Friday, May 30, 2003

There is a great new blog bashing Noam Chomsky here. I think it is obvious that the good professor is gaining a higher and higher profile in the media. A new film of interviews with him is now in video stores and there seems to be a concerted effort on the part of the Leftist media to legitimize him - Holocaust denial notwithstanding. He will be appearing on C-Span's Book TV on Sunday in an "In-Depth" interview, advertised in none other then the NY Times. I think its high time we started standing up to this guy before his friends in the media manage to make into someone who's actually taken seriously as a thinker on foreign policy. I am going to send the following email to Book TV objecting to the show, feel free to cut and paste, adjust whatever words you like and send it yourself. The address is

To Whom It May Concern,

It has come to my attention that your network will shortly be airing an "In-Depth" interview with Noam Chomsky, whom you describe as a "linguist and activist" in your New York Times advertisement of May 30th. I am deeply offended and angry that you have chosen to give such prominence and legitimacy to such a man. Mr. Chomsky is a violently anti-American and anti-semitic ideologue who has, amongst other intellectual atrocities, denied the slaughter of 3 million Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge dictatorship (including accusing the refugees from the genocide, many of whom had lost their entire families, of being politically motivated liars), slandered Israel as a "Nazi state", accused America of being "the world's leading terrorist nation", defended Holocaust Denial as legitimate "revisionist" scholarship, openly collaborated with European fascist groups who are violently anti-semitic, claimed that Judaism is a genocidal religion, and declared himself a partisan of every declared enemy of the United States, from the North Vietnamese to the Sandanista communist regime.
Mr. Chomsky is also well known for his shoddy scholarship and deliberate distortion of facts, quotes, and dates in order to force history to conform with his ideology. Perhaps the most blatent example of this was his claim, post-9/11, that the US was planning to commit a "silent genocide" in Afghanistan, his projected body count going up with each lecture, from 3 million to 8 million to 10 million. Clearly, Mr. Chomsky has never allowed truth to interfere with his rock-solid belief in America's inherent evil.
Unfortunately, your program has chosen to grant a forum and legitimacy to this pseudo-intellectual hatemonger. Millions of people may watch this program unaware of the truth behind his ugly and ignoble career. This is a disservice both to your viewers and to intellectual discourse in America. Would you allow David Duke to propound his racist beliefs on the air before millions? Would you permit Robert Faurission and his denial of the Holocaust (endorsed by your own Mr. Chomsky) to grace your stage? I dont know for certain, but I think not. Why then is a man who's ideology is no less ugly and no more defensible than their's given, not only a stage, but an in-depth interview complete with advertisement in the New York Times?

Respectfully Yours,

A great article by a former Czech dissident denouncing many of his fellow leftists as scoundrels and fools. The realignment of the political world continues.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Sharon accepted the "road map" today. Whether this is of any significance or not remains to be seen, but I'm inclined to think not, since the Palestinians are and remain irredentionously committed to total control over what was once Mandatory Palestine and show no signs of releasing this ambition. Sharon probably knows this as well, but can't outright reject the road map, and frankly doesn't have nay reason to do so. If the Palestinians are serious it will calm the situation, and if they aren't its on them anyways. The major problem here is Arafat, who is about to do everything he can to deal himself back into the game, with his European lackeys carrying him all the way. Whether responsible European leaders like Tony Blair will have the guts to stand up to Arafat is anybody's guess, but recent history is not encouraging. Lacking military experience, most of the new European leaders are intimidated and somewhat entranced by men of violence - this was certainly one of Clinton's many problems - and probably can't muster the backbone to put the senile old murderer in his place.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Just how influential is clear when you talk to Bucknell faculty members. Geoff Schneider, an economics professor at Bucknell, says that the conservative group's constant charge in The Counterweight, that the university is infected by political correctness and that professors seek to indoctrinate students with a liberal agenda, has had an effect in the classroom. ''As the conservatives have become more prominent, other students are more prone to believe that they are being indoctrinated,'' Schneider says. ''So the openness of a number of students to new ideas and new ways of looking at things has actually moved in a disturbing direction. Students are much more willing to write off something as 'liberal talk' -- oh, I don't need to think about that, that's just ideology -- as opposed to thinking, in a complex way, about all of the different ideas and evaluating them.'' Kim Daubman, a social psychology professor, concurs. Recently she taught a class in which she talked about the theory that news coverage of warfare in Iraq could lead to a rise in homicides in the United States. ''I could see the students rolling their eyes,'' she says. ''I could just hear them thinking, 'Oh, there she goes again!'''

Bwhahahahahahahahaha!!!!! Oh no! Our students aren't swallowing our lying, neo-Nazi propaganda anymore! Whatever shall we do!!! Somebody untwist my panties!!! From a thoroughly pompus and patronizing article in the NY Times on a hugely important subject. These campus groups are not conservative, they are counterrevolutionary, they are the new radicals, and godspeed to their cause.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

I have noted that there was an explosion, apparently a bomb, at Yale today. I'm not going to make any predictions, because I could be very wrong, but I have very strong suspicions about who might be behind it. (And no, I'm not thinking Osama bin Laden or anyone remotely Islamic). I'm sure you do as well.

Shalom gentle readers. Still got way too much to do to expend mental much mental energy, so here's another long one for ya. Its by my history professor, a bit depressing but very interesting I think:

The Rejection by Benny Morris Post date: 04.11.03 Issue date: 04.21.03

The Palestinian People: A History By Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal(Harvard University Press, 608 pp., $45)Click here to purchase the book.

