http://www.nationalreview.com/blogs/print/336356 When your dissolute political establishment sinks to the point of being fit for lectures from Chinese Communists on spending restraint, and from erstwhile Soviet revanchists on foreign-affairs modesty, you are at rock bottom. Welcome to Washington. Remember two summers ago, the depths of the last Beltway debacle on out-of-control borrowing that charted the course […]
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=3095 Palestinians prepare for Israeli elections They are not doing this for purposes of emulation, however. On the contrary, nation-building in the Palestinian Authority has always taken a back seat to nation-destroying. Indeed, while spending all its energy — and other countries’ billions — on trying to take down the Jewish state, the PA has […]
http://daphneanson.blogspot.com/ ‘Reunification of the Arab populated areas of the West Bank with Jordan – as existed between 1948 and 1967 – has again emerged as the most viable solution to the Jewish-Arab conflict. This follows revelations in the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper that the Palestinian Authority (PA) President and PLO Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, has asked […]
Now that he has been safely re-elected, Barack Obama’s personal foreign and defence views no longer pose any risk to him in domestic political terms. Unfortunately, however, the international risks caused by his radical ideology, naivety and simple ineptness, added to the damage already done in the first term, are increasingly apparent. The Obama Administration’s failures to date cover the full spectrum of national security affairs. At the strategic level, there is utter incoherence in dealing long term with powers like Russia and China, or the swirling morass of conflicts in the Middle East. In the immediate future, the Iranian and North Korean nuclear and ballistic-missile programmes are speeding ahead as regional and global threats, without even effective tactical opposition by the United States and its allies.
These and many other dangers, new and emerging, were all present in Obama’s first term. But only near the end of the long election campaign, in the September 11 terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, did many of the Administration’s failures stand fully exposed to public view. Although Republican political leaders failed to communicate Benghazi’s import to the voters (indeed, they essentially fled from the issue), its significance, domestically and globally, should not be underestimated. To be sure, identifying historical turning points is a tricky business. Events that, in their own time, seem sure to qualify can fade away, while obscure happenings later become, in history’s judgment, major departures. Take Zhou En-lai’s 1972 remark that “it is too soon to tell” about the consequences of the French Revolution. Or perhaps he was referring to the 1968 Paris riots; either way, Zhou’s prudence makes the point.
But with events unfolding at a truly dizzying pace, we must still ask, even if hazardous, whether a turning point occurred on September 11 in Benghazi, with the murder of the American Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three others. Certainly, the attack and its consequences continue to roil the US political debate. Some commentators compare Benghazi to Watergate, noting sarcastically that no one died at Watergate. Neither the bungled burglary nor the terrorist attack materially disrupted the incumbent president’s path to electoral victory, this time despite Obama’s utterly lame explanation that the attack resulted from local outrage over an internet video ridiculing the prophet Muhammad. Nonetheless, the damage to Obama’s second term, as to Nixon’s, could be considerable. Obviously, occurring on the 11th anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Libya killings have added resonance, even though the 2012 butcher’s bill was mercifully far lower.
There are, however, clear differences. Both Watergate and the first September 11 produced press extravaganzas, whereas Benghazi and the White House “explanation” initially seemed likely to disappear from the media radar screen. Among the major players, only Fox News kept investigating and reporting new information in the weeks that followed. In Watergate, there was unquestionably a White House-led cover-up to prevent the facts from emerging, which may or may not characterise Obama and Benghazi. The even more worrying truth could be that Obama’s ideological conviction that al-Qaeda has been defeated and that “the tide of war was receding” might simply have blinded his Administration to reality.
Daniel Johnson: Our subject is the Left and the Jews. A famous phrase from the 19th century—I think it came from the German social democrat August Bebel—was that “anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools”. If that was true then, there are still plenty of these fools around today. Just as in the 19th century, when leading figures of the Left such as Karl Marx set a bad example in their writings about the Jewish people, so today we have a problem on the Left. Where does this come from? Why does it exist? For so many years, the Left, if we define it as beginning with the French Revolution, was seen as the friend of the Jewish people, of emancipation, toleration and equality. But the problem, I think, stems from something which Isaac Deutscher, a great icon of the Left, called the “non-Jewish Jew”. The price to be exacted in return for emancipation and full equality was that Jews should give up everything that was distinctive and specifically Jewish. For years, most on the Left did not believe this, but some did. Karl Marx, above all, began the trend towards anti-Semitism on the Left. These leftist thinkers saw thousands of years of Jewish tradition, religion and ritual as in some sense a burden to be sloughed off.
