This is the best. Sad that it needs to be explained.
A hero was celebrated in France last month. Michel Bacos was the pilot of the jet hijacked at Entebbe, the man who stayed – by choice – with the Jewish hostages, though he was not Jewish. What he was, was a veteran of World War II who had obviously learned the lessons of that nightmare. Hatikva, the Israeli anthem, was played before his burial.
This week marks the 71st anniversary of Israeli independence and so, predictably, Hamas has to try to ruin the party. What was also predictable, sadly, was the reaction of so many in the West. Melanie Phillips has written a long blog post about it. Choice quote:
The Jews are often referred to as “the canaries in the mine.” With Western civilization in existential free-fall, the symbiotically linked contagions of Israel-bashing and antisemitism are both the cause and effect of this crisis.
Subscribing to the Arabs’ murderous falsehoods about Israel has destroyed the West’s moral compass – leaving it open to the murderous falsehoods about the people who gave it that moral compass in the first place and further blinding it to the forces threatening its own continued survival.
Read the whole thing here.
Israelis went to the polls earlier this week – a propos, this wonderful commentary from David Hirsh (I stole it from his Facebook page).
Israelis are voting today and determining their own future. This fact makes the hearts of all democratic people soar. This signifies the defeat, so far anyway, of the antisemitisms, Nazism, Arab Nationalisms, Islamisms and the Communisms which tried to prevent the endurance and the self determination of Jews.
Some Israelis are people whose families never left Jerusalem, the Middle East or North Africa; people ethnically cleansed from the great cosmopolitan civilizations by Arab nationalism and Islamism, from Cairo, Alexandria, Beirut, Yemen, Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia…
Some were driven out of Europe at the time of the pogroms in Kishniev and elsewhere.
Some are descended from the undead of Europe, survivors of the largely successful campaign across Europe to define, seek out and kill them.
Some limped away from the ideological and physical attempt to wipe them out which was called Russian Communism.
Some trace their ancestry to the expulsions from England in 1290 or from Spain in 1492.
Some Israelis come from Africa, ancient communities of Jews, endangered by famine and by isolation.
The continued existence of Israel is a victory for democratic life, democratic thinking and democratic practice.
Young Israeli men and women fought and died to defend their freedom against annihilationist aggression, notably in 1948, 1967, 1973. Israel still has to fight for its right to exist and Israelis still have to fight for their right to be part of the global community of human kind.
If you cannot celebrate Israel’s existence, if you do not feel that its survival is also your survival, there is something wrong with the way you think and the way you feel.
True, Israel and its neighbours might have done better in getting on with each other. But that thought does not constitute a *but* to this post. It is another, separate, thought.
(Emphasis mine.) That second to last paragraph represents precisely my views on what Israel means – and it represents why I have distanced myself from certain relationships. I refer not just to my anti-Semitic relatives (of whom I have written from time to time on this site) but also to some old and new friendships of mine that have gone to the wayside. (I have had an experience similar, though not identical, to this.)
And these days, so much of it is from the left. Bret Stephens, as usual, completely correct.
A few facts ought at least to stir the thinking of those who subscribe to the progressive narrative. Israel’s enemies were committed to its destruction long before it occupied a single inch of Gaza or the West Bank. In proportion to its size, Israel has voluntarily relinquished more territory taken in war than any state in the world. Israeli prime ministers offered a Palestinian state in 2000 and 2008; they were refused both times. The government of Ariel Sharon removed every Israeli settlement and soldier from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The result of Israel’s withdrawal allowed Hamas to seize power two years later and spark three wars, causing ordinary Israelis to think twice about the wisdom of duplicating the experience in the West Bank. Nearly 1,300 Israeli civilians have been killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks in this century: That’s the proportional equivalent of about 16 Sept. 11’s in the United States.
Also: If the Jewish state is really so villainous, why doesn’t it behave more like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad or Russia’s Vladimir Putin — both of whom, curiously, continue to have prominent sympathizers and apologists on the anti-Israel left?
…in the New York Times, of all places!
