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10 Reasons Progressives Ought to support Israel, even now

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A lot of liberals or progressives are confused about supporting Israel, or outright opposed to doing so, especially now, when the current conflict, Operation Defensive Edge, with Hamas has eclipsed the carnage and damage of the last big battle, Operation Cast Lead, in 2012.

However, here are 10 Reasons that progressives ought to be interested in supporting Israel:

1. Historically, Israel, not the Arab countries, have been more supportive of progressive values. One only has to look at how people live in those respective areas (including Gaza) to see which supports human rights more. Where are the counter-demonstrations in Gaza or the West Bank? They are everywhere in Israel. Yet, in Gaza, even during relative peacetime, protesters are routinely arrested.

2. Israel was a progressive cause, once. It's a given that progressives support the "underdog" but they should also see what those forces wish for their people if they succeed. Hamas is a militant-led entity, barely capable of governance, and might even morph into an ISIS-like State (both are Sunni), given the chance. Hamas is a militarized affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, now banned in Egypt, where Hamas is equally unpopular. Egypt has refused to even consider opening the gates at Rafah. One has to wonder: why are the Palestinians, or at least their most militant leadership, so unpopular even among their supposed brethren in the Arab lands?

3. Does Israel have the right to defend itself or not? If not, than that is basically calling for its elimination, and writers, pundits, and self-styled "advisers" should be open and up front about that.

4. The term "occupier" is tossed around too loosely. If Israel is truly occupying Gaza, why did they pull out in 2005, under Sharon? And what do writers suggest they do to rein in the Gaza militants (I've even read that it is Israel's duty, as "occupiers" to protect Gaza civilians), if not to take out the militants and become the de facto, or even de jure, police and army in Gaza? That's, after all, what occupation means. Is this what the citizens of Gaza, or Israel, want? One cannot have it both ways.

5. Gaza militants do in fact, launch their rockets (not missiles, because they lack internal guidance) from heavily populated areas. This may be a tactical decision to keep them hidden from view, or political decision to increase the civilian body count when Israel retaliates, but in either case, it shows the Hamas priority is violence, attack, and vengeance, not preservation of Gaza civilian life. How is that a progressive value?

6. Is it right to accept, at face-value, the alleged "support" from the Gaza populace for the militants, or, as we have seen so often in the terrorized Arab lands, is that support merely a survival tactic (e.g. Iraqis "supported" Hussein until it was clear he was ousted, then they didn't. Same with Libya. I'm not saying we should have gone into either of those countries, or into Ukraine currently either - we made a complete mess out of all of them, but one does have to be skeptical of mobs rallying at the point of a gun. Self-preservation is always priority #1 in dictatorships).

7. There have been many statements by Imans, both inside Muslim Countries, and outside, saying they support a caliphate not just in the Middle East, but back into southern Spain, and beyond, into all of Europe. Perhaps Europeans should consider the possibility of being the next stop on the Caliphate train after Israel succumbs. There is, of course, no great love for the Muslim community in Europe, despite their alleged diversity ideals.

8. Gazans (or West Bank Palestinians) do not have freedom of expression, or even education, starting from a very early age, though it must be admitted that the Israeli blockade has taken its toll as well. Only the U.N. provides any sort of remotely unbiased education, and even that has to be questioned, with Israel so highly unpopular in that institution (this is more a matter of the preponderance of Arab or Muslim countries, vs. just one "Jewish" State, and one, America, that supports it).

9. What is a Jew anyway? I don't ask this lightly. In one of my many comments to Paul Craig Robert's article, I said:
Being a Jew has 3 meanings, which makes it unusual among religions:

1. It's a religion
2. It's a race
3. It's a nationality (at least in Israel, the "Jewish State," which automatically grants citizenship to anyone from the Jewish diaspora).

If it's only the third one of these, than Israel can be a Jewish state based on a set of secular laws and traditions (even including things like respect for education, a secular court and the rule of law, democratic elections, etc.). One can be a "Jew" simply by agreeing to these laws and traditions, without being a "religious" or "racial" Jew.

The second definition based on race doesn't make a lot of sense because there are supposedly 12 tribes of Israel scattered all over the world, in modern times (see above). It does come up from racists and neo-Nazis, however, and this cannot be ignored, nor can clearly counter-factual and insulting comparisons of Jews to Nazis and Genocidals (in point of fact, 1,800 dead Gazans out of 1.8 million is .1% of the population. Israel lost a full 1% of its population during its war for independence and many more since then, and the Soviets lost a full 10% - over 20 million - during WWII, and no one claimed these were "genocides." The Holocaust, which was responsible for the death of 6 million Jews, and which some Gazans and Arabs deny or ignore, was a genocide, by all historical and common definitions).

If it's #1, then it's a question of whether the State can tolerate freedom of religion, to be Jewish or not to be Jewish. If it can't, it's a theocracy (I submit most of the Arab lands are this, to a greater or lesser degree, and if you read the Hamas charter I linked to previously, you can see this is clearly their goal for Palestine. It is a fair thing to ask how Islam as the basis for the beliefs of a State like Iran or Saudi Arabia is working out for them, and for the world). I don't believe Israel is a theocracy but its own fundamentalists, who also happen to have large numbers of children, may be pushing it that way, as is the die-off of the traditionally secular, moderate "liberal" class of Israelis and its replacement with a much harder line generation.

This is not a trivial question then, and how one answers it can determine the fate of Israel as a nation.

10. Israel is a more democratic country than even America, and other democratic countries. Israel's parliamentary Knesset is known for its wide-ranging, sometimes raucous, environment, where even minority parties have a strong voice. Certainly it is a more diverse body than our American two-party duopoly.
19th Knesset.svg
Political groups
Coalition members (68):
Likud (20)
Yesh Atid (19)
The Jewish Home (12)
Yisrael Beiteinu (11)
Hatnuah (6)
Opposition (52):
Labor Party (15)
Shas (11)
United Torah Judaism (7)
Meretz (6)
Hadash (4)
UAL-Ta'al (4)
Balad (3)
Kadima (2)

The latest development is the ending of the 72-hour cease-fire, with more rocket shelling by Hamas, followed by predictable Israeli retaliation. One has to ask, as even West Bank Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas did, "What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?" Progressives should be asking this question as well.

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a former blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is a former and current President of Common Ground-NY (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of (more...)

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