You may have heard of the “paradox of gay anti-Zionism.” How can it be that a large part of the LGBTQ community (the vocal part, anyway) is so anti-Israel? Yes, I know there are numerous exceptions, but how can any person of non-traditional gender or sexual orientation oppose a country that is one of the most comfortable and safest places in the world for them to live, in favor of its enemies – who would persecute, murder, torture, or execute them?
It’s actually not so hard to understand.
LGBTQ people in the West often find their political homes on the Left, because it makes a concerted effort to include them. Today’s intersectionalist ideology is all about oppression and discrimination, and certainly LGBTQs are victims of discrimination in most Western societies. The Left wants to absorb everyone with a grievance against the society as a whole, and that includes the most politically active members of the LGBTQ community. They are invited into the warm embrace of the Left, which tells them that they are among friends who, unlike the rest of society, will never mistreat them.
Indeed, as an “oppressed minority,” they are given a higher rank on the intersectionality ladder than straight people. The Movement will fight for their agenda just as it fights for “people of color,” disabled people, and anyone else they see as disadvantaged, oppressed, or colonized.
The Right and the Center don’t offer anything comparable. At best, they will say that sexual/gender issues are a private matter and call for fairness. And at worst, socially and religiously conservative people will oppose them on issues like gay marriage, condemn them for their behavior, and sometimes even behave abusively toward them.
It’s no contest. But in order to be truly at home with the Left, there is some baggage that one is required to acquire. One of these items is a commitment to the Palestinian Narrative, which always brings with it a vicious hatred of Israel. This isn’t accidental or likely to change. To understand why, we need to understand the deep Soviet roots of today’s leftist ideology, and note that it contained a current of strongly antisemitic anti-Zionism.
The millennial generation of the Left, who never knew the Soviet Union, may not be aware of the way its doctrine was broadcast to the world’s communists in the form of the “Party line.” The international Left was never independent. In every country where there was a leftist movement, including the US and Israel, there were strings connecting it to Moscow. Indeed it could almost be humorous the way the “rational policies” of the Left could flip 180 degrees whenever Soviet policy demanded it (for example, the Communist Party of the USA was strongly isolationist in the late 1930s while the Nazi-Soviet pact was in force, suddenly becoming interventionist the day Hitler turned on his former ally).
And as explained here by Izabella Tabarovsky, a “massive Soviet anti-Zionist campaign” had been going on since shortly after the founding of the state of Israel, as soon as Stalin realized that the new state would not fall into his orbit after all:
In the course of the campaign, hundreds of anti-Zionist and anti-Israel books and thousands of articles were published in the USSR, with millions of copies entering circulation in the country. Many were translated into foreign languages – English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic and numerous others. In 1970 alone, the comparison between alleged Zionist and Nazi racism – just one of the campaign’s numerous memes – merited 96 mentions (Pinkus 1989:256). Demonisation of Zionism continued in films, lectures, and radio broadcasts. Anti-Zionist cartoons, many of an obvious antisemitic nature, were a regular feature of Soviet publications.
The campaign used the significant Soviet broadcasting and publishing capacity abroad, as well as front organisations and friendly communist and other radical left organisations in the West and third world countries to transmit its messages to foreign audiences. …
The ideological basis of today’s Left was forged in the furnace of the Cold War, and could no more avoid anti-Zionism than it could eschew anti-Americanism. But the idea that this campaign was somehow “just” anti-Zionist and not anti-Jewish is ludicrous. Tabarovsky continues,
The antisemitic nature of this campaign was appalling. The main authors contributing content– many of whom had direct links with the KGB and top party leadership – relied heavily on antisemitic tropes borrowed directly from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Some in the group were closet admirers of Hitler and Nazism and used Mein Kampf as both a source of ‘information’ about Zionism and inspiration for their own interpretations.
This vicious campaign, born of traditional Russian Jew-hatred and Stalin’s paranoia, was instrumental in the proxy wars in the Middle East between Israel as the champion of the US, and the Arabs (including Arafat’s PLO) on behalf of the Soviet Union. Communists and fellow-travelers in the West received a steady diet of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda for four decades, roughly from 1950 through 1990.
Today’s young leftists on university campuses do not remember the Soviet Union. But their faculty advisors and the institutional memory of their movement certainly do, which is why they choose, for example, to view the Palestinian Arabs and not the Jews as the true aboriginal inhabitants of the land of Israel, when there is so much historical and archaeological evidence to the contrary. It is why they choose the intellectually gymnastic option that makes the Jews of Israel, with their diverse origins in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, into “European colonialists.” It is why they insist against all logic that terrorism against the Jewish population of Israel is not oppression, while the actions of Israel to defend herself against terrorism and warfare are.
It’s hard to blame the LGBTQ community for choosing the “tolerant” Left over the conservative Right, although perhaps a closer examination might expose the Left as far less tolerant than it pretends to be. But as time goes by, one hopes that it will become clear to all that the strict fairness advocated by the Right rather than the compensatory privilege offered by the Left will prove to be the best approach to creating a truly just society. And – for Jewish leftists – that it is monumentally stupid for a community faced with racial/ethnic hatred to associate itself with an ideology that is itself one of its greatest enemies.
Whether the Left will at some point wake up and see that its behavior directly contradicts its own principle that oppression based on race or religion is one of the great evils in the world, is another question. I am not holding my breath.
Pretty sure you could have saved a lot of ink and just gone with the obvious answer to your question…anti-Semitism, or the term I prefer, Jew-hatred.
No need to over complicate things when the answer is right in front of you.
An excellent post, as usual! Clearly written and full of interesting information. Depressing (as usual!). Obviously bias and ignorance go hand in hand, but I do not understand why so many leftists–in particular members of the LGBTQ community, do not take the trouble to investigate the subject of their hatreds.
I have never understood this kind of absurd and hypocritical behavior but the explanation you give here makes sense. The Soviet propaganda machine did its work well and it also did major work to create and promote the ‘occupation’ myth.