Failing the “Leftist” litmus test

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LIKE THE WAR in Ukraine, the war in Gaza is serving as a remarkable litmus test for the Left. It is testing its moral compass, its understanding of international law, its grasp of geopolitical realities and, not least, its awareness of what the PR mavens call “the optics”. A substantial portion, even, perhaps, a majority, of the Left is failing all of these tests – badly. That this should be the case points to what would appear to be a dangerous cognitive weakness in contemporary progressivism – and to a West under siege.

The moral and geopolitical confusion over the Russo-Ukrainian War is more readily understood than Israel’s war against Hamas. For the so-called “Tankies”, abandoning the cherished image of the Russian people, Nazism’s destroyers, as the world’s saviours, was an emotional wrench. Rejecting the argument that the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine was a justifiable response to US and Nato provocation proved equally difficult. None of these considerations excused the Tankies’ defence of Russian aggression, but one could at least see where it was coming from.

That is certainly not the case with respect to the devastating pogrom unleashed upon the Jewish inhabitants of Southern Israel by the Jihadist terrorist organisation, Hamas. To encounter its historical equal, it is necessary to travel back in time to the genocidal pogroms set in motion by the antisemitic citizens of the Baltic states in anticipation of the Nazi einsatzgruppen’s arrival in 1941. Here, too, one encounters the same unsparing cruelty, the same savage delight in rape, torture and murder, that characterised the Hamas pogrom of 7 October 2023.

As was the case in 1941, it is quite impossible to look upon the atrocities of 7/10/23 as anything other than a deliberate turning away from all civilised conduct. Unless, that is, one has already been convinced that against the Jews/Israelis any and all crimes are permitted – and justified.

That this was the belief of the Nazis is well-documented. That a burning desire to rid the world of the “Zionist Entity” is equally evident in every act of Arab aggression towards the State of Israel since 1948. The important distinction being that, while Egypt, Syria and Jordan only wanted to drive the Jews into the sea, the Jihadists of Hamas are religiously committed to making sure that every last one of them drowns.

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What is it then that permits those who self-identify as leftists to survey the horrors of 7 October 2023 and see only a glorious act of Palestinian resistance? How is it possible for those who cheered on Jacinda Ardern’s “politics of kindness” to absorb all the details of the rape, the torture, the killing – and not respond with fury and disgust?

One possible answer is that they have seen the images of Palestinians shot and killed for daring to oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They have watched, aghast, as Israeli aircraft, Israeli artillery, have pounded the houses and apartment buildings of Gaza to rubble. Seen, also, the tiny victims of such bombardment, and heard the anguished cries of their mothers. “Lex Talionis!”, they cry. “An eye for an eye!”

But the moral vacuity of this position was as obvious to a Galilean rabbi back in 30AD, as it was to a Gujarat lawyer in 1920 who declared that “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind”. A leftist who turns her face in fury and disgust from the IDF’s brutality on the West Bank, cannot, either logically or ethically, refrain from doing the same in the face of Hamas’ murderous fanaticism.

That Pro-Palestinian leftists cannot see the deeply cynical purpose behind Hamas’ attack is similarly baffling. Notwithstanding the facts of international law concerning the responsibility of all those exercising state (or state-like) authority to protect their citizens from harm, Hamas committed its atrocities in the certain knowledge that Israel – fulfilling its own legal duty to protect its citizens – would feel compelled to destroy those responsible for organising and committing them. That this would entail air and artillery strikes on Gaza was obvious to the whole world. But, Hamas did not shrink from Israeli retaliation, it welcomed it.

Why? Because it knew that if the IDF was coming after them, then it would also be coming after the apartment buildings, the office blocks, the schools and the hospitals from which it launches its rockets, and under which it locates its storehouses, fuel dumps, arsenals, factories and command centres. Does Hamas know that this is a blatant breach of the Geneva Conventions – a war crime? Of course it does. Doesn’t it care that its own people will be “collateral damage” when the Israeli missiles strike their targets? Not at all. A steadily rising civilian death-toll isn’t a bug in Hamas’ strategy, it’s a feature.

There was a time when, to be regarded as a serious leftist, one was obligated to inform oneself as well as possible about world affairs – especially the geopolitics of great power rivalry and its consequences. No longer. One can be a fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause without ever pausing to wonder from whom groups like Hamas and Hezbollah get their military supplies, their military training.

