I remarked some time ago that those who are ardently committed to one side in a political conflict rarely simply change their minds when faced with the moral or empirical unsupportability of their position, but rather tend to become more and more vehement in their partisanship, until they reach a "breaking point" at which they can no longer tolerate their own stance. The classic example, of course, is the process by which many devoted Soviet Communists eventually broke with their ideology--often swallowing numerous hard-to-reconcile outrages (the show trials, the Nazi-Soviet pact, the Hungarian and Czech invasions) before their cumulative effect, or perhaps a final straw, caused them to recognize their error. I suggested at the time that the continued eliminationist radicalism of Palestinian terrorist movements in the face of Israeli concessions during the Oslo peace process was having a similar polarizing effect, causing many to abandon their pro-Palestinian leanings, while others maintained their continued allegiance by redoubling their hatred for Israel.
Since then, as the fanaticism and barbarity at the core of the various Palestinian factions (and their anti-Israel allies such as Hezbollah and its sponsor, Iran) have become even more conspicuous in the West, the Palestinians' Western base of support has been both eroded and radicalized, to the point where it now openly and frankly echoes Palestinian/Hezbollah/Iranian calls for the complete elimination of the state of Israel. Increasingly, though, the latter have incorporated blatant expressions of crude anti-Semitism, in the form of Holocaust denial, invocations of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and ugly ethnic slurs. How, then, will Western eliminationists reconcile themselves with this unsightly aspect of their allies' public image?
Why, the same way as they reconcile themselves to Palestinian terrorism, of course: by excusing it as a natural reaction to "Israeli oppression". I first sighted this tactic recently among the comments to this Crooked Timber posting. Note that not one peep of protest is uttered when one commenter offers, and another echoes, the "Israel made him do it" justification for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's anti-Semitic tirades.
The readership of Crooked Timber itself appears to have radicalized somewhat in the three-and-a-half years since I noted their unwillingness to condone Palestinian terrorism. (Compare, for example, this more recent discussion, in which the defenders of Palestinian terrorism are much more forthright and aggressive, and its critics much more timid and equivocal, than in the previous case.) It may therefore no longer be representative of current liberal thinking on the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, it does provide a useful window into the current thinking of the remaining rump of diehard leftist enemies of Israel, among whom I predict that the defense of virulent Middle Eastern anti-Semitism as an understandable reaction to Israeli depredations will before long be a routine rationalization.