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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

Western leftists are deluded in thinking that anything anti-American or anti-Western would bring justice or peace to the oppressed peoples across the world. In fact, it was American power which protected nations from being annihilated. It was American idealism which gave courage for those who were striving for their own freedoms. 1991 Gulf War was to rescue Kuwait from being annexed by Iraq. Bombing of Serbia was needed to prevent the genocide of Balkan Muslims. Moreover, dictatorships under US influence have a chance of becoming democracies one day as it was the case with South Korea. Nobel Laureate Kim Dae Jung, a staunch supporter of democracy and human rights, was saved thanks to American intervention. He was kidnapped by the security services of the time, but the CIA intervened to save his life. Korean democratization was possible thanks to US continuous pressure.

A post-American world order, and a post-Western order at large would only bring misery and more chaos since there would be no checks against totalitarian powers. Under such a scenario, there would be no future even for the most radical Western leftist.

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Oct 10, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

The West's success in South Korea was impressive to say the least, especially when South Korea in the 1950s was a lot like South Vietnam: a US puppet state which had no nationalist legitimacy because most of its personnel had collaborated with the prior colonial rulers (the French in Vietnam, or the Japanese in Korea).

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Oct 10, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

Yes it was truly impressive. Just one minor correction. South Korea did enjoy legitimacy despite having a many collaborators in the government. President Rhee, although an autocrat, was a largely respected independence activist. He was even more popular than Kim Il-Sung. Many members of the cabinet were also independence fighters. The regime was utterly corrupted but it would be false to say that they did not enjoy popular legitimacy.

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I'm also wondering it was really such a bad thing to have former Japanese collaborators in government: isn't the extreme isolationism of today's North Korea essentially a continuation of the isolationism of the old Joseon monarchy that existed prior to Japanese colonial rule?

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

Absolutely. North Korea is more an extension of the old Joseon monarchy than a modern socialist/communist country. At least Marx and Engels shared a scientific approach to social sciences, whereas North Korea is just a feudal theocratic monarchy in all but name. On the subject of Japanese collaborators, I think they were an indispensable part for the running of a modern administration. In the end, they were the only educated segment of the population.

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Plus of course both old Joseon and modern North Korea were de facto satellite states of China.

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Oct 10, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

To be fair, it’s South Koreas success that they became democratic and industrialized, not our success. We mostly just didn’t screw it up for them.

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Oct 10, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

Didn't the US have a deliberate policy of helping their East Asian allies to industrialize by tolerating their mercantilist economic policies?

(For example, the South Korean tax authorities use the metaphorical fine-toothed comb to investigate the finances of any South Korea citizen with the temerity to buy a foreign car.)

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My point was that American security services were not “pro democracy” in Korea, the Philippines, etc. At best, they weren’t overly enthusiastic about continuing to prop up dictators when they knew that the dictator’s opposition were people they could work with. Which as it turned out, was just enough to allow Democracy to flourish in those places, and loads better than what Russia and China was doing. But only two cheers for America here, not three.

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Noah, I completely agree with you concerning those who are despicably cheering Hamas, and I guess I have to accept placing them somewhere on “the left.” But I’m also squirming that, caveats aside, you have used “leftist” so broadly. It leaves those of us who consider ourselves “progressives” without a substantial part of our handle. I’m 78 years old and well aware of the mistakes and naïveté of well-meaning American “leftists” during the era of Stalin, but weren’t we also of “the left” when we marched in protest of the wars in Vietnam and Iraq?

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I think the "left" broadly has made mistakes, just as the "right" broadly has. In my opinion, the left has been at its best (in terms of serving humanity) when it recognizes the limits of military power and focuses on preserving individual rights for all people. That is worth celebrating and I wish some old school leftists would reassert some of those traditional values.

I think the left in its current form is very much about political theater (as is the right) and celebrating a basket of not necessarily consistent policies (again not saying the right is any better at this). Maybe it's an internet or social media thing (I don't really know). I do know that I would love to see some of the old school left (like the old ACLU used to be) help get the movement back on track.

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So the most capitalist states are trying to steal the clothes of the most socialist now? Way to try and pretend America is actually Denmark.

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Oct 10, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

Very similar in Germany. Somehow, the political left is overwhelmed by developments and increasingly inconsistent in every aspect of society. How do you defend people from racism and sexism if these very groups become racist and sexist, and you are afraid to criticism them due to the risk of being labeled as racist and sexist? Currently the answer seems to be to just accept it.

These are the mind-blowing and time-wasting conflicts of the political left instead of developing and providing helpful ideas for improving the country and society.

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The left seems to have difficulties at knowing how to deal with groups that are both "oppressed" and "oppressors" at the same time, such as Muslims who are antisemitic, homophobic or misogynistic, or non-white immigrants who are prejudiced against black people.

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Or blacks who are prejudiced against Non white immigrants or asians. When only white people can be (and are by definition) racists, now what?

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One of the unfortunate sins of the human condition, and one of the things that intersectionalists (read: actual wokeness) have pointed out is the notion that "Others other Others."

Even among groups that make a claim to victimhood and a claim to power, there has never been a grand unified theory of oppression, and there's a water's edge to sym/empathy. "Others other Others" points out that outgroups engage in the same power dynamics among each other in the absence of the dominant culture. So, there's a lot of misogyny and LGBTQphobia within people of color; a lot of racism within feminism; racism across racial minorities due to material and status competition; racism, misogyny and LGBTQphobia among religious minorities; etc. Victimhood is no guarantee of "do unto others" or "share and share alike" among groups claiming victimhood status.