What are the Palestinians after? There are two basic interpretations of their actions in the past three years, which began with their rejection of the Barak-Clinton compromise proposals and the launching of the ongoing terroristic and guerrilla assault on Israel known as the Aqsa Intifada. According to one view, the Palestinians are conducting a rebellion against a repressive military occupation and their aim is to establish a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which comprise 22 percent of historic Palestine. According to another view, they aim to destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian Arab (and perhaps Islamic) state in all of historic Palestine, "from the river to the sea." In this view, ejecting Israel from the territories is merely a stage on the road to Israel's liquidation, which, like the ultimately successful Islamic assault on the medieval Crusader kingdoms, may take several centuries. To judge from the declarations in English of their secular Fatah-dominated leadership, headed by Yasir Arafat, the Palestinians have strived since 1988 for a Palestinian state alongside Israel: the "two-state solution." To judge from the statements of some of these same Fatah leaders (including Arafat) in Arabic, and from the pronouncements by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, they seek Israel's destruction and replacement by an Arab (or Islamic) state. Why the forked tongue of most of the Fatah leaders? Perhaps they really aspire to a two-state solution but feel that they must appease their people with rejectionist pronouncements, so as to assure their hold on the leadership and their room for maneuver in the continuous struggle against the rejectionists and the Islamicists in their midst. Perhaps, like the Islamicists, they really intend to destroy Israel but feel that they must dupe sympathetic Israelis and Western supporters of Israel who might be antagonized by a frank rejectionism. There are also a very small number of Fatah-affiliated figures, notably Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, who may genuinely desire a two-state compromise, and who say the same things in different forums and in different languages; but they carry little weight among the Palestinian public and leadership. Nusseibeh himself was recently dismissed by Arafat from his position as the PLO official responsible for Jerusalem, and his dismissal caused barely a ripple in the Palestinian press and the Palestinian "street."In their new book, which is actually just a revision of a book that they published ten years ago, Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal write that their "central argument" is that "the creation of the Palestinian nation has been as much the product of events, acts, and institutions at the grassroots level as it has been the doing of top leaders." So let us attend to the grassroots: to judge by Palestinian opinion polls and street demonstrations, most Palestinians today do not seek only the liberation of the territories from Israel's occupation. They seek also the destruction of Israel. Palestinians interviewed in the streets of Ramallah and Jenin often say so bluntly. And the masses express their hatred of the Jewish state by supporting suicide bombings inside Israel proper, against buses, supermarkets, and restaurants. For the Palestinians, each suicide bombing represents a microcosmic assault on Israel's existence; and each street celebration following successful bombings (as followed Saddam Hussein's missile attacks on Israel's cities in 1991) testifies to the popularity of the method and the goal.Kimmerling and Migdal point out that in the early and mid-1990s, before the Oslo peace process began to expire, opinion polls showed that the Palestinians largely supported a two-state solution. The writers believe that the Palestinians are not governed by an inherent, unshakable rejectionism. If conditions and developments are favorable, they will agree to a compromise; but if circumstances turn sour, as they have during the past few years, they will veer toward rejectionism. Like good liberals, Kimmerling and Migdal generally give Arafat and his colleagues the benefit of the doubt, dismissing their rejectionist assertions to Arab and Muslim audiences as so much posturing. They repeatedly and happily point to Arafat's more conciliatory declarations, as in his famous piece in The New York Times last year, in which he assured his readers that while he supports the Palestinian refugees' "right of return," he would take Israel's demographic concerns into account when considering its implementation.But even Kimmerling and Migdal, to judge by their tone at the end of the book, are far from sanguine. Recent Palestinian actions, it would seem, have managed to jar even their liberal moorings. They conclude rather grimly: At this writing, it is unclear whether the Intifada can truly be a war of liberation—liberating Palestinians not only from Israeli rule but from illusions about what the future holds for them. If the war of liberation can be a step toward internal reconstruction and acceptance of two states in historic Palestine, it will have succeeded. But if it leads only to the glorification of death and to the illusion that Israel, like the earlier Crusader state, will simply melt away, then it will do nothing but prolong the Palestinians' bondage.Speaking for myself, Palestinian behavior during the past three years has provided the unhappy ground for a serious re-examination of my own political assumptions. But, to be completely candid, it is not just the experience of the past three years that has provoked this reconsideration. I have spent the past twenty years studying the hundred years of Zionist-Palestinian conflict. At first I focused on the revolutionary events of 1948. Later I began to study the decades before and after the establishment of Israel—and this research, in conjunction with recent events, has left me profoundly unhopeful. I have come away from my examination of the history of the conflict with a sense of the instinctive rejectionism that runs like a dark thread through Palestinian history— a rejection, to the point of absurdity, of the history of the Jewish link to the land of Israel; a rejection of the legitimacy of Jewish claims to Palestine; a rejection of the right of the Jewish state to exist. And, worse, this rejectionism has over the decades been leavened by a healthy dose of anti-Semitism, a perception of the Jew as God's and humanity's unchosen.

