On the weaponization of "genocide," polarization on the center-left over Israel-Gaza, and the still necessary work of building Israeli-Palestinian co-existence.
If this column had appeared before Friday, I'd have included it in my most recent post (called "Some borrowed voices during wartime "It includes Braden's and others you might like, including a story from Ottoman Jerusalem. Thank you for this!
This is one of the more thoughtful pieces I've read on the conflict, and what it means to be a progressive Jew (and a progressive ally) in this context. Thank you.
Thank you for this insightful article. After experiencing a so-called “teach in “ from Jewish Voices for Peace” and the conflation of our union’s struggle to renew our contract with City University get co-opted by this same quasi Marxist drivel, pitting us against each other—I’ve come to the same conclusion. By dividing us, they’re playing right into Bibi and Hamas’ hands.
These past few weeks have been literally the first time I have heard of BYP100, Allied Media Projects, or DSA Seattle, or Electronic Intifida. It seems misguided to me to platform extreme views as representative of any real issue for the liberal-left.
Read David Remnick's incredibly even-handed "Letter from Israel" in the current issue of the New Yorker. Grave and balanced and sorrowful in a way that doesn't need to take sides in order to process how difficult this situation is to parse.
This is perhaps orthogonal from your point that genocidal intent should be looked at in both directions, but I sometimes see the word "systematic" used in association with "genocide" and that to me seems important to think about in addition to what you've said above, in particular because the capability (intent aside) to take a systematic approach does not appear to be symmetric in this case. Do you think that's relevant to weigh when thinking about the "genocide" label?
I was appalled by the Hamas attack on October 7 and believe the word "genocide" is aptly applied. I'm equally appalled by the pro-Palestinian demonstrations taking place. The victims here are not only the Israelis but the Palestinians as well. The rhetoric is confusing Palestinians with Hamas. Would we could separate the two in peoples' minds. I don't know how to do it, but the only end will come when two separate states are established or these two peoples learn to coexist as one state.
This is one more reason (upon the heaps and heaps) that slapping the word "progressive" on anybody who isn't a conservative was always a trap.
Yes, socialists and liberals often overlap on our beliefs re: things like unions and diversity. Liberals should be willing to take advantage of that. But it *doesn't* mean you should embrace or even tolerate the warmed-over Leninism that passes for Leftist "analysis" of security and foreign relations. It's batty, it's always been batty, and it's exactly what Stalin was on about when he was describing "useful idiots".
Great essay Micah. It resonates. I have been unable to write about the war this week as I have too many jumbled thoughts and emotions to fashion a single narrative. Im going to LA tonite for a week and hope to have a clear enough head. But mostly, I am TOTALLY disgusted by the inability of so many on the center left to hold two thoughts at the same time. This would be a deadly reckoning of the Left...if there were a left of any substance. Whatever there is however is getting battered by the idiocy of some naivete of others. Genocide is in the charter of Hamas. The treatment of Pals by the Israelis is abhorrent but has a lot more in common with apartheid than genocide. doesnt matter much. The words dont change the reality.
Incisive, Micah. Excellent again.
Excellent piece, Micah. We can’t go easy on ourselves - we must demand that we, and others, sit with these kinds of inquiries and thoughts. Nuance has always been the watchword for this region. The vast use of reductive slogans and buzzwords does not serve or dignify the lives involved.