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A death wish for my family gets me thinking

Are right-wingers necessarily more violent than left-wingers?

Some might think the answer is obvious. Others might think that it’s a question I shouldn’t even ask to begin with.

Anyway, I don’t intend to crack it in this post. This one’s just going to be questions, thoughts and whatever arises. No conclusions…

I got to thinking about this issue after engaging in a futile quarrel with a Hasbara fascist troll who misread my last post and claimed I support the murderers of the Fogel family. I was also accused by Palestinian extreme nationalists (who said they “condemn” the murder) that I really had some nerve to not understand where the murderers “were coming from” due to decades of occupation. Lunacy, apparently, can be seen in both the occupiers and the occupied. But that’s another story. I’m nice n’ comfy if extremists on both sides have a problem with me.

Anyway, after deleting comments by the aforementioned pile of manure who goes by the name of Michael Alex, I later saw this “bona-fide” offer from Alex on his Facebook wall:

Some of my friends humored me, saying “Hey, Ramallah is a great place to picnic these days,” but alas, I don’t think these were the intentions of my new friend, the endangered feces Alex.

After not answering him, he wrote:

Which reminded me of a comment I got on my older blog over a year ago from the following fusty piece of feculence who goes by the name of Gabor:

I really do wish both Mr. Alex and Mr. Gabor the best of health and that modern medicine will soon find a cure for their ailments (I apologize, wishing death for my family tends to bring out the worst in me. I promise to work on this), but my question remains – why is right-wing rhetoric so violence-prone?

Truth be said, I could find no proof on the world-wide web that right-wingers are more violent than left-wingers, neither internationally nor locally. And if I’m not mistaken, there were times that this world suffered greatly from the hands of left-wing terrorism much more than the right. And let’s not forget, it was a “left-wing” minister of defense who killed more Palestinians than any other who held his post. So maybe it’s all about what left and right really is.

But at least on the local level, in the Israeli-Jewish scene, I believe I do have a feel and can say that the right is much more trigger happy in their rhetoric with calls for violence, profanity and death threats (some of my colleagues have received some). I’ve heard of a number of Israeli leftist activists or academics who have used violent rhetoric against settlers, but these cases seem to be a drop in the ocean of right-wing vitriol in the comment sections here on +972 and on main stream media sites. Again, I could be wrong – I have no stats on which to base these gut feelings.

I do think it’s safe to say that today when it comes to physical violence, the right in Israel wins hands down – both against Palestinians and against Jews (particularly extreme settler violence in the West Bank).

Is it due to the usual stereotypes? The usual cliches (I can just hear my colleagues on the left: “Ami, this is the most lame question you’ve ever asked. Of course they’re more violent”)? That right-wingers are more “machismo,” favor war more, are in love with good ‘ole fashion traditions and so on? That the left is more cultural, more subdued? At least that would explain some people who read my channel and seem to be surprised when a lefty like me bites back.

I hate using generalizations like that, since that’s what gets peoples into these messes to begin with. I presume labeling right-wingers as more prone to violence will even get me into trouble right here. Generalizing is dangerous. It’s like erroneously saying that Islam is more violent than Western culture. A look at the death toll in Iraq is enough to refute that one.

But I gotta wonder. I mean, you just don’t see many – if any – left-wingers on Facebook calling to “kill all the Kahanist mother-fucking traitors,” do you?

Or do you?

Maybe that’s why the left is so weak in the polls, too. They need to stop being so polite and get nasty (not physically nasty, of course – but attitude-wise).