In today’s world that attitude still exists, but it has been hugely exacerbated by the unholy alliance that we have found among elements of the Left-not, by any means, among everyone-and the forces of Islamism. A whole new dimension has been created. We began to see this most visibly in the 1960s after the Six-Day War, when anti-Zionism morphed into the “new anti-Semitism”, as it has often been called. In this country today, and indeed across the West, anti-Semitism is no longer the preserve of the extreme Right. It has become embedded even in the respectable salons and newspaper offices of the Left.
Nick Cohen: This discussion is like wading into a minefield. Because what do you mean by Left? As Daniel suggested, there are all kinds of shades of opinions on the Left, on this as any other issue. It is like saying, “The Right and the Jews”. You can’t debate without generalisations—you can’t write without generalisations—so it is certainly true that there are anti-Semites on the Left. But it is equally true that left-wing thought can lead to conspiracy theorising. The late 20th century saw the collapse of socialism. From the 1880s through to the 1980s, you would have none of my problems of definition about talking to the Left. If you were left-wing, you were a socialist of some sort. Socialism died before the Berlin Wall came down. All over the world, people were giving up on socialism, not least Communists, especially in China and Russia.
You then have a problem with people who are raging, often with very good reason, against injustice in their society, who call themselves left-wing. What do you do next? How do you explain defeat? One way to explain defeat is a kind of conspiracy theorising. You see this in Britain a lot: people opine on the reasons elections are lost, because of Rupert Murdoch and the Tory press brainwashing the electorate. Lots of people on the Right, for instance, keep saying that the reasons the Tories keep losing elections (and they still haven’t won one, incidentally, not even against Gordon Brown. I would have thought that if you missed that goal you might as well give up football completely) is because of the BBC and the liberal media.
It is quite easy to get into conspiratorial ways of thinking. As soon as you start thinking like this, Jews come along, particularly when confronted by an injustice like that suffered by the Palestinians. It is very easy to go from explaining defeat and injustice to saying that there is a Jewish conspiracy which controls British and American foreign policy and runs secret levers of power.
There is one point I would pick out—as I am from the Left—and that I want to emphasise, and I want to do this strongly: you cannot say that it is anti-Semitic to be utterly opposed to the building of settlements on the West Bank, for instance, or to otherwise criticise Israel.
My book You Can’t Read This Book deals with censorship, but the greatest fear in Europe for writers and artists ever since Salman Rushdie has been radical Islam. I’m not saying radical Islam has been the only violent force in Europe, but it is the only one which targets writers and artists. I have to take on the notion of Islamophobia, but I can’t say it doesn’t exist, as there are people who hate Muslims because they are Muslims. There are good reasons for people opposing Islamophobia, but you simply cannot say that publishing a book or writing, or making a work of art, or engaging in legitimate criticism about things like the theocratic regime in Iran is a kind of racism. It’s not: it is normal political criticism, and not racist.
Equally with anti-Semitism. You just can’t say that people who are appalled by what the Likud government has done are simply racists. You must do a bit better than that. In a funny way, you let real racists off the hook because you let them hide themselves among the crowd.
DJ: Anthony, is there a problem of the Left and the Jews? How does that fit into the history you tell in your book on anti-Semitism in England?
Anthony Julius: Let me return to something that Nick said. He said, since there isn’t a Left, there is only a historical memory of the Left. What form does that historical memory take? There’s no doubt that until the 1980s socialism spoke principally for a positive project. It was a reconstruction of society, with a certain optimism, and values we associate mainly with the Enlightenment, anti-clerical hostility towards institutions that were thought to be oppressive and benighted.
AJ: It was a positive project to be a socialist. It was to be committed to something that was about construction, building, substituting something delinquent and infirm with something more elevated, and improving morally and materially the conditions of most people. It would allow most of them to realise themselves, in ways that could only previously have been dreamt of. And that collapsed, in an awfully oppressive sense that there was no alternative to existing arrangements. There was no fundamental alternative to the market economy or mixed economy, no alternative to representative democracy—even though democracy leads to large sections of society being alienated from the political process. We live in an imperfect world. That really cannot be overstated.
