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The Pathology of Israel's Left By: Daniel Doron
Jerusalem Post | Friday, December 19, 2003

Political pathology is to be found at both extremes of the political spectrum. It was a right-wing fanatic who assassinated a prime minister and his likes are committing outrages against innocent Arabs in Judea and Samaria, thus discrediting a Jewish community acting with extreme restraint in face of Arab terrorism.

However, since the Left has become the dominant force in Israeli politics, it is the chief carrier of political pathology.

The Left gained its dominance since the early 1920s when the Zionist organization's immigration policies, funded by Jewish capitalists, favored young pioneers who were settled in collectivist – namely communist – settlements. Ben-Gurion and his comrades were true Bolshevik believers then. They fashioned Zionism as a spearhead for a Middle East communist revolution, practicing a violent class struggle against the middle classes, destroying their economic bases and institutions and becoming the dominant force in the life of the mandatory Yishuv.

Ben-Gurion and his party became gradually disenchanted with Soviet communism, but up until the mid-1950s, about 30 percent of the Israeli electorate voted for Stalinist parties. This caused Ben-Gurion great anxiety. He worried about the spread of pro-Stalinist sympathies (which he claimed destroyed the true Leninism that he upheld) among the highest echelons of the IDF as well as among intellectuals, academicians, media persons and artists, who were molding the consciousness of the young.

So he took two politically dangerous steps: He disbanded the Palmah, the elite unit of the Hagana, because it was totally dominated by pro-Moscow generals. And he sacrificed and disbanded one of his own proud creations – the Labor-affiliated school system.

The scions of the Stalinists whom Ben-Gurion fought still dominate life – now in the guise of a post-Zionist New Left – in academia, the media and among intellectuals and artists.

Ben-Gurion considered the pro-Moscow, Stalin-worshiping radical Left pathological apostates, betrayers of Zionism and Judaism who sought to convert Jews to the secular faith of Stalinism (several kibbutzim held Seder ceremonies in which a Haggada was recited that was dedicated to "the rising sun of humanity, Comrade Joseph Stalin").

This is not the occasion to delve into the etiology of the violent and destructive nature of the political pathology inflicting utopian movements – from the French Revolution onward. Freud's most original successor, Wilhelm Reich, analyzed it in his seminal The Mass Psychology of Fascism. Later works, Theodore Adorno's The Authoritarian Personality and Erich Fromm's The Fear of Freedom, further elaborated the relationship between personality disorders and political extremism.

Radical movements seem to attract personalities that seethe with explosive rage. Their rage is attached to a cause – as Dostoevsky so memorably limned in The Devils – giving its destructiveness an appearance of virtue and legitimacy.

This may explain why, despite their protestations that they defend freedom, so many leftists actually support the most murderous tyrants, from Stalin to Arafat, and why some liberals give aid and comfort to aggressive, oppressive and corrupt dictatorships such as the Palestinian Authority.

Neve Gordon is a prime example of this paradox. Gordon, one of the rabidly post-Zionist revisionist historians who teaches political science at Ben-Gurion University. Most of the articles Gordon has published are devoted to denouncing Israel as a fascist terrorist state.

Gordon would probably claim that he is fighting for the rights of oppressed Palestinians, but tellingly he devotes most of his energy to recycling calumnies that subvert Israel's legitimacy. Gordon does not seem to care for the Palestinians except as instruments of his rage.

He goes beyond the radical-chic support for the PLO given by most Israeli academic leftists. On a visit to Ramallah he embraced Arafat and implicitly protected with his body the terrorists hiding in the compound.

Gordon has expressed understanding for terrorism because it is caused by "injustice." He does not seem to care that the Palestinians are subjected to the most brutal and oppressive dictatorship so long as they are nominally "independent."

He was among the signers of the petition before the recent Iraq war declaring that Israel was planning to perpetrate atrocities and massive crimes against humanity once the war broke out. He also endorsed boycotts against Israel.

Had Israel enjoyed an open, pluralistic public debate – especially in the media and the universities – one could let the pathological defamers do their thing. But the public arena in Israel is dominated by politically correct leftists who silence any opposition.

Like the Islamic fundamentalist parties in countries such as Iran or Algeria – where democratic elections have been exploited to abolish democracy – so does the pathological Left exploit democratic freedoms, including academic freedom and freedom of speech, in order to defy the majority will and subvert it from within.

The post-Zionists and neo-Marxists on the Ben-Gurion University faculty, that Gordon exemplifies, are true believers. They are capable of calling for a boycott of Israeli universities for alleged crimes against humanity; they are not promoters of free speech or pluralism.

This is, alas, also true of many other social-science and humanities departments in Israel where, in the words of the (Meretz!) former minister of education Amnon Rubinstein "a unison choir" of political correctness suppresses free debate.

In fact, several attempts have been made by BGU leftists to use the law to intimidate adversaries and suppress criticism. The most recent, a frivolous libel suit filed by Neve Gordon against Prof. Steven Plaut of Haifa University, a stalwart defender of free speech.

Those who support freedom for terrorists cannot stomach any opposition. They file suits simply to harass critics and intimidate potential adversaries by causing them great expense and loss of time.

Serious consideration must therefore be given to the protection of academic freedom and free speech from a pathological Left that is so adept at abusing them.

Daniel Doron is president of The Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress, an independent pro-market policy think tank.

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