The Palestinian national movement, since its inception in the 1920s, has viewed the struggle against Zionism as a zero-sum game: if the Jews win, we are lost. In 1934, when David Ben-Gurion told the Cambridge-educated Musa al-Alami, a moderate notable who was assistant attorney general of Mandatory Palestine, that Zionism was bringing progress and prosperity to the Arabs, Alami replied that he would sooner Palestine remain "impoverished and barren for another hundred years" than see Zionism succeed. Palestinian leaders and preachers, guided by history and religion, have traditionally seen the Jews as an inferior race whose proper place was as an abased minority in a Muslim polity; and the present situation, with an Arab minority under Jewish rule, is regarded as a perversion of nature and divine will. As Sheik Sulayman al-Taji, a leading Palestinian notable, declared in a poem in 1913: "Jews, sons of clinking gold ... are the weakest of all peoples and the least of them." And Haj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian national leader during the 1930s and 1940s (in effect Arafat's predecessor), often cited The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a guidebook to history. More recently, in its founding charter or "Covenant," which was composed in 1988, Hamas (which today commands the support of about one-half of the Palestinians and probably a far greater proportion in Gaza and the refugee camps) described "the Jews" as "an instrument of evil"; and it ascribes the outbreak of the French and Russian revolutions, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and the eruption of World War I and World War II to Jewish machinations. The "Covenant" posits the destruction of Israel as the organization's main political goal, and jihad as its method. Hamas (and Islamic Jihad) pamphlets during the first intifada, from 1987 to 1991, regularly described the Jews as "sons of apes and pigs." For Arafat, the Jews are a curio, the caftaned, bearded worshippers of his childhood, seen making their way to the Wailing Wall, heads bowed, eyes averted, through the Arab markets of the Old City. The Palestinian National Charter, the platform of the PLO, calls for the dismantling of "the Zionist entity." Though the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s committed itself to annulling the relevant clauses, it is unclear whether they have in fact been permanently revoked. Nothing more revealing was said at the Camp David summit in the summer of 2000 than Arafat's response to President Clinton's effort to persuade him to compromise over Jerusalem's Temple Mount (Al-Haram al-Sharif, the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock). Arafat said: "What temple? The Jews had no temples there. It's a legend." Arafat—and this is common fare in sermons in the mosques of the West Bank and Gaza—was denying that the Jewish people had any historic connection to Jerusalem and, by extension, to Palestine. The Palestinian and pan-Arab rout of 1948, the nakba or "catastrophe," and the continuous defeats that Israel has since inflicted on the Arab world, as Kimmerling and Migdal rightly perceive, are seen by most Palestinians (and probably by most Arabs and Muslims) as a basic violation or disruption of the "cosmic order," something humiliating and unfathomable. Arafat likes to compare himself to Saladin (who was also the hero of the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad), the Muslim Kurdish general who defeated the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Arafat continuously speaks of "planting the Arab flag on the walls of Jerusalem" as Saladin did in 1187. That act symbolized the destruction of the Crusader state—and Arafat's use of the phrase is understood by his Arab listeners to refer to the destruction of the Zionist "kingdom." The "cosmic order" can be restored only by the liquidation of Israel, an alien, infidel implant on sacred Muslim soil, and the return (al-awda) of the refugees to their patrimony. ome of this story can be found in Kimmerling and Migdal's book. But the almost unrelenting rejectionist message of Palestinian history is routinely blunted by soporific padding. The prettification begins on the book's cover, which shows a photograph of Palestinians demonstrating beneath an unfurled red, black, green, and white flag; the demonstrators are almost all smiling or resolute women and children, barely a male among them, and of course no guns, no bombs, no hate-filled faces. Rather idiosyncratically, Kimmerling and Migdal point to a peasant revolt in Palestine against the Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali in 1834 as the moment when the Palestinian people was born. The peasants (and the townspeople) refused to supply the Egyptians with the conscripts that they demanded. Within months, the rebels, who did not demand independence or "Palestinian rights" (if pressed to identify their "national" affiliation, they surely would have said they were Ottoman subjects, or "Arabs," or perhaps "residents of the Province of Syria"), were crushed, leaving no "national" values or tradition as a heritage. But Kimmerling and Migdal have it that this was the first of the succession of revolts against foreign occupiers—against the British from 1936 to 1939 and against the Israelis from 1987 to 1991 and from 2000 to 2003—that were to be the main expressions of Palestinian nationalism.In focusing on 1834, Kimmerling and Migdal are implicitly denying that the Palestinian people was born in large measure as a response to Zionism. Most serious historians point instead to the 1920s and 1930s as the time when the Arabs of Palestine began thinking of themselves as a people separate from those of Syria, Lebanon, and Transjordan (though, to be sure, they still regarded, and continue to regard, themselves as part of the wider Arab umma or nation), with a separate political destiny, and began to push for Palestinian independence and statehood. Between 1920 and 1935, Palestinian "nationalism" was propounded in a narrow circle of educated upper-class and middle-class families. During the revolt of 1936- 1939, the national idea spread from the urban upper classes to much of the countryside, though—to the embarrassment of Palestinian nationalists—many villages refused to participate in the uprising, and many Palestinians, especially in late 1938 and 1939, helped the British and the Zionists to crush the revolt. Since then, the Palestinians have indeed forged a collective identity and a separate history, which most historians view as necessary components of nationhood. Each Palestinian rebellion has been more popular and more massive than its predecessor, mirroring the spread of a national consciousness. The nakba of 1948 and the refugeedom that followed constitute the fulcrum around which Palestinian national identity and purpose have crystallized. But this is not quite the whole story. The reach of Palestinian nationalism, at least in past decades, deserves to be viewed with a measure of skepticism. For most of the conflict with Zionism and Israel, most "Palestinians" have cared far more about their family, their clan, and their village than about some remote construction called "nationalism" or "the nation."It is worth recalling that one of the reasons for the Zionist and Israeli success, before 1948 and since 1967, has been the excellent intelligence garnered from the thousands of Palestinians willing to spy against their own (and this holds true also for the two intifadas); and another reason has been the willingness—no, the eagerness—of Palestinians to sell land to Jews, both in Palestine before 1948 and in the territories since 1967. Israel's settlements in the West Bank and Gaza were built by tens of thousands of local Arab laborers. Despite the undoubted dedication of hundreds of contemporary suicide bombers, there is no reason to view the Palestinians as latter-day Vietnamese, who successively battled and beat the powerful Japanese, French, and American empires; or as latter-day Serbs, who for centuries beat off Ottoman and Germanic conquerors. I cannot see Serbs constructing homes for Albanians in Kosovo. Palestinian nationalism developed peculiarly. It was influenced by the development of the national movements in the neighboring countries (particularly Syria and Egypt), and like them it emerged