Jewish World Review August 15, 2002 / 7 Elul, 5762

So, why is there
no "Jews for Jihad"?

By Michael Freund | You have got to hand it to the Israeli left. Though their vision of an Oslo-inspired peace lies in ruins, and their political folly brought the State of Israel to the brink of war, groups such as Peace Now and Gush Shalom refuse to admit defeat.

Seemingly oblivious to their impending political obsolescence, they continue to soldier on, issuing press releases, preparing reports, and organizing demonstrations, all in the hopes of compelling Israel to make a deal with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.

By now, most politically-oriented groups would have thrown in the towel, realizing that they had placed their bets on the wrong horse. But not Israel's left. They stubbornly insist on rolling the same set of dice again, and again, and again, even as their string of failures continues to mount.

Before you confuse this fervent obstinacy with admirable determination, consider the following: though the left's favorite "peace partner" and his compatriots have murdered over 600 Israelis in the past two years, the main target of their ideological ire remains, inexplicably enough, the Jews.

"Hell - Made in Israel", is just one of the headlines appearing on the Gush Shalom web site, along with accusations about Israeli "war crimes" and "vandalism".

"Sharon leads us to destruction", says an announcement about a rally on a Peace Now Internet page. "The occupation breeds terrorism" shrieks Yesh Gvul, another leftist group.

Needless to say, the fact that there are still intelligent people out there who hold such opinions is, quite simply, astonishing. It's as if there is nothing sufficiently bad or egregious that the Palestinians could do to shake the left's "true believers" out of their ideological stupor.

Like followers of the medieval false messiah Shabbetai Tsvi, who continued to view him as the savior of the Jews even after he abandoned Judaism and converted to Islam, the proponents of Oslo remain firm in their conviction that Arafat is the key to peace, even as he wages war against us.

What is particularly perplexing, though, is the left's failure to appreciate the utter lack of symmetry that exists between Israel's political divide and the Palestinians' political uniformity.

In Israel, there are a variety of organizations spanning the spectrum, with some calling for annexation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and others demanding that the territories be handed over to the Arabs.

In the Palestinian-controlled areas, by contrast, no such political diversity exists. Last time I checked, groups such as "Arab Friends of Israel" or "Palestinians for Peace" had yet to be established.

To put it even more bluntly: there is no organized Palestinian left-wing to mirror that which exists in Israel. One would expect that if Palestinian society were truly longing for peace with the Jewish state, then its political arena would somehow reflect this.

When was the last time you heard about Palestinian relief groups offering to help Israeli victims of terror? When have Palestinian human rights organizations pressed Palestinian officials to make concessions to Israel? How many Palestinian clerics have issued rulings forbidding suicide bombing attacks?

We all know the answer to these questions. All of us, that is, except for the hard-core ideologues of the left.

Sadly, the only real split that seems to exist among Palestinian organizations is over the question of tactics, not strategy. Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad compete with one another not over who can talk with Israelis, but over who can kill them.

And while Israel's left convenes rallies in support of peace, Palestinian marchers converge on the streets to celebrate suicide bombings and other terror attacks.

It is this dichotomy, more than anything else, which symbolizes the primary flaw of the left's position, if only because they can not point to a corresponding popular movement on the Palestinian side.

Moreover, for all the invective that the left directs against the Israeli government and Jewish settlers, the fact remains that there is - thankfully - no such thing as "Jews for Jihad" or the "Likud Tanzim".

The popularity of such groups among Palestinians, and their absence on the Israeli scene, is hardly coincidental. It speaks volumes about the two societies, their values, goals and objectives.

By failing to acknowledge this painful, if inconvenient, truth, the Israel left has doomed itself both to political irrelevance and moral ridicule - a fate, quite frankly, which it most assuredly deserves.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Michael Freund served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999. Comment by clicking here.


© 2002, Michael Freund<