If you see only an “Israeli-Palestinian” conflict, then nothing that Israelis do makes sense. (That’s why Israel’s enemies prefer this framing.) …
The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunni and Shiite; between majority populations and minorities. If our small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.
Yeah, so many of my relatives need to read this column. Here’s a snippet:
Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.
I just finished Martha Gellhorn’s The Face of War and am convinced she was an even better war writer than A. J. Liebling. Her essays on the Six Day War and its aftermath are not to be missed. I love this quote, and post it for the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence.
Her neighbors oblige Israel to waste resources and time on military strength. Israelis are not fond of being warriors; they have no choice. But Israel is far more than a bulwark. It produces funny wine and good books, scientists, musicians and formers of genius. It may have the highest I.Q. per capita in the world. It is brave. It is there to stay.
Note: several Israeli friends have pointed out that Israeli wine has improved a great deal over the years. (The above quote is from 1967.) At any rate, Gellhorn is insanely perceptive about the “work” of UNRWA, among other things, and rather than go over all of that I will simply link back to a piece she wrote in the Atlantic in 1961, in which we see that where the Jews are concerned, the thinly-veiled anti-Semitism that governs much reaction to them has always been around and sadly, may never disappear. Along the same plus ca change lines, please check out James Michener’s letter to The New York Review of Books, written shortly after the Six Day War. (And no, Michener was not one of the anti-Semites in question, but rather, someone who, like Gellhorn, saw through such nonsense.)
I’ve written about this many times, of course, but it remains distressing to me that I have relatives of the “I’m not anti-Semitic, I’m just anti-Zionist” or “Zionism is racism” variety. I even have one relative who tried to calibrate by asking me to define Zionism when I pointed out that equating Zionism with racism was, in fact, anti-Semitic. It was as though she were trying to suggest there were different definitions of it and that some were indeed racist. Nonsense, of course, but to paraphrase Swift, you can’t reason someone out of a belief into which they were not reasoned in the first place.
It seems to me that for a great many people, mostly on the left, Israel’s most unpardonable offence is not only having survived 1967, but having triumphed. Israel will never be forgiven for this, in the same way the Jews will never truly be forgiven by those same people for having survived the Shoah.
It’s a shame the anti-Semites on the left can’t see Israel for what it is: the answer to millennia of systematic oppression, discrimination and state-organized mass murder. I don’t see it as an anachronism and I don’t believe for a second that those past horrors will stay in the past. (Please see the aforementioned paragraphs about many of my relatives.) I also believe that if the ideological left weren’t leading the anti-Israel charge, aligned with Hamas and Hezbollah and so many odious others, there might by now be a two-state solution. The result of this demonization of Israel is the impossibility of fair and realistic negotiations.
I just hope Israel will never be fully abandoned, despite the attempts of ideological “progressives” to cast it as an ideological depravity or to assert that the very idea of a Jewish state is a crime or racist.
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote this about Barack Obama’s kick in the heart to Israel just as he left office. I was dubious about Trump then and while I am not thrilled with him now, he certainly made the right decision when it came to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The reaction to the decision was entirely predictable though I could not have foreseen how many people I “know” (on social media) know so little about the history of the Middle East. It’s exhausting, actually, reading some of the nonsense posted, including the innumerable “humour” (term used very loosely here) along the lines of “Palestinians recognize Texas as Part of Mexico” (an, er, “anti-Zionist” relative of mine posted that) or “World to Recognize Moscow as Capital of the United States” (a lefty friend of mine posted that) and so on. Get it? Get it? Hilarious! As though those scenarios were remotely comparable.
As an antidote to such foolishness, I give you links to three terrific columns to read and enjoy (the first two from total NeverTrumpers): John Podhoretz’s take is right here; Bret Stephens’ take is here; and Conrad Black writes about it all here.
For the record, I do think some otherwise sensible people are allowing their contempt for Trump (which he most definitely cultivates) to prevent them from seeing how righteous and overdue this decision was.
You tell ’em, Baroness Deech. In this clip she talks about what regrets, if any, we should have about the Balfour Declaration (the 100th anniversary of which is today).