Pages: 1 2
And yet it may justifiably be claimed that Israel is one of the most necessary countries in the world. It is, to begin with, a haven for the Jewish people from the world’s ancient antipathy—at any rate, as much of a haven as is possible in a region riven by hate and bristling with missiles. It is a testimony to the sense of historical continuity and cultural memory in an age of temporal dissipation. It is a sign of what is possible when a people gathers together and pools its intelligence, courage, obstinacy and talent to create a vibrant pluralist democracy in the midst of ignorance and barbarism. It is the source of innumerable technological, medical and agricultural discoveries and inventions that have immeasurably benefitted the world at large. It is also an object lesson in how to manage a robust economy, running an engine with almost no lull in the output curve. And it is, of course, the spearhead of the democratic West in the war against Islamic terror, receiving and resisting the brunt of the theo-imperialist onslaught against Western institutions, interests and, indeed, its long-term survival.
Those who study the history of civilization and who are disturbed or fascinated by the threatening specter of decline exhibited by our own will find Israel important for another reason. As I contended in The Big Lie, it is difficult to repress the suspicion that ominous forces are working toward our unhappiness and possibly our cultural demise. And I would hazard that many people in the ordinary walks of life are troubled by an inchoate premonition that something has gone terribly wrong with the culture, governed by a political elite without convictions and educated by an academic elite without scruples.
In this context of doubt and apprehension, Israel is necessary because it will tell us who and what we are, that is, assuming we are interested in recognizing our own features. It constitutes a catechism for the West, a trial of values and a test of honor and principle—a test which the West appears to be failing. For the cherubs of political correctness and the fantasists among the intelligentsia cannot abide what Israel ideally exemplifies: the belief in justice and truth, the commitment to a genuine historic purpose and the virtue of unapologetic self-affirmation.
This is not to suggest that Israel is without blemish or that it has not been partially infected by the Western proneness to false hope and political myopia—the Oslo travesty, the disengagement from Gaza and the “peace process” mirage are examples of such lapses, among others. And like any nation on the planet, it has its share of gonifs, opportunists and sell-outs. There is no exemption from the human stain. Nonetheless, there can be no denying that since its founding it has embodied an ideal of heroism, determination, enterprise and spirit rare, if not unprecedented, in both its intensity and concentration. In this respect it is like no other nation on earth.
For this reason, the narrow slip of land between the Jordan River, the Judean hills and the Mediterranean is a kind of litmus strip for the civilization of which it is an intrinsic yet disparate part, to ascertain whether that civilization is viable or deficient, strong or weak, resilient or bankrupt, capable of integrity or inwardly corroded by spiritual indifference and intellectual corruption. In other words, the way in which the West responds to Israel and its ongoing predicaments serves as an infallible indication of civilizational vitality or irremediable decay.
This small nation of six million Jewish citizens—the same number as those who were lost in the unthinkable infamy of the Shoah—demonstrates, for all its flaws, the pluck and vigor, the energy, fortitude and tenacity, that seem at present to be in short supply among the major occidental powers. It is a country that should be celebrated, not condemned; it represents a model we should be shooting for, not shooting at. For in the last analysis, Israel provides an image of the possible while at the same time serving as a touchstone of the real.
Regrettably, we find here perhaps the chief grievance of the Western world, or of those who formulate policy and doctrine and those who climb aboard for the ride, against its tiny outrider in the Middle East. Deep down, at the barometric levels of self-suspicion, an intuition festers. The West knows it is being judged. And it cannot forgive its arbiter.
Pages: 1 2