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Ron Radosh

Our Bien Pensant American Historians: The New Friends of Hamas

August 22nd, 2014 - 8:58 am

In July of 1945, an organization called the Friends of the Haganah was created by American Jews, to support the defense forces of the Jewish community in Palestine. They knew that the Yishuv — the name of the Palestinian Jews who had built up the basis for a future state — were living under the dire threat of constant attacks by the surrounding Arab states.

How things have changed. Nowhere has this been illustrated better than in the recent petition signed by over 200 American historians (who now claim over 1000 signatures), condemning Israel for its “disproportionate” use of force and demanding the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, a permanent end of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and most telling of all, the suspension of US military aid to Israel, until such time that aid is no longer used for “the commission of war crimes.” Nowhere in the petition is Hamas mentioned. (The list of those who were the initial signers and writers of the petition can be found here.) In essence, those who signed the document can be called “the Friends of Hamas.”

As a historian who has studied the American far Left for many years, and decades ago was part of, I immediately noticed that many on the initial list of signers are veterans of the already old New Left and either supporters of or fellow-travelers of the defunct  Soviet Union and the Communist movement. Indeed, I know many of them personally, and are aware of their old affiliations and political allegiances.

The petition is a document created by a group called “Historians Against the War.” It refers not to the current war in Gaza, but to the war in Iraq, as exemplified by a panel sponsored by the group held about it in 2003, which I wrote about here.  It is commonly believed that the group actually had its origins in the effort by leftist historians to create a caucus within the historical profession made up of historians opposed to the war in Vietnam. Then, and now, the group was composed of historians of the far Left. At their start, and it is hard to imagine, they were actually a minority of the historical profession.

What is different about this anti-Israel petition, is that the signers are writing not simply as American citizens opposed to Israel, but as “historians,” whose credentials are being used as evidence that their position in the profession gives them more expertise to comment on Israel’s would be perfidy. As historian K.C. Johnson writes at Minding the Campus, “This approach is odd given that many of the organizing signatories appear to have no academic specialty in U.S. foreign relations, Israeli history, or Palestinian history, the subjects of the petition.” To put it bluntly, the claim to be speaking as historians is nothing less than an attempt to fool the gullible into listening to them. Undoubtedly they are intelligent, Johnson says — a claim that I actually dispute — but, he adds, “they seem to possess no more academic qualifications to comment on U.S. foreign policy or Israeli-Palestinian security relations than random people wandering Central Park.”

Top Rated Comments   
I'll keep it simple:
Any Jew, American or anywhere in the world should have martial training No matter what we do, or say, Jew haters, with pens or swords seek to kill us.
We need to look at history. Jew haters need to fear us, whether we're non practicing "food Jews" or fully involved in all the praying. Fear is a basic emotion that all organisms, including progressives, feel. They have no fear.
When I went to high school, in Hastings on the Hudson, NY in the late '70s, there were many other students whose parents had emigrated here from the Ukraine and other countries where it was considered funny to punch Jews in the back of the head, and to break Jews' noses, pick on Jews, calls us "The Devil's brother" and all kinds of other fun stuff.
I caught one of these Nazis writing graffiti on the wall of the student lounge. I beat him up, dragged him out the door of the damn school by his feet and stuck him on the chain link fence in the playground.
That was the last I ever heard of the Jew hating talk.
While I am specifically only advocating self defense, it's time for people who care about Israel and decency to start opening our mouths. And you know what, a little fear is a good thing.
Right after 9/11, I started wearing a T shirt with a picture of Allah with a fuze coming out of his head on the streets of NYC. A couple of fellow citizens walked at me quickly and I never broke eye contact. Each and every one of them turned at the last minute, and some of them were much bigger and younger.
It's time for Jews all over to quit asking off duty cops named Mike or Rocco to guard our synagogues, and do it ourselves, making it quite obvious. No government will protect the Jews. Certainly no institution of learning; real or imagined will.
The legitimacy and/or propriety of anything any Jew or Israel does is actually totally irrelevant. All that matters is fear of Jews. Better to be feared than respected, 'cause respect ain't happening any time soon.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
When you get down to it, basically what the left is demonstrating for is the right of the Palestinian people to attack Israel and kill Jews without fear of retaliation. Logic brings us to that conclusion by the fact that when they demand an end to the slaughter, the only deaths they are referring to are deaths of the people in Gaza. There is no reference to ending the deaths in Israel. The only thing they are demanding is that Israel stop retaliating.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't give a pissant for the purported academic qualifications of anyone who signs a petition which is arrant nonsense. Only an embrace of virulent anti-semitism can possibly blind anyone to the truth, to a fair view of the situation, as is required to oppose Israel to the point of requiring their death, and embracing a savagery of no human value. The anti-semitism comes first and last in such people, and there is no more to say.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (49)
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What I cant understand is why any american Jew would ever support any leftists like these, or any other leftist who would tolerate leftists like these. Its as if they have a death wish.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
American Catholic Bishops also petitioned the government to discontinue military aid to Israel.
What a slap in the face to me this was, a person who had supported the effort by a diverse group of G-d fearing people to stop the encroachment of gay "marriage' in our country. I thought we had a common shared value about morality.
It is already assumed that those "intellectuals" would criticize and try to harm Israel but when an American conservative group starts in, PM Netanyahu better realize that there is little hope in convincing people of Israel's moral legitimacy.
He was so pitiful the other day trying to convince Hamas=ISIS…like it matters when you're already evil how much more evil you can get.
I know there exists true support for Israel in North American Evangelical and LDS groups, thank you.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would hesitate to say that the American Catholic Bishops are conservative. Most of them are leftists politically with the exception of the Catholic teaching on abortion and marriage. Don't forget how the American Catholic Bishops supported the Sandanista and other Latin American Communists groups in the 80s. They have bee captured, by and large, by liberation theology.

