Liberalism reaches its climax in Israel (and how the unprincipled exception applies there)

I saw a poll today that said that 61 percent of Israelis believe that a Palestinian state will not bring an end to the conflict, and that just 30 percent think it will.

But if a large majority of Israelis disbelieve the fundamental premise of Ehud and Tzipi’s Muslim pajama party, why have they left Olmert in power? Why hasn’t there been a national political uprising against him? What’s wrong with these people? Do they think they’re living in Lawrence, Kansas or something?

There’s a lesson to be learned here, a lesson that’s crying out to be learned: THIS is what liberalism does to people. It turns them into nothing.

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Ploni Almoni writes:

LA wrote: “But if a large majority of Israelis disbelieve the fundamental premise of Ehud and Tzipi’s Muslim pajama party, why have they left Olmert in power? Why hasn’t there been a national political uprising against him?”

The answer is very simple: there has been a mass uprising against him, after the Lebanon war and especially after the release of the preliminary Winograd report. People from across the political spectrum, Left to Right, gathered at demonstrations and demanded his resignation. Olmert would kill to have George Bush’s popularity rating. Even Tzipi Livni publicly called on Olmert (basically, her boss) to resign—while declining to resign herself, and (with characteristic astuteness) without first getting any political backing for the stunt.

The problem is that to throw the bums out, you need a no-confidence motion to be passed in the Knesset, which would dissolve the government and bring a new election. But here’s the catch: because Israeli opinion has shifted (back) rightward so drastically since the last election, the parties who now control a majority of seats know that they’d drastically lose power in new elections. Result: Olmert, Livni, and the rest of these brilliant statesmen continue to run Israel, against the will of the overwhelming majority of Israelis.

A more interesting question is, why did Israelis elect this government in the first place? I don’t think the answer is that Israelis are liberal in the American sense—they’re not. It’s that Israelis have a short memory. Palestinian terror increases, Israelis turn Right (i.e., hawkish). The rightist government brings some relative security, and after a few years Israelis, taking their relative security for granted, want either a peace agreement or withdrawal (Google Olmert’s “tired of winning” speech), so they turn to the left. An agreement is signed (Oslo), a conference held (Camp David (2), or a withdrawal effected (Gaza), and guess what happens? Surprise! A sharp escalation in Palestinian violence against Israel. Time to bring in the right wing to clamp down!

This is the stage Israel is currently in. According to polls, in the next election Israel will move substantially back to the Right. Then the BBC and CNN Europe will puzzle and fret over this “disturbing development.”

LA replies:

Sounds like liberalism to me. The Israelis’ default position is to negotiate with and give ground to their mortal enemy. They lack a firm insight that their mortal enemy is their mortal enemy. They want to think of all mankind as being reasonable, friendly, and humane. The only thing that can shock them, temporarily, from this deluded state is actual violence and threat in their faces. That leads them to make an unprincipled exception to their liberalism, and they stiffen their back and start to resist their enemy. But they have not actually given up their liberalism, they are only responding, in an instinctive, non-rational way, to an immediate, pressing, unbearable, unavoidable threat. The moment that the threat seems to wane, their default liberalism returns, and they rush to give back to their enemy the gains they just took from him during the brief period of the unprincipled exception.

Ploni Almoni (who tells me that “John Doe” or “Joe Blow” in Hebrew, see Ruth 4:1) replies:

Most Israelis, Left and Right, have no doubt that the Palestinian Arabs are their mortal enemy, and Israelis are under no illusion that the problems can be solved by sitting down and talking. As the cliche goes, Israelis understand that they’re still fighting the war of 1948, not the war of 1967. Only a tiny minority in Israel share the Shimon Peres-style delusions of Peace in the Middle East. If you ask Israelis what the chance is for some form of peace in the near future, most will probably say it’s about zero. I still say that Israelis are not liberals in the American sense.

