NOT putting their launchers next to civilians. That's a lie from Israel.

What happened? Cheering on Iran's nuclear program? Calling Israelis "Nazis"? Or "terrorists"? What happened to the Left?

You'll find many pro-Israel comments as well - I'm not asking about the entire Left.

But how can so many who believe in, say, abortion, gay marriage, equality of women, and separation of church and state possibly be siding with fundamentalist radical Islamists? You want decriminiIization of marijuana, so you side with people who cane pot smokers outside mosques? I know politics can make for odd match-ups, but is going against Bush really *that* important to some?

I've wondered if Conservative governments in Israeli history have made many on the Left instinctively stand against them. I've wondered if possibly this is a hasty knee-jerk reaction to support the underdog - because as anyone can tell you, the Left loves an underdog (but then, doesn't everyone). But I don't know. Any ideas? Why are so many individuals on the Left so vehemently anti-Israel?


Blogger RGM said...

"is going against Bush really *that* important to some?"

Yes, yes it is.

Just a brief glimpse into the subtle-yet-active anti-Americanism in this country occurred today during a commercial on History Television's airing of Enemy At the Gates. It was an ad for WWF Canada, and it had a living room full of world leaders to listen to a regular Jane talk about global warming. There's a slight coming from in behind her as she's talking about the need to listen, and guess who it was speaking out of turn? America! Of all the countries in the world, how predictable is it that it would the U.S. getting lectured in a Canadian commercial about the environment?

Sunday, August 06, 2006 4:12:00 PM  
Blogger SouthernOntarioan said...

As RGM said, going against Bush is a 'raison d'etre' for those on the left it seems.

In any case, I'm pleasantly surprised by the response by many homosexuals. They've come out fairly strongly in favour of Israel that I've noticed. Scott Brison, and others.

Maybe they're just isolated cases though... but that would be very strange bedfellows indeed...

Sunday, August 06, 2006 6:47:00 PM  
Blogger Chuckercanuck said...

On topic,

Jason - you are the most reasonable person to visit my site. I think the following excerpt from "mitsou" is anti-semitic:

"values such as apartheid, ethnic cleansing, attacking hospitals, killing babies, using human shields, attacking Red Cross ambulances and fleeing civilians, targeting and killing Canadian peacekeepers, massive environmental damage, and torture are not Canadian values, and never will be."

I am curious to know - am I crazy? The part I am specifically looking at is where mitsou says Israel VALUES ethnic cleansing.

What say you King Solomon?

Monday, August 07, 2006 8:40:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

I didn't read Mitsou's comments, I could tell they were going to be silly.

I wouldn't say "anti-Semitic", as it doesn't (mis)-characterize Jews in New York or Toronto or London, etc. But definitely (stupidly) anti-Israel (in an obviously ridiculous way). Israelis do not value genocide or ethnic cleansing. It's a grossly inaccurate thing to say about ANY country, or people.

It's the same outlandish knee-jerk anti-Israel/Israel-is-a-bully/Israel-is-evil/Israel-must-go idea you see in many parts of the left right now. I can't figure out why.

It's stupid.

It may be motivated by anti-Semitism, deep down inside, I don't know. And, there are clear and obvious expressions of anti-Semitism coming from several on the Left today.

What happened??? I can't understand it. Where did the change from "inclusion" and "equality" and "justice" into "siding with religious zealots" come from? I wish I knew.

you are the most reasonable person to visit my site.

Wow - well thank you. (I'd like to think I have the best abs, but I'll take that, too.)

Monday, August 07, 2006 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chuckercanuck said...


on my site, I have the abs. you can come in second, but my vanity can't be compromised.

I also have a wicked hairdo.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 7:09:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

That's why the Joannes and Sheenas of the world can't get enough of you.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:18:00 AM  
Blogger Zac said...

I wouldn't consider that comment anti-simitic in the least. I've heard worse.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:21:00 AM  
Blogger Chuckercanuck said...


that worse exist is separate from whether or not it is.

As Cameron pointed out to me as well, since it is specifically against Israelis, it can be argued that its only anti-Israeli.