Today’s leftists do not know, or do not care, that it is the hand of the Islamic Republic of Iran that is moving these terrorist pieces on the Middle-East chessboard. The same Islamic Republic that murders women and girls for refusing to wear the hijab. The same Islamic Republic that is committed to the utter destruction of Israel – and is rapidly acquiring the nuclear capacity to do exactly that. Today’s leftists simply do not realise that, if this was the Lord of the Rings, they’d be on the side of Sauron – they’d be cheering on the orcs.

Don’t they care about the optics of all this? When Jewish students in New York have to barricade themselves in their university library, against Pro-Palestinian leftists, and all the antisemitic, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic “allies” standing right there beside them, pounding on the door, trying to get in. Does it not occur to them that people looking at the video clip of that incident posted on X might be reminded of something? When a supposed “leftist” stands up in Auckland’s Aotea Square and urges the multitude waving their Palestinian flag to “Globalise the Intifada!” – i.e. Let’s have pogroms everywhere! – and is cheered to the echo. What does he suppose New Zealand’s Jewish community sees?

Not leftism, but fascism. And so does every other leftist who still understands the meaning of the word.

 

Chris Trotter is New Zealand’s leading leftwing political commentator, with 30 years of experience writing professionally about New Zealand politics. He now writes regularly for the Democracy Project, producing his column “From the Left”.

71 COMMENTS

  1. Chris – The Palestinian Authority has stated numerous times, that Hamas must go! The Palestinian Authority is the only recognized voice of the Palestinian people…Hamas is not…

    • The PA hasn’t had an election in donkeys years and has no legitimate mandate whereas the political wing of Hamas has in Gaza. Fattah, the PLO only has legitimacy in the West Bank. Who fucked that up?
      The US, Israel, and Arafat.

      • We shouldn’t be surprised that Western liberals would suddenly start supporting the far-right, elected governing party of Gaza — the party that Israel once funded, in an attempt to prevent the state of Palestine from ever forming a functioning government.

        The fact-free propaganda of Wall Street — and the warmongering U.S. state that it controls — has come home to roost.

        The Pentagon and the intelligence agencies have been telling the public to support medievalist religious ultra-conservatives since 1979, during the C.I.A. project to overthrow the government of Afghanistan and start an illegal proxy war with the Soviets (Operation Cyclone).

        These liberal know-nothings were duped into believing that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group — the terroristic followers of Osama Bin Laden, who served in Operation Cyclone, and then in an illegal MI-6. operation to kill Col. Gadaffi — were “freedom fighters”. The U.S. was “bringing democracy to Libya” by funding the overthrow of her government, they said. Oh, and the near-total destruction of that once peaceful and very wealthy country, which dared to control her own oil and currency.

        Similarly, these liberals believed every C.I.A. lie about the Levantine Victory Front of Syria, who the U.S. was supposedly using to “spread democracy and save the Syrians” — and not at all to set up illegal U.S. military bases, which have now seized most of the Syrian oil, and a third of her territory. The truth was always an open secret; in a memo to Hillary Clinton, Jake Sullivan even admitted who the Victory Front really are.
        “Al Qaeda is on our side in Syria,” he wrote.

      • Den – Hamas was not voted in as Government, they killed everyone who was against them…then refused to have another election…Hamas last election was 2006.

        • Nathan do some homework, to suggest they killed everyone who was against them is complete nonsense. Find out why israel funded them for so long, do the mahi and find out what really happened.

          The Palestinians living in Israel are not allowed to vote that is part of the problem as to why there has been no election.

  2. Well for one thing you’d have to believe those details to condemn them, and propoganda – served up by a genocidal religious state, backed by liars and fanatics in the U.S., and lapped up by a compliant media – is simply not believable.

    But even if it was believable Israel is born of ethnic cleansing, everyone who comes to the state deciding to become a citizen knows what it is and agrees to military conscription, these colonising settlers routinely murdering the indigenous population and stealing more of their land. What citizen of Israel is actually innocent of genocide? How can they be?

    So no, I really don’t care how many headless babies Hamas rapes, especially since I believe that number to be zero. We live in a factless world, good luck changing my mind.