partly in response to the overbearing European imperialism to which it was subject; but it also developed as a response to the neighboring challenge of that other, more successful nationalist enterprise with which it competed—I mean Zionism. And this competitor repeatedly beat the Palestinian national movement over the head, and humbled and humiliated it, ultimately displacing more than half the Palestinians from their homes. (The vast majority of them, however, remained inside Palestine: in this sense, most of the Palestinian "refugees" are not refugees at all.) Then, in 1967, in a war provoked by the Arabs, Israel proceeded to conquer the rest of the land of Israel and then some. Most national movements grow up in antagonism to neighboring nationalisms, and usually in conflict over borderlands. But in Palestine it was the whole of the homeland that was exclusively claimed by both peoples. It is difficult to think of any comparable case in modern history. There is little wonder, then, that the Palestinian national movement matured as a rejectionist enterprise; indeed, that the rejection of Zionism and all that it embodies has defined its essence. Rejectionism, like the drive to return to "the Lost Garden," as Kimmerling and Migdal put it, is built into the Palestinians' identity (what the authors call "Palestinism"). Perhaps the wonder is that Zionism overcame its own initial denial of the Palestinians and ultimately accepted their presence in, and the colegitimacy of their claim to, Palestine. t is worth noting, at this point, a major asymmetry in the evolution of the Jewish national movement and the Palestinian national movement. The Zionists, too, at first sought sovereignty over the whole of the land. As one early Zionist, Ze'ev Dubnow, put it in October 1882, the first year of Zionist settlement in Palestine: "The ultimate goal ... is, in time, to take over the Land of Israel and to restore to the Jews the political independence they have been deprived of for these two thousand years.... The Jews will yet arise and, arms in hand (if need be), declare that they are the masters of their ancient homeland." But over the decades the Zionists came to recognize that the land was inhabited by hundreds of thousands of Arabs who devised their own collective identity and began to resist the Jewish influx. Following the start of the Arab Revolt, the Zionist movement formally accepted—in 1937, in response to the Peel Commission recommendations—the principle of partition, meaning a division of Palestine between its two communities. And in 1947, the movement accepted both the principle of partition and the specific United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which, positing the establishment of two states, awarded the Zionists some 55 percent of Palestine (most of it in the Negev desert) and the Palestinian Arabs some 40 percent. Between 1949 and 1967, Israel existed quite happily without the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (And one day, if peace is ever achieved on the basis of a two-state solution, it will exist quite happily without those lands again.) The 1967 war, with Israel's conquest of vast territories, conjured up the possibility—and, for many Israelis at the time, the temptation—that Israel might permanently incorporate the West Bank and Gaza. This was the premise that sired the expansionist settlers' movement. But the years between 1967 and 1991 may be seen as a deviant period, a turbulent parenthesis in Zionist history. By the early 1990s, primarily under the impact of the first intifada, the Israelis reverted to their old acceptance of partition. This underlay the Rabin-Peres policy during the Oslo process and Barak's proposals at Camp David in 2000. And this acceptance of the necessity (and also the justice) of partition is still true of most of Israel's Jews, though many Palestinians suspect that Israelis secretly desire a "Greater Israel," much as many Arabs believe that Zionism was and remains ultimately bent on establishing a Jewish "kingdom" stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates, as prefigured in the Bible. The shift in Zionist ideology from an ideologically pristine demand for all of Palestine to a sober acceptance of partition was not paralleled in the development of the Palestinian national movement. This asymmetry has underpinned the conflict since the 1930s. And the peculiarity of Palestinian nationalism has not been restricted to its ends. It has also characterized its means. It is not that Palestinian Arabs, or Arabs in general, are naturally terroristic or more terroristic than other peoples; but the Palestinian national movement has always lived under one foreign ruler or another, and so the violence to which it has regularly resorted has always been illicit and non-conventional. Until the mid-1990s, the Palestinians never had anything resembling an army. To give vent to their anger and their frustrations, and to further their ambitions, Palestinian violence against the Zionists, the British, and their fellow Arabs had always admixed (morally acceptable) guerrilla warfare—attacks on occupying foreign soldiers—with (morally repugnant) terrorism—attacks on unarmed civilians. Of course, the Palestinians throughout their history have been weak—and guerrilla warfare and terrorism are the weapons of the weak. But at the deeper level of traditions, habits, and abilities, unconventional warfare suits them (witness the very poor performance of the PLO regular formations, with tanks and artillery, against the invading Israeli Defense Forces in southern Lebanon in June 1982). And in this sense the Palestinians, and especially Hamas, are in sync with radical Islam's more general assault on the West—of which Israel, the "little Satan," is but a bridgehead in its region—and are natural participants in the age of terrorism that is upon us. (Myself, I have no doubt that there are elements among them, as there are among their Saudi and Afghani brothers, that will resort to chemical and biological weapons if they ever lay their hands on them.) Moreover, the Palestinian national movement has always been characterized by undemocratic political structures and social norms. The establishment of a democracy has never been a major goal of the movement. In part, this has been due to the conditions under which Palestinian nationalists have usually labored (in secrecy and underground). But even more important have been historical and cultural factors. At no point in their history have Palestinian nationalists ever been able to look back in time or to look sideways around themselves—at neighboring Arab countries—for models of democratic practice or aspiration. (Indeed, to the deep chagrin of the more enlightened among them, the only democracy the Palestinians have ever witnessed has been the Jewish society that flourished alongside them. Modern Islam abhors democracy.) Palestinian society, when starting out early in the twentieth century on its march toward statehood, was governed by several dozen notable families that enjoyed largely feudal relations with the mass of the country's peasants and urban poor. (Arafat and the PLO did not emerge from these rural and urban poor classes.) The first and second intifadas have had almost nothing at all to do with the old notable families, who have preferred to keep their peace, and to continue to make money, under Israeli occupation—just as they abstained from leadership roles when it actually came to sacrifice and fighting, as in 1936-1939 and 1947-1948. But the tradition of non-democratic behavior by those wielding the gun still prevails. There is something deeply troubled about the present condition of Palestinian society. Even some Palestinians believe this, and occasionally say so. The rubble-strewn streets of the Palestinian cities, the continued subsistence of most Palestinians on donations from the international community, and above all the readiness of so many young Palestinians to become suicide bombers and the popularity of these suicide bombers within the Palestinian community: these are all signs of a sickness of the soul. A significant cause of this malaise is, of course, the triumph of Zionism and Israel, the agents of the Palestinian dispersion in 1948 and of the Palestinian subjugation since 1967; but that external cause is not the only cause.

