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Many different reasons have been put forward to account for so strange a reversal of political sentiment, ranging from the inscrutable decisions of policy makers pursuing the phantom of realpolitik to the very sophisticated theory propounded by Yoram Hazony in his provocative essay, “Israel through European Eyes.” Hazony sees the abhorrence with which Israel is regarded as the result of a “paradigm shift,” an idea originally developed by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. According to Hazony, the nation-state paradigm originating in the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 has now been jettisoned and replaced by the paradigm of transnational governance, as exemplified by the European Union. Israel is thus denounced as adhering to the old and discredited archetype of the nation state as the source of war, oppression and social disparities. From this distorted perspective, Zionism is duly condemned as a racist movement and Israel is viewed as the new Nazi Germany.
Interesting as Hazony’s analysis may be, it fails to explain the continued acceptance of the many nation-states apart from Israel that proliferate around the globe and that plainly have no intention of giving up their sovereignty and folding themselves into a larger transnational whole. No one appears to have lodged an objection to Canada or Iceland or Iraq or Australia or Switzerland or Saudi Arabia or Tanzania or Brazil or a hundred other countries affirming their independent statehood. Further, the new paradigmers have invested heavily, politically and fiscally, in the emergence of a Palestinian state, in complete violation of their basic doctrine, and would have no compunction against sinking Israel into a bi-national state with a Palestinian majority. Something doesn’t compute. Hazony’s thesis leaves out too many countervailing instances in its elucidation of Israel’s plight to be comprehensive and persuasive. And so the farce persists. The totalitarian Arab states, which seek to undermine the Western polities, are given carte blanche while democratic Israel remains the bête noir.
There is no sensible way to explain such counter-intuitive and destructive behavior unless a potent, subliminal motive is at work, which is not particularly hard to detect. Israel stands as a perpetual rebuke to the craven and obsequious West that strives to accommodate and even to ingratiate itself with the forces marshaled against it. (Of course, there is a fiscal component as well; Western nations have succumbed to what we might call a condition of petrofaction.) Israel, on the contrary, has stood its ground, defending itself with martial courage and refusing to concede to an alien imperium. As such, it represents a searing condemnation of Western compliance and servility before a determined assailant, a J’accuse which Europe in general and influential elements in the United States cannot honorably answer or evade.
Bloom refers, in the context of Western diffidence and inertia, to Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking-Glass. “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place,” the Red Queen lectures Alice. “If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.” But we have stopped running altogether and slumped into our ample easy chairs, which is why we cannot forgive Israel for not abandoning the race and for running twice as fast to maintain its edge. A deep resentment plies its mischief. We cannot accept being outpaced and having our mental lethargy and endemic defeatism brought home to us; therefore Israel must be punished for our own sins of omission.
The easy (and reprehensible) face-saving solution to the West’s dilemma is to tumble reality on its head and label the Jewish state as the aggressor in the Middle East, as a moral delinquent and the historical source of the ongoing conflict, effectively denying its right to exist. The treatment meted out to Israel is the most obvious specimen of standard biohistorical practice. The “superorganismic” West, sensing that it is canyoneering down the global “pecking order” and incapable of summoning the resources to reassert its erstwhile paramountcy, has fallen back on the classic maneuver of all faltering collectives, namely, abusing a smaller member of the parietal community as the ostensible cause of its embarrassment. France, for example, unable to do anything about its restive Muslim population rioting in the banlieues, has salvaged its amour propre by expelling seven hundred innocuous gypsies, an expedient that remedies nothing. In the case of Israel, however, the smaller constituent is not only a convenient target for social and political shame and frustration but, even more intolerably, it is at the same time the most resolute, meritorious and valiant part of the greater collective. The stigma of disgrace is thus compounded and results in even harsher treatment of the presumed but innocent malefactor.
In sum, the West, like the ape and the rat, has adopted its own “endorphin strategy” to meet the predicament that confronts it. It engages in “perceptual shutdown,” denying that it is under attack and directing its attention elsewhere, say, the banana peel of multicultural “outreach” and ethnic harmony with its more ominous immigrant communities. It revels in the warm feeling of moral enlightenment and lofty intentions, which are, be it said, merely the obverse of the real gradients governing its conduct, in short, moral decay and meanness of spirit. Simultaneously, it will apply itself to pummeling the most exposed and vulnerable member of the democratic company in an access of cowardice masking as self-righteousness and a concern for the greater good. In this way a false ecumenicism is consummated in an act of desecration and betrayal, as well as self-betrayal. Meanwhile, the gypsy among the nations must see to it that it does not waver before the international campaign of delegitimation waged against it.
The choice facing the Jewish state is, for all its palpable difficulty, paradoxically a very simple one. It is, in fact, an inescapable binary. Israel can accede to near-universal opprobrium and to its own left-wing fifth column and go down with the West before a triumphant Islam. In so doing, it raises the white flag of “peace, freedom and justice,” which in Orwellian fashion translates for its bearers as persecution, bondage and iniquity. Or it can resist the declension along the slope of precedence and endowment toward the misery of life at the bottom. It can remain stalwart and impenitent, rejecting the condition of dhimmitude that the liberal West is “progressively” and feverishly embracing. In so doing, it raises not the rag of surrender but the torch of both dignity and survival.
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