May 30th, 2024

(For the SoundCloud audio, scroll down)

“Dear university students in the United States of America, you are standing on the right side of history. You have now formed a branch of the Resistance Front and have begun an honorable struggle in the face of your government’s ruthless pressure – which openly supports Zionists.”

This was the tweet from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei earlier this week, which had been viewed 11 million times at the time of writing. What Khamenei tweeted – and he has recently evolved into a regular, almost obsessive tweeter – marks a disturbing trend: the increasing alignment of progressive groups in the United States with regimes and movements that starkly contrast with the values they claim to uphold and be fighting for. Being hailed by Iran is not something a progressive activist in the West – concerned with freedom of speech, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, the right to protest, and the dangers of autocracy – should want on their resume.

It’s not just Iran. Hamas has also gone on record to support the protests. In April, Hamas spokesperson Izzat Al-Risheq accused President Biden of “violating the individual rights and the right to expression through arresting university students and faculty members for their rejection of the genocide to which our Palestinian people are being subjected in the Gaza Strip at the hands of the neo-Nazi Zionists.”

And the love affair goes both ways. At an anti-Israel protest at Stanford University, the FBI was called in after a protester was seen wearing a Hamas headband. Meanwhile, at the Columbia protests, students chanted “Hamas, we love you. We support your rockets too.”

In recent years, detailed analyses by political scientists and historians have highlighted the developing partnership between far-leftists and Islamic extremists – an alliance that has escalated exponentially since October 7th. The studies reveal how far-leftists and Islamic extremists have found common ground in their vehement opposition to alleged Western imperialism, capitalism, and perceived global dominance. This unlikely alliance is driven by a shared narrative of victimhood that compels them to resist a common enemy: the liberal democratic values of the West.

British author and academic Dave Rich, who serves as the Director of Policy at the Community Security Trust in the UK, has tackled the eager support for antisemitism by the far left. In his 2016 book “The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti‑Semitism,” he argues that “the far-left’s willingness to overlook, and even embrace, the antisemitism inherent in Islamic extremism stems from a shared narrative of victimhood and oppression.” This is why this unlikely alliance often resorts to anti-Semitic tropes, suggesting that a shadowy Zionist elite controls global politics and economy, thereby oppressing the downtrodden.

Clearly, the alliance between far-leftists and radical Islamists is utterly misguided. Firstly, for progressives, it is a betrayal of the fundamental values of human rights and equality that are the trumpeted mantras of this group. By aligning with regimes and movements that oppress women, persecute minorities, and suppress free speech and freedom of expression, these keffiyeh-toting protestors are contradicting the very principles they claim to champion.

Additionally, it is ridiculous for Islamic extremists to align with progressives, given their deep-seated opposition to the progressive values of secularism, gender equality, and LGBTQ rights.

Astonishingly, progressive activists are willfully ignoring the historical and ongoing violence perpetrated by Islamists, not just against Israelis and Jews – which they might support – but against Muslims, Christians, gays, and women. Aligning yourself with organizations and regimes that glorify and celebrate terror and violence, as was so starkly evident in the GoPro footage taken by the Hamas terrorists on October 7th, is about as egregious a blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life as is possible. How do progressives explain that – to themselves?

Finally, this absurd partnership has succeeded in perpetuating harmful antisemitic myths that do nothing but fuel division and hatred. Isn’t progressivism meant to be about fostering solidarity and mutual understanding? Surely progressives recognize that in their eagerness to oppose Western policies, they are aligning themselves with individuals and entities whose values are fundamentally at odds with their own.

The Torah portion Bechukotai contains a section that provides a stark warning about the consequences of either upholding or forsaking divine commandments and foundational principles. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in his commentary on Bechukotai, explains that the blessings and curses detailed in this portion are not just historical but serve as a moral and ethical compass for future generations. He explains, “The Torah warns us that societies are built on moral foundations. When those foundations are eroded, societies begin to unravel.”

Never has this warning seemed more relevant than today. With each passing week, we are witnessing Western society unravel more and more, and there appears to be no end in sight.

While my own ideals and views are right-of-center and conservative, I recognize the critical importance of debate and a marketplace of ideas that includes a robust left-of-center element. But somehow, somewhere, the left seems to have lost its compass. Aligning with regimes and movements that fundamentally contradict their values is not merely a perilous path; it is a sure route to destruction and devastation.

There is a saying in Jewish tradition: “Woe to the wicked, woe to their neighbors.” If you are connected to the wicked, that makes you wicked. The drift on the left towards aligning with Iran, Hamas, and other extremist entities is a clear example of the dangers of ignoring these timeless warnings.

There have always been crazy extremists on the far left – not just on the far right – whose views were abhorrent, and whose actions repulsive. But they were a small fraction of their group as a whole. The recent alarming growth on the left of those who totally sympathize and blindly identify with the views that define Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood demands a deep rethink.

It is crucial for well-meaning activists for the Palestinian cause to reconsider their position and to return to their foundational values of justice, freedom, and human dignity, lest we all face the consequences of their misguided actions. It is not too late, but we are not far off from a point of no return. Let us do everything we can to make sure that never happens.

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