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Naomi Klein's Heart of Darkness By: Ronald Radosh
Pajamas Media | Wednesday, January 14, 2009


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It has become increasingly evident that The Nation magazine, still the most influential journal of the supposedly moderate and responsible Left in America, is becoming the organ committed first and foremost to the destruction of Israel. This time, its prescription for dealing with the Hamas inflicted war on Israel comes from Naomi Klein, this generation’s Noam Chomsky in women’s designer suits. Klein, with her demonic hatred of Israel, makes your average run-of-the mill self-hating Jew sound balanced.

In an article entitled “Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction,” (BDS) Klein calls “for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.” She endorses a 2005 program put forth by a “huge coalition of Palestinian groups.” Each day “Israel pounds Gaza,” she writes, “brings more converts to the BDS cause.”

Klein does not even purport to show any concern, indeed any awareness of, Hamas’ self-proclaimed goal to destroy Israel, its Islamist ideology that calls for permanent war against all Jews, or its continued and sustained rocket attacks on Israel. She does not even attempt to declare a J-Street type phony “moral equivalence” that equates Israel’s defense of its citizens with Hamas’ rockets. In her eyes, there is only one guilty party: the State of Israel.

Therefore, Klein sees only one way out of the fighting in the Middle East: taking “punitive measures” against Israel. The model is to do what the West did to South Africa in the waning years of apartheid, and adopt the same tactics that proved successful then against Israel now.

In her eyes, Israel alone has been steadily escalating its criminality through among other things “its collective punishment on Gaza.” Is she unaware of the fact that Israel did what its critics had been calling for? In 2005, it withdrew from Gaza and handed it to the Palestinians. The result was not a government that built up a Palestinian state committed to modernity and progress, but an armed camp the purpose of which was to launch a new assault against Israel.

Unlike Israel’s opponents who believe the myth that Israel is an apartheid state, Klein acknowledges that the analogy has holes. She does not care. She simply argues that acting as if it is, and using the tactics of boycott against them, can work. She also writes, however, that Israel is close enough to being guilty of apartheid. To prove it, she quotes Ronnie Kasrils, whom she identifies only as a “prominent South African politician.” Kasrils, she writes, says that the segregation he saw in Gaza and the West Bank in 2007 was actually “worse than apartheid.” Kasrils, she neglects to inform her readers, is not only the former chief of the government’s intelligence apparatus, but is a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party.

A lifelong Stalinist, Kasrils epitomizes the most backward thinking of the groups that composed the African National Congress coalition in the days of apartheid. He is a man who has called Israelis “baby killers” who use “methods reminiscent of the Nazis.” The late Helen Suzman, who died a week ago, condemned Kasrils for engaging in “hate speech.” If one reads Kasrils’ history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, his condemnation of Israel goes back to the years of Israel’s very formation, which he blamed on Israel’s position as a pawn of Western imperialism. To cite Kasrils for proof that Israel is an apartheid state is the equivalent of quoting Pat Buchanan for proof that World War II wasn’t necessary.

Klein realizes that others may argue she is unfairly singling out Israel. After all, in her eyes, the United States itself is just as bad, having invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps because she knows that no one is going to boycott the United States, for the time being, she urges that the movement concentrate on taking on Israel. It is a small state, she notes, and a successful boycott could well destroy it. What bothers her is that Israel’s economy is growing, its GNP increasing, and its trade and investments soaring.

She ends her article on a particularly nasty note. She knows, she writes, that “many of those very high-tech toys come from Israeli research parks.” Klein is referring to what is well known: that scores of the major conveniences we use today were all developed in Israel - one of the reasons their economy is flourishing, and foreign investors are pouring money into Israel’s version of Silicon Valley. She ends by quoting one British businessman, the director of a British telecom firm. It seems this man is ending all business with Israel, strictly on business grounds. His reason: “We can’t afford to lose any of our clients,” intimating that his firm does business with Arab states.

So this British businessman, like those who did business with the Nazis after Hitler came to power, sees his act as purely commercial. Klein does not object. “Cold business calculation,” she writes, will lead firms to pull out of Israel. She hopes others will follow, so that “justice” will come to Palestine.

Naomi Klein reveals where the heart of the American Left lies: with anti-Semites, radical Islamists, and the enemies of democracy. She stands with those who use commerce as an excuse to sell their souls. They, like the businessman she cites, may not hate Israel like she does. Helping destroy them is simply a practical business matter. She’ll take aid to destroy Israel from whatever quarter it comes from.

Her article is, indeed, a disgrace to the once proud liberal tradition of The Nation. I can countenance- although I may disagree-with those who like Aaron David Miller, argue that Israel should be shown “tough love” from its American allies. These people put their emphasis on the wrong target, thinking that if Israel alone makes compromises, peace can occur. But they are well-meaning, and hope that Israel remains standing. Klein, and The Nation, now openly seek its destruction.


Ronald Radosh, Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York, is an Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute.


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