democracy, Western-style, makes its debut in the skies over
Afghanistan: "People pushed and fought with each other to
get their hands on the envelopes," the Reuters piece continues,
which "bore no message." Ah, but there was a message,
albeit one implied rather than stated outright, and it is
TITSATAAFL (There Is Too
Such A Thing As A Free
only is there a free lunch, but dinner's on the house, too:
each envelope contained two $100 bills. It's a lot
more than pennies from heaven two big ones amounts to around
a year's income for the average Afghan, if not more. Now there's
an odd way to plant the seeds of democracy: creating an Afghan
cult in which George W. Bush is a god.
could they have been thinking in Washington? This strange
illogic, which I referred to in my
last column on a theme of wartime mental malfunction as
logic," has literally turned the whole world upside down.
So that, while the US is engaged in such arrogant exercises in self-parody,
spokesmen for one of the worst dictatorships on earth are
suddenly sounding almost reasonable. Here
is Tariq Aziz, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, telling the
German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemaine that Iraq may
sign on to "some form of inspection" of its military facilities
in return for a comprehensive regional approach to the problem
of how to curb weapons of mass destruction. The existence
of such weapons anywhere in the region ought to be
considered a dire threat to world peace, says Aziz the
clear implication being that Israel, too, should be included
in the UN inspections regime.
would undoubtedly reject such a demand as an outrageous example
of "moral equivalence." In that case, why shouldn't
Israel be subject to the same Draconian sanctions as Iraq?
Not that anyone doubts the willingness of Ariel Sharon, and
the even more crazed extremists to his right, to use
nukes they have. But, according to the Bizarro World logic
of the post-9/11 era, we aren't allowed to ask questions that
criticize or challenge Israel in any way, for that would be
an expression of "anti-Semitism." Oh, yes, "everything has
changed" irrevocably, and we now have in force an intellectual
version of the "Patriot
Act" that banishes certain ideas from the public square.
in Commentary and put
online by the Wall Street Journal Hillel Halkin has
issued this new pronouncement on the alleged "return" of anti-Semitism.
[O]ne cannot be against Israel or Zionism, as opposed to this
or that Israeli policy or Zionist position, without being
anti-Semitic. Israel is the state of the Jews. Zionism is
the belief that the Jews should have a state. To defame Israel
is to defame the Jews. To wish it never existed, or would
cease to exist, is to wish to destroy the Jews."
WORLD WITHOUT FRANCE
"this or that Israeli policy" means employing helicopter gunships
against rock-throwing teenagers is, by this standard, an anti-Semitic
It is "defamation" to speak truth to power, and a hateful
act to wish such power had never existed. "This is not something
that is as obvious to as many people as it should be," avers
Halkin, to which I might add: one can only hope! Yet I'm afraid
the shockwaves emanating from Ground Zero have addled even
the sharpest minds, and the debilitating mental effects are
radiating rapidly outward. The campaign of intellectual intimidation
sparked by Barbara
Amiel and her now famous "j'accuse" aimed at supposedly
rampant "anti-Semitism" in Britain has been remarkably successful,
its chief success being that anyone takes such obviously self-serving
arguments seriously. According to Halkin,
an anti-Semite can think the world would be better off without
Israel, just as only a Francophobe can think the world would
be better off without France."
ABOUT THE ZOROASTRIANS?
get beyond the growing feeling on the part of many that the
world would, indeed, be better off without France and get
down to Halkin's argument, insofar as he deigns to make one:
since Jews have a state nowhere else, this extraordinary immunity
from any really fundamental and challenging critique must
be granted to Israel. But what about Iran the only Shi'ite
nation? Indicting Iran as part of the "axis of evil," George
W. Bush is indeed saying that the world would be better off
if it ceased to exist isn't this wrong, by Halkin's standard?
