For Israel, There Are No Good Options Now

How the Jewish state finds itself in a dead end. Thanks in part to its US supporters.

“Pro-Palestinian protesters held out signs to block a pro-Israeli protester as they peacefully disagreed with each other during a rally at UMass Amherst.” (Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe via Getty Images)

How badly are Israel and Israel’s defenders screwing it up right now? Let me count the ways.

At home, Israel’s supporters are engaging in a frenzy of defensive cancel culture. And that’s never pretty. If you’ve spent the last few years decrying woke intolerance, you might express some smidgen of hesitation before doxxing, hounding, firing and naming all those who have taken the side of the Palestinians in the current Hamas-Israel war. But this is a Republican Senator, Tom Cotton, in a letter to the DHS secretary, this week:

I write to urge you to immediately deport any foreign national — including and especially any alien on a student visa — that has expressed support for Hamas and its murderous attacks on Israel. These fifth-columnists have no place in the United States. Swiftly removing and permanently barring from future reentry any foreign student who signed onto or shared approvingly the anti-Semitic letter from the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee on October 7 would be a good place to start.

That letter was indeed repellent in its timing and moral obtuseness. But its core point was not to champion the horror of the Hamas attack but rather to blame Israel entirely for it, the way Israel blames Hamas for every child killed by Israeli bombs. That may be ugly and reductionist, but broad contextual argument falls well within the scope of the First Amendment, and that applies just as much to non-citizens as citizens, as Cotton well knows.

Others were on the hunt. Zillionaire Bill Ackman demanded a blacklist of students who’d been protesting Israel, so he and others would not inadvertently hire them in future. A mobile placard went around Harvard Square with the names of students who’d backed the Palestinians even as Hamas’ atrocities were unfolding. “We need to make sure these students pay a price and that their neighbors, friends, and employers know that they harbor these beliefs,” explained one CEO.

Those mobile billboards then appeared in front of the students’ private homes — to intensify the shaming. In the usual gyre, this kind of tactic has led to more and more public demonstrations where the protestors are creepily masked and anonymous. And so the corrosion of liberal democracy — in which ideas are debated openly without coercion or intimidation — takes another step toward Weimar. And Israel’s supporters have ceded the high ground.

A whole plethora of utterly unrelated Palestinian cultural events have also been canceled or rescheduled:


Categories: Geopolitics

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