I think that the reason for Olmert’s election victory a few years ago is a lot simpler than ideology; it’s just plain old wishful thinking, the unconscious belief that if you ignore a problem it wont hurt you. Granted that liberals may be especially prone to wishful thinking, but wishful thinking does not always indicate liberalism. Remember that the issue in the last election wasn’t peace, but unilateral disengagement on the premise that peace was unobtainable. That’s not a liberal premise! The wishful thinking was that Israel could carry out large-scale military withdrawals from the Territories without the consequences we see today.

LA replies:

I’m sorry, but this simply does not scan.

To tell me that the Israelis fully understand the nature and threat of their enemy, and that they simultaneously support a politics of maximum naivite toward that enemy, is not believable.

The wishful thinking you attribute to them cancels out the realistic understanding of dangers that you attribute to them.

Laurium writes:

I think you put your finger on a big piece of it for me. They cannot decide what they want. They cannot “pull the trigger.” They get right up to the edge and then back off into complacency. Then they complain how America makes them do things, how the rest of the world does not love them. Frankly, Americans would have a lot more respect for the Israelis if they would just grow up, truly accept that they are a free and independent nation, and stomp the hell out of the Palestinians for no other reason than they want the land and they refuse to live in an Christian or Muslim dominated society,

I don’t know the source of the conflict. Maybe it is American Jews who want to be a saintly Reform “light unto the nations” (as opposed to being a nation themselves) with its implied superiority and do not want the Israelis to tarnish that halo, or whether it is due to the vestiges of their European liberalism embedded in the Ashkenazi character. Both, maybe.

But this waffling and complaining they are being pushed around, this continual nagging about anti-Semitism, and neo-anti-Semtism is irritating as hell. I want to just grab them, shake them and say, “No matter HOW this turns out many people are not going to love you. They are not going to look to you as the noble teachers of mankind! Many if not most American Jews are going to disavow any responsibility for your actions. But the nations will respect and fear you and (most importantly) the Arabs will look at you in a brand new light, as one of them, as a Middle Easterner. Deal with it.”

LA replies:

Laurium’s tough analysis of Jewish and Israeli liberalism is correct up to a point, but is weakened by his lack of any sympathetic understanding for the Israelis’ hideous predicament—the crushing psychological and material pressure put on them by the world’s bigoted hatred of them and passive or active desire to see them destroyed.

LA writes:

Louis Rene Beres, an author of many books on Israeli defense matters, writes in the Washington Times (no link):

Israel’s demons are those of a people who have become accustomed to existing without any serious meanings. These demons prey easily upon a state without any real direction, a Jewish state that has forgotten its essential and everlasting purpose in the world. Reducing itself to a “thing” at Annapolis, a tiny, banal and negotiable object in a vast sea of enemies, Israel effectively announced that it was willing to become a corpse. This assessment would surely be disputed by the Israeli prime minister and by the American secretary of state, but the Israeli dike is already shot full of holes, and the flood (remember the flood?) may soon be unstoppable….

Israeli novelist Aharon Megged once noted, “We have witnessed a phenomenon which probably has no parallel in history; an emotional and moral identification by the majority of Israel’s intelligentsia with people openly committed to our annihilation.” Whatever the psychiatric origins of such an identification, it is an unforgivable behavior. Left uncorrected, it could destroy Israel even before the wreckage caused by Iranian missiles or Hezbollah rockets. [LA comments: Hey, That’s modern liberalism! “An emotional and moral identification by the majority of a nation’s intelligentsia with people openly committed to the nation’s annihilation” is true of EVERY Western state, though not in the acute form in which it applies to Israel. The Jews are like everyone else, only more so.] Israel cannot remain content with a diplomacy that undermines the core fabric of its national existence. Israel’s leaders have remained ordinary and without vision because Israel’s people themselves have largely abandoned what is important. [LA: Yes, that’s liberalism. Liberalism defines the larger wholes to which we belong, such as nation, religion, and race, out of existence, leaving us as nothing but individuals, with nothing larger than ourselves to defend.]

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 11, 2007 10:50 PM | Send

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