Come to think of it, only a Basque-phobe would imagine the
world better off without a Basque homeland, even one ruled
by the terrorist ETA. And what about the Zoroastrians? Those
poor guys don't even have their own state, so what
if they seized one expelling the original inhabitants, like
the Israelis did and declared that anyone who opposed or
criticized them was guilty of anti-Zoroastrian bigotry? Would
that be okay? The Mormons, too, must be included, not to mention
the Scientologists, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the followers
of Swami Baloney-nanda why shouldn't each have their own
little theocracy, protected from all criticism by a paralyzing
for just how paralyzing, here is Halkin outlining the narrow
parameters of acceptable thought:
an anti-Semite can systematically accuse Israelis of what
they are not guilty of, just as only an Anglophobe can make
such accusations against the English. 'Jewish' and 'Israeli'
are not synonymous? No, they are not but 40% of the
world's Jews live in Israel. There are Jews who are anti-Zionist?
Yes, there are and there are Englishmen who revile
is enough to accuse Israelis of crimes they are guilty
of to set off denunciations of "anti-Semitism," as Pat Buchanan,
former Congressman Pete McCloskey, and Senator William J.
Fulbright all learned to the detriment of their careers. As
for the little statistic: accepting it at face value, the
only possible response is so what? More than 40
percent of the world's Hindus live in India, and yet Christians
rightly reviled its government as subtly encouraging anti-Christian
persecution. More than 40 percent of the world's Mormons live
in Utah: does this mean criticism
of Utah is bigotry directed at the Latter Day Saints?
Probably 100 percent of the world's neo-pagans
live in Seattle,
and environs does this give them the right to anything other
than the worst weather in the US?
THE NAME OF 'SCIENCE'
our age of irrationalism, emotional "arguments" are skillfully
rationalized by intellectuals such as Halkin, whose job it
is to give the latest outrage against reason all the accouterments
of modern science. It was inevitable, therefore, that psychology,
with all its murky "drives" and "unconscious" desires, would
be introduced into the discussion:
one then be anti-Semitic without knowing it? Of course one
can, just as one can be unconsciously antiblack or antigay
or a misogynist. When prejudice is socially acceptable, we
admit it, first of all, to ourselves. When it is taboo as,
with regard to Jews, it has been in Europe and America since
the Holocaust we often conceal it even from ourselves. The
preferred way of concealing anti-Semitism in our times is
to judge Israel more harshly than other countries."
FIT OF HONESTY
what about judging Israel just as harshly as we do
other countries, say, Iraq? By Halkin's own standards, he
would have to agree to Tariq Aziz's proposal that UN inspection
of Israeli nuclear facilities is merited. Does this mean Commentary
will be supporting sanctions against the Jewish state when
Sharon refuses to comply? Aside from the obligatory nod to
political correctness does he really mean to compare the
condition of Jews to that of gays? and all the Freudian
mumbo-jumbo about "unconscious" anti-Semitism, Halkin's long,
fascinating essay presents a remarkably complex argument that
culminates in several peaks of unreason of which the following
stands out in its brutal honesty. Invoking the "double standard"
criteria, which he credits to Norman Podhoretz, Halkin asks:
at London dinner parties makes nasty remarks about Hindus
because India has militarily occupied Muslim Kashmir for half
a century? What French diplomat calls China a 'big, sh -y
country' because of its occupation of Tibet?"
an alleged defender of Israel has no compunctions about comparing
the depredations of the Israeli settler colony with the genocidal
policies of the Chinese Communists in the pages of one of
the world's most widely-read newspapers. Such is the arrogance
of power. As for nasty remarks about Hinduism, I can't vouch
for the London dinner party circuit, never having been there,
but I can hopefully point to some
of my own remarks about the relation of the Hindu god
Shiva, "the Destroyer," to India's
nuclear weapons program as the harbinger of a trend.
Israel launches an international campaign to normalize the
horrific, and rationalize its campaign to empty Palestine
of the Palestinians, the redefinition of "anti-Semitism" is
an essential prelude to any large-scale Israeli military operation.
