Banning and Boycotting in the Age of 'Tolerism'

The moral darkness behind the Left's targeting of Israel.

BDSIn an age where so many of our elites assert that tolerance, pacifism and dialogue are the foundation of the moral life, we are certainly seeing a lot of intolerant banning, shunning and boycotting.  This notion of tolerance for the intolerant Islamofascists (who, when they take power, ban all tolerance) is the main concern of my recent book, Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed (Mantua Books).

For the current ideology of tolerism is in fact only tolerant towards evil and is very intolerant of the traditional Judeo-Christian ethic.

In my book, I outline how cultural and moral relativism and moral equivalency act to twist the value of tolerance into a value that replaces traditional values like justice and individual liberty with some kind of multicultural appeasement, where the appeasers see nothing in American values that are more admirable than the Islamist values rooted in 6th century jihad.

We know that the tolerists do not really act in a tolerant way when it comes to the country in the forefront of identifying the evil and taking concrete steps against it. Instead, we see:

-       Banning of Israelis speakers or professors from American campuses.

-       Boycotting Israeli companies (except apparently when they make the essentials of the computer you are using or the medical device that will save your life) in the so-called BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement.

-       Banning by a cultural group of artists in Britain of 100 actors, musicians, artists and writers, of performances anywhere in Israel.

Dennis Prager, writing soon after Netyanyahu’s speech to Congress, in National Review, makes an interesting point:

Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”

And so in the six years of the Obama administration America has minimized the Islamofascist war declared against it.  Obama won’t say the words Islamic terrorism together, and sees his mission as reconciling America to Islam, whether or not that hurts traditional American values.  Obama, schooled by Bill Ayers, Frank Marshall Davis and Reverend Wright, can hardly be expected to reflect traditional values.

We should all realize that Israel is the first front in the Islamist war against liberal modernity. Europe seems to think that by sacrificing Israel’s security interests it can buy time -- but appeasement of evil does not slow that evil, it speeds it up.  And so Prager says:

It only makes sense, then, that no other country feels the need to warn the world about Iran and Islamic terror as much as does Israel... Virtually everyone listening knows he is telling the truth. And most dislike him for it. Appeasers hate those who confront evil. Given that this president is the least likely of any president in American history to confront evil — or even identify it — while Benjamin Netanyahu is particularly vocal and eloquent about both identifying and confronting evil, it is inevitable that the former will resent the latter.

“Resentment,” however may be too weak a word for what we are seeing from some Democrats and left-liberal media people. As a student of anti-Semitism throughout history, I know that resentment by immoral people (like Hitler, whose policies breached most of the ten commandments) is especially acute in the case of the Jews who stand for the morality of the Torah. So yes, this resentment has a certain kinship to classical anti-Semitism.

Although some Democrats who boycotted Netanyahu’s speech were honestly concerned about certain breaches of protocol with respect to Boehner’s invitation, that concern does not justify the boycotting.  It did not justify Nancy Pelosi turning her back on Netanyahu when he said,

For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.

This is why -- this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.

The Left, including the Jewish left, hate a proud and strong Jew. In Tolerism, I write about the bizarre nature of Holocaust commemorations and museums that ban any reference to contemporary Israel’s problems out of some misguided notion of tolerance for Israel’s enemies.

Boycotting speeches, turning your back on the speaker who is a Prime Minister of the one state that is surrounded by Islamist mischief on a daily basis, is not just rude, it amounts to a delegitimization of that speaker and of that country. And, we know from the great human rights activist, Natan Sharansky that demonization, delegitimization and double standards constitute the “3 D” test for anti-Semitism.

As someone whose grandparents and then eight-year-old aunt were gassed in Auschwitz, I am not impressed with the way some pacifists portray themselves as taking the moral high road.  They do not; the Bible makes clear that sometimes you have to go to war to protect your civilians against the Hitlers of this world.

A good example of the problem is leftist Senator Bernie Saunders.  In an interview with CNN immediately after the speech, which he boycotted, but watched on television, he clearly demonstrated the moral equivalency and cultural relativism that is at the heart of Israel-hatred.

The interviewer asked him to comment on Netanyahu in the past calling Iran an “apocalyptic death cult.” Sanders at first tried to say he didn’t want to “go there,” which is a typical response from an Israel hater to solid facts that might expose the seriousness of the threat from Iran. But then Sanders started his non-answer by alleging that Israel helped push America into the War in Iraq, and so he adopted the “Israel as warmonger” argument. Nevermind that Israel took years of rocket attacks from Gaza before it started a war, and that no other country would try so hard to give diplomacy a chance, as it did with the Oslo Process.