    • thank you just some troll. Chris is possibly NZ’s finest political writer.
      He is also Christian.
      “All religion is superstition , and superstition is ignorance.”- Christopher Hitchens

    • You are incorrect in the military conscription claim.
      As far as I know, a non-Jew can emigrate to Israel on certain conditions that they give up any other citizenship, but they are not bound by military service
      There may be other conditions.

  3. Another great article Chris and I agree completely – I also appreciate your attempt to dumb all of this down enough for some of those turning up to the current pro-Hamas / ISIS rallies.

    “Today’s leftists simply do not realise that, if this was the Lord of the Rings, they’d be on the side of Sauron – they’d be cheering on the orcs.”

    • JB, ISIS. Israeli Secret Intelligence Service. Timber Sycamore was a classified weapons supply and training program run by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and supported by Israel and some Arab intelligence services, including Saudi intelligence. Launched in 2012 or 2013, it supplied money, weaponry and training to Syrian opposition militias of the Free Syrian Army aka Al Qaeda (ISIS) fighting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war. According to US officials, the program was run by the CIA’s Special Activities Division and has trained thousands of rebels aka (ISIS). President Barack Obama secretly authorized the CIA to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels aka (ISIS) in 2013.

    • Wow James get some history lessons first. Start with the Jewish academic Ilan Pappe’s book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. You will learn quite a lot it is clear to me.

      The watch this:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fPtN4hVlFA

      Media releases I have seen have condemned Hamas action. But honestly is Hamas in the West Bank, no so why are those Palestinians being harassed!

    • Hamas fought ISIS…it is tragic but not surprising that the West are trying to conflate the two. Otherwise, I can’t speak for other protests but ours was Palestine, Palestine, Palestine, insert free and ceasefire as the most associated words with that. I was disappointed that peace didn’t get much of airing, but then again, this calamity is ongoing, thus ceasefire seems more apt at this stage….

  4. You’d almost think the world wasn’t black and white. What a concept.

    It also seems to me that for many people also their blind hatred of the USA has led them to a place where anyone who claims to be the enemy of the USA (Hi Mr Putin) must then be one of the “good guys”. Even when they’re not, and in fact they’re murderous thugs.

    Israel has a lot to answer for with Gaza, but Hamas are a complete bastards and those that back them are happy to sacrifice every last Palestinian in some pretty evil Machiavellian shit.

    Of course that’s just me being brain washed by the Western MSM and I should really be listening to Russell Brand. I humbly apologize.

  5. ‘Free Palestine….from Hamas and islamic terrorists’

    Just cut and paste that Tipine/Stephen and add to the bottom of each of your posts….sorted!

  6. Today, being Left is entirely about the emotional needs of the Leftist. If the protest chant rhymes and makes you feel angry or emotionally engaged, then that is all it needs to be.

    Learning some history or looking dispassionately at ‘facts on the ground’ is the antithesis of emotion-based political activities.

  7. A state has a right to protect it’s self – but does it have a right to enact revenge? Is Hamas a terrorist organization or is it a militia? Pro-palestine ‘Leftist’, from what I’ve seen, are not thumbs upping the terrorist attack by Hamas on Israeli (though many have pointed to it happening because troops were removed to protect illegal settlers in the West Bank) but calling for a stop killing of Palestinian civilian by the Israeli govt: for a ceasefire. Most of them are aware of history. Most of them are aware of Hamas support from Iran. They are also aware of very dodgy info from Israel about ‘Hamas under hospital so we can bomb them’. If they wanted to stop a terrorist organization, send in the special forces – if they want to ethnically cleanse…

    • “A state has a right to protect it’s self”, specifically “Israel has the right to defend itself” and “Israel has a right to exist”, or so we are told by the colonialist regime. But those statements are debatable with respect to states in general and any particular state. States certainly will act protect or defend themselves. They will struggle to remain in existence. But from where comes the right of any given state to come into existence or remain in existence? If we say, for example, that the Realm of New Zealand has the right to exist and the right to defend itself, then we are allowing no space for Te Whakaminenga a Aotearoa to be in any way sovereign over its own land and peoples. Similarly if the State of Israel “has a right to exist”, then that allows no possibility of a non-racial state in the land of Palestine. This topic is explored more fully in a recent post on http://www.republican.co.nz

    • Cagey, and others – Hamas is NOT an Iranian enterprise. When, in a previous column Chris Trotter wrote that I decided that his words are bullshit and as jay11 writes below “This article CT is a mish mash of confusion”.