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There’s nothing unique about the left here. The right has its own set of pathologies around this, not least with how many of them have embraced deplorability in the face of someone saying that there might be some bad people among the Trump supporters. They want to embrace the identity of victimhood and then claim that therefore everything is justified when these victims do it.

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The far left is addicted to power, while the far right is addicted to cruelty.

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But the far left has no power? The far right certainly has cruelty.

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"Very similar in Germany."

Well, when it comes to exterminating Jews, they still hold the record. And, the way to respond to racist and sexist assholes who call you racist or sexist is to tell them to fuck off. We need a lot more of that. Grow a spine.

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Says someone from the internet.

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

True. But at least I comment using my actual name (looks like you do, too). Also, this shit does not happen in my real life. I'm not in academia or some other captured institution, and I don't need to stay silent in order to pay my mortgage or send my kids to college.

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I also regard it as inconsistent when pro-degrowth environmentalists try to pitch themselves as left-wing, as the wealthy elite are such a tiny fraction of the population that any reduction in resource/energy consumption that was entirely at their expense would be far too small to make a difference.

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Oct 10, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

Bravo Noah. The Hamas attack was disgusting and reprehensible.

Once again a minority of evil creates havoc in our fragile world. I appreciate your perspective.

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It is not a fringe group, the whole westen left has been siding more or less openly with terrorist organizations. Corbyn, former leader of the Labour Party refused to condemn the Hamas action. Let me add that western countries have a clear opportunity to sift immigrants and understand their attachment to liberal and democratic values. If you are cheering for Hamas then you are not eligible to stay in the Western world because you have not understood our fundamental values.

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If those cheering for Hamas were un-naturalized immigrants then I'd have no problem with deporting them, but wouldn't deporting actual citizens (whether naturalized immigrants or their native-born descendants) essentially reduce citizenship for ethnic minorities to being little more than a glorified visa?

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I’m not sure how Corbyn, deplored by large parts of the western left, failing to condemn hamas, equals the entire western left siding openly with terrorist organization. Has Corbyn even said anything positive about them, let alone any of the people on the left that hate Corbyn?

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Corbyn even hosted Jerry Adams in his house in 1983. He is just the perfect representation of the western left.

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Interesting - I would have said that proves that he is a fringe member of the western left.

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He was the leader of the Labour party. Elected by party members, not very fringe at all to me.

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As someone with a friend/social-media bubble that is currently praising these latest happenings for Palestine without a hitch (like literally every left-leaning group I follow except one has been on the side of attacks as being praise-worthy) this series has been eye-opening. Thank you, truly. The me from a few years ago could've easily and ignorantly been on the same side as the praisers.

Just one thing, you keep claiming colonialism is dead, but (and I think I wrote this in a previous post) as a Puerto Rican living in PR, I think this statement should be reconsidered. What is Puerto Rico if not the oldest colony? We literally aren't a country, can't vote for president, have pricey imports because we can only import from US ships etc. but are a territory of the US with less rights. Many many Puerto Ricans view ourselves as a Colony and call for decolonization or annexation into the US.

Or am I wrong? Are we not a colony, but something else yet suffering from the same symptoms as a colony?

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Great comment.

Typical left mindset is that Palestinians endured and endured and endured and finally vented a little just now. Completely forget about long, rich history of Palestinian terror (Munich, airline hijackings, suicide bombing a Sbarro's restaraunt, etc.). That there might actually be reasons Israel needs to control the Palestinian territories. Egypt also blockades Gaza for the same reasons, but it's unfashionable to point this out.

RE: Puerto Rico. It's an interesting point. Puerto Ricans are full US citizens, but PR doesn't count as a State for voting purposes. Puerto Ricans also aren't subject to federal personal income taxes. Personally, I would trade my vote for not paying federal income taxes in a second, but I totally understand your point of view.

I'll further point out that if some Puerto Ricans want to be annexed and some want independence, then the current situation can be seen as a decent compromise, since PR gets somewhat more autonomy, but also loses some of the benefits of Federalism.

The last referendum PR had for statehood, in 2020, slightly leaned towards "Yes", but it was close to 50-50. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Puerto_Rican_status_referendum

So, I totally don't want to dismiss what you are saying, but the mainland perspective is that PR has a "deal" with the USA that has advantages and disadvantages and it's not obvious that a majority of Puerto Ricans want a change.

Finally, Biden, Obama, Romney, etc. have voiced support for PR statehood. It's a live option and we might see it happen in the not-too-distant future.

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

Great post. Also, as someone who is from PR I do think that PR is definitely a colony.

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Forgot to mention too, the recent creation of the infamousJUNTA which has been overruling local laws and local government decisions, saying no to and cancelling public funds for services, and imposing their own decisions to pay back Puerto Rico's unaudited debt to US bonistas.

And yes, we don't pay federal taxes, but we still pay social security, medicare and our own fair share of local taxes. So its not like some tax-free haven. If not a colony what is this?

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All you have to do is convince your fellow citizens that you are right. It’s not like the US is big on keeping the island.

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Preach! Thank you for speaking out!!