Bill Blaikie said W dreams of baby killing too - so I guess telling people they VALUE baby killing is just a nice way to disagree with them.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:43:00 AM  
Blogger Chuckercanuck said...


i thought it was my brains they loved... oh, well.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:43:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

Oh come on, Bill Blaikie did not say that? - ugh, that's just horrible. He should resign. That's completely anti-productive.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:49:00 AM  
Blogger Zac said...

CC, Did blakie Actually say that?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:02:00 AM  
Blogger Chuckercanuck said...

Blaikie said it in the lead up to the Iraq war. In Parliament.

To be fair, I think he later apologized for it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 1:30:00 PM  
Blogger C. LaRoche said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 1:35:00 PM  
Blogger C. LaRoche said...

As someone who will admit he sits on the Left but is often disgusted by the Left's lack of insight, analysis, or anything else concerning 'facts' 'methodological rigourousness' etc., let me take a moment to "defend" my half of the political spectrum.

Many on the Left are anti-Israeli simply because of Palestine, which they perhaps rightly view as an unfair occupation. More still are anti-Bush simply because of recent U.S. foreign policy, and, in smaller numbers, because they think the U.S. executive has aligned itself with the interests of the American corporate world (over legitimate Wilsonianism... think Adbusters, Naomi Klein, 'oil' conspiracy peple, etc.)

These are the most vocal Leftists, and they represent an extreme. Like most partisans, they use filters: they will take an issue, find a semi-legitimate beef with it (say, a Halliburton connection to Iraq), and then filter everything else through this biased lens.

(For example, Bush has done wonders for U.S. commitment to aid. Most on the left will either ignore this fact, or continue to say "it is not enough" / "it doesn't make up for U.S. injustices here, and here... etc." They will disagree with all USFP on principle.)

This "principled" bashing aside, some of us on the Left simply do not think the means involved in the Israel-Lebanon conflict justifies the ends.

I stand, like most liberals, firm against terrorism. And I am believer in liberal democracies. In that sense, I support Israeli action against Hezbollah, without question.

But what I do take issue with is the method being used by Israel’s campaign. Israel is trying to get a snake out of its garden with a sledgehammer. There are real strategic benefits and losses at play when you kill so many civilians in an attempt to get the lonely few offenders -- what Michael Ignatieff recently called "limited return." This is a limited return by the book. At best, using Israel's own numbers, Israeli bombing raids are killing twice as many civilians as they kill Hezbollah agents (350-450 Hezbollah dead versus about twice as many dead Lebanese civilians). At worst -- using Hezbollah’s numbers -- Israel kills 15 civilians before it gets to a Hezbollah agent. This is to say nothing of the immense infrastructural damage that has been inflicted on Lebanon in search of a few hundred terrorist agents.

While a 33% kill ratio is certainly acceptable to some military strategists, the 1 in 15 ratio is not. I'm assuming the "real" number is in the middle -- maybe 1 in 7. And I'm only talking deaths here -- I'm not including the 3,000 injured civilians, dead expats, UN observers, and 800,000 - 1 million displaced civilians.

These collaterals matter not only because, generally speaking, we try not to kill innocent life, but also because there are real strategic implications. Pissed off civilians often become terrorists. The lives of up to 1/3 of all of Lebanese have now been directly and negatively effected by Israel, either through death, injury, or displacement. Most of these civilians lived in a democratic nation that had no specific beef with Israel, but was unable to control a Hezbollah.

I don't need to get into a description of the external conditions required produce terrorist ideologies and violent organizations. Suffice to say, this is a prime case study. One only need look to sub-saharan Africa to find out how economic destitution and a lack of good governance can turn a failed state into a swath of factional, transnational warfare. Look at Afghanistan or Iraq; they have major international contingents maintaining the peace – and barely. Are we prepared to try this again in yet another country?

And what if we do "fix" Lebanon? What happens when the generation of kids who just witnessed their country bombed to smithereens by Israel takes over?

Not only is Israel getting a poor return on its bombing campaigns kill-for-kill, it is potentially creating a nation full of anti-semtitism. This is a real and legitimate concern based in pragmatism, not partisan beliefs.

