In an interview published by the Wall Street Journal, Natan Sharansky, the famous Soviet refusenik and Israeli politician, made a telling point. Hamas terrorists displayed pride in their depravity by broadcasting their crimes on the internet using GoPro cameras. “…Even the Nazis…” Sharansky says…”tried to hide their killing from the world. Here they [Hamas] tried to show to all the world what they were doing to these Jews.”
According to Sharansky, Hamas evidently believed that they would “win sympathy and support from one part of the world, and understanding from the other part.” Hamas figured that the Islamic part of the world, including Muslim populations in Europe would provide support. The Western left—the other part—would be sympathetic.
Unfortunately Sharansky—and Hamas—were correct in their assessments. A key question for the West is this. Why did the global left lend not just its sympathy, but also its support, to Hamas? And make no mistake: that is what they did.
To be clear, by the global left, I mean elite Universities and professariats; much of the establishment press; non-governmental organizations (NGOs), cultural and artistic groups, and international organizations like the U.N.
These organizations are important culture shapers in the modern world. And they should remain free to attempt to remain so, provided they are peaceful and the market for ideas is free and open. Unfortunately freedom of speech, necessary for a free market in ideas, is becoming less tolerated by Western culture shapers. And while the global left is busy demonstrating its tolerance for violence as we speak, it has also enthusiastically embraced cancel culture, which serves to protect its privileged position via coercion.
The evidence for the proposition that progressive elites are sympathetic to Hamas is all around us, at least for the clear eyed. Take for instance the numerous demonstrations in support of Hamas in New York City. Then there are the NYU students who have been active ripping down photos of Hamas held hostages. Nellie Bowles of the Free Press in her TGIF column writes of protesters from NYU screaming “We don’t want no two-states, we want all of it”.
Not to be outdone, the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Council released a letter condemning anyone who described Hamas’s behavior as “terrorism”. At Wellesley, a student leader of a residential house wrote to the entire dorm she overseas that “We firmly believe that there should be no space, no consideration, and no support for Zionism within the Wellesley College community.”
Similar tales could be told of pro-Hamas activity at Harvard, Stanford, George Washington University, Cooper Union and other elite schools. Then add consideration of the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America). According to their messaging guidance “liberating colonized land is a real process that requires confrontation by any means necessary…All of it is legitimate and all of it is necessary.”
Let’s not leave out another of the “new” left’s thinkers, Hasan Piker, formerly of the Young Turks. He actually justified Hamas’s killing of babies during its rampage. According to Piker “[killing babies] is a matter of law and maybe if you agree with this, a matter of morality: Palestinians have the legal ground to violently seize back their own homes from these settlers.” He went on to say that it was quite OK for Hamas to kill babies because, after all, they are “settlers”. According to Piker (I am not making this up) “There are baby settlers as well, there are baby settlers as well. There are babies in the settlements.”
I could go on, but you get the point. There is widespread approval of Hamas and its behavior across the hard left, and maybe some across the not-so-hard left. Why?
It is easy, too easy, to point the finger at antisemitism. No doubt that plays an important role here. But while antisemitism is an important ingredient, it doesn’t explain similar behavior undertaken by other Hamas supporters.
For instance, there is the genocide China is carrying out against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, where about 1 million people are now forcibly ensconced in re-education camps and subject to forced sterilizations among other things. Also note that while the Uyghurs are overwhelmingly Muslim, they receive no support from Hamas’s paymaster Iran, thus putting the lie to the claim that this is primarily a religious dispute.
North Korea also has a wide network of re-education (read concentration) camps.
And then there is Russia’s behavior in Ukraine where among other war crimes, it has reportedly abducted and shipped to Russia as many as 20,000 Ukranian children, presumably to Russify them, minus their parents of course.
All it takes is a look at the global supporters of Hamas to understand why the global left is enthusiastically lending its support. No doubt ignorance and naiveté play a big part. But look below the surface and what you will see is a will to power that crucially depends on central planning and State control.
What you will not see is a commitment to freedom, the rule of law and the natural rights of individuals. The will to power combined with contempt for the idea of natural rights that are independent of State power is the key.
With its support for Hamas’s most recent assault on decency, the global left has ripped away the mask covering its real aim, which is to create a socialist utopia, by force if necessary. Like all prior efforts, it is bound to be a tremendously expensive failure both in terms of human suffering and economic retrogression.
We should remember the warning that Nobel prize winner Friedrich Hayek gave us back in 1944 when he published his most famous work titled, “The Road to Serfdom.” Socialism leads to the collapse of Liberalism and results in tyranny.
The question remaining is how will America respond? Will America change course and reassert its power to defend the values of Western civilization? Or will America shun the burden of leadership, turn to isolationism and cede preeminence to illiberal, hostile and tyrannical regimes?
The choice is America’s because only America has the means to continue to preserve what Henry Luce, in the post war era, dubbed as “the American Century”. Will America summon up the will to do so? I certainly hope so.