The Left is pathological
By Daniel Doron
Dec. 18, 2003
Political pathology is to be found at both extremes of the political
spectrum. It was a right-wing fanatic who assassinated a prime minister
and his likes are committing outrages against innocent Arabs in Judea and
Samaria, thus discrediting a Jewish community acting with extreme
restraint in face of Arab terrorism.
However, since the Left has become the dominant force in Israeli politics,
it is the chief carrier of political pathology.
The Left gained its dominance since the early 1920s when the Zionist
organization's immigration policies, funded by Jewish capitalists, favored
young pioneers who were settled in collectivist namely communist
settlements. Ben-Gurion and his comrades were true Bolshevik believers
then. They fashioned Zionism as a spearhead for a Middle East communist
revolution, practicing a violent class struggle against the middle
classes, destroying their economic bases and institutions and becoming the
dominant force in the life of the mandatory Yishuv.
Ben-Gurion and his party became gradually disenchanted with Soviet
communism, but up until the mid-1950s, about 30% of the Israeli electorate
voted for Stalinist parties. This caused Ben-Gurion great anxiety. He
worried about the spread of pro-Stalinist sympathies (which he claimed
destroyed the true Leninism that he upheld) among the highest echelons of
the IDF as well as among intellectuals, academicians, media persons and
artists, who were molding the consciousness of the young.
So he took two politically dangerous steps:
He disbanded the Palmah, the elite unit of the Hagana, because it was
totally dominated by pro-Moscow generals.
And he sacrificed and disbanded one of his own proud creations the
Labor-affiliated school system.
The scions of the Stalinists whom Ben-Gurion fought still dominate life
now in the guise of a post-Zionist New Left in academia, the media and
among intellectuals and artists.
Ben-Gurion considered the pro-Moscow, Stalin-worshiping radical Left
pathological apostates, betrayers of Zionism and Judaism who sought to
convert Jews to the secular faith of Stalinism (several kibbutzim held
Seder ceremonies in which a Haggada was recited that was dedicated to "the
rising sun of humanity, Comrade Joseph Stalin").
THIS IS not the occasion to delve into the etiology of the violent and
destructive nature of the political pathology inflicting utopian movements
from the French Revolution onward. Freud's most original successor,
Wilhelm Reich, analyzed it in his seminal The Mass Psychology of Fascism.
Later works, Theodore Adorno's The Authoritarian Personality and Erich
Fromm's The Fear of Freedom, further elaborated the relationship between
personality disorders and political extremism.
Radical movements seem to attract personalities that seethe with explosive
rage. Their rage is attached to a cause as Dostoevsky so memorably limned
in The Devils giving its destructiveness an appearance of virtue and
This may explain why, despite their protestations that they defend
freedom, so many leftists actually support the most murderous tyrants
from Stalin to Arafat, and why some liberals give aid and comfort to
aggressive, oppressive and corrupt dictatorships such as the Palestinian
Neve Gordon is a prime example of this paradox. Gordon, one of the rabidly
post-Zionist revisionist historians who teaches political science at
Ben-Gurion University. Most of the articles Gordon has published are
devoted to denouncing Israel as a fascist terrorist state.
Gordon would probably claim that he is fighting for the rights of
oppressed Palestinians, but tellingly he devotes most of his energy to
recycling calumnies that subvert Israel's legitimacy. Gordon does not seem
to care for the Palestinians except as instruments of his rage.
He goes beyond the radical-chic support for the PLO given by most Israeli
academic leftists. On a visit to Ramallah he embraced Arafat and
implicitly protected with his body the terrorists hiding in the compound.
Gordon has expressed understanding for terrorism because it is caused by
"injustice." He does not seem to care that the Palestinians are subjected
to the most brutal and oppressive dictatorship so long as they are
He was among the signers of the petition before the recent Iraq war
declaring that Israel was planning to perpetrate atrocities and massive
crimes against humanity once the war broke out. He also endorsed boycotts
Had Israel enjoyed an open, pluralistic public debate especially in the
media and the universities one could let the pathological defamers do
their thing. But the public arena in Israel is dominated by politically
correct leftists who silence any opposition.
Like the Islamic fundamentalist parties in countries such as Iran or
Algeria where democratic elections have been exploited to abolish
democracy so does the pathological Left exploit democratic freedoms,
including academic freedom and freedom of speech, in order to defy the
majority will and subvert it from within.
The post-Zionists and neo-Marxists on the Ben-Gurion University faculty,
that Gordon exemplifies, are true believers. They are capable of calling
for a boycott of Israeli universities for alleged crimes against humanity;
they are not promoters of free speech or pluralism.
This is, alas, also true of many other social-science and humanities
departments in Israel where, in the words of the (Meretz!) former minister
of education Amnon Rubinstein "a unison choir" of political correctness
suppresses free debate.
In fact, several attempts have been made by BGU leftists to use the law to
intimidate adversaries and suppress criticism. The most recent, a
frivolous libel suit filed by Neve Gordon against Prof. Steven Plaut of
Haifa University, a stalwart defender of free speech.
Those who support freedom for terrorists cannot stomach any opposition.
They file suits simply to harass critics and intimidate potential
adversaries by causing them great expense and loss of time.
Serious consideration must therefore be given to the protection of
academic freedom and free speech from a pathological Left that is so adept
at abusing them.
The writer is president of The Israel Center for Social and Economic
Progress, an independent pro-market policy think tank.