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

I didn't read any of your posts about Israeli settlers being protected by the IDF while they were attacking Palestinians and knocking down their homes where families had lived since before the establishment of the State of Israel by Europeans because there weren't any. I also didn't read your posts about the effect Israel's oppression of Palestinian Christians that results from their oppression of Palestinians because you didn't write about that either.

I condemn the Hamas attack as strongly as I can, but I also condemn treating Palestinians like animals.

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I wish that Israel believed they should kill 0.9 Palestinians for every Israeli that dies. As long as both sides believe in killing two from the other side for every one of their own, they’re both responsible for the tragedy that keeps happening.

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These are the same morons who brought you "Defund." It might be time to consider that not only have they lost the plot morally but they're also just not very bright.

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It’s a complicated history with what will likely be horrifying results (from Hamas’s attacks and from the retaliation from the IDF that had already started).

But hey, it’s much more comforting and easy to just say Death to all Jews, be annoyed when people point out how screwed that is, start ranting about Gaza being an open-air prison and antisemitism being a capitalist construct...?

We’ve going all the way around to Holocaust denial practically on the left!

It’s a bit extreme and most don’t hold those views fully, but most progressives seem to have taken a quite a few steps in that direction.

It’s a long, drawn out history to further point out that the entire Palestinian situation has also been exploited from an ethnonationalistic perspective by the Middle Eastern authoritarian regimes to keep their populations in line. Enough so that many Muslims have adopted the cause, feel it deeply, but will be confused (and have been) when regimes like the UAE and Saudi Arabia happily jettison it for economic gain in normalizing with Israel when they have alternatives to religious and Arab fervor now.

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That would of course also explain why Palestinians are the world's only multi-generational refugees: the Arab states refuse to integrate them because they're too useful as a weapon against Israel.

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They refuse to integrate them partly for that, but they are what they’ve been shaped to be, which is poor, young, violent malcontents. Not in a pejorative way, simply from a fact of the actual age, indoctrination (certainly helped by conditions in Gaza), etc.

Black September was Jordan basically getting violence and attempted monarch assassinations from hosting Palestinians, PLO had a lot of roots with the Muslim Brotherhood (which Egypt’s current ruler basically coup’ed the last ruler who had sympathies there) which in theory wants to overthrow the monarchies...

This isn’t a condemnation of the Palestinians (yes, beyond Hamas) in the same way that it’s hard to condemn people in communities without resources that turn to crime. At the same time, it also is clear why the Arab nations don’t really want them running around within their borders either.

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The Arab nations original plan in the 1940s was not a Palestinian state. It was to invade Palestine and annex it. They partly succeeded, annexing the West Bank (Jordan) and Gaza (Egypt). There was zero international pressure on Jordan or Egypt to create a Palestinian state.

The left narrative is Western Jews came and stole the land. The reality is that there were two stateless peoples that wanted their own state. The Jews were willing to accept two states, but the Palestinians would not accept any proposal including a Jewish state, regardless of borders. For example, take a look at this plan that Palestinians rejected--

https://embassies.gov.il/MFA/AboutIsrael/Maps/Pages/The-Peel-Commission-Plan-1937.aspx

They got the vast majority of land here, and a contiguous state, (it was Israel that would be non-contiguous). They rejected it on the basis of it having a Jewish state. They did not indicate they could accept some different borders.

This is the part leftists can't get. It is the Palestinians that have tried to prevent or destroy Israel from day one. They rejected their own state because Israel would also get one.

The lefties counter that the Palestinians are indigenous and Jews are colonizers so Palestinians had the right to refuse a Jewish state. Were the Jews colonizers? Colonization is when a country sends people to another place to establish control over it. These Jews weren't connected to any outside country in that way. They were stateless refugees or proper emigres. They simply immigrated to a pre-existing Jewish community under Ottoman and later British control to build better lives for themselves.

The left view then is something like a single state on all of Palestine was the presumption. It's just not clear were that comes from. There was no remotely recent history of any sovereign nation with such borders. If we nonetheless accept this presumption, then Jewish immigration was bad because the Palestinian majority there, which should have been sovereign, was against it. That is, the envisioned xenophobic anti-immigration policy should have been respected.

Why presume this one-state default though? The rest of decolonized Ottoman Asia was many new independent Arab states, not just one. Why could not the Jews, who had always had presence in Palestine (albeit as minorities in more recent times) get a State also? The left is pre-supposing that the Jews of Palestine should be a minority in a single state, rather than just two States. The indigenous argument fails unless you presuppose not just Palestinian statehood, but that it was over all of Palestine. Where does this come from?

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And no one is really raising their hands to fix it. It’s admittedly a hard thing to fix, but everyone would rather wash their hands of it...

I guess for Noah, I understand why his pieces focus on the anti-Israeli sentiment--he’s probably running in left wing circles, especially in the Bay Area--but most people really do seem ok with Palestinians kind of just disappearing. This conflict is bringing out the worst in a lot of political movements.

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Oct 11, 2023·edited Oct 11, 2023

What fixing is there? The closest thing the Palestinians had to Nelson Mandela, Yassir Arafat, didn't care to save the Oslo Accords at all.

Who is there to make a deal with on the Palestinian side?

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I thought it was Hamas that was rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, with the PLO (and more so the PFLP, whose head George Habash was from the Christian community) being made up mostly of secular leftists?