The interviewer tried to bring Sanders back on topic and asked him, “Do you think the people running Iran are rational actors?”  With the ultimate in moral equivalency, Sanders answered, “Let’s not say that these people are not rational actors.  Are we the only rational people in the world?”

How very troubling it must be to people like Sanders to have to hear the truth: That Iran is a terrorist-sponsoring, apocalyptic, anti-gay, anti-Semitic, anti-woman, anti-child, anti-freedom of expression aggressor.    No wonder he responds with venom and moral equivalency between Iran and America. And he reflects the anti-tolerance totalitarian tactic of boycotting, banning and shunning.

For the tolerists, the ones like Sanders who wrap themselves in the cloak of anti-war and pacifism and protection of social programs that might be cut in wartime, do not comment on the horrible history of Iran after the Islamist Revolution.

They should read some history about the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group, Hezbollah. It killed hundreds of American troops and dozens of French troops participating in a peace-keeping operation in Lebanon in 1983. When then Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger talked Ronald Reagan out of firing a missile at the terrorist headquarters America missed the opportunity to destroy an organization of truly evil nature.

Then study the 1994 Iranian-backed Hezbollah bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center, killing 85 and injuring 300. Argentina, like Sanders, wanted to keep out of war, so it tolerated what happened and no serious criminal investigations were launched until a decade ago when a brave young Argentinian prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, got to the bottom of the matter, and issued indictments, based on fact, that the Iranians had organized the attack with Hezbollah perpetrators and corrupt Argentinian enablers.   This story is well chronicled in the important book by Gustavo Perednick, To Kill Without a Trace:  A Prequel to 9/11.

Then, as a result of the Argentinian government in its highest offices trying to waive the criminal indictments in return for an oil-for-wheat deal, we saw Iran’s response.  As outlined recently in the security magazine Debkafile, an Iranian double agent, a supposed defector who got Nisman’s trust, murdered Nisman hours before he was to testify about the new evidence of obstruction of justice by the President and the Foreign Minister.

The Obama administration openly interferes with money and personnel for Netanyahu’s opponents in the coming Israeli election, but at the same time complains that Netanyahu, whose country faces an existential enemy in Iran, should not be allowed to meddle in American foreign policy. A double standard, indeed.

Of course, Obama, early in his administration, pledged to support the Arab “Spring” and democratic rights, but did nothing to help Iranian protestors against their awful regime. Accordingly, Obama himself is a tolerist and appeaser of the Iranian Ayatollahs and their puppet governments.

I predict that the banning and boycotting and shunning of Israeli politicians and supporters will soon pass over to banning Israeli books.  This is the inevitable result of what is going on at universities today, where Israeli speakers or professors are banned and the lies of Israel Apartheid Week, the short snappy slogans of hate, are welcomed.

This mis-education is surly being accompanied by an un-education, where students are failing to read the great books of the great thinkers.      This was of course one of the main points of the late Professor Allan Bloom’s, The Closing of the American Mind. But even Bloom, I dare think, would be surprised to read the following rant by a current pop star named Kanya West: “Sometimes people write novel and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed.  I am not a fan of book.  I would never want a book’s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books.”

The world has turned upside down: The more hateful and simplistic the message, the more it is acceptable; the more intellectual and complex is the message, the more it is hated. The hatred of Jews has been extended to the hatred of truth, morality and goodness and a tolerance for evil.  Netanyahu is hated for his truth; Obama got elected for his slogans. It is no longer important to say good and do good, but like Obama you have to be a symbol, and then you collect your Nobel Prize without doing anything at all.

That is the truth the liberals cannot see. It is far worse than what American liberal Jews understand. There is no reasoning with those who will not reason, will not read. They will stand by while your grandchildren are beheaded by Islamists and preach tolerance of the executioners because they are driven by poverty, supposedly.

Perhaps the final word should go to Dr. Stephen Malnick, a British-born resident of Ashkelon, Israel, whose rebuttal of the cultural boycotters appeared in a recent Guardian letters page:

As a citizen of Ashkelon who was nearly killed when a missile missed my car by a few meters, I have a message for artists with a selective communal conscience. I do not want you to visit my city and insult 120,000 people who were daily attacked in violation of international law. There are no military targets in Ashkelon, but lots of Jews.

After you make a stand against the extrajudicial killing of people in Gaza, and the whipping of a blogger in Saudi Arabia, and you apologize to the citizens of Ashkelon, I will consider extending you hospitality. I will continue my daily tasks, including treating Gazans who are brought to the medical center I work in. Odd, isn’t it, that they visit but you won’t?

Howard Rotberg is a Canadian writer and founding publisher of Mantua Books.  He is the author of the recent Tolerism:  An Ideology Revealed and the novel about Israel during the Second Intifada, The Second Catastrophe: A Novel about a Book and its Author.  

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