Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Jim Shipley
Shipley speaks 

Almost the same


August 25, 2017

I wrote a column about the extreme left and the extreme right. I did that before Charlottesville, the chants of “Jews will not replace us” and the murder of a 32-year-old woman. Still there is some validity to the following:

The late Eric Hoffer, the “Longshoreman Philosopher,” in his book “The True Believer” wrote that if you push the philosophies of the Far Left and the Far right to their extreme there is little difference between them.

Picture a circle. Start at the top and take one curve and go to the left—pull it around that circle to the bottom—that is Far Left. Now do the same thing on the right. Pull that curve as far to the right as you can to the bottom of the circle—that is the Alt. Right. They are close to the same.

No! Those of the Far Left will cry. I stand for certain principles—I am nothing like those scumbags.

No! The Far Right will cry. I stand for certain principles—I am nothing like those scumbags.

What do the Far Left and the Far Right have in common? They both want radical change. They want to form a mass movement that will upset society as it stands and replace it with their philosophy.

There are clearly differences in their approach to this change for which they yearn. Differences of opinion among Jews are built into our DNA. When these opinions surface as bitter disputes tearing our people apart—the game changes.

Okay, let’s talk “Left” and “Right.” That seems to be the label most political disputes today carry. The major dispute among Jews today in America deals with the election of Donald Trump. I don’t want to get too deep in this one, let us just say that outside of Sheldon Adelson, few prominent Jews have endorsed his approach to life in America—backed by the “Alt-Right” advisers 12 feet from the Oval Office.

It is a banner of the “Alt-Right” that Jews are not Americans or even European. Well, yeah—if you want to look at it that way... Israel. Our DNA indicates that we all came from there and our population grew exponentially when we were cast into dispersal.

In Israel today the Far left and the Far right are clearly drawn. The Far Right Jews want the entire “Ancient and Holy Land of Israel” and are willing and do on occasion fight for that. They want the Arabs, living in the land for millennia to be gone.

The Far Left is harder to pin down. Most of them seem to want the land of Israel as the homeland of the Jews to be gone. Interesting, those Jews who hold that view for the most part do not live in Israel. BDS is disgusting, ill-conceived and not possible. Don’t buy any Israeli products? Go ahead—give up your smart phone and voice mail and do not take advantage of dozens of Israeli patents on life saving devices.

Both sides are in a nonkosher sense, “pig headed.” As Hoffer pointed out, those to the far, far right and those to the far, far left are more alike in their attitudes than different.

It is difficult for many people to accept change that affects their daily lives. And truly it is no fault of theirs. Times change. Those of us who are merely spectators in the battle over what should Israel be or if it should be at all do have a stake in the outcome. Should we abandon our homeland after losing it for two millennia and then fighting for it and retrieving it?

And how should that land look? On the first point we all have a stake—we cannot abandon our birthright. On the second? How should Israel be? If we don’t live there we have no right to tell those that do how to live.

Right and left in America? Truly? I never thought in my lifetime I would see a parade of hundreds of Americans march down a main street in America holding Nazi flags and giving “Sig Heils” to each other. The hate mongers and the far right radicals have always been there but now they feel they have permission to come out of their sewers and show themselves proudly.

On the left? Yes, they demonstrate on campuses and try to stop the far right from speaking. It is just as wrong as not allowing Martin Luther King to speak at a rally in Tennessee but much more dangerous. The SDS never burned a cross even in the sixties.

In America Jews have always been at the forefront of the fight for equal rights and the ability for all people to have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Hoffer was right—there is little to differentiate between the far left and the Alt-right, except when the Alt-right is given permission to march with Nazi flags and kill other American citizens.

To strip away all the doctrinal arguments? Your right to extend your fist ends where my nose begins.


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