  8. Going to have to agree to disagree on this one CT

    You speak as if what happened on Oct 7 occurred in some sort of vacuum and didn’t happen in the context of 75 years of brutal oppression.

    IMO Israel are the Orcs here FWIW

  9. Most left people I know can distinguish between the wrong of the Hamas attack & the wrong of Israel’s occupation so I am not sure why you feel compelled to write about the subject. The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres comment “did not happen in a vacuum” was a clear enough explanation although the Israel government still chose to ignore the context within which it was said to misunderstand his intent.
    History tells us “And you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to heed the words of My servants the prophets whom I sent to you, both rising up early and sending them (but you have not heeded), then I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.” what to expect so why are you so surprised when it starts to happen? I should make it clear that people are equal & I don’t want to see harm done to anyone however bad things happen & there will be accountability one day.

  10. Chris this is an appalling article and clearly shows your colours. I have been aware for a long time how anti Maori you are. If you are on the Left then that makes me something completely outside that as I am sure it does for many.

    You are a pompous ass and I am not sure whoever decided you were THE left wing commentator.

    I will never forget that you came to the UNITE office when the raids on Tuhoe happened and you wanted to let it be, but got mowed down by the many who knew some of those arrested. Have you ever apologised for any of that Chris. DISGUSTING!

  11. Sorry CT but your weak historical revisionism about Nazism & Zionism needs to be challenged aswell as the aggression from Arab states against the beginnings of apartheid Israel in 1948. The fallacy of your opinion is that you just breezes ova these events without context.

    Firstly lets take your assumptions “That this was the belief of the Nazis is well-documented. That a burning desire to rid the world of the “Zionist Entity” Zionism wasn’t well received nor supported by Jews globally because of its nationalistic features. Missing from your opinion is the Haavara transfer agreement between Nazi Germany and the Zionist meant that they sat down together and made plans hardly a burning desire to rid planet of the zionist entity.

    The attacks on the newly formed Zionist state by surrounding arab countries culminated from forcefully removing (Nakba) the Indigenous Palestinians from their lands and livelihoods to make way for european settlements. Remembering that these states and palestinian rejected plans by the UN to create a jewish state giving most of the land to european settlers who only made up a minority of the population.

    The Hamas attacks on settlers can be liken to the revolt of the slaves by Nat Turner in 1831 killing between 55 and 65 White people, making it the deadliest slave revolt in U.S. history. Or more to home on the 10th of Nov 1869 at Matawhero ‘Te Kooti Arikirangi’ killed Reginald Brig’s his wife and children then massacring 29 others in retribution for stealing his land and having him imprisoned on Chatham Islands.

    To suggest that the Hamas attacks don’t have historic context is lazy journalism and feeds into this MSM narrative that the Israeli conflict only started on the 6 Oct 2023. The protest worldwide has seen record numbers of global citizens take to the streets including jews in solidarity with the Palestinians and this trend is only becoming stronger.

    Free Palestine

    • Tipene – You forgot that the 1948 – 49 Israeli – Arab War, was a effort by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria to STEAL Palestinian land, as well as destroy Israel…opps…

      • Neihana, stick to something that you’re good at? Ben has been lonely lately with his Ukraine false narrative! He needs company and you’re just the dude to teach him a lesson or two?

  12. Its one-way traffic here, maybe we await a companion piece. Law, international law, I truly wished this mattered…perhaps we need an article as to why it doesn’t matter, or so it seems to me anyway. Hamas, the terrorist organization, terrorist to some countries, legitimate to others. The hidden hand of Iran, is this a slight or is this true, this is the problem with this accusation, the lack of verifiable information to inform us either way.

    Here’s a couple of people battling with these events, touching upon historical events to help make sense of their own feelings towards this carnage.

    “Israel’s long war on Gaza w/Norman Finkelstein | The Chris Hedges Report”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0aemeCbRTk

  13. What is this ‘civilization’ that allows Britain and the US to install a Zionist settler colony in Palestine by occupying and expelling Palestinians since WW1? Is the morality of this ‘civilisation’ of the oppressor on the same plane as that of the oppressed?