For without US support and financial aid, the Israeli settler
colony would sink like a stone in the Arab sea and may
yet even in spite of billions in US tax dollars expended,
due entirely to the pressure
of demographic trends. This is the ticking time bomb that
threatens to blow the Israeli state to smithereens, and the
only way to head it off is by a two-pronged attack: one prong,
directed at the Palestinians, aims to drive them out of the
area altogether, into Jordan, where the Hashemites can deal
with them as they please. The other prong is directed at Jews
worldwide, a propaganda campaign designed to hype the alleged
threat of a nearly non-existent "anti-Semitism," and convince
them to emigrate to Israel.
the debate is reduced, in effect, to a bout of name-calling
and racial-religious rancor, with all men of good will caught
somewhere in the middle, and, paradoxically, increasingly
marginalized in the debate. Believe it or not, I am a centrist
when it comes to Israel. For I am excoriated by both sides
of the spectrum: Jonah
Goldberg once denounced me for having a special antipathy
for the Upper West Side of Manhattan that could only be rooted
in the rudest Judeo-phobia, while, just as coherently, the
notorious nutball Carol A. Valentine, self-styled " Curator"
of the "Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum," declares that I'm
part of the government-created "fake opposition" whose
real goal is to indoctrinate my readers with war propaganda.
Ms. Valentine, author of a screed entitled "Let's
Discuss Mass Expulsion of Jews from US," among other works,
rails that Antiwar.com is pushing the "government lie that
justifies this war" the "lie" being that bin Laden was behind
the 9/11 attacks. The US government, you see, really
destroyed the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, too
and Antiwar.com is part of a conspiracy by You Know Who to
cover up the real perpetrators of this heinous act.
self-evidently nutty as the pronouncements of Ms. Valentine
appear to be, are they any less nutty than the people
who take seriously Halkin's elaborate fantasies of secret
"unconscious" anti-Semitic conspiracies? On the one hand,
we have Halkin, Barbara Amiel, and others who point to an
alleged worldwide upsurge in anti-Jewish persecution and anti-Semitism
among the European elites, and on the other hand we have Ms.
Valentine and her cohorts who say we all live under a "Zionist
Occupation Government" and excoriate me for being a philo-Semitic
tool of the Mossad.
LEFT & RIGHT
Valentine darkly wonders: "Anti-war.com is a well-organized,
expensive operation. I wonder who pays for it?" Hah! The answer
to that is our readers, of course, whose tax-deductible
contributions make our work possible. For as much as we have
antagonized extremists of all sorts, a great many people from
all over the world support our efforts to bridge the Israeli-Palestinian
gap and help create the conditions for a lasting Middle East
peace. This effort is rooted in the distinctively libertarian
ethos from which our foreign policy stance is derived: the
firm belief that any Middle East solution must lead to the
creation of a secular, bi-national, free market Palestine,
where power is devolved back to local communities and the
nation of Israel, as we know it today, is effectively abolished.
the new post-9/11 standards imposed by such arbiters of political
correctness as the Wall Street Journal and Commentary
(not to mention the omnipresent Andrew Sullivan!), such a
stance is no less "anti-Semitic" than the platform of the
National Socialist German Workers Party. These days, to be
against tribalism and "blood-and-soil" ethnic particularism
is to be condemned as a bigot, an "unconscious" David Duke.
Can the apocalyptic violence of 9/11 really have ripped such
a large hole in the space-time continuum that reason itself
has fled permanently to another dimension? Will we be trapped,
here, in this state of unreason for the rest of our natural
lives? There are some hopeful signs that the massive shock
of 9/11 is slowly fading, and the wave of mental dislocation
that followed in its wake is receding. But, who knows what
future shocks await us? It could be that the damage is permanent,
and that the ability of the human race to reason is severely
impaired forever. In that case, we had all better save our
candles, for the Dark Ages are truly upon us.
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