Home inSight The Demolitionists: Explaining the Leftist-Islamist Alliance

The Demolitionists: Explaining the Leftist-Islamist Alliance

Jeremiah Rozman
Ralliers demonstrate against Israel. (Photo: Anatolia Ferguson / Alamy Photo)

Arab/Islamist religious and ethno-nationalists—textbook far-right ideologies—and the Western far-left band together to oppose Israel despite having diametrically opposed values on nearly all other issues. The U.S. campus protests highlight this odd alliance. Some of the protestors are hardcore Islamists while many support a litany of leftist causes including socialism/communism, environmental, racial, and LGBT issues. Groups like “Queers for Palestine” are easy to lampoon due to the obvious juxtaposition of their lifestyle and the deadly opposition to it by those they support. While tempting to ridicule, there is a logic to the far-left-Islamist alliance. They are allies of convenience working to tear down the capitalist/liberal world order. This is a necessary step towards their incompatible visions of utopia. While the U.S.-led world order—which they see Israel as an outpost of—stands in their way, they defer grappling with what comes next.

The radical leftist leadership understands their allies’ illiberalism. Some naive “useful idiots” do not know or do not care. A good slogan can easily replace critical thought. Who cares about rape, murder, and antisemitism if “resistance is justified when people are occupied?” The far-left worldview inspired by the radical Marxist “liberation” philosopher Franz Fanon sees groups as either “colonialist oppressors” or the “colonized oppressed.” It sees all violence as a tool of liberation. The illiberalism of those deemed “indigenous” is glossed over as “cultural differences.” Perhaps they should ask a woman, homosexual, or “apostate” facing brutal persecution in Gaza or Iran if they had any say in the culture they were born into?

Israel is not colonialist. It won its independence from the British Empire, perhaps the penultimate colonialist power. Neither is Gaza occupied. Israel withdrew in 2005 as part of George W. Bush’s proposed “Roadmap to Peace. Palestinians gained full sovereignty in Gaza in what was intended to be a trial balloon for a Palestinian state. Israel enacted a blockade after Hamas was elected on a charter calling for perpetual war and then murdered its Fatah opposition.

In Islamist-dominated territories like Gaza, LGBT individuals are mutilated, oppressed, and killed. Women are subjugated, and religious freedom is violently quashed. Not so in Israel or the Western world. It is therefore surprising to see left-wing activists on U.S. campuses supporting the most illiberal of these groups.

The answer to the puzzle lies in the nature of the political spectrum. It is often seen as linear, with the far-left and the far-right on opposite extremes. It is better conceptualized as a circle. Far-left revolutionaries and far-right reactionaries are very similar. The moderate left and right seek incremental shifts, achieved within the rules of their political system. Radicals at both extremes seek to overthrow the system and see violence as a legitimate tool.

Most college students and faculty are moderate, but universities have long been incubators for radicalism. Shielded from harsh realities, they have pioneered many of the most extreme and preposterous ideologies from Marxism to eugenics. Only in the ivory tower would “revolutionaries” demand that food be delivered to them as “humanitarian aid” while they break the law.

The campus protestors want more than an end to their universities’ ties with Israel. Many are working with outside professional revolutionary agitators. Chants and signs calling for “death to America” span from the rigid theocracy of Iran and their Islamist supporters in Michigan, to the leftist-occupied halls of Columbia University. The campus protests feature Hezbollah flags, Hamas headbands, and anarchist and communist graffiti and signs. Both the radical leftists and Islamists regularly burn the American flag. As the American flag-burning Revolutionary Communist Party organization actively participating at the UCLA protests states on its website “This system of capitalism-imperialism is the source of all the outrages and madness that people are subjected to, here and all over the world—and it is long past time it be swept off the face of the Earth.”

Both sides want to tear down Western civilization. Demolition is a simple concept. Rebuilding is far more complex. The radical leftists do not want Sharia law, while the Islamists do not want unfettered sexual freedom or environmentally friendly socialism. The leftists who claim to want the destruction of the Western system also want the right to protest that it guarantees. They decry capitalism but also want to order DoorDash on their iPhones.

Islamists and radical leftists have powerful allies in their crusade. Chinese Communist Party-linked networks fund and support the anti-Israel college protests. Neither China nor Russia supports leftist or Islamist ideology. China persecutes Muslims and seeks capitalist industrial advancement. Russia has fought Islamists for decades and is eminently illiberal. However, both would love to see the U.S.-led global order demolished.

Perhaps the most subversive ally of the radical leftists has real political power within Western countries. Left-leaning mainstream parties have sought to harness the radical’s passion to win elections. In the United States, pro-Hamas radicals call the President “genocide Joe,” while their backers heavily fund his reelection campaign. While some democrats strongly oppose these radicals, there is a growing “squad” of those who flirt with extremists. For instance, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib refused to condemn ‘Death to America’ chants at a rally in her district. Democrat party leadership, including the President, is hesitant to unequivocally condemn the radicals. They “rode the tiger,” courting the support of radicals who would like to see their country and its ally Israel destroyed. The otherwise mainstream U.S. Democrat party sees their support as critical due to electoral geography.  Only electoral defeat will convince them that appealing to radicals is a losing strategy.

The demolitionists ally together because demolishing the West is a daunting task. The much more difficult task of rebuilding can be put off for another day. This “frenzy of negativity” parallels Edmund Burke’s critique of the French Revolution. Those whose core focus is destruction unleash a self-perpetuating cycle of violence and tyranny that subsumes the effort to rebuild. Perhaps it is unsurprising that George Washington University students have called for the guillotine against campus administrators.

While the Western far-left and Islamist far-right are united in seeking to tear down the West, the West faces a crisis of confidence. Colleges increasingly devote less time to foundational Western thinkers like Hobbes, Locke, Mill, and Madison in favor of revolutionary thinkers like Marx, Foucault, and Butler.

Western governments and academics should promote a renaissance in teaching and celebrating their founding philosophies. These thinkers, often maligned as “old, white, colonialist men” laid the foundation for today’s political and economic systems that protect the freedom and prosperity that the radicals rely upon in their struggle to overturn them.

Education is critical to defeating the demolitionist alliance. Immediate measures must also include rigorous enforcement of the law. Negotiation with and capitulation to a small minority of radicals amplifies and emboldens them at the expense of a moderate majority. Trespassing, vandalism, violence, and the violation of civil liberties of protected classes like Jews, must be dealt with expeditiously and without compromise. Concerned citizens should use their voices and wallets. Donors concerned with the radical and illiberal movement on the campuses that they pay dearly to send their children should withhold funding until administrators take decisive action. Most importantly, voters must hold politicians accountable for courting extremists even if they generally prefer their party over alternatives.

Fascism and Communism once threatened to defeat liberal democracy. Liberty won because its proponents believed in its defense. Victory is not guaranteed. Most of the history of civilization is one of tyranny. If the demolitionists extinguish the spark of liberty so painstakingly fostered over centuries, the blame will lay with those who failed to protect it because they forgot that while democracy and capitalism are not perfect, they are, to paraphrase Churchill, ‘the worst besides all the others” and certainly worth defending.

Jeremiah Rozman worked for a national security think tank in DC. He currently serves as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Finance Corps. He has a doctorate in International Relations from the University of Virginia. He is the author of “Socializing Militants: How States End Asymmetric Conflict with Non-State Militants.” He has taught a course on the Arab-Israeli conflict at the University of Virginia. From 2006-2009 he served as an infantryman in the IDF Golani Brigade and saw combat in Operation Cast Lead.