Let’s look at the root cause here: Lebanon’s inability to police itself. The country now has almost no ability to police itself. It has far less economic ability to provide people with jobs.

I support Israel's right to defend itself, and I condemn the Hezbollah attacks. But the real solution here was not to reduce Lebanon to cinders. It was to cut the Hezbollah tumor out, surgically, with minimum damage to the surrounding tissue. Wouldn't recognizing Lebanon's inability to control Hezbollah have been more apt? Wouldn't working with the Lebanese government to ensure Hezbollah leaders were being taken down have been a better solution? Where is Mossad in all this? Has it lost its teeth? And how bad can Israeli intelligence be that most of its operations have killed only civilians?

This defines the word "disproportionate." And until I am fully convinced that a full-out bombing campaign like the one we are seeing was the best solution available to Israel -- a failed Lebanon result taken in toto -- I simply cannot support the "means" Israel is using to pursue its ends. It's a bloody mess and history in the region tells us that it won't get anywhere. It will temporarily disable Hezbollah while ruining a democratic country, and 10 years from now, or less, we’ll be back to square one.

I do not ask Canada to be neutral between Israel and a terrorist organization. Of course not. I do ask Canada to be wary about the long-term effects of what Israel is doing, however, and to question whether this will work in anyone's best interest. The disproportionate loss of innocent civilian life is not unacceptable only because it wastes humanity, but also because, strategically, it will come back to haunt you in the form of increased radicalism, intrastate violence, and lingering antagonism now growing at the most individual levels and moving right up.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 1:39:00 PM  
Blogger SouthernOntarioan said...

good post c. laroche.

One question though, since you believe that Israel's actions are excessive and 'disproportionate', what do you suggest they do?

A limited raid would not recover their soldiers and would have made Israel appear weak. Hezbollah has kidnapped Israelis in the past to barter for hundreds of prisoners and criminals. So they are dealing with a repeat offender.

They only way that Israel could even hope to prevent further attacks IS by attacking hard.

While I agree that civilian casualties in this case are ... surprising and unacceptable I have to stress that primarily those numbers come from Lebanon and Hezbollah, not Israel.

After all, if one of those bombs blew up a Hezbollah leader and his family do you count his family as 'civilians'? Or if a family was storing rockets/ammo/weapons in their basement and the Israelis bombed it would they be considered 'civilians'?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 3:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

he sits on the Left but is often disgusted by the Left's lack of insight, analysis, or anything else concerning 'facts'

You describe me to a T, CL.

EXCELLENT post. I'm totally on-side with Israel, though god knows I wish they'd done this far differently - it was worth it to try a better way. I'd happily support paying tens of millions, or more, and committing troops, to flooding Lebanon with UN troops and methodically, slowly searching it for Hezbollah. I know, it's tough - next to impossible. But I think it was worth the effort for the reason you list - Lebanon was a potential ally - I'm very very worried that potential is gone now.

(If I wasn't clear enough, I definitely mean merely "certain parts" of the Left, not all of it. Although I do think the Left is in pretty big trouble these days, thinking-wise. It's depressing.)

That was seriously impressive, you said a lot of things I've been struggling to express.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:24:00 PM  
Blogger C. LaRoche said...

re: southernontarion:

Obviously Israel's choices in this matter are limited. If the world was perfect, Israel would have simply sat tight while being attacked, and perhaps asked the Lebanese government if they could move a large police force into Lebanon to root out hezbollah. To be frank, it is obvious Israel shouldn't have pulled out of Lebanon to begin with. The real issue here is not Hezbollah attacking Israel, but the fact that Lebanon was unable to police itself. That's where we can look for real answers: how can we improve Lebanon's ability to limit Hezbollah to a purely political organization?

Having an Israeli presence on the ground would help. Intelligence sharing, personnel sharing, anything to cooperate on bringing Hezbollah down. Perhaps even limited airstrikes + ground forces would have worked better.

Here's my take on what's going on now:

A. The airstrikes were a relatively costly way to kill Hezbollah troops.
B. Going in with ground forces is likely to yield much better results; why not do this from the beginning?

Friday, August 11, 2006 5:54:00 PM  

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