    No. This moral question was settled for the revolutionary ‘left’ with the Algerian revolution. When the occupying French commander demanded of a captured leader of the FLN that they stop using parcel bombs against innocent French civilians, the FLN leader replied, [paraphrasing] ‘give us your warplanes and we will give you our parcel bombs’.

    Of course bombing civilians from the air, and in milk bars are both on some abstract bourgeois moral plane, but in that situation one is an act of national repression by imperialist France, in which the settler population was complicit, not innocent. On the other side, that of the resistance was an act of national liberation.

    The revolutionary left knows that in wars of liberation, the only criterion for the use of violence as a means to that end, is its effectiveness in achieving victory against national oppression. That judgement is a matter for the resistance itself not for random bourgeois moralists.

    To that end, violence against the innocent which does not contribute to liberation is opposed, while that which does is justified. There are always debates among the resistance over the legitimacy of the use of violence, as it becomes part of the definition of the end itself – liberation. That is why Trotsky regarded acts of violence that are not sanctioned by popular mandate as ‘terrorism’ to be opposed.

    In the case of Israel, there is no equivalence of morality against which ‘proportionate’ violence can be measured. Israel is the oppressor, the Palestinians are the oppressed.

    Palestine uses its army for national oppression, to defeat by any means necessary the attempts by Palestinians to liberate themselves. Resistance is therefore forced to resort to methods that oppose genocide and advance the cause of liberation. This is clear.

    The attack on kibbutzim close to the border fence was horrific, but the means by which Palestinian villages were destroyed in the Nakba of ’48 to make way for the Zionist occupation, was a crime of an altogether different dimension – genocide.

    We can criticise the methods of Hamas, but never condemn them as a response to Israel’s occupation. An illegitimate, occupying power, has no moral authority to declare its right as an ‘equal’ to ‘defend itself’ against the Palestinian people it has usurped, that is, to stage a genocide.

    As the FLN commander said to his French counterpart in the Algerian war during its liberation war – give us you planes and we will give you our parcel bombs’.

    • Dave Brown wrote: “The revolutionary left knows that in wars of liberation, the only criterion for the use of violence as a means to that end, is its effectiveness in achieving victory against national oppression. That judgement is a matter for the resistance itself not for random bourgeois moralists”.
      That is a nice depiction of the amorality of “the revolutionary left”.
      In fact a genuine liberation movement must always adhere to higher moral standards than the oppressor. Only by doing so can it have any hope of creating a better world.
      That is why the Maori side framed rules of engagement for the battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga as follows
      Rule 1 – If wounded or (captured) whole, and butt of the musket or hilt of the sword be turned to me (he) will be saved.
      Rule 2 – If any Pakeha being a soldier by name, shall be travelling unarmed and meet me, he will be captured, and handed over to the direction of the law.
      Rule 3 – The soldier who flees, being carried away by his fears, and goes to the house of the priest with his gun (even though carrying arms) will be saved; I will not go there.
      Rule 4 – The unarmed Pakehas, women and children will be spared.
      The end. These are binding laws for Tauranga.

      We still adhere to those rules, even if the colonialists do not.

  14. Who is Saudi Arabia in this fellowship? The dwarves? Is Bin Salman Gimli? Is the US hyper finacialized vision of the middle east something a leftist could support. Didn’t Iran have a democracy once and an elected social democrat in office and the US replaced him with a dictator.

  15. Chris Trotter is the man who called himself a republican and insinuated himself into the late great Bruce Jesson’s republican movement, only to reveal decades later that he is in truth an ardent royalist and supporter of the British monarchy in New Zealand, a shameless colonialist whose long and strange association with republican and socialist movements was based on something other than an attachment to the principles of democracy or socialism.

    So no surprise that he now comes up with a litany of lies and a slew of slanders all echoing the talking points of Anglo-American imperialism. He slanders Hamas with statements that are outrageous and for which he has not a skerrick of evidence.

    “A steadily rising civilian death-toll isn’t a bug in Hamas’ strategy, it’s a feature”.
    Who told you that Mr Trotter? Those who want to create the impression that every crime, every atrocity, every abuse of human rights that occurs anywhere in the territory of Palestine or Israel is the fault of Hamas. “Hamas made us do it” is Trotter’s excuse for the crimes of the State of Israel.