There was a disaster in the thinking of the Left, and progressive people in general. The question was, what to do with that disaster? A number of different positions were taken, with a number of different solutions to that problem. First, simple withdrawal into private life—depart from the political field and commit oneself to novel writing or gardening. Plenty of people did that. One comes across people of a certain age—like some us sitting here today—who were firebrands in their twenties. Now they are lawyers or journalists or columnists of one kind or another. Essentially they lead a private life. It is one perfectly honourable solution, albeit a rather depressing one.
There is another option, which is to commit oneself to a form of liberal politics: a new emphasis on human rights, an advocacy of political reform through law reform, championing principles like free speech or free assembly. In other words, they take liberalism and rights seriously, as a very well-known liberal American jurist once said: giving substance to liberalism’s promise.
So that’s another option. For me, that is the best of the options. There is a third option, which is to associate oneself with local campaigns or objectives, to give up trying to reconstruct society and instead to commit oneself to causes. Green politics, feminism, prisoners’ rights, for instance. Not as part of the second project (which is taking liberalism seriously) but rather as a sort of subversive challenge to existing arrangements, leading to who-knows-where. The most important theorist of that kind of post-leftist politics was a Frenchman, Michel Foucault.
And then there’s a fourth position, the one which is most problematical for those of us who are Jews or who make common cause with Jews in the fight against anti-Semitism. It is a kind of impure nihilism, a kind of destructive fury or a perpetuation of the antagonisms of the pre-1989 Left, but without any balancing constructive project, so one continues in one’s war against America as if the Cold War still existed and the Soviet system still existed. But because there is no real alternative, one is led into more and more extreme gestures of anger and hatred and violence.
I think of the four responses I have identified, the fourth is most difficult for Jews: the searching for enemies-the pursuit of the enemy for its own sake. Jews have comprised the major enemy—certainly the major internal enemy—in the imagination of the West for perhaps 1,500 years. Of course, when that then becomes part of a larger political project, anti-Semitism is not terribly far away.
So in my general overview, of the four options following the collapse of the Left, the fourth is the one I would most identify as problematical. I would say, perhaps, in response to Nick, and building on what he said rather than dissenting from it, a more precise title for the problem we are addressing now is not so much the Jews and the Left but the Jews and the post-Left.
NC: Yes. Here’s something else, Anthony. You talk about nihilism and people who have all the fervour of revolutionaries without any particular project, which I think is quite right. Here’s what’s interesting, then—and I mention this in my book, What’s Left?, in the context of us not having a word to describe this. Ideas that appear to be confined to the far-Left can, in moments of crisis, sweep into the liberal mainstream.
People say to me that I stopped being left-wing because of 9/11. I didn’t. I stopped being left-wing in a conventional sense because of the protests against the Iraq war. Tony Blair lost loads of support because of his decision in 2003—but he got me! He’d probably settle for keeping his old supporters but losing me. You saw all these fine people from the liberal Left in Britain march at the head of a demonstration led by George Galloway, a man who even then had saluted Saddam Hussein (the nearest thing you are likely to see in your lifetime to a classic genocidal national socialist tyrant), and the Socialist Workers Party, who supported the Muslim Brotherhood, who are now in power in Egypt and are changing that country. No one said a word about these things. People on the Left, whom Anthony is referring
to as supporting the new liberalism, have adopted pernicious slogans about Jews.
There is a borderless Left, on the margins of British politics. You cannot be a Conservative and cut a deal with the BNP. You can’t form an alliance like this. If it was found that a Conservative Cabinet member had even been in the BNP in his youth, all hell would break loose: I guarantee it. There is a border, a border you can’t cross. There is no border between the far-Left and the mainstream. Paul Berman, a wonderful American writer, wrote a book about the strange way the 1968 generation has gone. He has a lovely description about old, almost certainly Jewish, garment workers’ union members going to warn radicals, who were starting the 1960s movement, that these comrades should have nothing to with Communism. And of course these young students would cry, what do all these all old men and women know? We should start blacklisting people like McCar-thy has been doing, and start saying no to Communism? Of course they weren’t going to start doing that. These were New York socialists.
The older socialists knew one thing. Let a bit of lightning flash across society, and all these reasonable, sensible people would go off and out-Stalin Stalin. That can happen on the Left, and that can happen in Europe. I get this all the time, with people saying, Nick, surely you are tired of talking about George Galloway or the SWP. I say, if I were, I wouldn’t bother.
