How Russian History, and Literature, Can Explain Western Sympathy for Hamas

In weighing its moves, the Israeli government has little choice but to keep in mind sentiments in the U.S., which are shaped in part by the legions of progressives, many of them Jewish, who sympathize with Hamas. “This phenomenon,” write Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro, “is not new.”

Lenin supposedly called people of this sort “useful idiots” and, as the phrase suggests, he had utter contempt for them, especially the liberals of the Kadet (Constitutional Democratic) party. Although they did not themselves practice terrorism, the Kadets apologized for, even applauded, it. . . . No sooner had Lenin seized power than the Bolsheviks proclaimed Kadets “outside the law,” which meant anything could be done to them. Right away two Kadet leaders were murdered in their hospital beds.

In his cycle of novels about the Russian Revolution, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn poses this very question. In one memorable scene, he describes the novel’s hero, Vorotyntsev, at a meeting of the Kadets. “They were all overwhelmingly certain that they were right, yet they needed these exchanges to reinforce their certainty,” he thinks. And despite his better judgment, Vorotyntsev goes along with them as if he were hypnotized—not because he felt he was wrong, but out of fear of saying something reactionary.”

Today, many are unwilling to risk being called “conservative” or worse, not just to avoid the consequences that such a reputation might entail, but so as not to tarnish their sense of self, which is inextricably tied up with being on the progressive side of everything.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Communism, Hamas, Progressivism

Spain’s Anti-Israel Agenda

What interest does Madrid have in the creation of a Palestinian state? Elliott Abrams raised this question a few days ago, when discussing ongoing Spanish efforts to block the transfer of arms to Israel. He points to multiple opinion surveys suggesting that Spain is among Europe’s most anti-Semitic countries:

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard-left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish anti-Semitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the state of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Palestinian statehood, Spain