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The Progressive International: Israel the Enemy

The Progressive International (full series)
The “Left of the Left” Goes Global | Israel the Enemy
Members | Leadership

Israel the Enemy

While the United States (and the capitalist imperialism it supposedly embodies) is portrayed as the ultimate source of general human misery, Israel receives an outsized share of specific blame. Indeed, like much of the contemporary far-left, the Progressive International harbors a unique, conspicuous, and vitriolic hatred of Israel—which it calls a “fascist” country—that extends all the way to the justification of terrorism.

This was on full display in the aftermath of the surprise Hamas-led terrorist attacks against Israel in October 2023, the horrors of which need not be recounted here. Far from condemning the wanton murder of civilians, the Progressive International characterized the attacks as a mere “operation from inside the Gaza Strip,” while referencing what it called the “UN-recognized right [of Palestinians] to struggle for national liberation.” After Israel responded by declaring war on Hamas and launching operations designed to neutralize its military capabilities in Gaza, the Progressive International published material accusing the Israelis of perpetrating a “genocide” and an “ethnic cleansing” against the Palestinians.

Several weeks later, the Progressive International released the Gaza Resolution, a statement that denigrated Israel (the “Zionist regime”) as “a colonial project and imperial outpost” that had been established “on stolen land” and was currently pursuing a “genocidal war” against the Palestinians. Explicitly rejecting what it described as “the false equivalence of colonizer and colonized,” the resolution threw its support behind what it called “the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to resist” and affirmed that the Palestinian “national struggle must be won.” The resolution accused Israel of spreading unspecified “disinformation” and made no mention of Hamas or of the Israelis murdered on October 7. The only reference to terrorism came in the form of a demand that the United States lift sanctions against certain unnamed “Palestinian political parties.”

The Gaza Resolution thus boils down to an attempt to justify the cold-blooded murder of Israeli civilians. Yet astonishingly, it was signed by more than 65 organizations worldwide, not all of which are members of the Progressive International. Some notable signatories included the Palestinian Youth Movement, the Black Alliance for Peace, the Democratic Socialists of America (though its international committee), Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Transnational Institute.

Shortly thereafter, the Progressive International posted an excerpt from a document entitled “Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine,” written in 1969 for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Although claiming not to have “aggressive intentions against the Jews,” the passage affirms that the group’s ultimate goal “is to destroy the state of Israel as a military, political and economic establishment.” It suggested forming alliances with communist states such as (then) North Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, and China against the global “imperialism” of Israel and the United States. Acknowledging that Israel would win a conventional war due to its superior military capabilities, the excerpt advocated for adopting a strategy of widespread guerrilla warfare to gradually wear the country down. The Progressive International called the excerpt “an instructive path for the revolutionary liberation of the Palestinian people.”

One of the anti-Israel campaigns promoted by the Progressive International involves direct action against Elbit Systems, a major Israeli defense company that has manufacturing facilities in multiple countries worldwide. The campaign is spearheaded by Palestine Action, a group based in the United Kingdom that also has an American branch known as Palestine Action US. Activists affiliated with the group have not only targeted Elbit Systems facilities for vandalism and disruption, but also even taken responsibility for spray-painting “Death to Israel” and “Glory 2 the Martyrs” on the Embassy of Israel in the United States. The Progressive International also publishes a Palestine Action Target Map, which lists entities associated with Elbit Systems and asks people to email the group “if you have targets to add.” Other members of the campaign include Code Pink, the Democratic Socialists of America, and the Black Alliance for Peace.

Even by the standards of contemporary leftist rhetoric—which is decidedly unfriendly toward Israel—the Progressive International’s obsessive vilification of the country stands out. As of January 2024, a search for “Israel” on its website turns up 43 different posts since May 2020, an average of nearly one per month for a country that represents barely 0.1 percent of the world’s population. That’s the same number of posts that searches for “India” (36) and “China” (7) return combined, despite together accounting for more than one-third of humanity. Searches for “Cuba” and “Venezuela” turn up 18 posts, while “Russia” turns up just eight posts despite it being responsible for launching the worst European conflict since the Second World War.

As for why there is such an obsessive focus on Israel, the country’s close relations with the United States probably plays some role, with the reasoning being that “the friend of my enemy is my enemy.” But it is virtually impossible to explain the singular viciousness with which groups such as the Progressive International attack the world’s only Jewish state without considering abject anti-Semitism as a motivating factor. Indeed, the Progressive International routinely engages in conduct that the U.S. Department of State has identified as anti-Semitic, including justifying attacks on Jews, applying double standards toward Israel’s conduct, and claiming that Israel itself is a racist entity. Such is the shameful state of the contemporary far-left.

In the next installment, the Progressive International sits at the ideological fringes of global leftism.

Robert Stilson

Robert runs several of CRC’s specialized projects. Originally from Indiana, he has a B.A. from Hanover College and a J.D. from University of Richmond School of Law, where he graduated…
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