By Bradley Burston, Haaretz
Times like this, with rockets targeting civilian populations, I wonder what it means to call yourself a leftist. I believed, and still do, that to be on the left entails a certain universality of concern for the rights and safety and welfare of people, regardless of nationality, race, religion, culture or political outlook.
One thing that has not changed, however, is the way much of the hard left relates to the moral issues posed by Palestinian rocket attacks on Israelis.
A weekend Mondoweiss news account of Israeli air strikes, while acknowledging that most of the Gaza dead were Islamic Jihad fighters, notes as something of an afterthought, "Local resistance in Gaza retaliated and showered nearby Israeli settlements with homemade rockets."
In every account, the rockets are dismissed as little more than toothless, impromptu, life-affirming symbols of Palestinian refusal to surrender.
In recent years, Palestinian rocket fire has become a measure of whether progressives can be compassionate to and respectful of the rights of, civilians on both sides, or whether their attitude is, at root, no more nuanced than Palestine Good, Zionist Entity Unredeemably Evil.
An opinion piece on Tuesday suggested that Israel intentionally brought on the rocket fire in order to give its Iron Dome a trial run. "What better way to test the system," asked Linda Heard in Arab News. "It’s hard to believe that a state would put its own people at risk for a test-run, but that’s exactly what Israel is doing," she wrote.
In an exchange of reader comments to the Mondoweiss piece, one respondent asks, "Is it relevant that for many months there have been persistent rocket attacks launched from Gaza against Israel?
It is wrong to simply grant a moral pass to this response, to rocket fire on civilians, whether you write this off as self-defense – which, in practice, it is not – or as human nature, or as inconsequential relative to Israeli aggression.
Just one question.
When a leftist places quotation marks around the word rockets, when a leftist terms attacks on civilian populations a matter of human nature, when a leftist dismisses rockets as crude, homemade, and unguided, or blames Israelis for their use, when a leftist notes that rockets have killed "only 28" Israelis, or sniffs or jeers at the fact that one out of seven Israelis, one million in all, are currently in rocket range – it may be time to ask, what it is, exactly, that's supposed to make a person a leftist?
This is part of the recent post of Bradley Burston in Haaretz, The complete article can be read over here:
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