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True and you’d definitely classify Hamas more into it (so my bad there in terms of not clarifying that it’s all), but it’s actually a bit all mixed up. PLO also had historical overlap. Arab nationalism was weird, since it was originally conceptualized as secular (so you would actually have some secular or Christian, etc) and then... history happened up to this point.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/3992661

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Oct 11, 2023·edited Oct 11, 2023

Yes, and their star has sunk with the Soviet Union.

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Btw, this is very far afield of my current field. However, my particular area of interest in college was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and comparing it to the Yellow Turban Rebellion, so that’s where a lot of my historical following of this comes from.

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I suspect hatred of Israelis by the Western left isn't driven by antisemitism so much as by a view that the Israelis are the last white settler-colonialists who are potentially defeatable: white settler projects in Africa (apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia, the Portuguese colonial empire and French Algeria) have all now been defeated, while the colonization of North America and the Antipodes cannot feasibly be reversed because the native populations were all-but-exterminated by European diseases.

If we had a modern-day Christian crusader state instead of Israel, it would be at least as hated by the left.

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Exactly. What I've always hated about Israel and its supporters is the way they'd treat you like the moral equivalent of Hitler if you saw through their bullshit innocent act: "It's just like the Holocaust, we're innocent victims getting killed just because we're Jews." No, people were living in Palestine. It was their home. And the Jews took it away from them. That's what happened, and it matters. It doesn't make what Hamas did any less morally repulsive, but it still matters.

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

Jews and Palestinians were both living in Palestine, which was controlled by the Ottomans and then the British (under UN mandate). Zionism was mass Jewish immigration to join the pre-existing Jewish community. There was no sovereign state there with any defined borders. There was never, at any point, a sovereign Palestinian state there.

Jews wanted their own state. Palestinians wanted their own state too. Jews accepted this two-state approach, but Palestinians rejected it. Neighboring Arab states wanted to annex Palestine for themselves.

You are starting with basic lefty mistake which is to assume that there was a Palestinian state the Jews invaded/colonized. That's just not reality. There were many states being created at that time as part of decolonizing Ottoman Asia. Borders were being figured out on the fly. Why do you presume that a Palestinian majority one state was the only just path. The Jews only stole the country because you are inventing the borders of the country to be stolen on-the-fly.

The Jews, UN, etc, supported Palestinians having a state on the lands they occupied. But the Palestinians wouldn't accept that if it meant accepting a Jewish state too.

So how did the Jews take their home way from them? By wanting their own State on lands that they had a historical community in, and a lot of recent immigration to?

What is the legal, moral, or logical basis for your presupposition that a single state "river to the sea" was the Palestinians right?

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1) Zionists didn't think of themselves as joining a "pre-existing Jewish community", they thought of it as "a land without a people."

2) If you reread what I wrote, I never claimed that there was a Westphalia-type state called Palestine in this area of the world that only started using Westphalia-type states fairly recently. What I wrote is that "People were living there. It was their home." And Zionism was the creation of late nineteenth/early twentieth century Europeans who took it for granted, as late nineteenth/early twentieth century Europeans did, that the homes of non-Westerners were theirs for the taking.

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

1) Zionists didn't think of themselves as joining a "pre-existing Jewish community", they thought of it as "a land without a people."

That's absurd. They most certainly did not think they were going somewhere devoid of people. They understood it was not an overcrowded place and there was no independent state there yet. That meant they could potentially create one. They plainly accepted the Palestinians would get a state too. It is the Palestinians that have steadfastly refused to accept Israel and have maintained hostilities officially since.

"as late nineteenth/early twentieth century Europeans did"]

You are equating refugess/immigrants with colonization. Not the same thing, at all. Israel didn't seek to subjugate the Palestinians. Sheesh. There was potential for multiple States there. Still is. They immigrated.

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Did you just day that one of Zionism's most famous slogans is "absurd"? Fine,. I'll take it.

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Your 'they plainly accepted that the Palestinians would get a state too' seems a lot like revisionism driven by wishful thinking. The ethnic cleansing happened- it's where 60% of the people in Gaza came from, by brief googling.

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

Many in Gaza have descendants that lived in what is now Israel. You readily admit you are ignorant about the subject and only did some brief googling. I'm kind of amazed by your simplicity. You saw from some biased source that 60% of Gazans came from what's not Israel via Ethnic Cleansing. How do you know that you did not just look up something revisionist? Maybe your just.. biased.

The Gaza 1948 refugees are there because Arab nations along with Palestinian militias, attacked Israel at it's inception. They were on the other side of the armistice line when the war ended, and Israel couldn't reasonably allow them back.

Prior to that, when Britain was in Israel, the Jews were absolutely trying to negotiate a settlement that included a Palestinian state. These are hard facts. Read about the Peel Commission, UN partition plan etc. These are real discussions where Jewish leadership came in accepting a Palestinian state. The Palestinians would not accept any number of states under any borders if one of those states was Jewish. These are hard facts. Read the actual Arab and Palestinian leaders from the time.

Here is a good discussion of the debate at the time

https://www.pij.org/articles/104/why-the-un-partition-plan-wasnt-implemented

Please go and educate yourself.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Arab%E2%80%93Israeli_War

The Gazans were not allowed back across an armistice line that formed after Israel engaged in a Defensive war against Arab and Palestinian invaders.