After dealing with the allegedly decisive events of 1834, Kimmerling and Migdal, more realistically, move on to the years of British rule in Palestine, and the social and economic developments that underlay the emergence of Palestinian nationalism. They look at the struggle for primacy between the coastal, Western-looking, modernizing towns of Jaffa and Haifa and the traditionalist, more Islamic hill centers of Nablus, Jerusalem, and Hebron. They devote a chapter to the revolt of 1936-39, in which the Palestinians, under Husseini (who, characteristically, fled to Lebanon in 1937), tried to eject the British, or at least to persuade them to halt Zionist immigration and development. They provide an inadequate chapter on the nakba, the collapse of Palestinian society in 1948 under the hammer blows of the war of their own making—which the Palestinians then and subsequently, in a metaphysical spin, viewed as "an immense conspiracy and ... a monumental injustice" against themselves. Indeed, one of the characteristics of the Palestinian national movement has been the Palestinians' view of themselves as perpetual victims of others—Ottoman Turks, British officials, Zionists, Americans—and never to appreciate that they are, at least in large part, victims of their own mistakes and iniquities. In the Palestinian Weltanschauung, they never set a foot wrong; their misfortunes are always the fault of others. The inevitable corollary of this refusal to recognize their own historical agency has been a perpetual Palestinian whining—that, I fear, is the apt term—to the outside world to save them from what is usually their own folly. And the whining, more often than not, has been accompanied by mendacity. Thus it was in September and October 1936, half a year into the Arab Revolt, when they secretly appealed to the monarchs of the Arab states to save them from British suppression by issuing a call to the Palestinians to "graciously" halt their rebellion. Thus it was in April and May 1948, when they pleaded for the Arab states to invade Palestine and save them from the Jews (whom they had attacked between November 1947 and March 1948). Thus it was in September 1970, when they called upon the Arab world to save them from the Hashemite regime in Jordan, which they had just assailed and tried to subvert. And thus it is today, when Arafat and his minions, having unleashed terror on Israel's cities, desperately appeal to the West and to the Arab states to save them from Israel's wrath. Kimmerling and Migdal move briskly through the resurrection of the Palestinian national movement in the 1960s, under the PLO and Arafat; and Palestinian life under the post-1967 Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza; and the Palestinian failure to oust the occupier by means of violence in the 1970s and 1980s; and the start of the peace process, following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the first intifada of 1987-1991. Finally they arrive at the Oslo process, examining "What Went Right" and "What Went Wrong."Back in the 1990s, during the Oslo years, many Israelis shared a sense of cautious optimism. It was not that the terrorists had packed up and gone into retirement; indeed, in four attacks over an eight-day period in February and March 1996, Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers slaughtered more than forty Israelis and injured about two hundred in the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and embarrassed the peacemaking Labor-led government so grievously that Shimon Peres lost the elections that spring to the Likud's inexperienced Benjamin Netanyahu. Still, it appeared that the majority of Palestinians had at last chosen a different course. After a hundred years of saying no to every proposed compromise, their leadership seemed to have bowed to the judgment of reason and history, and agreed to join with the Israeli government led by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in a process of conciliation that was leading, it seemed inevitably, to a settlement based on the partition of the land into two states. There had been the Americanengineered Middle East peace conference in Madrid, in 1991; the election in 1992, for the first time in fifteen years, of a conciliatory, Labor-led coalition government in Israel; the secret negotiation and then the very public signing on the White House lawn of the Oslo Agreement in 1993, in which Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and the PLO recognized Israel's "legitimate and political rights." There followed a series of bilateral negotiations and agreements that resulted in Israeli withdrawal from most of the Gaza Strip and the main towns of the West Bank; these were handed over to the PLO leadership, which was allowed to return from exile in Tunis. Arafat set up the self-governing Palestinian National Authority, and an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, at peace with and alongside Israel, seemed merely a matter of time—perhaps five or six years, as the core of the Oslo Agreement, the Declaration of Principles, envisioned. There were joyous celebrations in the streets of Gaza and Ramallah and Nablus and Jenin and Tulkarm, and solid if quieter satisfaction in Tel Aviv. As Kimmerling and Migdal remind us, more than 70 percent of the Palestinians and Israelis supported Oslo. But then came the spoilers, the fundamentalists from both camps—the Hamas and Islamic Jihad knifemen and shooters and bombers, active since 1991, and, from the Jewish side, Baruch Goldstein, the doctor from Kiryat Arba who in 1994 slaughtered twenty-nine Muslim worshippers at the al-Ibrahimiya Mosque (the Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hebron, and Yigal Amir, the Bar-Ilan University law student and settlements groupie who in 1995 shot Yitzhak Rabin in the back and killed him. Goldstein's rampage ignited suicide bombings, and Rabin's death crippled the Israeli peace camp.Palestinian terrorism steadily drove the Israeli public rightward, undermining its willingness to compromise and curbing the government's ability to make concessions. The continued growth of the settlements, the daily humiliations of the continued semi-occupation, and the absence of visible economic benefits ate away at the Palestinians' apparent rejection of rejectionism. Inevitably, scheduled IDF withdrawals from further chunks of territory were postponed, as were further rounds of peace talks; and each delay further embittered a segment of one public or the other. With his coalition falling apart, Rabin's successor Peres was forced into early elections, which Netanyahu won. Netanyahu spent his three years in power fending off Arab and American efforts to re-start the peace process; and this diplomatic freeze was in small part to account for the stillbirth of the Clinton-Barak peace initiative of 2000. immerling and Migdal's analysis of what went wrong with Oslo is excellent, insofar as any analysis that does not give sufficient weight to Arafat's basic rejectionism and duplicity can do the trick. They accurately pinpoint the problem at the heart of Oslo, which rendered it unacceptable even to the segment of the Palestinian public and leadership that seemed sincerely willing to reach a two-state compromise: the chronological asymmetry in its implementation and in the respective fulfillment of expectations. Kimmerling and Migdal call this asymmetry the "frontloading" and "backloading" of benefits, by which they mean that Oslo obliged the Palestinians, immediately upon signing in August-September 1993, to deliver the recognition of Israel and its legitimacy—this was always the Palestinians' chief negotiating asset—as well as to assure Israel's security against terrorism. In contrast to this "frontloading," the agreement obliged Israel only to deliver segments of territory and slices of sovereignty to the Palestinians over a five- to six-year period. The main Palestinian demands—for full sovereignty over the whole of the West Bank and Gaza, sovereignty over East Jerusalem, a solution to the refugee problem—were all "backloaded," that is, deferred to some point after the five- to six-year interim period, subject to a successful conclusion of the "final status" negotiations. And so the major Palestinian political aspirations remained largely unmet in the crucial years between 1993 and 1999. Kimmerling and Migdal attribute this asymmetry to the imbalance in power between the two sides: Israel was simply much more powerful than the Palestinians and, given the condition of the occupation, was able to dictate terms. But there was also an internal logic to the asymmetry that the authors too readily ignore. The recognition of Israel's legitimacy was a necessary initial component of any Israeli-Palestinian agreement; it was built into the very act of agreement. By starting to negotiate and to reach agreement with Israel, the Palestinians were effectively delivering the recognition that Israel desired. So it was an asset that the Palestinians had no way of preserving until some later time, when it could be traded for more territory or more sovereignty. (But, defying integrity and logic, the Palestinians tried to do just that when they repeatedly promised, and failed until 1995 to deliver, the "final" nullification of the Palestinian National Charter's clauses calling for Israel's extinction.)Moreover, decades of Palestinian guerrilla warfare, terrorism, and deception had persuaded the Israeli leaders that they could take nothing on trust, and that the Palestinian leadership would have to demonstrate a willingness and an ability, over an extended period of time, to honor agreements and to curb their killers; and it was in the years from 1993 to 1998 that the Palestinians were meant to prove this purpose. Only then could Israel complete the handover of territory and the acknowledgment of sovereignty. Kimmerling and Migdal occasionally refer to the Palestinian terrorism of the 1930s, 1950s, 1970s, and 1980s, but they say not a word about Arafat's performance in violating almost every agreement that he ever signed, starting with those concluded in the late 1960s and early 1970s with Lebanon and Jordan. (The PLO repeatedly made and unilaterally broke commitments to honor the integrity of these host countries.) Nor does Arafat's astonishing record of mendacity earn a mention anywhere in this book. Kimmerling and Migdal assert that Oslo had pulled "the veil from the myth that the Palestinians would accept nothing less than the destruction of Israel." But this is, at a minimum, naïve. They fail to address the possibility that Oslo, from Arafat's perspective, may have been a giant act of duplicity. He told a Muslim audience in a Johannesburg mosque in 1994 that he was willing to play along in order to win concessions but without ever intending to sign a final peace treaty that recognized Israel's permanent legitimacy and permanent boundaries. immerling and Migdal also fail to address adequately the issue of the "right of return," which is central, I think, to a proper understanding of Palestinian politics and purposes. Through Oslo and the negotiations of 2000, the refugee issue was left untouched; but publicly and privately all Palestinian spokesmen insisted on Israeli acceptance of the "right of return"—meaning the right of the refugees and their descendants to return to their places in the territory that became the state of Israel in 1948. Some 700,000 Palestinians were displaced in 1948, and the United Nations has more than 3.5 million Palestinian refugees on its rosters (comprising those still living from among the 700,000 and their descendants). The Palestinians claim that the true number is closer to five million. Israeli spokesmen, equally adamantly, insist that there can be no return of refugees from 1948, and that Israel can never concede the "right of return," anchored in U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 (which also offered the alternative of "compensation" to those not wishing to return). The concession of such a "right" would inevitably lead to the creation of an Arab majority in Israel. Israel would cease to be a Jewish state. Most Israelis, including Ehud Barak, regard the Palestinian insistence on the "right of return" as a euphemism for the desire to destroy Israel. So long as Arafat and his colleagues insist on a "right of return" as a necessary component of a peace settlement, there will be no peace settlement—because, as Barak put it, Israel is unwilling "to commit suicide." Israel has a population of fewer than five million Jews and 1.2 million Arabs. A mass return would give the Arabs a demographic edge almost instantly—and the Arab birth rate is far higher than the Jewish birth rate. Kimmerling and Migdal are aware of the centrality of the "right of return" in the Palestinian ethos. They write that "[the right of return] has been the fundamental building block of Palestinism." A full return to "the Lost Garden" has "continued to be accepted as the basic tenet of Palestinism." The authors cite a study by the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information from 2000—when Barak and Clinton were offering the historic compromise, before the eruption of the Aqsa Intifada—based on a random sample of 1,600 refugees in the West Bank and Gaza. Of those surveyed, 98.7 percent rejected compensation in place of return. Among the non-refugees questioned, the figure was 93.1 percent. The right and the necessity of return is incessantly drummed into every child and adult by family, school, and the P.A. So it is no surprise, as Kimmerling and Migdal conclude, that the refugees continue "to respond as if basic political, social, and spatial conditions had not changed, as if it were possible to travel back through time to some idyllic point in the past." Indeed, the role of the refugee camps in the evolution of Palestinian nationalism has become so great that no Palestinian leader is likely to defy their will.Kimmerling and Migdal observe that the Oslo accord "unveiled a large majority on each side ready ... to accept two states." But professing a two-state solution while continuing to insist on the "right of return" as an essential component of a settlement is meaningless blather. Kimmerling and Migdal fail to understand this. Some commentators believe that the Palestinian insistence on the "right of return" is merely tactical and diplomatic, but so long as this remains the official position, and the Palestinian leadership continues to pander politically to the people in the refugee camps, and the Palestinian masses are not encouraged to compromise on this demand, there will certainly be no change of direction.

