Jordan Peterson has long been a controversial figure, subject to attempts to suppress him from various sides. Much of that controversy is not wholly negative: his stand against Canada's Bill C-16 – which obligates the use of Trans individuals' pronouns in a clear example of compelled speech – was noble, as was his advocacy for freedom of speech, his defence of religious values in society, and particularly his efforts to empower young men and remind them of their value.
But, over the years, those apparent stances for freedom and societal betterment have been overshadowed by the numerous attempts to co-opt Peterson into supporting certain causes, recognising the value his influence and articulation could bring to their 'tribe'. Conservative Christians have tried, to some degree of success, as have Muslim intellectuals and Libertarians.
The group that has succeeded entirely, however, and which few saw coming, were the Zionists and pro-Israel advocates. There were certainly hints along the way, with Peterson claiming in a speech four years ago on the 'importance of the Balfour Declaration' that "you know, maybe even the enemies of the Jews perversely respect them because they've done so well in the Middle East that it's just annoying".
To suggest, firstly, that Palestinians and Arab nations are "enemies of the Jews" – as they are supposedly who he meant – and that they have largely opposed Israel for over seven decades merely because they are allegedly envious of its technological or military achievements is entirely neglecting the ongoing illegal Occupation of Palestinian territories, the blatant human rights violations by Israeli forces, the displacement of natives in their own land and the enforcement of a literal apartheid system.
Since then, his gradual drift towards figures in the 'intellectual dark web' who are predominantly and openly pro-Israel was another clue, as was the psychologist's holding this year of a series of interviews with figures such as the former US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and former Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer. Those, by themselves, do not classify Peterson as a Zionist or as a pro-Occupation individual, but the fact that he hardly challenged those diplomats on the aforementioned crimes failed to make him an impartial figure.
Then, a few months ago, he dug himself even further into the rabbit hole when he took a trip to Israel, 'storming' the Al-Aqsa compound with the American and pro-Israel conservative commentator, Ben Shapiro, backed by officials and Israeli Occupation Forces and echoing the many common occurrences of Jewish settlers storming the compound.
It was also recently revealed that he and Shapiro sat down for a dinner discussion with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, again failing to the bring up the Occupation and its crimes, instead focusing primarily on Netanyahu's lessons of leadership, economic policies and the psychological elements within Israeli politics. One could compare it to meeting Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and talking about factory production while neglecting to bring up the war in Ukraine.
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All of this goes without mentioning that Peterson has joined the Daily Wire, a media outlet openly supportive of Israel and its Occupation, effectively making Shapiro – a man who advocates for the replacement of Al-Aqsa with the third Jewish temple – his boss, or least a senior colleague.
There is now no doubt that the esteemed psychologist has been captured by Zionists. Whether he himself is an ardent one or not, hardly matters, it is enough that he accepts their worldview and efforts in Palestine and the broader Middle East as a force for 'peace'. Perhaps his intentions are, indeed, sincere and he has been misled by the influences within his circle, but he has lost a significant amount of the credibility he built up fighting suppression and advocating for young men over the years.
To stand against the compelling of speech enforced by the state in his home country, while allowing state and settler dominance over an entire population in another part of the world is the greatest of inconsistencies.
All of this, however, is ultimately a representation – or perhaps a culmination – of the Zionists' overall capture of Western conservatism and the right-wing. Taking into account the usual blurred lines and grey areas between various versions of the political left and right, and how that affects who they view positively or not, there was a time when Zionism and pro-Israel sentiment was more predominant amongst the political left.
There was also the fact that Israel, in its early years, had largely socialist leanings, which deterred much of the right and America's Republicans from becoming too warm with it. Back then, being anti-Israel and 'anti-Semitic' was not so intertwined as they are now: there was a distinguishable difference, with President Richard Nixon later found to have held coarsely anti-Jewish views despite having supported Israel during his presidency and the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
As Israeli politics leaned further towards the right over the following decades, though, and especially towards the end of the 1990s – and the events of 9/11, soon afterwards – when the rise of Islamic militant groups became a key western foreign policy focus, the interests of much of the western right and the Zionists aligned.
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Together, the sentiment was, they would combat Islamic extremism and terror both in Israel's surroundings and in the world, at large. As that shift took place, criticism of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights and statehood increased in the US's Democratic Party, and leftist parties throughout the western world. One must be careful in assuming there is significantly low support for Israel within those parties, however, as it remains largely prevalent and continues to have a base in the left.
But the Zionists and pro-Israel lobby have undoubtedly recognised the value in having a foot in both shoes, so to speak. By incremental steps, they have gradually won the hearts of a large and growing base of conservative intellectuals, academics, members of society and students. They have done so, at times, by running for public office, or directly and boldly stating their worldview, or subtly by espousing pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian propaganda in the media.
The latter method has likely been the most effective, with conservative commentators or talk show hosts – whether Jewish or other ethnicities, it matters not – speaking mostly about political or social issues taking place in the world or their countries, and then unexpectedly slipping in pro-Israel talking points, either within the same show or a separate one. Figures such as Ben Shapiro, Dennis Prager and Dave Rubin are classic examples of this phenomenon.
This is not to insinuate the existence of a conspiracy amongst the Zionist and pro-Israel lobby to subvert conservative intelligentsia and believers through the use of intentional propaganda methods, as that is yet to be proven, despite being easy to imagine. Either way, that method of media manipulation seemed to have worked, imbuing in the minds of viewers an affiliation of conservative western values with unquestioning support for Israel and its Occupation.
The result is a spectacular subversion of western conservatism, possibly even more successful than the pro-Israel lobby's general subversion of the US and other western nations' political systems.
It also puts that new version of the right-wing at odds with other variations of the right, especially the extremists who are genuinely anti-Jewish and are themselves unable to distinguish Israel or Zionism from Jews as a whole. The moderates between both of those extremes within the right are those conservatives who are sincerely loyal to their nation or culture, while viewing Israel in an objective or unbiased way. They are few, but they are able to recognise the subversion.
Dr Jordan Peterson, unfortunately, has so far buckled to it, apparently seeing Israel as a "shining beacon on the hill" representing the pinnacle of western democratic values rather than as an occupying force implementing an apartheid system. He may, one day, overcome that subversion, but until then, western conservatism is being hijacked by Zionists.
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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.