The "ethnic cleansing" (and I dispute that terminology) you refer to happened AFTER Jews accepted a Palestinian state, but Palestinians, and Arabs generally, rejected two states because one was Jewish., They proceeded to attack Israel. Israel, having been attacked, could not allow hundreds of thousands of hostiles back across the armistice line afterwards. When you wage a genocidal war and lose, the other side might have to move a few people a few miles from where they used to be afterwards. That's war.

It's OK man. You never looked into this much, You guys assumed the lefty "good people" knew what they were talking about. It's the Gazans that don't get to live where there grandparents did, so it must be Israel kicked them out right? It's not that simple man. Palestinian refugee problem was something that Palestinian warmongering created.

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Aside from these arguments about political boundaries, what do you say to the claim that Zionists actually simply stole land that was in the legal possession of existing inhabitants? Here’s a quote from Aljazeera: “Between 1947 and 1949, at least 750,000 Palestinians from a 1.9 million population were made refugees beyond the borders of the state. Zionist forces had taken more than 78 percent of historic Palestine, ethnically cleansed and destroyed about 530 villages and cities, and killed about 15,000 Palestinians in a series of mass atrocities, including more than 70 massacres.”

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

Let me help you out there. You are referring to the Palestinian "Nakba (catasrophe)" narrative. The quotation is not about legal possession in the narrow private property sense. This is a question of National borders.

When Britain left and Israel declared itself a state. Several foreign Arab armies plus Palestinian militias waged war on the Jewish state. During the war, there was a combination of expulsions and evacuation that left a huge number of Palestinians on the wrong side of the Armistice line when the fighting stopped.

Having been attacked and surviving, Israel could not allow 750,000 (real number probably lower than AL Jazeera claims but it's a big number, for sure) from the side that was overwhelmingly bent on destroying them to just come back home.

Of course, in the deeply slanted Al-Jazeera take, the fact that Egypt and Jordan and Syria and Saudi Arabia, among others, tried to wipe out Israel and Palestinians clearly supported and aided them just doesn't factor at all. Israel created the refugee problem from whole cloth. Sheesh.

Starting wars of annihilation and losing them has consequences. The trouble with the left narrative is that they aggressively blind themselves to the basic fact that Palestinians have not been willing to live peacefully alongside Israel.

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Lot of words to justify making more than a half a million people homeless and stateless, for decisions that they didn't get any say in.

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Oct 11, 2023·edited Oct 11, 2023

Justify?

I think their own leadership failed them and I have sympathy for them.

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It’s true that at no point in the Ottoman decolonization did they ever create a Palestinian state that had the ability to negotiate the Zionist project. But that doesn’t make the project *less* problematic. (I use the word “problematic” intentionally - “problematic” does not say anything one way or another about whether the project was net negative or net positive - just that it had significant negatives that another possible project might have avoided.)

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Oct 10, 2023·edited Oct 10, 2023

A bunch of refugees/immigrants returned to their homeland as there was no State there and so, an opportunity to create one. They expected Palestinians to get a state too. There is no reason that Jewish immigration into Palestine, where Jews originated from and have always had a presence since, was inherently problematic.

Typical zero-sum lefty thinking, I'd say. Palestinians had a ton to benefit from a prosperous and peaceful Israeli neighbor. What stopped that was Arab Supremacy, plain and simple.

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It's not the Jewish immigration to Palestine that is problematic. It was the way that existing residents were displaced or expropriated. There were plenty of possibilities for positive-sum interactions, if newcomers had bought and/or constructed residences that didn't require evicting current residents.

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Respectfully, your depiction is incorrect.

Palestinian Arabs were not expropriated from their properties during the many decades of the Yishuv (pre-state Israel) period. Certainly, there were some evictions, but not what you are imagining. At times, Jews would purchase properties from the owners (generally absentee) and then "evict" squatters with no title to the property.

Moreover, you are mistaken about the response to the immigration itself. Palestinian Arabs were deeply opposed to European Jewish immigration. Britain accepted the Arabs' demands and placed restrictions on Jewish Immigration and Jewish purchase of land in Palestine.

You are right that there were tremendous, squandered opportunities for positive-sum interactions. You are wrong to blame Israel for that though. It was the Palestinian Arabs that deeply rejected this possibility.

The Palestinian behavior back then was, to some extent, understandable. While they would undoubtedly get richer as the Jews contributed to the development of the area, the character of the land would become more Jewish. They would be "relatively" less well off as the Jewish nation prospered, based on Wester economic principles.

Unfortunately, many, perhaps even Kenny here, tend to accept simplistic accounts of Jews simply walking into Palestine and stealing everything. It's this false history that "explains" Arab/Palestinian violence against Israel. Israel's occupations/blockade are then not legitimate security moves, but rather some sad attempt to defend the indefensible. It's all Israel's fault. Original sin.

These basic, old, irredentist claims are at the heart of Palestinian rejection of Israel. Peace deals have been very hard to do because Palestinians have never been willing to simply accept peace in exchange for a State on their territories. These are facts. The PLO has been hypothetically on board with such a peace since the 1970s, but their perceived legitimacy is low among the Palestinians and they are non-existent in Gaza.

Peace will be possible when the Palestinians see their extreme elements a bigger enemy than Israel. Ditto on the Israeli side. However, I do not think that Hamas/Netanyahu/etc. need to go first. Only the hawks can make peace. I think that was proven by Begin when he made peace with Sadat/Egypt.