This book is not precisely an apologia for the people whom it studies. The authors are frequently critical of Palestinian behavior over the past century or so. But Kimmerling and Migdal almost always match their censure of the Palestinians with criticism of the Zionists and Israel, as if it were somehow indecent to express the former without the latter. There is something compulsive about the evenhandedness of this book, and it sometimes has the effect of distorting history. This, for example, is what Kimmerling and Migdal say about partition: "Proposals to divide the country between Jews and Arabs had been circulating since the 1937 Peel Commission Report without much success. Neither side liked the idea of splitting the small piece of land." It is certainly true that neither side liked the idea, but in 1937, in 1947, and in 1993-2000 the Zionist leadership and then the Israeli leadership accepted—and in the latter years, even proposed—compromises based on the idea of partition, whereas the Palestinian leadership, under Husseini and again under Arafat, rejected all proposals for partition. The Palestinian rejection of the autonomy proposals agreed upon between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1978 at Camp David may be viewed in the same light: Sadat, and most commentators at the time, believed that the envisaged self-government in the West Bank and Gaza would have evolved into full-fledged Palestinian statehood. This was precisely why the Israeli right voted against the proposals. Similarly, Kimmerling and Migdal write of "the retreat [since 2000] from an acceptance by each side of the inevitability and necessity of partitioning Palestine, of a two-state solution." This is accurate with regard to the majority of Palestinians, but it flies in the face of every opinion poll conducted among the Israeli public in the past three years. A majority of Israelis, while supporting Barak's and then Sharon's anti-terrorist operations, continue to believe that Israel should in the end withdraw from the bulk of the West Bank and Gaza, and agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state. (Even Sharon now speaks about the eventual establishment of such a state, though the measure of his sincerity in this regard is anybody's guess.)Again, when Kimmerling and Migdal speak of the intermingling of religious symbols and motivations in the current intifada, they write that "national motives" and "religious symbols" also figure "increasingly, on the Israeli side." But is this "balance" really true? Do most Israelis, when trying to contain and to suppress Palestinian violence, declare that they are fighting for Judaism or its sacred sites, including the Temple Mount? Do they believe, like all Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, and most Fatah terrorists, that they are serving God's purpose and are assured of heavenly rewards when they die in God's war? Does Sharon, like Arafat, speak of "a million martyrs" whom he is willing to sacrifice for the cause? immerling and Migdal's book is liberally studded with factual errors. Often the mistakes are important; occasionally they merely display the authors' biases. They refer to "Sir John Philby" as the "British High Commissioner" in Transjordan in the 1920s—in fact, Harry St. John Philby was the British "Resident" in Transjordan (there was never a British "High Commissioner" in Jordan, and the only relevant high commissioner was the one in Palestine, who was also nominally responsible for Transjordan). They refer to the "two Christian Maronite villages" of "Bir'm" and "Ikrit"—in fact, Iqrit was Greek Catholic. They write that Jaffa fell to the Haganah on April 22, 1948 and Haifa on May 13—in fact, the reverse is true. They write that "starting on December 8, [1947]" the Palestinian forces "managed to capture isolated Jewish neighborhoods and settlements"—in fact, they tried but failed to capture a single Jewish neighborhood or settlement in the course of the war (the only settlements to fall were those conquered by the armies of Jordan, Egypt, and Syria, in May and June, though in one or two instances the Jordanians were assisted by Palestinian militiamen). They write that Fawzi al-Qawuqji's Arab Liberation Army entered Palestine in March 1948—in fact, many, perhaps most, of its troops had entered the country already in January and February. They adduce the "Khartoum [Arab] summit conference in the summer of 1968—the famous meeting in which the Arab League issued its notorious three no's to Israel: no negotiation, no recognition, no peace"—but Khartoum took place in late August and early September 1967. They misrepresent the Battle of Karameh of March 1968 as one in which "the Palestinians (aided by Jordanian artillery) ambushed the Israelis, killing as many as 25 soldiers"—in fact, the Israelis lost 33 dead (and 161 wounded), mostly to Jordanian tank and artillery fire. (There was no Palestinian "ambush," and Arafat himself fled Karameh at the start of the battle.) They write of the "peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1980"—in fact, it was signed in March 1979. They call Abu Alaa, the second or third man in the P.A. hierarchy, Ahmad Khuri—in fact, his name is Suleiman Ahmad Qurai. They remark that the Israeli-Palestinian flare-up in September 1996 was the result of the Israelis opening a tunnel "which extended underneath haram al-sharif"—in fact, the tunnel ran outside of, and parallel to, the western boundary wall of the haram. (This is important, as the Palestinian rioting was sparked by the rumor—which Kimmerling and Migdal here turn into fact—that Israel was tunneling under, and damaging, the compound.) They refer in this connection to forty Palestinians killed—but they fail to mention the fifteen or so Israeli dead in this Palestinian-initiated shootout. And so on, endlessly. But the book's biggest factual shortcoming lies in omission (subsequently compounded by gross inaccuracy)—the omission of any discussion of what happened in the negotiations of 2000 and January 2001, from Camp David through the Clinton proposals to Taba. In a book that purports to update the reader to 2002 and assumes (as I do) that what happened in 2000 was a historical watershed, the omission is staggering and irresponsible. All that Kimmerling and Migdal tell us is that "the course of these talks have been covered extensively elsewhere." There are no descriptions of what Barak offered in July and how Arafat responded, no details about what Clinton offered in December and how the two sides responded. (Israel immediately accepted the Clinton package; the Palestinians procrastinated and then, in effect, said no.) There is nothing about what happened at Taba in January 2001. Only this: "Suffice it to say here that, despite many subsequent recriminations, the two sides settled most of the outstanding issues between them." This is hogwash; even Palestinian spokesmen don't make such a claim. In fact, a deep chasm separated the Israelis and the Palestinians on all major issues—at Camp David, in responses to the Clinton proposals, and again at Taba. By the end of the Camp David summit, Barak, at Clinton's prodding, had agreed to Israeli withdrawal from 100 percent of Gaza and 90 to 91 percent of the West Bank; the uprooting of most of the settlements; and the establishment of a Palestinian state, with Israeli or American troops controlling the Jordan River line, and with some form of Palestinian functional control over most of the Arab districts of East Jerusalem. The Palestinians responded to these proposals by unleashing a new intifada and by stating that they were willing to settle for nothing less than the entirety of the territories and the uprooting of all the settlements, full sovereignty over Arab East Jerusalem including the Old City, sole Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and the "right of return" to Israel for all of the Palestinian refugees. In December, Clinton submitted—and then published—his proposals: Israeli withdrawal from 100 percent of the Gaza Strip and 94 to 96 percent of the West Bank (with substantial territorial compensation for the Palestinians from Israeli territory); the uprooting of most of the settlements (with the settlers remaining in the 4 to 6 percent of the West Bank that was to remain in Israeli hands or moving to Israel proper); Palestinian sovereignty over the Arab-populated districts of East Jerusalem and over half or three-quarters of the Old City, and sovereignty over the surface area of the Temple Mount (with, implicitly, Israeli sovereignty over the earth underneath, which presumably contains the remains of the First and Second Temples); and a "right of return" for the refugees limited to the areas of the West Bank and Gaza that would become the Palestinian state and massive funding for the refugees' rehabilitation. Barak and his Cabinet accepted these parameters within forty-eight hours; the Palestinian Authority procrastinated and then rejected them, insisting on complete Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount, top and bottom, and sovereignty over the whole of the West Bank, and the "right of return" to Israel.The subsequent discussions in Taba were held a fortnight before the Israeli general elections in which Sharon trounced Barak. Given the timing, both sides understood that the negotiations could not be successfully concluded and that they therefore lacked real political significance—or, as Muhammad Dahlan, one of the Palestinian negotiators later put it, that they were harta barta, nonsense. At the press conference at the end of Taba, Israel's chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, putting his best face on things, declared that the two sides had never been closer to an agreement. But Abu Ala, the chief Palestinian negotiator, when asked about the refugees, flatly declared that the Palestinians continue to insist on the right of return. It appears that Yossi Beilin had variously proposed that Israel accept back a token 40,000 refugees or tens of thousands per year over several years, and the Palestinians had refused.The Palestinians, or some Palestinians, apparently agreed to cede to Israel 2 to 2.5 percent of the West Bank in exchange for territorial compensation elsewhere—but after the meeting they denied that they had agreed to anything less than the entirety of the West Bank. It is unclear whether the negotiators had Arafat's authorization to make any territorial concession. In any event, they rejected Clinton's proposed cession of 4 to 6 percent of the West Bank. And they continued to insist on sole Palestinian sovereignty over the whole of the Temple Mount, rejecting Barak's and Clinton's various proposals: U.N. Security Council control of the site; a joint Israeli-Palestinian condominium; and "divine sovereignty" (meaning neither Palestinian nor Israeli sovereignty, with the Palestinians continuing to exercise de facto control, as they have since 1967). All this diplomatic disagreement Kimmerling and Migdal weirdly summarize by observing that the "two sides [had] settled most of the outstanding issues between them." In December 2000, Clinton set out the guidelines for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. Those guidelines, whether or not Yasir Arafat or Ariel Sharon like them, remain the only basis for a reasonable peace that provides both peoples with a modicum of justice and security. But the Palestinians will first have to give up their dream of destroying Israel and discard their insistence on the "right of return." Their leaders will have to tell their people—in the camps outside Tyre and Beirut and Damascus and Gaza and Nablus and Amman—that there will be no return to the garden, that the price of that dream is too high. And Sharon, or his successor, will have to give up the dream of a Greater Israel. But I do not see these happy developments happening anytime soon. I fear that we are in for a long and bloody haul.

