By Caroline Glick
By the time I began developing a political consciousness in the early 1980s, I didn’t have any choice but to be on the right side of the political spectrum. By the early 1980s, the political Left in the US had already abandoned support for Israel.
When I grew up in what would later become Barack Obama’s neighborhood in Chicago, the black political machine in the neighborhood and the city, led by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan was openly anti-Semitic and pro-Muslim. The white Left was also hostile. The Communists were anti-Israel. The media was anti-Israel.
As a proud Jewish girl, it was clear to me from adolescence on that I could only locate myself on the political Right.
This was not the case for people who came of age in the 1950s and early 1960s. At that time, the USSR had not yet cut off its relations with Israel. The civil rights movement was a joint Jewish-black movement….
….The reason I entitled this post “Martin Peretz, an appreciation,” is not for what he wrote in 1967, but because of what has happened to the Left, the Jewish Left and to Peretz in the 46 years that have passed since he wrote that article.
In the late 1960s, Peretz wasn’t alone in defending Israel against the radical Left – white and black. In 1967, even Jewish Communists were willing to break ranks to support Israel. And as the 1968 New York Teachers Strike showed, at the time, liberal Jews in general were willing to defend themselves from attacks by black anti-Semites.
But in the intervening years, fewer and fewer voices on the Left, and specifically on the Jewish Left were willing to take such positions and pit themselves against their movement. And so as the decades passed, what were the positions of the radical Left in the 1960s became increasingly the positions of the mainstream Left, until by last summer, they became the positions of the majority of delegates at the Democratic National Convention.
When I was growing up in Chicago, the local Jewish establishment’s refusal to support Israel in the 1982 Lebanon War is what made me decide to make aliyah. By the time I arrived at Columbia in 1987, and the Palestinian uprising broke out, it was hard to find Jewish leaders who were willing to stand up for Israel without stuttering.
Today the situation has become simply untenable. Suffice it to say that Bill Ayres’s political protégé Barack Obama’s success in garnering 70 percent of the Jewish vote is not an aberration.
Yet through it all, Martin Peretz has rarely wavered. Despite his attempts to support the Palestinians, he has not allowed his desire to see the Arab conflict with Israel resolved diminish his support for Israel. He has remained a staunch, loyal defender of Israel. When I was growing up, I relied on his New Republic for its reporting on Israel and the Middle East. Peretz was one of my intellectual heroes.
In recent years, I’ve felt more bemused by than respectful of Peretz. A colleague of mine quipped some years back that Peretz and Allan Dershowitz live in an intellectual universe populated only by Peretz and Dershowitz and they refuse to acknowledge that they are alone. That quip has probably anchored my thinking on both men ever since.
But even if my colleague’s remark was more true than false, reading the FBI report, I decided I should discard its snide diminution of Peretz. The fact is, he has been fighting this fight for nearly fifty years. As a man of the Left, he has fought the fight for Israel and Jewish rights, increasingly alone for nearly fifty years, and has done so despite what must have been enormous personal costs as his comrades all jumped ship, and in many cases, joined the cause of Israel’s enemies.
Cervantes’s Don Quixote is generally reviled as a fool for his futile battle against windmills. By the same token, Leftists who insist that their movement — which long ago parted company with the ideals it claims to represent, and serves as a warm political home for totalitarian anti-Semites — must side with good against evil, necessarily call up the image of Don Quixote fighting the forces of nature.
But when you think about it, there is something heroic about keeping up a battle even if it is doomed to fail, simply because it is the right thing to do. So hats off to Peretz for keeping true.