Once again we see a familiar pattern: our united ‘progressives’ — a veritable synagogue, a collective of great humanists — lend their support to the oppressed. This time it is the ‘Syrian people’ whom they wish to liberate and their enemy is obviously Bashar Al-Asad.
It is a pattern we know only too well by now. Ahead of the ‘War Against Terror’ we witnessed years of intensive progressive Feminist and Gay’s rights groups campaigns for women’s rights in Afghanistan. The Progressive type also disapproves of the current state of the Iranian revolution. Too often he or she would insist that we must liberate the Iranians. This week, once again, we see a united front made by Tariq Ali, Ilan Pappe, Fredric Jameson, Norman Finkelstein and other very good people. They clearly want us to ‘liberate the Syrians’.
They campaign openly to topple Bashar al-Asad’s regime. They call the ‘people of the world’ to pressure the Syrian regime to end its oppression of and war on the ‘Syrian people.’ “We demand,” they say, that Bashar al-Asad leave immediately without excuses so that Syria can begin a speedy recovery towards a democratic future.”
So here we are. Ali, Jameson, Pappe, Finelstein & Co, in light of recent Israeli attacks on Syria, will you be kind enough, gentlemen, to tell us whom you support? Is it Asad or Netanyahu you side with?
One may wonder how it can happen that our progressives, in spite of their good will and humanist credentials, have managed once again to end up in bed with Bibi?
The answer is actually embarrassingly simple. The progressive philosophy is the latest and most advanced form of ideological choseness. Calling yourself a progressive obviously entails that someone else must be a ‘reactionary’. It is a self-appointed elitist standpoint that is inherently intolerant and supremacist.
Progressiveness is a precept devoted to the Tikun Olam (fixing the universe) ideology. It is premised on the idea that those who uphold progressive ideas ‘know better.’ They know what is right and who is wrong. The Progressive knows how to differentiate between the Kosher and the Taref. The progressive voices in this case somehow turn a blind eye to the embarrassing fact that it is actually the Syrian army, largely Sunnis, that is fighting the so-called ‘Syrian rebels’ who are a motley gathering of foreign mercenaries.
Perhaps our progressive interventionists could do with reading Robert Fisk more often — after all, Fisk may as well be the only reliable English-speaking reporter in the region. “The word ‘democracy’ and the name of Assad do not blend very well in much of Syria.” Fisk reports, but he continues, “I rather think that the soldiers of what is officially called the Syrian Arab Army are fighting for Syria rather than Assad. But fighting they are and maybe, for now, they are winning an unwinnable war.”
Bearing that in mind, I would expect progressive intellectuals, amongst them respected historians and political scientists, to be slightly more sophisticated and ponder a bit more before providing Israel with a moral green light to launch a new global conflict.
I would tend to believe that it is about time our progressive humanists engaged in a preliminary ethical investigation. They should find out, once and for all, what is it that constitutes moral grounds for any form of intervention. I believe that before you preach ‘Tikun Olam’ and claim to ‘fix the world’ in the name of the usually cited ‘civil society’ and ‘international law,’ you may want to consider fixing yourselves first.
Gilad Atzmon is an Israeli-born British jazz saxophonist, novelist, political activist and writer.
Atzmon’s album Exile was BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. Playing over 100 dates a year, he has been called “surely the hardest-gigging man in British jazz.” His albums, of which he has recorded nine to date, often explore the music of the Middle East and political themes. He has described himself as a “devoted political artist.” He supports the Palestinian right of return and the one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism, as well as his controversial views on The Holocaust and Jewish history have led to allegations of antisemitism from both Zionists and anti-Zionists. A profile in The Guardian in 2009 which described Atzmon as “one of London’s finest saxophonists” stated: “It is Atzmon’s blunt anti-Zionism rather than his music that has given him an international profile, particularly in the Arab world, where his essays are widely read.”