BENNY MORRIS is professor of Middle East history at Ben-Gurion University and the author, most recently, of The Road to Jerusalem: Glubb Pasha, Palenstine and the Jews (I.B. Tauris & Co).

Sunday, May 18, 2003

I think I'll keep up the habit of posting essays until things calm down a bit. This one is a bit dated, but see what you think:

The Return of the King by Benjamin Kerstein

The Slow Death of European Democracy

-- --
A great poet once wrote, “So this is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.” The rush of events that has heralded the past twelve months in the United States and in the world at large have often seemed dizzyingly Apocalyptic. After a decade of normalcy we are suddenly faced with a world ripping itself apart at the seams. We have begun to speak of a clash of civilizations and values; one centered most of all on the threat posed by terrorism and the rise of tyrannous theocracy throughout large swaths of the globe. This narrow conceptualization is not entirely justified, for other, equally threatening clouds are emerging on the geopolitical scene, and it does not behoove us to neglect such warnings, even those of poets. The phenomenon most demanding of sustained attention is the state of affairs on the European continent, especially the Social Democratic states of Western Europe, in which anti-democratic forces are approaching a state of critical mass that may yet prove as disruptive and dangerous to American security and freedom as Osama Bin Laden’s mindless minions. For something like creeping totalitarianism is emerging in Europe, and the continent that cradled Western civilization is showing ominous signs of descending into another of its periodic epidemics of collective psychosis and destruction.
It must be remembered, first and foremost, that democracy in Europe is a relatively new phenomenon. Most continental European countries have existed for well over five centuries in something like their current forms, with democracy an unknown factor until the last half-century. Of the more newly constituted nations, democracy existed as an experimental moment that quickly gave way to the twin totalitarianisms of communism or fascism. The cathartic effect of the Second World War complicated matters, bringing Western Europe into the orbit of the United States and Eastern Europe under the heel of the Soviet Union. The result was a network of Western European states that practiced something resembling what was originated in England under the moniker of the “mixed economy”, a hybrid of parliamentary democracy and economic Socialism whose schizophrenic soul skittered uneasily along the fault lines of the Cold War. With the end of the Soviet threat, the Hydra of globalization and the formalization of the European Union seemed to promise the coming of a New Europe, one divorced from both the fratricidal wars of the pre-bellum period and the American economic alliance of the antebellum era. Europe would now compete with America economically and on the world geopolitical scene as a renewed and vibrant force, not a doddering old fossil unable to function without American life support.
The threat that such historical forces posed to the existence of democracy in Europe was disregarded in the headlong rush to effect “the end of history”, a millennialist vision of the final cessation of human conflict through the creation of interlocking world government and economic systems; the prototype of the former being the United Nations, and the second the European Union. Neither concept has worked out to the satisfaction of its visionaries. The world government idea has proven impractical and unworkable, as the United Nations has descended into mindless racism and corruption, and the European Union has struggled to pay its own bills, let alone compete with the United States. The failure of both these messianic concepts, not as spectacular but equally as portentous as the failure of the League of Nations, is producing a Europe in a state of metastasizing discontent, with a population growing older, economies shrinking, unemployment seemingly insurmountable, and democratic institutions giving way to petty beaurocratic systemization.
While seemingly aberrational, this should be surprising to no one, it is little more then a return to the normal European state of affairs. The mistaken duality that conceptualizes a world divided between developed and undeveloped societies is a highly deceptive one. The world is in fact divided between functional and non-functional societies. Viewed in these terms, recent developments in Europe are very disturbing indeed, for they point to a society becoming more dysfunctional by the minute.
In order to understand the workings of this phenomenon it must be remembered that democracy is a method, not a system per se. It cannot rule in sovereign solitude. Around a democracy must exist the edifice of a civil society, a common civil culture, the intricate, often paradoxical web of law and tradition without which democracy is as insubstantial as a wisp of smoke in a raging gale. Whereas for Americans (or Britons or Israelis for that matter) republican or parliamentary democracy is a sacred trust, a system sanctified by law and custom, for many other states democracy is a semi-desirable means to an end, be it social justice, equality, state-controlled economics, personal/sexual freedom or a sundry other well-meaning or not so well meaning goals. Value in such nations is placed not on the method as a value in itself, but on the nature of the society molded in its image, whose first duty is to be satisfactory to the values of said culture’s leading ideologists. This basic schism in political totems is being exacerbated by core economic/sociological/demographic differences between Europe and the US, for the great paradox of modern civil governance is this: the mechanism and the goal cannot exist independent of each other. Without the one the other collapses. A functional society without democracy is a house of cards, totalitarianism waiting to happen.
It was the Nobel Prize winning economist Freidrich Hayek who first noted the essential similitude of Communism and Nazism, and postulated the theory that state economic control leads inexorably and inevitably to political totalitarianism. It is worthwhile to start here in our discussion of the state of European affairs, and particularly with Hayek’s postulation that the German people were most prepared to accept the doctrines of Nazi state totalism due to their previous experience with economic Socialism.

Of the major states of the European Union, nearly all are democracies of one kind or another, mostly Parliamentary with a system based on proportional representation and a fairly weak executive. Almost all of them are coalition governments, with one or two major parties sharing power with a host of smaller ones. Nearly all of these coalitions, it is important to note, are center-Left in nature, encompassing a moderately Liberal party and several more extreme coalition partners. (To this rule Italy is currently the major exception, although we shall return to that later.) In France and Austria, this status quo has been threatened by the emergence of ultra-nationalist Right Wing parties, usually centered around nativism and a less then condemnatory view of the Nazi era. The response of the political establishment to these movements has been largely ineffective and counterproductive, dismissing legitimate grievances as racism and making dangerous concessions on seemingly less momentous issues. On the part of the more extreme Left, the reaction has been violence, both in rhetoric and action. This culminated in the recent assassination of Dutch politician Pym Fortuyn, whose murder was a watershed in European politics, and a dangerous indication of coming trends.
Fortuyn was a homosexual, a sexual and economic Libertarian who believed first and foremost in the Liberal legacy of Dutch politics and culture. The caricature of him as an anti-immigrant demagogue is inaccurate and misleading, his politics were complex, but first and foremost he was concerned with the upheavals in society caused by his countries extremely open immigration and welfare system. One of the consequences of a “mixed economy” is a state of stagnant economic growth, one in which the growing demands upon the modern welfare state cannot be easily met by the working population. This necessitates the creation of an immigrant laboring class, in the European countries mostly culled from the nations of Africa and the Middle East. The assimilative tendencies of these groups have not proven to be high, and even in countries where immigrant groups are economically successful, these is little mixing with the native population, resulting in what are, in effect, multicultural nations in the worst sense of the word, a Balkanized Europe with native populations with their shared history and culture on one side, and a smaller but no less coherent sub-culture co-existing in a separate and not particularly comfortable tension with the host society. Many aspects of the these sub-cultures are already showing signs of clashing, not merely with the nativist tendencies of some native Europeans, but with the liberal, pluralistic values cherished by those nation’s political cultures, ironically, the very tradition that brought mass immigration to Europe in the first place. Nowhere has this been more pronounced, and in Fortuyn’s ideology it was paramount, then in the conflict between Western Liberalism and fundamentalist Islam.
The brand of fundamentalist Islam now metastasizing across the Middle East is fundamentally opposed to Western Liberalism in nearly every aspect; Liberalism believes in the pursuit of truth through reason, Islamism in the revelation of truth through the Koran; Liberalism believes in equality between the sexes, Islamism places women in a subservient and inferior societal position; Liberalism believes in democratic government through consent of the governed, Islamism believes in something approaching a theocratic fascism, with the Koran as the final arbiter of justice. On such questions as homosexuality and the treatment of religious and racial minorities, Islamism is quite literally medieval, and it was this that frightened Fortuyn and his followers, and gave urgency to his ideology. This ideology, critical of large-scale mass immigration and skeptical of the assimilative capacities of historically homogeneous European states, has begun to gain a large enough following in the states of Western Europe that the traditional political elites have begun to feel the pressure to formulate a reaction. On the part of the European Left the reaction has been one of growing repression and violence.
It is already illegal in France and several other European countries to publish materials critical of radical Islam, homosexuality, immigration, or to publish openly racist or neo-Nazi material, due to laws specifically banning the dissemination of such material. This form of censorship, untenable in American due to First Amendment laws, was intended to squelch racism and avoid tension between ethnic and social groups. It has resulted instead in a shrinking of public debate and a creeping totalitarian insularity in societal discourse. In recent years, prosecutions have begun to encompass works of history and journalism well beyond the realm of racist agitation, even involving the fining of such noted scholars as Bernard Lewis and the prosecution of reporters such as Oriana Fallaci. The line between legitimately critical scholarship and violent propaganda has been so legally blurred as to for all intents and purposes become non-existent. There is now, in the eyes of the law, no differentiation between criticizing an open immigration policy and calling for the extermination of racial minorities. This has led inevitably to a messianic demonization of Right Wing political movements throughout Europe. As it did in the early stages of the Nazi era, the level of invective has already resulted in acts of violence, culminating in Fortuyn’s murder earlier this year by, of all things, an animal rights activist. This is dangerous as well as unfortunate, for a great many European citizens are discontent and frustrated with current political and cultural trends, as people in all societies often are. But as democracy recedes in favor of universalistic beaurocracy on the socialist model, their legitimate concerns are being first dismissed and now forcibly suppressed through laws originally formulated out of the best of intentions.
The anti-democratic trend intensifies around social issues which in America might be described as “wedge issues”. Guns, the death penalty, abortion; basic schisms in the social fabric between cultural/social groups: country/city, religious/secular, etc. On every issue in question, Europe has chosen anti-democratic, unilateralist solutions. The death penalty in particular is an enlightening example. We have, on one hand, the fact that some 70% of English subjects support the re-imposition of the death penalty and, on the other hand, the fact that the death penalty is banned in England and shows no signs of being reinstated anytime soon. It is clear that England’s democratic tradition has been corrupted by its parallel tradition of Socialism, for Socialism inevitably prefers beaurocratic, unilaterist solutions to questions which it is both necessary and desirable for societies to resolve for themselves. How it falls under the purview of a centralized state power and not a democratic consensus to decide highly controversial issues such as the death penalty or gun ownership is difficult for the most dedicated Democratic Socialist to explain. More worrying are the ubiquitous attempts of Europe’s political elites to fabricate the illusion of democratic consensus around issues that have self-evidently been decided by fiat. This anti-democratic practice bespeaks a creeping totalitarianism, a descent of elitist faith in civil society, tyranny in the name of the angels.
We have an even more telling situation if we specifically examine the nations of the European Union, in which the question of democratic support for the death penalty has been reduced to a bothersome irrelevancy since European Union membership has been predicated on the rejection of the death penalty irregardless of democratic principles. The use of economic blackmail by the EU to effect political conformity among its member nations behooves us to remember that these tendencies did not spring from nowhere, they are well in keeping with the predominant trends of late 20th century European politics.
There is no question that the ubiquity of Democratic Socialism as the governmental model for the Western European nations for the previous half-century has led inevitably to the current situation. Socialism is inherently hierarchical, beaurocratic, and conformist. Ideas, movements, and ideologies beyond its paradigm or disturbing to its coveted universalism are to be feared, demonized, and finally snuffed out of existence. The immediately post-war generation of leaders realized this drawback and hoped that the institutionalization of democracy would alleviate these dark tendencies. This begs the question: can democracy exist within the Socialist paradigm? Or, even more pointedly: is Democratic Socialism possible? I contend that it is not. And prevailing trends in Europe are proof positive of the fact. The socialist democracies of Europe are beginning to consume themselves, and what lies beyond their collapse is a thought dreadful to contemplate.

