The left turned its back on Jews, time for a new pro-Israel coalition

The left turned its back on Jews, time for a new pro-Israel coalition

By now, most of us have seen images and video clips of pro-Hamas demonstrators disrupting Christmas celebrations across the Western world. 

In Italy, the traditional Christmas Eve performance at the La Scala Opera House in Milan was disrupted by anti-Israel protesters. In New York City, demonstrators chanted “Long live the Intifada” and “Christmas is canceled” and the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza was violently interrupted by anti-Israel rioters as well. Considering that Israel is a Jewish state with only a 2% Christian minority, why did Israel’s enemies target a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus? Do these protesters see Israel as fighting for Christianity?

Perhaps we can make sense of this odd conflation by considering a parallel phenomenon taking shape at the other end of the political-cultural spectrum. 

On November 26, there was a mass pro-Bolsonaro demonstration held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As I scrolled through my social media feed the next day, I saw a short video clip of the crowd filling the streets. I was struck by numerous Israeli flags in the crowd. Why would pro-Bolsonaro, anti-socialist demonstrators in Brazil be waving Israeli flags? What does Israel and her current struggles have to do with opposition to socialism in Brazil?

To fully appreciate the significance of this phenomenon, we should note that it is not limited to Brazilian Bolsonaro supporters. Consider the following quote from Geert Wilders, leader of the right-wing nationalist PVV party in the Netherlands, who last month was elected to lead that nation’s government.

“The war against Israel is not a war against Israel. It is a war against the West. It is jihad. Israel is simply receiving the blows that are meant for all of us. If there would have been no Israel, Islamic imperialism would have found other venues to release its energy and its desire for conquest.

“Many in Europe argue in favor of abandoning Israel in order to address the grievances of our Muslim minorities. But if Israel were, God forbid, to go down, it would not bring any solace to the West. It would not mean our Muslim minorities would all of a sudden change their behavior and accept our values. On the contrary, the end of Israel would give enormous encouragement to the forces of Islam. They would, and rightly so, see the demise of Israel as proof that the West is weak, and doomed. The end of Israel would not mean the end of our problems with Islam, but only the beginning.”

Or consider the words of Steve Bannon, former chief strategist and campaign manager for president Donald Trump, on his popular daily show, Warroom. Bannon, the most influential voice on the populist-nationalist Right worldwide, was responding to the aforementioned pro-Hamas demonstrations which disrupted the Christmas celebration at Rockefeller Center.

“This is not about Israel, this is not about the Jewish people,” he said. 

“This is a Sharia-supremacist global movement, powered by the Chinese Communist Party that is funding the mullahs in Tehran, in partnership with Moscow and Erdogan, who wants to re-establish the Ottoman empire, his words, not mine. People better wake up on this. This is about you. This is about your civilization. This is about your culture, your society, your country. It’s about your beliefs, your family, and your children.”

Wilders and Bannon are not outliers. Across the populist-nationalist Right throughout the world, support for Israel is the growing norm. 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and newly elected Argentinian President Javier Milei are two more examples of right-wing nationalist leaders who are staunch supporters of Israel. Orban has gone so far as to outlaw pro-Hamas demonstrations in Hungary.

When we view this growing trend on the Right alongside the popularity of support for Hamas on the progressive Left, the picture begins to come into focus. To the rest of the world, Israel’s war against the jihadist Hamas is not about Israel.

Throughout the world, populist nationalism is on the rise. While there are many issues that unite this movement across different continents, one issue stands above the rest. Supporters of Milei, Wilders, Orban, and Bannon all believe that Western civilization is under attack. More specifically, they recognize that traditional Judeo-Christian culture is under attack from the combined forces of neo-Marxist socialism (see Brazil) and mass immigration from parts of the world that do not share Western values.

Those who interpret the current trend of right-wing nationalism as motivated by crass racism and xenophobia should take note. It is the Left, in fact, that consistently and openly speaks of the evils of Western civilization and its Judeo-Christian underpinnings. From the anti-Christmas demonstrations we are seeing in London, New York, and elsewhere, it is becoming clearer that this interpretation of the current moment is quite accurate. The seemingly laughable “Queers for Palestine” crowd actually makes a lot of sense. The very same cultural-political camp that wants to tear down traditional Western values seeks the destruction of Israel.

An inevitable conflict

For Israelis, it is time for some self-awareness. The entire Zionist project is the sine qua non of Judeo-Christian nationalism, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. A successfully capitalist nation-state built on a religious-ethnic identity with roots in the Bible checks all the boxes that the progressive, globalist Left despises. The Left’s abandonment of Israel was always inevitable.

It is hypocritical for Israelis to advocate for the preservation of the Jewish character of the State of Israel while playing the role of progressives as we “tsk tsk” at leaders like Wilders and Orban when they speak of limiting the encroachment of Islam on their societies due to unfettered mass immigration. Are the people of the Netherlands and Hungary less entitled than Jews to preserve their national cultural traditions?

Is it true that right-wing nationalists have traditionally been infected with antisemitism? Certainly. But times are changing. On the Left, antisemitism is growing and being normalized, while on the Right it is receding and being replaced by admiration for the State of Israel as the one country that is fighting back against jihadist Islam. As Israelis, it’s time to understand the historical moment we are in, embrace this new reality, and learn who our true friends are.

The writer, a rabbi, co-hosts the Shoulder to Shoulder podcast and serves as the director of

Originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post

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