(Apologies to readers for the messy post. I guess these guys make me lose my cool)

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    1. The problem is not one of political colour, but of taxonomy. In all kinds of discussions I have had with Christians, Muslims or Jews, they claim to be what they were told te be as a child. And by consequence they defend the in-group against attacks. Some Turks have problems when the Armenian genocide comes up, some Jews when the occupation comes up, some Christians when Bush or the pope comes up, etc.
      The brilliant work of Zimbardo and Milgram showed that both the guards and the prisoners can become cruel agents.
      By thinking along political lines we can easily forget the individuals who do the things, regardless of what political flavour they adhere to.
      The occupation is not a system the Palestians suffer from more than the Israelis. It’s an overall system in which everone becomes victim. So we can only judge acts by the consequences of the acts, not by the intentions. The horrors of the “left” from Stalin or Mao could come about because they were in power. We do live in capitalist, basically right-wing West, so there are more violent right-wingers defending their assets now. I would presume that in a more socialist culture, left-wingers would be more aggressive against those who attack their culture.
      The taxonomy should be along the lines of individual moral values, not along those of ideologies. If anyone attacks or threatens you, it’s an individual, not a group. You can’t chose your cradle, but you can reflect on your acting.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      Great post, Ami. Yes, the right wingers are definitely much more violent than their lefty counterparts. It’s pretty clear why… Rightist world view is generally very pessimistic, and they are prone to bouts of full-blown hysteria and paranoia. They literally believe that, at any second, the world will come to an end and that if they don’t do something they will die a horrible death. Just listen to our good friend Glenn Beck; he is nothing if not a paranoia monger. Also, rightists tend to be less intelligent, educated and cultured than their lefty counterparts; that is why arts and academia are always dominated by leftists, with a scant rightist representation. It makes sense, since fear and paranoia are usually borne out of ignorance and fear of the unknown. One last observation about right-wingers: In my humble opinion, after following their actions and words for the last few years, I have come to the conclusion that they are extreme cowards, whose bark is much, much worse than their bite. So, take these threats with a grain of salt; don’t be intimidated by them, they are only trying to make you as afraid as they are.

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    3. Mati

      Taking for your family for a picnic in Gaza or Ramallah is only a problem because the Israeli government forbids you from going there. But as someone who lives and works in Gaza and travels to Ramallah I can assure you that having a picnic in either location would not be a problem. There are Israeli jews who sneak into Ramallah to go to the parties there and I spend much of my time in Gaza speaking Hebrew with the many many locals there who speak it. Sure some neighborhoods are safer than others, just like in Jerusalem or Haifa, but if you can get a permit to travel to either place, take Michael Alex up on his offer and I will gladly serve as your guide.

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    4. Catwoman

      Oh Gabor, the king of trolls. I remember you. And some people just don’t understand that what happens on Facebook never stays on Facebook. I wonder if this idiot has his posts locked down.

      I also have a little theory that such people are attracted to the far-right because it’s acceptable to say such terrible things.

      But in essence you’re correct: it’s long overdue for the left to take the gloves off (sans violent language and behaviour). I can’t quite see Yariv Oppenheimer or Zahava Gal-On smearing on the camouflage paint and howling at the moon, and sadly that is exactly what is needed.

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    5. Aaron

      Reckon? I’m a lefty but I can strip down an reassemble an AK47 in 1 min 23 seconds blindfolded.

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    6. @carl – yup, that’s him.
      @danny – thanks.
      @catwoman – yup (but I just want to be clear, I don’t want to stoop to their level – I just wanna play hardball)
      Aaron – Isn’t that kind of slow? 😉

      Reply to Comment
    7. Carl

      One thing I do enjoy about the right is that they never get to enjoy power. No matter how far right wing Israel, the US or my own country the UK get, the right wing are always convinced that the left are in power. They think the left controls the media, the courts, the lot. So long as Haaretz exists, the right believes the entire media in Israel is one big conspiracy against them – never mind that 90% of the media is centre-right to right leaning. No matter how the right wing changes over time, that’s one feature that endures, and I console myself with it.
      This Michael guy seems like your average right wing Internet warrior: unpleasant, but I’d agree with Danny about his bark.