    “it is the hand of the Islamic Republic of Iran that is moving these terrorist pieces on the Middle-East chessboard”.
    Really? And the United States has no part in it? Iran is a regional power which supports popular resistance movements in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Palestine but has no capacity to pro-actively challenge Israel or the United States militarily. It has also been subject to harsh economic sanctions and a vicious campaign of political assassinations by the imperialist powers. Ultimately, Iran will defend itself if attacked, but till now has not responded with force to provocations which any other state, certainly Israel and the United States, would have taken as grounds for war and massive retaliation.

    “The same Islamic Republic that murders women and girls for refusing to wear the hijab”.
    The Islamic Republic does not murder women or girls for being improperly attired. Rather the issue of hijab has been used by western powers to promote internal conflict in Iran for purposes which have next to nothing to do with hijab. Their aim is regime change in Iran, just as it was in 1953 when they overthrew the democratic secular government of Mohammed Mosaddegh.

    “The same Islamic Republic that is committed to the utter destruction of Israel – and is rapidly acquiring the nuclear capacity to do exactly that.”
    I have been in Iran, I have seen their nuclear facilities and I have talked with their people about the issue of nuclear weapons. Nukes are an option for Israel, which by all accounts has nuclear weapons, but not for Iran because nuclear weapons are so indiscriminate. For that reason Iran does not have nuclear weapons and does not want them.

    “Globalise the Intifada!” – i.e. Let’s have pogroms everywhere!”
    From slandering Palestinians and Iranians, Trotter moves on to slander our own people, implying that their support for Palestinians equates to pogroms against Jews.

    Mr Trotter is a disgrace to TDB (which proclaims him to be New Zealand’s “leading leftwing political commentator”, another slander against the left) and to anyone else who will have him. The colonialist regime is welcome to keep him and use him to slander our people until the cows come home. But it will not profit them in the end.

    • I didn’t mention Mr Trotter’s references to alleged Hamas atrocities (“rape, torture and murder”) because atrocity stories abound in war and their effect is to distract attention from the causes, and therefore the possible solutions, to conflict. They also tend to aggravate animosities between the sides, and allegations of atrocity by one side are then used to justify further atrocities by the other side. The allegations are always made in the heat of war, and the evidence only emerges much later, or, as is more often the case, not at all.
      However, I now feel bound to confront the issue.
      Murder, yes, any deliberate killing can be considered a murder, and if it is the killing of a non-combatant then it is murder by any standards. But Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden have accused Hamas of beheading Jewish babies when there was no evidence of that having taken place. The claims of rape and torture are also unsubstantiated and it would be strange if in the heat of that battle any Hamas fighter had the opportunity to rape or torture.
      So murder, quite possibly. The beheading of babies, rape and torture as alleged by Messrs Trotter, Netanyahu and Biden are almost certainly false allegations.

      • There are others who allege this. For example the forensic scientists who examined the dead bodies. I know one of them and believe his statements. He has long been critical of the Israeli government, but the state of the bodies shocked him to such an extent that he revised some of the opinion, concluding that the attackers were pure evil.

  16. A very good column by Chris Trotter.

    “As was the case in 1941, it is quite impossible to look upon the atrocities of 7/10/23 as anything other than a deliberate turning away from all civilised conduct. Unless, that is, one has already been convinced that against the Jews/Israelis any and all crimes are permitted – and justified.”

    Exactly. One thing that the events of the last month has revealed is how deeply run the currents of Jew-hatred, including among those who don’t even realise that this is what they are indulging in. The British Socialist Workers Party, which calls itself the largest party on the British far left, and might be as far as I know, on the day after the Hamas pogram, invited us to “rejoice” at the Palestinian “resistance”. One leading figure in the Palestinian solidarity movement here said of the 200 young people slaughtered at the music festival that they “would have known that they were literally dancing on the graves of Palestinians”. How can people who would count themselves progressives or socialists say such things?

    We can recognise anti-semitism when it takes the form of the citing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But nowadays it is more likely to take the form of an unhinged obsession with the state of Israel; in the demonisation of the Israeli regime as the supreme embodiment and primary exemplar in the world of racism, colonialism, imperialism and other evils, signalled by the loose use of words like “apartheid” and “genocide”; and the applying to the Israeli government of levels of scrutiny and standards of conduct above those applied to other capitalist governments in the world.

