Is cosmic Judeo-centrism good for the Jews?

Below is an e-mail I sent today to Melanie Phillips, followed by her reply. You will see from her reply why I felt at liberty to post the exchange, which I had no thought of doing when I wrote to her.

I’m sorry to bother you. I know you don’t want to hear my thoughts. But I must say this to you and I hope you will give the 90 seconds it will take you to read this e-mail.

When you say of Rupert Murdoch’s speech on anti-Semitism that it is “a rebuke to the world on the single most important and defining issue of our time,” you are making a big mistake. Is the threat to the Jews a bigger problem than the Islamization of the entire West? When you call anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism the “most important and defining issue of our time,” you are coming across like a typically Judeo-centric Jew who thinks that the Jews are the most important thing in the world. Instead of being concerned first and foremost about the West, you are concerned first and foremost about the Jews. And this supports the anti-Semitic view of Jews, that Jews are not at bottom loyal to the West, but only loyal to the Jews.

I have spent a significant part of my time battling against the anti-Semites on the American paleoconservative and white nationalist right. The fuel that drives the anti-Semites is their belief that Jews are not on the side of the West, that Jews are using the West to advance and protect Jewish interests. You seem to have no idea of how the inordinate Judeo-centrism of your statement would make you appear to others.

I respectfully ask you to ask yourself if it’s really true that anti-Semitism is the “single most important and defining issue of our time,” and whether you are being helpful to the Jews, helpful to Israel, and helpful to the West, when you make the protection of the Jews and Israel the supreme issue of the world.

Lawrence Auster

Melanie Phillips replied:

The war against the Jews is the single biggest and defining issue of our time because (a) it stands at the fulcrum of the west’s repudiation of its own culture (b) the animus against the Jews lies at the core of the Islamic threat against the west and (c) if Israel goes down, the west goes down. Your message is typically as ignorant as it is offensive.


- end of initial entry -

Paul K. writes:

In a, b, and c, Phillips posits as inarguable three statements that are dubious at best. And then, to add two additional falsities, she describes your judicious and courteously expressed concern as ignorant and offensive. Fascinating.

October 18

Dan R. writes:

Paul K. hits it squarely. Her three debating points contain much truth, but are not the entire truth. At least Heidi Beirich is civil!

Hannon writes:

I enjoyed Paul K.’s Spock-like “fascinating” response to Phillips’s reply. Indeed all three of her edicts are similarly contentious. An in person discussion with her on this topic would probably not be “fascinating,” however. It would be vexatious.

DD writes:

Isn’t Miss Phillips essentially “begging” the question”? I.e. that which she states as true and even axiomatic is the very statement that needs proof, or at least supporting logic/evidence. As in the following statement of hers: … c) if Israel goes down, the West goes down …

That statement is hardly self-evident is it?

Anyway, Miss Phillips has such a dictatorial style of “dialog” and obvious arrogant response to a sincere letter by yourself I do not take her worthy to be taken as a serious person especially regarding those that VFR and its readers are discussing.

It is quite a disappointment to see this.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

Phillips’ reply to you is not only rude but circular. Her proposition (b), that “the animus against the Jews lies at the core of the Islamic threat against the West,” is simply a restatement of the essential thing at issue. If anything, it’s an even less compelling way of stating her case than simply saying that threat to the Jews from Islam is the defining issue of our time, since it isn’t clear what the connection might be between the threat to the West in general and the threat to the Jews in particular.

And really, since this is the level at which Phillips is operating, I’m a little disappointed she didn’t end her missive with an angry face for emphasis::(

Jeff in England writes:

Subject: THE BIG BANG(er)

I had to laugh at your latest attempt to get Melanie to become a serious thinker on the primacy of the Islamic threat (vs. the Jewish persecution issue), let alone any issue.

Melanie is NOT a thinker as such, rather she is a “banger.” She simply bangs on (as they say here) with extremely focused robotic-like wordage her limited set of views where Jewish persecution is the permanent never changing number one on her list. The possibility that any issue can threaten the number one status of the Jewish (and Israeli) persecution issue is well beyond her limited intellectual scope.

LA replies:

Jeff’s view of Melanie is very like my own. Before I received his e-mail, I had it in my head to write a comment saying that Melanie has a sharp intelligence, but it is one-dimensional. She focuses only on the things she is attacking, and never reflects on her own positions and thought processes. Anything that lies outside her limited world view is simply wrong and therefore ignorant.

However, Jeff’s rougher way of putting the same idea makes the point better: she’s not a thinker, she’s a banger.