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    8. Danny

      “I can’t quite see Yariv Oppenheimer or Zahava Gal-On smearing on the camouflage paint and howling at the moon, and sadly that is exactly what is needed.”
      I respectfully disagree. There is no sense in having a barking match with dogs, so let the dogs bark. They barked like dobermans when Sharon threw them out of Gaza, but their bite proved to be that of poodles. When push comes to shove, they are pushovers. Just don’t be afraid of the barking.

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    9. Carl

      Well if that is him, please enjoy his album. I’ll say one thing about the right, they certainly seem to have the physique.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Danny

      Good catch, Carl! This guy looks like a major douchebag!

      Reply to Comment
    11. Danny Demiculo

      Comment deleted and user banned

      Reply to Comment
    12. Philos

      Comment deleted

      Reply to Comment
    13. @philos – people might not get the irony.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Catwoman

      Oh Ami, you need to fight fire with fire. And you have just the right complexion for green and black smears.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Rachelle Pachtman

      I hate that anyone would threaten you and your family or anyone for that matter. Threats are always the MO of cowards and bullies because they have run out of any intelligent defense for their bad behavior in the eyes of the world and they know it. Poor things, they have succumbed to the belief that just because you are not paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get you.

      Many years ago, before the “glamorous” world of PR, I was an early childhood teacher in one of the most violent neighborhoods in New York City. Some of these kids came from tough situations and would act out the only way they could think of: beating up on the next little boy. When that child came to me crying, I would always ask them to consider how unhappy the other little boy must be if he had to hit him for no reason. Certainly not the same as a death threat but same immature energy.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Aaron

      I’m Aaron the Fascist Troll, not the other Aaron who commented above. I don’t think politics really explains differences between left and right in anything except, uh, politics. Instead, look at political stance as an alias for other factors: socio-economic class, education, intelligence, and, yes, ethnicity. In Israel at least – no numbers to back this up, sorry – the left is higher-class (including most of the academic and cultural elites), more educated, more intelligent, and *much* more ashkenazi (but not “Russian”). The right is lower-class, less educated, less intelligent, and more mizrahi and “Russian.” So if you’re looking to explain general differences in behavior, look there.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Jon

      I share Rachelle’s sentiments. It’s very sad to see you & your family threatened, Ami.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Philos

      @ Ami, no worries 🙂 Sorry about the opaque and very creepy (picnic?!?) death threats you received from Mr. Alex.
      If it makes you feel any better I’ve received my fair share of threats over FB. The most bizarre was from some guy telling me “that they know my profile is fake, that they know who I really am and that they’re going to get a coward like me who hides behind fake profiles!” Pretty funny but also a little unnerving but at least “they” don’t think I exist.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Tammy

      You did it again, Ami. A deadly (sic) serious post laced with humor and correspondingly serious (and simultaneously triggering howls of laughter) comments from a (mostly) enlightened and temperate crowd.

      @ Mati: Seriously, are you serious? If so, would you share some details of the logistics and about you, for starters. TIA

      @Rachelle, I’m sure you did as I, when I was a Head Start teacher/director/national program advisor similarly spoke with young victims WHILE holding them closely, listening carefully, and acknowledging and honoring their feelings, and then working along the same lines with the child “perpetrator”… really, a victim, at that stage of life.

      @ All who called the death wisher a coward, mouther of words, etc., I agree. Yet no death threat was made to me (yet) and I might not be sanguine as I’m suggesting you be.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Katie Miranda

      Actually his offer was just kind of silly and misinformed. There are quite a few Jews and Israelis living in Ramallah. Some well-known, others not. I speak from personal experience myself. I wouldn’t take it as a death threat.. It’s more like an ignorant death-wish. He mistakenly believes that if you set foot in Ramallah, you will be killed for being Israeli. This is simply not true. Entering Ramallah in an army jeep with an M-16, now that’s a completely different story. I’m sure you can see the difference although Michael Alex obviously can’t.