    Hamas is not a national liberation movement that has engaged in reprehensible actions, such as those who make spurious comparisons between it and the FLN in Algeria or the Mau Mau in Kenya would have it. It is an irredeemably reactionary organisation whose programme is to wage a war of annihilation against not “colonialists” or “settlers” or even “Israelis”, but against Jews.

    I visited Israel and the West Bank territories in 2019. Because I work as a bus driver, I tried to speak to bus drivers in Jerusalem to get a feel, even if a limited and unrepresentative one, of their viewpoint as unionists. One Jewish driver told me they had Jewish, Arab Moslem and even Christians in their union, and that by and large they got along fine. (Although he did joke that it was a headache for the boss dealing with all those different holidays.) So I was dismayed to read in Haaretz today that many Arab bus drivers are not showing up for work amid hostility towards them since the outbreak of the war (although the article did not specify if the hostility came from fellow drivers or the public in general.) That’s another pernicious effect of Hamas’s actions — they create obstacles on the path that ultimately shows the only way forward, that of ordinary working people, Jewish and Arab, coming together in common action.

    • Terry Coggan wrote:
      “It is an irredeemably reactionary organisation whose programme is to wage a war of annihilation against not “colonialists” or “settlers” or even “Israelis”, but against Jews. ”

      Hamas is reactionary in the sense that it is entirely a reaction to the dispossession of Palestinian Arabs. Whether it is “irredeemably” so must be a matter of opinion and Terry Coggan’s opinion allows no room for the notion that a more conciliatory approach from Israel to the plight of the Palestinian people might lead to an easing of hostilities. In other words his stated opinion has the effect of further fueling the conflict and helping to destroy hopes for peace.
      For most Palestinians the State of Israel is the problem because it is explicitly a Jewish state in which they can only be second-class citizens. Therefore it is not surprising that many see Jews as their enemy. If you have a race-based state in which different ethnic groups have different rights then you are going to have racial animosities. If you want to eradicate those fears and hatreds (which let’s face it are found among both Jews and Arabs) then you have to establish a non-racial state. Since that is not going to happen – the State of Israel is not going to stop being a Jewish state – a two state solution is the next option. But although western imperialism pays lip service to the two state solution it has abandoned it in practice. So we have now arrived at the last option, the physical extermination of the Palestinians or their expulsion from the occupied territories which is currently underway. I don’t know if Hamas wants to “annihilate the Jews” and I don’t know what evidence there is for that, but I do know that Anglo-American imperialism, in which the Realm of New Zealand has played its dishonorable part for nearly two centuries, is on track to annihilate the Palestinian Arabs. That is the reality which Trotter, Coggan and the colonialist regime as a whole choose to ignore.

  17. There is no high moral ground left in the Middle East.

    Nor are IDF bombs more moral than those of Hamas.

    The current violence needs to stop. There is nothing more to be said.

  18. The Left is for the rightful underdog. Now who would that be? None of us are ‘for’ Hamas. Your lyrical music is going into strange places, particularly after your previous opinions on Israel.

    The weak, miserable, bombed Palestinians have, surprisingly, the one thing Israel needs — legitimacy. Otherwis e I will continue to support the Palestinians in their fight for their homeland (not vile Hamas) as I would Scots if my motherland Scotland was conquered.

  19. You talking about ‘failing the Leftist litmus test’ is particularly funny since I’ve been avoiding your blog for a month or so since a post in which I thought you crossed the Rubicon into the Right, after much ‘trotting’ around the banks of that stream.

  20. I note that this article by Chris Trotter has been widely published, not only on TDB and Bowalley Road but on “Bassett, Brash and Hide”, “Point of Order”, “The Democracy Project” and probably a lot of others, given Mr Trotter’s connections. That is fair enough, but unfortunately a lot of less perceptive readers have had their blind prejudices confirmed and latched on to Trotter’s claim that the movement against Israeli expansionism is “left fascism”. Yet it is Trotter himself who has been throwing fascist ideology around on TDB and wherever he can get an audience. For example he quoted with approval the fascist dictum that “The safety of the people is the supreme law” while demanding harsh police action against the parliament grounds protesters. When it comes down to it, I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a “leftist litmus test”. The mere suggestion is Trotter’s attempt to bully us into accepting his view on the issue, and if he is allowed to make his own views on Israel or Ukraine a “litmus test” for political acceptability then he will go on to do the same on every other issue of the day.

