From the Left



Pro-Palestiners Should Fight Back Against Right-Wing Bullies

: Ted Rall on

There are more Democrats than Republicans, more liberals than conservatives, more progressives than MAGAs. But you'd never know that from looking at our politics. From abortion to the minimum wage to war, the Right wins the important arguments.

How do they do it? Verbal abuse. Right-wing bullies name-call, they hector, they doxx, they blacklist, they lie. Most of all, they yell. No one's louder than a conservative barking a talking point. They're REALLY loud when said talking point makes no sense.

The current discussion about the student protests at American college and university campuses over the U.S.-Israel war against Gaza is a perfect illustration of their tactics.

They also showcase how the Left can expose right-wing bullies as intellectually dishonest, ridiculous and unworthy of serious consideration about important issues. I know because I deal with these clowns every day.

The first thing to notice is that supporters of Israel have given up trying to justify the Netanyahu government's brutal blockade and assault of Gaza, which has killed tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians since Oct. 7, flattened the territory and left hundreds of thousands more starving to death. They can't justify it.

So they deflect.

Supporters of Israel's war against the people of Gaza characterize protesting college students as privileged brats wasting their parents' money. Never mind that two-thirds of them pay their own way, a third borrow student loans, and many earn scholarships, hold jobs and/or don't have parents willing and able to pay.

Critics of Israel should call supporters' rhetorical bluff. OK, let's assume the protesters are all a bunch of spoiled, snot-nosed punks who wouldn't know suffering if it bit them on the you-know-what. So what? That doesn't make it OK to drop 2,000-pound bombs on civilian buildings.

Pro-Zionists portray demonstrators at the encampments as dupes of "outside agitators" funded, in some cases, by billionaire Democrat George Soros. (So ironic that the Right's obsession with Soros originated as an expression of classic antisemitic tropes about this rich Jew and his supposed web of intrigue and conspiracy.) Some protest organizers, the pro-genocide brigade brays, even get paid a salary!

Again, the proper response is: so what? Who the protesters are, where they came from and who pays them -- which, of course, is absurd, since 99.999% of them get paid not one bit -- none of these distractions address the question of whether the U.S. should ignore homeless people sleeping on its own streets in order to send billions of dollars of bombs and missiles to Benjamin Netanyahu in order to murder more innocent people.

One might also mention the racist origins of the phrase "outside agitator," used to great effect by racists during the civil rights struggle. The three Freedom Riders (two of them Jews) murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964 were northerners, outsiders, agitators -- and their cause was right. If a 28-year-old or 48-year-old marches with young adults for peace in Gaza, they're older -- but no less right.

The fascists ask: Why won't they show their faces? If they're proud of themselves, why don't the students who cover their faces with keffiyehs and/or COVID-19 masks expose themselves?

Uh, because they don't want to be doxxed or face expulsion? Where is it written that protesters are required to make things easier for those who seek to oppress them? While we're at it, should supporters of Gaza strip naked and submit DNA samples? Do yard work for Zionists? Perform sexual favors?


Then there's the rightist complaint that some of those in the encampment are too comfortable, sacking out in donated tents and noshing on donated pizza. Again, so friggin' what? Conservative Public Action Conference attendees don't seem to miss many meals. Fox News hosts sleep comfortably enough. Please show us, o ye noble haters of Palestine and lovers of ethnic cleansing, where it says in the Rules of Protest that being comfortable is cheating. Why exactly is it impure to accept tasty foodstuffs as you're awaiting arrest? What does this have to do with the big food-related issue: that Israel is intentionally starving Gazans to death?

Don't forget the asshole gambit. Any group of people has its resident asshole; the Right finds him and implies he represents the whole movement. This time, it's the Columbia student who posted that "Zionists don't deserve to live." Look! say the Zionists. They really are all antisemites! Except this asshole isn't antisemitic, he's anti-Zionist. The Left should refuse to be embarrassed. They should defend him. Right-wingers stand by their own, and so should we.

More seriously but no less stupid is the accusation, delivered with ferocious illogic, that student demonstrators in favor of Gaza are antisemitic. Not actually antisemitic but antisemitic by inference . Amid the zillions of words in news stories, congressional testimony and apologetic statements issued by craven college officials, you will find many references to antisemitism as a concept but no actual antisemitic statements like, say, "kill the Jews." What you will find, delivered at high volume and through a curtain of crocodile tears, are syllogisms such as the one that states that the phrase "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" is antisemitic just because.

Hold my hand as I walk you through it.

"From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," they argue loudly, means the eradication of the State of Israel, which in turn means the murder and/or expulsion of all Israelis, which is thus genocidal and antisemitic.

This is a series of insane assumptions. First, that freedom for Palestinians requires an end to Israel as a nation-state. I can certainly imagine a democratic State of Israel without apartheid or occupied territories or racist policies against Palestinians; the problem might be that too many Israelis cannot.

Next comes the assumption that the demise of the State of Israel, the governmental entity, would necessarily mean genocide against its resident Jews. (Let's assume the Israeli Arabs would be OK.) It is certainly possible to imagine the eradication of the Israeli ethnostate without Holocaust 2.0 or Nakba for Jews: the Revenge. It would look like South Africa after apartheid. White South Africans were terrified that vengeful Blacks would get even with them; today, whites, a minority, and Blacks live side by side as citizens.

Israelis, one suspects, are suffering from psychological projection based on guilt -- they know they live and love on land stolen from people they continue to brutalize. Odds are, however, that freed Palestinians will be far more interested in living their own lives than killing Jews.

Israelis and their supporters are entitled to their paranoias but not to have us share them.

Whether it's about Gaza or another issue, it's time the Left engaged the howling bullies of the Right with the forthright ridicule they deserve.


Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted's hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate, Inc.



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