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    21. Katie Miranda

      He’s also not doing the threatening himself.. He’s merely wishing that Palestinian would do the job for him. And I’d bet the majority of settlers, rightists and hasbara trolls wish the same for all of us.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Tammy

      * Head Start (per Wikipedia): “The Head Start Program is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families….

      Launched in 1965… Head Start is one of the longest-running programs to address systemic poverty in the United States. As of late 2005, more than 22 million pre-school aged children had participated.”

      Reply to Comment
    23. Miki

      While it is tempting to psychologise (ie. examine the emotional state of being) as to why the right-wing Zionists act as they do, I think answer lies in relation to the objective political conditions that exist in Israel.
      Zionism is a settler-colonial ideology and as a result, Israel is a settler-colonial state and has been since its inception.
      Frantz Fanon, in his classic text on colonialism, The Wretched of the Earth, wrote that “Colonialism is not a thinking machine,nor a body endowed with reasoning faculties. It is violence in its natural state and will only yield when confronted with greater violence”.
      If we are leave aside, for the moment, Fanon’s contention that colonial violence will “only yield when confronted with greater violence”, if he is correct in arguing “colonialism is not a thinking machine or a body endowed with reasoning faculties but violence in its natural state …”, then should it come as any surprise that those who today either vocally support and/or actively in practice take part in Israel’s continued expansionism, colonial dispossession of the Palestinians and their ethnic cleansing (all violent colonial acts)engage in violent rhetoric?

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    24. ARTH

      It is a way of resolving the incongruity between their ideology and the assumed but unfounded reality in which is based on their definitions and the reality reality which undermines it. Ergo, the elimination of these forces-of-reality and those who describe it and oppose their agenda and undermine their order-of-things has to be eliminated and violence is the easiest and most emotionally congruous way. That way, their vision can remain untouched by the actual situation.

      Reply to Comment
    25. DHMCarver

      It is interesting for me, a citizen of the US, to see this debate played out in an Israeli context, for I have argued for years that in my country, the right has inflicted far more violence on the nation than the left (exhibit 1, of course, the Oklahoma City bombing). As a corollary, I argue that if the police want to engage in racial profiling, they should start by stopping and searching young adult white males, especially those with American flags on their pickup trucks…

