Op-Ed: Fair is Foul and Right is Left
Prof. George JochnowitzThe writer is professor emeritus of linguistics whose specialty is Jewish languages, in particular the dialects of the Jews of Italy and southern France. He taught for many years at the College of Staten Island, CUNY, and was an exchange professor at Hebei University in Baoding, China. His varied interests include politics, music, the Bible, and humanity itself - and his wife, two daughters and grandson.
“Fair is foul and foul is fair,” chant the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. They include “Liver of blaspheming Jew” in the list of the ingredients in their witches’ brew. If they were preparing such a brew today, they would probably chant “Liver of genocidal Israeli.”
The witches are fictional, but nowadays anti-Zionism, the child of anti-Semitism, is the most powerful political force on earth, the way anti-Semitism used to be. Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party is primarily anti-Semitic, but it is also anti-Israel.
Countries on the far left, like North Korea and Venezuela, are explicitly and energetically anti-Israel.
In the United States, anti-Israel sentiment is primarily leftist, with Noam Chomsky and The Nation being typical examples; however, far-right politicians like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan are equally hostile. Anti-Zionism is among the issues uniting leftists and rightists—not to be confused with liberals and conservatives. Nadine Gordimer was cited in The New York Times on May 15, 2002, as saying, “I’m not a liberal, my dear. I’m a leftist.” Liberals and conservatives are typically not anti-Israel.
“Liberty [fair] is law [foul] and law is liberty” might be a good opening for the witches’ chant today. Laws restrict liberty but protect liberty. Traffic laws help to save lives. So do laws restricting the ingredients that may be used in foods. Libertarians (on the right) and anarchists (on the left) oppose laws because they take away our liberties.
What about laws against murder? They have not ended murder, to be sure, but they make life safer. What about guns? Retired Representative Jay Dickey, Republican of Arkansas, has said, “We have the right to bear arms because of the threat of government taking over the freedoms that we have.” Representative Dickey, a rightist, was in favor of overthrowing the government of the United States by force and violence. So was leftist Bernardine Dohrn, who said, “Guns and grass are united in the youth underground,” in her speech “A Declaration of a State of War.”
Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has spoken about the need to defend Main Street against Wall Street.
She expressed the same view that gave its name to the leftist Occupy Wall Street movement.
Recently Edward Snowden has been in the news. He is a rightist who released secrets to the press. Leftists are supporting him. Daniel Ellsberg, a leftist who released secrets to the press, is pro-Snowden.
Russia, a leftist country that is certainly not opposed to government control, has offered to consider an asylum request from Snowden—a rightist and a libertarian.
Secrecy, spying, privacy and similar issues are always going to be controversial. The government ought to protect the safety of its citizens. Does spying lead to safety? A number of attacks have been foiled.
On the other hand, some major attacks, 9/11 and the recent Boston Marathon bombs, for example, were not prevented by government security measures.
Traffic laws, laws against murder, etc., don’t always work. We should be grateful that sometimes they do work. Why have leftists and rightists united on this issue? They have done so because all extremists oppose the legal system of the United States.
And all extremists oppose the existence of Israel—and its people.