There are some who, by acquiescing, go along with Islamists who want to kill homosexuals, kill Jews, and kill any Muslim who wants to change their religion or abandon religion, or set up a dictatorial, inquisitorial state. Going along with people like that used to be called being “clerical fascists”, to use very old-fashioned left-wing jargon, that was applied to regimes like Franco’s in Spain.
For this kind of toleration to then infect the mainstream: that is what worries me most now, when it happens. It doesn’t happen so much now—maybe a bit of infection has happened in the US, with the Tea Party—but not in Britain. It is the ability of extremists to zoom into the mainstream, and then when the crisis passes, they will appear mainstream and respectable. We must stop this.
AJ: It is true that there is not the same problem on the Right at the moment. One of the slight anxieties I have about the case of David Irving, whom I acted against, was that it came at the time when really everyone should have been waking up to the problem on the Left or post-Left. Irving represented a gigantic distraction from that, so it was possible to represent a really clapped-out Nazi as a major threat to Anglo-Jewry—when in fact he lived a kind of vampire existence as a spokesman for a defunct regime and a long-dead dictator. I felt somewhat concerned when, in the aftermath, I saw the kind of people who were beginning to be problematical, using the Irving case and the larger phenomenon of Holocaust denial as a means of excusing their own positions and distancing themselves from anti-Semitism in general, saying, “Of course we are very much against Holocaust denial and David Irving.” They presented anti-Semitism as a state-sponsored genocidal right-wing phenomenon, and said it was limited to that.
It is as if anti-Semitism in the imagination of the Left were fixed in 1945, and subsists only thereafter in the form of memory of the Holocaust. This is a problem. However, I don’t quite go as far as Nick in saying that it is hard to imagine, or even impossible, to imagine the Right making common cause with anti-Semites. After all, David Cameron may not entertain a member of the BNP but we know relatively recently there was an issue about alliances in Europe that the Conservative party had formed with far-Right parties.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203406404578072361523211412.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion Today, Korea is often called “the forgotten war.” A better candidate is the War of 1812, whose bicentennial is this year. There are two main reasons. First, the war seems to have changed nothing. The end of the conflict seemed simply to return the parties to the status quo ante bellum. Second, the American […]
http://pjmedia.com/blog/the-amiga-filling-liebermans-hawkish-shoes/?print=1 When Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) retires from the upper chamber he will leave behind a gap in the “three amigos” on foreign policy, as he and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have been dubbed. The three senators traveled the world together for over a decade and were always at the table […]
Either employing long-term wisdom or momentary political acumen, President Barack Obama was right last week not to mix up an overwhelming feeling of grief and mourning over the Newtown tragedy with the classic debate about gun control. Still, the question has been raised by pundits like Jeffrey Sachs  and political leaders like Dianne Feinstein , and will inevitably be raised again and again: since massacres happen, and are usually perpetrated with firearms, is it not reasonable to repeal the Second Amendment, or at least to interpret it in the most restrictive way?
Jeffrey Sachs contends that John Howard, the iconic conservative prime minister of Australia, when faced in 1996 with a killing spree in Port-Arthur, Tasmania (35 casualties), introduced federal gun-control legislation, and that it worked. Indeed, the country has been spared another Port-Arthur ever since then.
But there was at least one multiple killing case: the Monash University killing in 2002 where a foreign student shot seven people and killed two. Moreover, Sachs disregards the fact that there was no significant decrease in Australia since 1996 regarding global levels of crime, violence, and homicide. Restrictions on legally purchased and owned weapons simply induced would-be killers to resort to black-market purveyors, or to turn to other ways of killing.
http://frontpagemag.com/2012/ari-lieberman/islam-republic-and-stephen-walt-giddy-over-prospect-of-chuck-hagel-nomination/ On December 18, Press TV, Iran’s official government propaganda outlet featured a miscreant who attempted to tie the Sandy Hook massacre to “Jewish owned Hollywood” and “Israeli hit squads.” This type of “journalism” is quite the norm for Press TV. It routinely features outrageous programming that aims to denigrate “enemies of the state,” with […]
http://frontpagemag.com/2012/joseph-klein/the-united-nations-year-end-message-to-israel/print/ United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon devoted part of his year-end press conference on December 19th to bashing Israel for its announcement of plans to build new housing in and around Jerusalem. He claimed that the Israeli announcement was a “near fatal blow to a very fragile Middle East peace process.” “I am deeply […]