  21. For a long time now you’ve been threatening to go off for the Right. Now you’ve done it. I think the great GS and CB could cut you to pieces, except, unlike me, they blunt their excellent swords, for their hosts. Summat wrong with them on that account.

    I say the truth no matter what, but it’s dull. Being an old dull preternatural presbyterian m’self. Columns for GS and CT.

    Bit of a prob, neither you nor Trotter are peripheral Britons and Irishers. FIGHT is our thing.

    • That is an unrealistic. It’s understood by everyone with a brain in the community to be equivalent to saying “I have been wrecked, I have no reply.” There is no point in talking to people like you anymore except maybe to sophist normies. Just give it up, you look pathetic.

    • Sorry, meant Countryboy (CB), re columns. CT can go off into the moral desert. Bloody rewarding financial nirvana. Not suggesting he’s doing it for that , just the usual squew-whiff ego who pushes the Left forward, then goes some other place.

      Looking up to the cream-yellow breeze-block wall of my flat, my old socialist g. grandfather stares down with absolute belief. An ego, just couldn’t stop swearing or talking , so no job after the ’35 election. The Labour Govt, probably rightly, gave him just a Labour Day radio address and Walter Nash speaking at his funeral in 1950. If only they’d given him a job — no, I don’t think he was capable of talking shit like the first Labour Govt.

  22. Geoff Fischer, thank you for your penetrating critiques of the arguments of CT and others. Bullshit called to account.

  23. You’ve failed the Left litmus test, Trotter. Don’t know why you’d bring it up, you being so sus already. Don’t know what to say but thanks for your great work. All the first Labour Govt went Right, if that’s a comfort.

    You’ve gone Right. Say it and you’ll be free — of us, the people, rationality and reality. I can imagine you flying like a dove.

  24. “That Pro-Palestinian leftists cannot see the deeply cynical purpose behind Hamas’ attack is similarly baffling.”

    You don’t name anyone in the article, Mr Trotter. I’m sure these leftists exist, but it’s a poor article to not actually quote a single person who has this position. It gives the misimpression, (if I am to believe this article), that tankies are more than just a tiny minority of what is made of the political left.

    The worst thing about Hama’s attack is that it was immediately predictable that it would provoke a slaughter. That is indefensible, and I’d be morally opposed to assassinating nazi leaders like Heydrich for the same reason.

  25. People who only start caring when the bodies are Jewish are the suspect ones. Christ Trotter has outed himself here entirely.
    Where was he on the murders and maiming of the entirely peaceful Great March of Return? The israeli occupation forces act monstrously with impunity towards Palestionians DAILY for the exact purpose of creating monsters, real or perceived. Then a contextless assault by Hamas can be propaganadised into a pretext for more monstrous genocide and ethnic cleansing.
    That’s why Israel created Hamas. That is why Netanyahu is their biggest fan,. That is why they make sure Gaza suffers.

    Letting Genocide and ethnic cleansing continue in silence for 70+ years then throwing your hands up when a violent strike back occurs is indeed a test of leftism, and Chris and his ilk fail. Colonial countries like NZ should know better. We need to help Israel accept the truth of being a settler colonial mistake, and give up its racist Zionist agenda that the guiltridden white imperialist racists of the UN should never have supported. Immigration, yes; handing over a colonial occupation, no. But this was a time when South Africa was still apartheid, US was still segregated, and the American Indian option was looking pretty viable to the Zionists. But a mistake it still was. Now the world must grow up and make Israel accept that one state or two, Palestinian and Jewish settler are there to reconcile and live in peace. There are extremists on both sides who will have to accept it and amnesty, and it may be hard for some Israelis to give up on their racist dream because they are in full power, but it is the only right thing to do.

  26. Totter not commenting here says what he really thinks. He’s gone off into the meadows. A very great talker for the people in his day.

    Read Martyn’s column on the old and new Winston Peters. People change. The brilliant truth remains. Now, climate change mobilization and delivering to the neediest. Bound up together. In my slight view.

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