Aha! A topic — and these don’t come easily these days — with Donald Trump nowhere near the center. Or maybe just the periphery. We’ll see. This one bears talking about, even so.
The topic, superficially, is the international campaign to delegitimize Israel: the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which last week the U.S. House — Nancy Pelosi’s House — slammed and condemned by an overwhelming margin.
Here, I guess, the president peeks slyly through the curtain. There might not have been a House vote at all but for the sudden hullabaloo, duly encouraged by the president, over the way-out politics of the four female House members known as “the Squad.” Two of the Squad’s members are Muslim; none of the four has anything complimentary to say about Israel. House leaders, at this fraught moment, found it necessary — or, at the very least, useful — to come out against BDS and its suspicious odor of anti-Semitism.
Boycotting Israel, selling off shares in companies that trade with Israel, applying economic or political sanctions to Israel — what’s the point here? Superficially, to reintroduce the word, the point is to kick the Israelis out of the West Bank, grant Palestinians full citizenship rights in Israel itself, and welcome back all who claim to have been dispossessed of their homes and land by the formation of Israel in 1948 — all of which, duly enacted, would finish off Israel as a nation. In the name of what? Justice? Fairness? The healing of open sores and wounds?
That would the rhetorical side of it, the noise to cover the real agenda — which, as seems obvious and painful, is to give the West, and its ancient civilization, a swift kick in the pants.
The world (much of it) is impatient to be rid of the West, with its ideals of reason, tolerance, liberty under law, and, not least, supernatural religion of the sort that binds together all the foregoing principles. Get rid of the West and, one fine day, we can go back to stomping on each other with no God watching or caring — certainly not intervening.
The boycott-divestment campaign has about it, yes, the taint of anti-Semitism, meaning hatred of or contempt for Jews. But what is the meaning of that hatred, that contempt? It seems more than discrete hatred of a discrete people. It resembles the wish to be rid of the God they serve. Secular Judaism — indifferent, if not hostile, to the Law and the Prophets — is hard to get one’s arms around. It cannot, in any case, conceal, hard as secular Jews may try, the history of the people God led into the Promised Land under Abraham and then delivered from bondage in Egypt under Moses.
The foundation stones of Greece, Rome, and, yes — forever — ancient Israel bear the impressive weight of the beliefs and customs and practices we know as Western. From the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob proceed our earliest lessons in the blessings of justice, mercy, honor, and human dignity. Not to wish the Jews to prosper — even such Jews as fail to understand their Jewishness — is to wish the West no good.
This, by the way, is the root problem here. Too many Western spokesmen for Enlightened Opinion sympathize strongly with the West’s critics and foes. They don’t awaken without feeling guilty for our culture’s imputed sins: racism, sexism, colonialism, you name it. We’re awful! We ought, apparently, to turn over the business of modern life to nations that wouldn’t know the 10 Commandments from a grocery list, far less the Lord’s Prayer or the Eucharistic canon.
Thus, the Jews — and secondarily, the Christians — catch it in the neck as representatives of selfishness and oppression — servants of a dated deity with a marginal connection to modern life. We really up-to-date folks, with our “woke” consciences — we don’t want the idea going any further that burning bushes and desert prophets have relevance to human challenges of the sort foretold by Genesis. Aren’t we our own religion; our own prophets; our own, in a sense, gods?
The Jews won’t ever make it with those who prefer Facebook’s outlook to the Torah’s. At least for now, they’ve still got their country.
William Murchison is writing a book on American moral restoration in the 21st century.
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