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They immigrated legally and purchased land. No land was expropriated by jews prior to the 1948 war.

If anyone is blameworthy it’s the Ottomans who in the late 1850s-1860s granted large tracts of Palestinian land to oligarchs who later sold it to Zionists.

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Great summary.

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This isn’t what happened. Try learning the actual history.

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What "history" would that be? The thoroughly debunked lie that pre-Zionist Palestine was a barely inhabited wasteland? The thoroughly debunked lie that "We didn't drive out the Palestinians,. the other Arabs told them to leave"? Or maybe the absolutely batshit insane idea that the Jews had a legitimate right to the place because their great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great... [continue for another fifty or so generations].... grandparents lived there?

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The history is that Arab and Ottoman landowners sold all the land that Jews were on to them legally. The colonists were the British, who the nascent Israelis bombed. Then the UN partitioned the land, the Arabs invaded and lost, three times in a row.

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They had the same right to be there that immigrants to the US who buy a house in a suburb have to be there

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Outside of the fantasies of Tucker Carlson and company, immigrants to the US are not coming to "replace" the people who are living here. Can you honestly say the same about the Zionist "pioneers"?

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Who did the pre-48 Zionists replace? They didn’t stop Palestinians living where they did. There was no Palestinian polity that claimed the cheap, often barely arable, mostly uninhabited land which the Zionists purchased. The Peel Commission and UN partition plans were able to neatly separate the Arab and Jewish areas - besides Jerusalem, which has always been multicultural and was to become a protectorate. Palestinians could’ve accepted a Palestinian state on 80% of the territory in 1937 and everyone would’ve stayed where they were. The UN plan was similar except in that the Negev Bedouins (who are a pro-Israel Arab minority nowadays anyways) would’ve been incorporated into Israel.

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I think a lot of this can be explain by Jonathan Haidt's pillars of morality. Left leaning individuals tend to react emotionally to oppression. This is not a bad impulse (its admirable) but I do think it clouds people's judgement. The Palestinians are currently viewed as "oppressed" because they are objectively less powerful, and a lot of harm is being done to innocent Palestinians.

Granted much of this harm is from Israel, however, I would argue that more of it is from the inability to develop a functional government (again, some of this might be the fault of Israel but looking at the region I find it highly unlikely that absent Israel the situation would be a lot different).

Rather than accept that this is incredibly nuance problem, I think some people just find it emotionally rewarding to focus entirely on oppression. Then you can easily define the sides and blame someone. Apparently, all those people at the rave were part of this oppressive structure so, according to some very simpleminded people, they are somehow at fault.

This how you get things like the cultural revolution or Stalin's purges but the kind of people who would celebrate something like this (which is only a small fraction of left leaning people in developed nations) probably do not think overly much about the problem.

If Hamas succeed and instituted another Holocaust I am sure they would all feel really bad about it.

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Easy way to smear the left, for sure, which is why it's such a popular viewpoint on the right. Solves the problem of having to address what they tell you their issues are.

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I really find this report distressing. Cheering on terrorism - murder and violence is never the right thing to do. I am not a Democratic Socialist and I wonder what is going on with the groups illustrated-- when did they start waving Nazi flags? It is like living in the upside down. Is this another example of that horseshoe theory of politics where white supremacists RW groups and left socialist groups agree to hate on Jewish people and cheer their massacre? While I have never held any kind of stand irt conflict in Israel as it seems a complex, multi layered, historical issue and I just don't have any kind of real life connection to This horrific action just can never be aligned with my values and sense of right and wrong. My heart is heavy and I feel so much sadness and horror for the victims and their families.

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Oh, come on. Everyone has lost the plot here, and lost it thousands of years ago: The politics of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is driven on all sides -- including the US side -- by delusional systems of religious belief rooted in texts of utterly dubious provenance composed by people who sacrificed animals -- and sometimes each other -- to appease their deranged, genocidal gods. Their claims of "right" -- in particular, to the tiny strip of land that lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean -- are grounded entirely the words imputed to these gods by the impossibly backward humans who imagined them into existence.

Madness begets madness. Always has, always will. The tiny group of powerless, lunatic leftists you've gone out of your way to excoriate -- oh, bravo! -- is just a brightly colored rubber duck bobbing haplessly in an vast ocean of deranged religious fanaticism, now linked inextricably to equally deranged fanatical nationalism.

That's the plot. Everything else is tinsel on the tree.

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The fighters may be whipped up by religious fervor, but that’s not what drives this onward. This is a three-way power struggle between Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Each of these countries have local clients and more distant geopolitical backers. The leaders come from different faiths, but this is about geopolitical power today, not who gets into heaven. And no one (in leadership) has clean hands or a pure heart.

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You’re doing that Fox News thing where you hand wave away the official DSA statement condemning the violence and pick the most extreme outliers online to say they represent “the Left.” Who is the most prominent leftist leader who has expressed support for these attacks? What is the most prominent leftist organization? You can always find thousands of crazies out of the billions on the internet. They don’t represent “the Left.”

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Noah showed IRL and online examples. So no, he did not do what you claim.

Noah also acknowledged actual US left leaders were condemning the attacks. Nonetheless, they have a duty to rein in their most extreme elements if they want to be seen as a force for good.

It is right to call on Trump to denounce White Supremacists in his midst, and it is right to call on Leftists to do the same now.