You can’t help but wonder, how does someone get to her late fifties, a successful writer, and still be so primitive and unthinking in her dealings with people?

LA continues:

However, these reflections on Melanie Phillips’s stunning limitations—she’s not called “Mad Mel” for nothing—also make her less useful as an example of some typical Jewish attitude. She’s too extreme a personality to be typical.

Jake F. writes:

Interesting. The West has spent most of its existence without Israel; I’m surprised to discover that, now that it’s here, we would collapse if it were no longer there. I had always supported Israel because it was the right thing to do, not because it was the linchpin of our civilization.

You may not have changed her mind, but you have certainly proved your point.

LA replies:

I do believe that if Israel went down it would be terribly damaging and weakening to the West. But to say, as Melanie says, that the loss of Israel would automatically doom the West is going too far.

However, I’ve also said that if Israel went down as a result of the West selling it out to the Muslims, the effects on the West would be devastating. At the end of my 2002 article, “An Open Letter to Patrick Buchanan,” I wrote:

And you, Pat, you who cherish Western and Christian and American values—how are you relating to this Jihad against the Jews, which is also a Jihad against Christendom and the West? Are you thinking that if the West sells Israel down the river to appease these Muslim fanatics, or in some other way forces the extinction of the Jewish state, the result will be to strengthen the will and the moral fiber of the Western peoples about whose spiritual health you claim to be concerned? Surely the truth of the matter is the exact opposite. If the West abandons Israel to a Second Holocaust at the hands of Islamic extremists, that will be an act of collective moral suicide—the true Death of the West.

At the same time, leaving aside the extreme scenario of a Western betrayal of Israel to the Muslims leading to Israel’s extinction, the way Phillips consistently puts the Jews at the very center of every issue is incorrect. Her unthinking Judeo-centrism gives her a distorted picture of things.

Thus: “[the war against the Jews] stands at the fulcrum of the west’s repudiation of its own culture”

I would say that the war against the Jews is a very grave problem and a threat not only to Jews but to our civilization., But to say that it is at the fulcrum of the West’s repudiation of its own culture is going too far. The West’s repudiation of its own culture has many motivations and components that have nothing to do with the Jews, and it would be happening even if there were no Jews.

“the animus against the Jews lies at the core of the Islamic threat against the west.”

The animus against the Jews has been central in Islam since the founding of Islam. But even if there were no Jews, the Islamic jihad against the West would still be going on. Melanie Phillips is evidently unaware that the Koran demands the subjugation and destruction not just of the Jews, but of all non-Muslims.

LA writes:

For readers who are unfamiliar with my previous communications with Melanie Phillips, see, from 2006, An exchange with Melanie Phillips about Islam.

See also VFR on Melanie Phillips: a collection.

Shrewsbury writes:

If this were a romantic comedy, it would turn out that Melanie was actually in love with you.

LA replies:

That’s funny, but the problem with your idea is that it would mean that she is in love with everyone she has ever snapped at, insulted, and cut off—a sizable population.

Shrewsbury continues:

Shrewsbury showed Mrs. Shrewsbury a book he had acquired, containing the juvenilia of Alfred Tennyson and his severely untalented brother Charles, than which more hilarious examples of bad Victorian poetry are not to be found. (She was reading one of Charles’s poems aloud, something about glistening orbs, disgorged by tubes forsooth, when the younger Shrewsbury (16 years of age), eating lunch nearby, did a spit-take, and, giving vent to the most unbridled mirth, and choking on his sandwich withal, must hurl himself to the floor. He is all right now.) Anyway, it was no doubt this influence which provoked the elder Shrewsbury into a poetic effusion of his own. Methought I heard a Victorian muse dictating a sonnet for you to send to Miss Phillips:

To M——
Thy heaving bosom will aye discover thee
When thou dost of ignorance accuseth me;
Such sanguine passion so desp’rately suppressed,
Such plaintive longing, unconsciously confessed!
Wouldst thou skip with me across yon mead in bloom,
Lay down thy ire’d pen, my dear, and cease to fume.
The more thou dost protest, the redder grows thy face,
The more certain I become, of in thy heart a place.
O cease to speak of what is best for the Jews,
When the yearning in thine eyes will ne’er recuse;
Leave aside the pomp of state and foreign policies,
When the blushing cheeks (of thy face) are all I sees….

Oh—that’s only 12 lines. Never mind. Shrewsbury seems to be quite out of control this week.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 17, 2010 08:49 PM | Send

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