Most Catholics, I assume, are for Israel, probably even most parish priests, but not the Bishops.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I knew the catholic bishops had some leftie tendencies, I did not realize it had gotten that bad that they would endorse leftist anti semitism.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some great historians you have here. Does anyone remember Santayana's comment, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?" These guys are backing the people who want to finish Hitler's job. Yes, kill Jews, but do they remember that Hitler's war also killed close to 50 million non-Jewish Europeans? Your Muslim friends will be coming for you next ... well, no...they've already started. Think Twin Towers, London, Madrid and more. www.why-israel.com
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"They used to spell it as “Amerika” — has now been replaced by their hatred of Israel"

Replaced? No. Rather: extended to. Because Israel is nothing but a little AmeriKKKa, and Progressivism = Oikophobia. Also I've corrected your spelling.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Left only embraces "the Good Jew" whom embraces their own de(con)struction. Same with the European Christians....there are "the Good European Christians."

Which is why they hate Israeli Nationalists and European (Christian) Nationalists.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
The disproportionate use of force by the US on Japan got us out of the Pacific war and saved how many thousands of lives? I think it's already been pointed out that was is all about the use of as much force as possible. On that note, it's time to begin looking at the progressive agenda as warfare and to act accordingly.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've got a suggestion for a thought experiment... What if the neighbors to the petition signatories were to indiscriminately start lobbing dog feces into their yards several times a day. I mean it would just be a harmless prank, wouldn't it? What would be an "appropriate" response if the local neighborhood association suggested that they just move their fence back from the property line a little bit? How long would they negotiate with their poo-flinging neighbors (who would rather fling than negotiate)?
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
"How did the moral center of the American left get so isolationist and selfish?"

The Left was always evil. All that changes is how that evil manifests.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I submit, Mr. Radosh, that their hatred of "Amerika" has not been replaced by their hatred of Israel.
The latter has only been added to the former.
Just the fact that the likes of Howard Zinn's books are being taken as factual in public schools these days indicates just how much influence these clowns have!
The question is, how do we root this crap out?
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
How do we root this crap out?

That's simple.

You elect a school board that gives a damn.

How do you elect a school board that gives a damn? Get your neighbors to give a damn about the school board.

It's that simple.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
You beat me to it, just about to point that out. The Regressives hate anything with the least hint of liberty.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Many leftist historians see history through their own world view and the veil of what they have identified as the proper moral, social, and behavioral standards of today. Thus, the history books that they write and the history classes that they teach are more propaganda than history. History, however, is more appropriately viewed through the milieu of the time period in which it happened. In fact one can't really understand history without putting an historical event in the proper context and time period.

Obviously, if a person can't differentiate real history from propaganda, their world view will be shaped by the latter even if it's pure nonsense. Case in point is the leftists's world view of Israel. They just can't see the real Israel beyond their own corrupted notion of the true history of Israel and that of the make-believe one of the Palestinians. They can't even understand or acknowledge that anti-semitism is a big part of Islam. In fact their moral standards seem to cease to exist when it comes to Israel.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
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