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  • Shabbtai

Ganging up on Israel: how to kill not only the people of the book, but the book itself

The nations of the world continue to gang up on Israel. They prefer, for some deluded reasons of their own, to reward Palestinian intransigence, lies, murder and implacable hostility to Israel and think somehow this will result in peace. If Israel had any sense, it would respond to these outrageous international attacks by tearing up the Oslo Accords which the Palestinians have violated countless times, send in its troops to take over Judea, Samaria and Gaza, eliminate the PLO and all its cadres and then get all the Arab inhabitants there who hate Israel to leave for more compatible pastures of kith and kin. So far Israel has not been willing to do that, but it might come to that in the end. One never knows where the forces of stupidity and resentment, aided and abetted long enough, may lead.

Perhaps President Trump will move the American Embassy to Jerusalem as a first signal of a change in at least one nation’s policy on this question. The world will then be able to watch Palestinians foam at the mouth and do little more. Muslim leaders will vent their anger, crowds might appear in the streets, but that would be the extent of the outrage. The Muslim states of the Middle East have more than enough to do with their own civil wars, Islamist insurgencies and total lack of governance to do anything serious about America’s relocating its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Why the West continues to pander to the Palestinians is a mystery that will not go away. Of course, many people, myself included, have tried to explain it, but after a while one understands this undeserved sympathy of the liberal West for peoples and societies that would kill them is somewhat like evil – primordial, visceral, ingrained – and must now wreak its havoc. Once could write books, articles, blogs, it all makes no difference. The rot has set in so far that the Lord would have to send a Flood to clean it up. Perhaps He will.

In the meantime, four centuries of the modern library are coming to an end. The moral and intellectual misreading of Israel’s situation has now boomeranged against the West, although its enlightened statesmen and tolerant populaces still do not get it. Palestinian terrorism directed against Israel has long been tolerated when not rewarded by these great grandchildren of the Enlightenment. Now it has come home to the cities of the West, sowing murder and mayhem on either side of the Rhine, up into the British Isles and across the pond to America. Islam triumphant is set on its own brand of reconquista, and the Judeo-Christian West, now in tatters, seems powerless to confront it. Of course, there are the intelligence networks, no fly lists, surveillance tactics, but no moral and intellectual backbone, aside from that displayed by a few courageous individuals, to name it and combat it. And so, irony of ironies, the West has been digging its own moral and intellectual grave.

Critics of Islam in the West are intimidated, silenced and persecuted by governments, churches and universities. Anyone who thinks large-scale immigration from Muslim countries is a disastrous policy for democracies is at once tagged as racist. Sharia courts are admitted into western judicial systems. Self-styled progressive groups demand a loyalty oath on behalf of oppressed Palestinians on pain of expulsion. The entire gamut of civil rights causes has been hijacked by Palestinian solidarity groups and Islamic front organizations. Feminists, gays, minority groups of all kinds have coalesced into a broad swath of illiberal sloganeering that has replaced the traditional liberal concerns with liberty and justice for all. The freedom fighters of the sixties have turned out to be mindless participants in this historic act of betrayal. One has but to think of the women’s march on Washington following President Trump’s inauguration, where historically ignorant women stood up to compare Trump to Hitler, including a rant from a Palestinian-American activist who has denounced other Muslim women for calling into question Islam’s treatment of women.

The pictures worth a thousand words we saw on our television screens did not seem to draw any criticism from our cultural elites. This is hardly surprising in a society where words and thoughts seem to have no value other than comforting people in the prism of their own convictions. The liberal arts themselves have become schools of indoctrination in a development that can only be called the democratization of Stalinism. If Trump can be compared to Hitler by a feminist actress in front of tens of thousands of women come from across the land and garner cheers and applause for her screed, then the Islamists have already won. Worse, they have won because we have abandoned all sense of decency and fidelity to the very pleasures our society has managed to achieve at great cost; because we have betrayed everything we thought we stood for when an entire generation started marching over a half century ago. Everything has become all mixed up. Gangsters and rapists have become militants, and militants are freedom fighters with whom feminists, it seems, are in love. People thought it was okay to do this kind of sloppy intellectual flip-flop when only Jews were concerned. But when you start killing the people of the book, you wind up killing the book as well. One wonders what Gloria Steinem was thinking as she stood on that podium and listened to her sisters go on and on? Did the thought cross her mind her life work had become a sick joke?

When words mean so little, when history is ignored and turned into a weapon to bludgeon others into accepting your version of what is and what should be, when cultural elites spout lies that go unchallenged – did Donald Trump write his own version of Mein Kampf? – then everything modern society has achieved in the realm of the arts has been nullified. For modern society was not just political democracy and a market economy. It was also the rise of the novel, the change in artistic perspective, the triumph of irony from Don Quixote to Pablo Picasso. It was George Eliot and Charles Dickens and all the writers who preceded and followed them. And now it has become the triumph of shame. Little wonder that our cultural elites are held in such disdain, offering us nothing but the moral equivalent of crack cocaine. The denouement is a world in which fake news competes with real news, left hammers right, and no one believes much anymore.

The society is divided because people who should know better have lost their minds. And thus have they lost our trust. They twisted reality about Israel and thought it would not be so serious, but now it has come back to haunt them in ways far more insidious than a radical Muslim’s shooting up an Orlando nightclub. Not only has contemporary literature become worthless; and for literature understand all the rest – painting, movies, theatre, photography, and anything else one would want to throw into the mix. It has even tainted the masterpieces that paved the way for them, experimenting with word and grammar, line and form. Perhaps Walter Benjamin would have argued that it could not be otherwise in the age of digital reproduction, but I tend to think that cultural celebration and cultural struggle only come when society itself protects that dynamic. When the British government failed to defend Salman Rushdie against Iran by threatening its leaders with destruction should Rushdie be killed, that protection was already withdrawn. Things have only gotten worse since. They went further downhill with the West’s abandonment of Israel. And now the rot is so prevalent that the enemy without has become the enemy within.

There is, however, one book that still stands in all its glorious literary brilliance, and that is the Hebrew Bible, the very one Martin Luther hurled against the Papacy, the one that inspired many of Shakespeare’s plays, the template of western literature replete with irony before irony became a hallmark of modernity. Doubtless, our cultural elites want to do away with it too, toss it on the scrapheap of history which their narrow-minded fervor is eager to build up again. The turn against religion and against the stories of the Old Testament which the avant-garde finds politically incorrect and morally insensitive is but one more step in the intellectual lobotomy the West seems determined to practise on itself. May God protect us from that, and may He find enough of His human hosts to aid Him in that task.

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I have posted a new piece on the mess in Israel on substack. Here is the link. If you like it please subscribe and have your friends subscribe to my substack. It is free.

I have published a new piece on substack about Dara Horn's People Love Dead Jews and Joshua Cohen's The Netanyahu's. You can read it by following this link:

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