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Triumphant through blockades, stockades, and countless decades.
To Will Barrett, the main character in Walker Percy’s The Second Coming, it was a perfectly reasonable statement and question: “The historical phenomenon of the Jews cannot be accounted for by historical or sociological theory. Accordingly, they may be said to be in some fashion or other a sign. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Their temple was destroyed by the Romans, and their remnants were routed by the Romans at Masada. They were spread to the four winds, persecuted by pagans and Christians and Muslims. Century after century saw pogroms carried out against them. They were preached against, marginalized, disdained, blamed, enslaved, murdered. Yet they endured. They were subjected to Holocaust, yet they endured. Finally given a small sliver of a land, they were attacked from all directions by a confederation of enemies. And attacked again. And attacked again. And, in wave after wave of smaller attacks, attacked yet again and again and again and again and again and again to this day.
And everything was portrayed as their fault. When terrorists killed their athletes, well, the surviving terrorists were mere political prisoners, willingly traded in return for the freeing of a hijacked airliner and given a heroes’ welcome when they touched down in Libya as free men. When Hamas fired rockets into Israel and the Israelis retaliated, well, it was the retaliation that was blasted by the United Nations and by feckless spineless bigoted Europeans. When they traded land for an Arafat promise of peace, only to have more war waged on them from the very land they had traded… well, wasn’t it obvious that they needed to give up more land still?
Feckless spineless bigoted Europeans continue to be the bane of their existence. So do hateful murderous Arabs and Muslims, fomenting murder masked as religion, claiming jihad when engaged in nothing more than bloody mayhem that dishonors any just and decent God and would make an evil ape of any Prophet that would actually bless such a cause. (As the Prophet is obviously no evil ape, it is the cause and not the Prophet who bears the blame, for it is a false cause that the Prophet could not bless. Good and decent Arabs and Muslims, meanwhile, are marginalized by the murderers.)
And now, in four days, two new outrages are perpetrated against the Israelis. First, the United States — itself led by a president too craven to call jihadist terrorism by its name, a president openly biased in favor of Islamists — for the first time ever joined an international conference that began a call for Israel to renounce nuclear weapons, while making nary a mention of Iran’s own nuke developments. Then, when operating in a blockade supported by Egypt — a blockade perfectly reasonable that merely asks that ships loaded for terrorist Gaza be inspected for weapons before being allowed to reach its destination, and while its soldiers are armed merely with paintball guns and a stray pistol or two — Israel rightfully defends its attacked personnel… and, of course, again finds itself treated as the pariah, the source of the fault, the instigator of the very mayhem it only seeks to avoid. Writing in the UK Spectator, Melanie Phillips rightly calls the developments “a global pogrom in the making.”
Yet in all of these dreadful developments, we should not make the mistake of thinking that the state of Israel or the Jewish people are victims. In truth, as a people they are too proud and strong to be victims. As always, there is something that keeps them going, that will not give up, that will persevere and survive and, yes, triumph. Yes: “The historical phenomenon of the Jews cannot be accounted for by historical or sociological theory.” The fictional Will Barrett was marveling at their hardiness, and wondering what their survival signifies. Addled by an imbalance in brain chemicals, Barrett nevertheless was onto something approaching existential truth. One need not read the novel to understand where Barrett’s wonder comes from, and to understand why he thinks it must signify — “in some fashion or other” — something important and perhaps even transcendent. No mere theory, he thinks, could possibly account for so many, many, many centuries of achievement amidst unceasing strife. Achievements, yes: wondrous contributions in the arts, and in economics, and in medicine, and in commerce, and in science, and certainly in philanthropy. Only the mysteries of a particularly strong human character, backed perhaps in some wise by a covenantal God, can explain this “historical phenomenon” of a people so enduring and so often great and good.
Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. Leaders arise who claim their own rise is “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and out planet began to heal.” But those leaders, like the kingdoms, likewise will fall prey to their own egomania and internal hollowness. Those leaders, failing to support Israel, will find that Israel survives every Ozymandias the millennia dare throw at it.
The 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli had it right. “Yes, I am a Jew,” he said to a critic. “And when the ancestors of the Right Honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.” And Solomon, as we know, was wise.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?