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Noah claimed that the picture was from a DSA rally which doesn't appear to be true, see the article at https://archive.ph/E5Lfx which says:

>A spokesperson for the mayor said that the mayor was referring to a Palestinian solidarity rally that was held in Times Square on Oct. 8, the day after the Hamas attacks on Israel. That rally has received substantial media attention, largely because one of the speakers – who was a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, not DSA – spoke callously about Israeli victims of the Hamas attacks, and an unidentified attendee at the rally was photographed holding up a phone with a photo of a swastika on the screen.

>That rally was organized and sponsored by a number of leftist and pro-Palestine groups – Palestinian Youth Movement, Party for Socialism and Liberation, New York for Palestine, The People's Forum, American Muslims for Palestine, Al-Awda New York, Palestinian Assembly for Liberation and the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism coalition – but not the DSA. The New York City chapter of DSA tweeted about the rally before it happened but otherwise had no involvement. “Tomorrow, October 8, at 1 PM,” the chapter wrote on X. “In solidarity with the Palestinian people and the right to resist 75 years of occupation and apartheid.”

>NYC-DSA later deleted the tweet about the rally and released a statement apologizing for any confusion. “We understand why many, including our allies, were shocked by the timing and the tone of this message in a moment of profound fear and grief. We are sorry for the confusion our post caused and for not making our values explicit,” the organization said in a statement on Oct. 10.

>Although DSA disavowed the rally, it has not backed off its criticism of Israel or its calls for an immediate ceasefire. “No amount of violence, deprivation, or collective punishment will make everyday Palestinians and Israelis safe,” the Oct. 10 statement said. “We call for an immediate cease-fire to stop the senseless murder. We call for the end of the 75-year Nakba that includes the occupation of the West Bank, the end of the 16-year siege on the open-air prison that is the Gaza Strip, and the end of U.S. military aid for occupation and apartheid. That is the only pathway to safety and peace for all in the region.”

Note that this reference to "the end of the 75-year Nakba" also suggests another possible error in Noah's piece, where he points to a comment on an advertisement for the rally which talked about "75 years of occupation", and Noah says "75 years ago was the creation of the State of Israel, meaning that these leftists are explicitly supporting Hamas’ goal of ethnic cleansing of Israel." But 75 on that advertisement may refer primarily to the Nakba as in the DSA statement, and in any case secular socialist organizations (including the PLO) have nearly always called for a single secular state where all Palestinians and Jews living in its boundaries have equal rights, not ethnic cleansing (of course one can doubt whether under present political conditions such a goal is at plausible for the near future, and whether large amounts of ethnic violence could be avoided if such a state *was* created anytime soon, but these are separate issue from the basic question about what any large socialist group is likely to mean when they put out a statement calling for the end of something that's been going on in Israel for 75 years).

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"secular socialist organizations (including the PLO) have nearly always called for a single secular state where all Palestinians and Jews living in its boundaries have equal rights,"

That's totally false. The PLO only agreed to recognize Israel (at all) after the secret Oslo meetings in the early 90s. For the first ~50 years, accepting the continued existence was unthinkable in the Palestinian and Arab worlds. It was after the 1973 war, as Arab countries started moving towards normalization with Israel, that the PLO slowly started changing tactics.

The PLO's legitimacy as a representative of the Palestinians is incredibly specious at this point. The PA won't run elections because they aren't confident Fatah would win. PLO corruption is one of the major factors behind the rise of Hamas.

You are basically right to say that when leftist organizations talk about "75 years of occupation" the might mean anything. Who knows.

The uniform behavior of left organizations on this issue is to basically present the Palestinian narrative (settler-colonial, stole the land, yada yada) and then make demands that Israel take unilateral action to improve the conditions for Palestinians. There are two things you will never see left organizations touch with a ten foot pole:

1) Palestinian agency. No way no how. Pure victims. Palestinians electing peace-seeking rulers, not engaging in terror attacks, etc. is not part of the plan in any way.

2) What happens to Jews after the Palestinians get their liberation.

(2) is where a lot of the cognitive dissonance comes from. Palestinians in the occupied territories are imaged by the left to just want nothing other than to live in peace. If Israel would just get off their backs, right? The truth is that the Palestinians have never proposed anything remotely like that. They have never been willing to accept *just* their own state in WB/Gaza. They have always demanded "right of return", not just for the refugees but all their descendants, into Israel. Nowadays that number is millions of people. The "two-state" solution they talk about, is actually two Palestinian Arab majority states, living side by side in peace. Israel as we know it? Poof!

How would the Jewish minority be treated in this new majority Arab muslim country? This is not something lefties ever reflect on.

I'm a big critic of many Israeli policies, especially settlement expansion. The Palestinians have never really fully given up the dream of No Israel though. Many Israelis similarly seek "greater Israel". The reality is that the variance in evil *within* each side is much greater than the *difference* in average level of evil across sides. There are good and bad Palestinians and Jews in this conflict, but each side has tended to defend their own bad actors.

The frustrating thing to me is the constant left suggestion that "if only Israel would just...", completely ignoring that Israel has not really had a partner for peace, for the most part.