      Reply to Comment
    26. The logic of occupation has to be violent, socially if not physically. I would stay agnostic on the left/right violence question, standing the ground that in this instance the necessary violence of continued occupation (necessary if you want occupation, that is) will induce violence elsewhere in the polity–even in the suppression of speech.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      Re my above comment, I just happened to come across this abstract: “Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact.”
      I haven’t read the article, but it relates to my point: Don’t look to ideology as an explanation, but to more basic differences which themselves cause variation in ideology.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      Greg’s claim, that the violence of occupation leads to violence within the occupying polity, sounds plausible. The problem is that its negation sounds plausible as well: that inter-ethnic violence does not readily spread to intra-ethnic violence, because people are keenly aware of ethnic difference, and because conflict might even strengthen intra-ethnic solidarity.
      Has anyone *seriously* looked into this question? I guess the only way to look at it is comparatively, which means you’d have to know an awful lot of history.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Aaron of trolldom,
      Intra-ethnic solidarity is forced on the claim of inter-ethnic conflict. So to oppose State policy or tools is to betray one’s ethnicity. The premise that all of an ethnicity will think similarly is untenable. Rather, those deviating from proclaimed State protection are seen as traitors, ill informed, or simply ill. The Soviet Union proclaimed socialism complete in its land; dissent was theoretically impossible because socialism had been acheived. So dissidents were sometimes placed in mental institutions, this being one of the few categories left.
      I am not saying such is destined for Israel. But the spate of Knesset legislation, coupled with IDF immunity from legal action (in practice), are tools to the same end–removing all dissent from almost ontologically correct policy. Why else condemn 972 as dangerous to the State, as an NGO has done? If 972ers refuse to participate in “inter-ethnic” conflict; if they proclaim Arab Israelis as full citizens; if they protest at occupation policies of detainment and control; are they then in ontological error, denying their place in the Jewish State and Jewish People? This seems the core rationale against 972. Do not go this way. Return to the Declaration. It is my belief, faith, that ultimately you will have to, that occupation seepage will become too much for a significant portion of the polity.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Aaron of trolldom,
      I looked at the abstract of the paper you linked to; not subscribing to the journal, I cannot read the study.
      We cannot really ask people to stand down because they have lower cognitive ability. Democracy is really a form of inter-group conflict, where political elites try to mobilize supporters/voters for their group, policy sometimes secondary to group defintion. I think some volatility in modern democracies comes from the absence of secondary elites, local group leaders, who helped define opinions; the media, especially television and now the internet, create a false, instantaneous group feeling which can swing individuals otherwise rather unconnected to thought formation.
      In the US the political parties do not really have a corporate status outside of elections; in Germany, they do–there are youth groups, etc. In the US I see three major local forms of group formation: employees loyal to one’s boss, who often vote Republcian at the boss’ suggestion (developed over a prolonged period); church groups, most active on the right; and labor groups, increasingly less important as major products are shipped from overseas into the States.
      The Israeli State clearly supports religious group formation (pays State rabbis; pays for prolonged religious study; the settlements themselves); at the same time, group formation associated with labor has been in decline since, I believe, the election of Begin. I would focus on the processes of local group formation with local influencing elites rather than intelligence as such. So, for example, in the Civil Rights Movement in the US many rather uneducated blacks (made so through State neglect) were quite effective in mobilizing under local elites, with King and his associates connecting these groups. It is significant, though, that affirmative action as a quota system emerged from this–something which I believe help lead to the election of Reagan in reaction and, ultimately, the near dominance of the Republican Party in the House. I view quota affirmative action as a conservative policy, forcing individuals down specific paths (which is not to claim that redress of black underemployment was not needed). The question seems to be when do groups want to force people into specific categories (such as the Christian or Israeli Rights) and when can other forms of group moblization lead to a different outcome.
      What seems clear in Israel is that State policy actively encourages group formation on the right, while left group formation is now actively discouraged (consider the attack on left NGO’s). In a sense, the right leaning Knesset is trying to lock in its dominace by tinkering with methods of allowed group formation. Or so I think.

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    31. Mareli

      Although murders have been committed by extremists of both left and right, I do not recall any instances of leftists posting threatening hateful messages such as the ones Ami received or in the “price tag attacks” at the Peace Now office. Right wingers also are prone to killing pets of their targets or threatening children of their political opponents, and leftists have not done this to my knowledge. Therefore I think the rightists are more irrational and brutal, even though political murders by anyone are to be condemned (though I do wish the British had let their man shoot Hitler in 1938 when he had a clear shot at him).

      Reply to Comment
    32. Robert Soran - Schwarz

      Gábor Fränkl? Yes, I know him, better than I’d like, not personally but from e-communications in social and commercial media.
      With as much objectivity as possible: Gábor is a young Jewish guy from Hungary who studied political science, but still seems to be a couch potato on his parents’ expense.
      What is more interesting is that he is the rare exemplary of the perfect Hungarian fascist Jew, a species that used to exist 1933-1945, too, despite the fact that most Hungarian Jews were sent to the Nazi camps and into death. There always was a minority of such Jews in old fascist Hungary, and there still are some in present Hungary, which is becoming by the day more and more fascist (according to the European Union Commission president, not to me …)
      This piece of faeces has repeatedly wished death to humanist Jewish thought and political leaders in Diaspora and in Israel. But not only: people like me were also bombarded with threats and curses, me at least a dozen times 🙂

      Just leave him and his clones alone. But don’t forget them. Because this is the human material the Stern Gang and Irgun were made of. Be ready to face him and his allies. Because the day is nearing when they’ll slide into the Jewish terrorist camp of Neo-Sicarii and Neo-Zealots.

      Reply to Comment
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