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I think you're misunderstanding me, by "called for a single secular state where all Palestinians and Jews living in its boundaries have equal rights" I didn't mean they recognized Israel's right to keep existing as a Zionist state--clearly the PLO thought that creating a state that gave everyone equal rights (including no privileges for Jews over Arabs when it comes to immigration) would require a revolutionary overthrow of the current Israeli government. My point was just that the goal was not ethnic cleansing as Noah suggested, nor was it a theocratic movement like Hamas that would want to privilege Muslims over Jews in a new state (assuming a hypothetical victorious Hamas would allow Jews to continue to live there at all).

I suppose one might hypothetically imagine a more "reformist" option where Israel keeps most of the same government structure and laws but eliminates only those policies that privilege Jews in some way (particularly the Law of Return automatically allowing any Jew to immigrate, or the Nationality Law defining the path to citizenship for those who come under the Law of Return, and also the recent 2018 'Nation-State Law' defining Israel as a Jewish state and Hebrew as its single official language). I doubt most secular socialist organizations would object to this option in principle, I think their objection would be a strategic belief that pushing for such reforms has no chance of success while revolution does have some chance. And as you say, this would be the end of "Israel as we know it".

I also agree the PLO has lost much of its legitimacy among Palestinians, and although the secular single state idea is the one I'd prefer, the chances of it happening in the foreseeable future are probably much smaller than the already abysmal chances of a two-state (or three-state solution), so for that reason I support the international community pushing for the two-state solution. I agree there's plenty of truth to the idea that the Palestinians have not been a good parter for a two-state solution, but I also don't think the Israelis have been a good partner either--see https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/12/oslo-israel-reneged-colonial-palestine and https://decolonizepalestine.com/myth/palestinians-sabotaged-the-peace-process/ along with the point at https://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-never-said-no-to-2008-peace-deal-says-former-pm-olmert/ that the later 2008 talks were torpedoed in part because Olmert didn't even give Abbas a chance to study the offer.

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"Let us be clear: There is no place for hate in America. Not against Jews. Not against Muslims. What we reject is terrorism. We condemn its indiscriminate evil, just as we have always done. That is what America stands for." -- President Joe Biden, Oct. 10, 2023

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Powerful piece. Agree 100%. We are witnessing the complete moral bankruptcy of the modern Western left.

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I am very pro Palestine, but my reaction to the attacks was shock and deep sadness. It’s just important to remember that Hamas are not the true representatives of the Palestinian cause. They damage the cause with actions like these by alienating potential allies. Meanwhile, countless more civilians will be killed, starved, lose their homes, or otherwise suffer and die due to lack of sanitation and power. You can denounce atrocities and still side with innocent people who are not deciding to go to war. Also - to point out that the occupation has fueled more extremism is not to apologize for the extremism, but just to say that nothing short of liberating an oppressed people will put an end to resistance in all its forms, peaceful and violent inclusive.

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"Hamas are not the true representatives of the Palestinian cause"

They were democratically elected in Gaza. Attacks on Israeli civilians are supported by a majority of Palestinians, as opinion polls have shown consistently, which Noah has shared on this blog. Rejection of the Jewish states right to exist and endorsement of violent terrorism against civilians have been fundamental features of Palestinian mainstream ideology from day one.

What occupation was this massacre a response too?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929_Hebron_massacre

Palestinian rejectionism and violence predates Israel and occupation. Indeed, it was the cause of that occupation. Get your facts straight.

"Also - to point out that the occupation has fueled more extremism is not to apologize for the extremism."

Disagree. Palestinians have chosen a fundamentally belligerent position from day one. They could have have had a State, but would not accept an Israeli state, so they rejected all such plans. The plan was to militarily defeat Israel. That is a fact. Which everyone thought was going to happen! No one thought the Israelis would survive the invasion in 1948.

The extremism does not flow directly from occupation. That is only because the occupied refuse to pursue a peaceful path. I understand there are Palestinians that want peace, but they do not seem to have ever been a strong majority.

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I hope Palestine will find its way to a state eventually. But I don’t understand how you expect israelis to liberate a nation that won’t make peace with them. Arafat flaked on the two state solution he negotiated with Clinton and Barack. Abbas rejected a slightly more generous offer from Olmert. And these are the moderates.

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Oct 10, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

"Hamas, in contrast, is a religious right-wing group, and its supporters explicitly use Nazi stylings."

I'm not sure that Hamas is pro-Nazism: doesn't their charter at one point liken their Zionist enemies to a "Nazi-Tatar invasion" (which also of course recalls how the Mongol hordes savaged the Muslim world in the 13th century)?

"Sure, some claim that African and Latin American countries are still “colonized” because they don’t get paid enough for their natural resource exports"

I've often thought that support for Russia in much of Africa and Latin America is motivated in part by (to bastardize Karl Marx) "Natural resource exporters of the world, unite!"

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I, a liberal Jew who has always voted Democrat, am ready to take a red-pill after seeing the leftist response to this saga.

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Please do not imply that Democrats as a group support Hamas or approve of any terrorist atrocities against Israelis or anyone, that is a patently false and dishonest rhetorical deception.

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Where did imply that? The fact is, the activist wing of the Democratic party (of which I am a part of) comprised of many students of elite universities and organizations like the Democratic Socialists have completely lost the plot. These people are just as deranged as MAGA Republicans and only help to bolster the chances Trump wins the 2024 election.

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You're trolling; Democrats vote " Democratic", not "Democrat".

Go away.

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Excuse my typo but thank you for confirming that you support the lunatics who stand with Hamas' actions.

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