Democratic Socialism became the prevailing model of governance in Europe at an extremely late stage in history; in the decade following the end of World War II, and was accomplished, it is important to remember, in a largely artificial situation, one facilitated by billions of American dollars and under the protection of American weapons of war. With the end of the Cold War and the flight of both these factors, the edifice built upon them is beginning to show strong signs of unsustainability.
All of the modern states of Europe are former kingdoms or formal imperial holdings. The largest and most influential of them, France, has vacillated between Republican Democracy and dictatorial tyranny for most of the last 200 years with the latter showing both more popularity and greater staying power. France’s historical arch-rival, Germany, has existed in its current state only since the 19th century and has shown a remarkable predilection for both dictatorship and war, culminating in the orgy of violence orchestrated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. As Hayek has pointed out, Nazism was not a historical aberration, but a culmination of trends. Trends which had been developing in Germany and the rest of Europe since the late 1800s. These trends, towards statism in all its forms but particularly over the economic sphere, gave birth to the authoritarian hydra of Communism and Nazism, both of which were essentially extremist reactions to the values of classic Liberalism. The middle ground carved out in the post-war era; that of the Democratic Socialist state; was an uneasy hybrid. On the one hand, it proposed to enshrine the principles of consensual government while at the same time employing as a means of economic control a perpetual shadow republic, for all intents and purposes existing beyond the sphere of electoral influence. This is exemplified by the political/economic structures of the Scandinavian democracies, in which the election of one or another political party is largely irrelevant due to the stringent governmental controls on all aspects of economic life, none of which are seriously challenged by any sect of the political establishment. The Scandinavian nations are already beginning a dangerous flirtation with social control on the same model as their economic controls. It is, for instance, illegal to import kosher foods into the Scandinavian nations due to animal rights concerns. It is also very shortly going to be illegal to criticize the practice of homosexuality in Sweden, a prohibition which could likely result in the arrest and imprisonment of religious leaders. The question of whether one approves of the methods of kosher butchering or the practice of homosexuality is frankly a matter of little importance, one can oppose the one and approve energetically of the other and still consider such injunctions a violation of both personal and political freedom. Thus we see, once again, the truth of Hayek’s predictions, as the national control of the economic sphere begins to bleed into those of the political and finally the personal. These phenomena cannot be understood without first grasping the fact that democracy is, in none of the European nations, an absolute value in and of itself.
This fact becomes even more apparent in the examination of the economic sphere. The great promise of the Democratic Socialist model is that through the machinations of government a more rational economy can constructed that will better provide for the material wants and needs of its citizens. This is an idea lifted directly from Marxist philosophy and is Democratic Socialism’s closest link to Communism in its purest sense. Democratic Socialism posits that authoritarian control of the economic sphere is not merely a necessary evil, but a desirable state of affairs, and one that no just nation can afford to do without. We owe much to the work of Milton Friedman and Hayek himself for disproving this theory, and I will not delve into that debate here, but its effect on the current practical state of affairs deserves examining.
Firstly, with the exception of Ireland (which has been the European exception to most things for at least seven centuries), not one of the Democratic Socialist nations of Europe is experiencing anything like adequate economic growth. There is no question that encroaching government beaurocracies, irrationally high rates of taxation, over regulation and numerous other essential aspects of the Democratic Socialist model are suffocating individual capital and contributing to the economic stagnation of the continent. The fuse to this time bomb is the demographic nature of the European population, which has its foundation in small family units and a rapidly aging population. This confluence of factors is leading to a situation in which large swaths of the population will be leaving the European work force without a sufficient population base to sustain the demands they will be making on the welfare state for health care, housing, old-age pensions and the like. In short, the Democratic Socialist nations are facing nothing short of a total economic collapse within three decades, a collapse that will likely spell the end of the Democratic Socialist model and its monopoly upon economic and political power.
The response of the political establishment to these trends has varied from country to country. Large-scale immigration, in the hopes of strengthening decaying work forces, has resulted in growing political/social tensions and dislocations, often creating a working underclass precisely like the one Democratic Socialism professed to have the means to alleviate. Economic reform has proven difficult. While it has met with some success in England, on the continent beaurocratic resistance and the anti-democratic nature of the proportional representation system have all but stalled attempts at liberalization. Attempts to forge new political paradigms (the so-called “Third Way”) have been met with even more limited success, proving popular in moments of calm but reduced to near catatonia in crisis situations.
What has resulted from this situation, decaying social/economic infrastructure coupled with a fossilized political response, is an élan of discontent, an ethos of frustration and violence which is beginning to cleave at the already fraying strands of European life. This élan of discontent has been most recently personified by the rise of Far-Right politicians of the likes of Jorg Heider of Austria and Jean-Marie LePen of France, and on the other side an intensification of Leftist response, crystallized in the violence of the anti-globalization movement and, most of all, by the previously mentioned assassination of Pym Fortuyn.
Why now? Why the seeming blindness and inability of the European political elites to reform their own systems and adjust to new realities?
The answer, I believe, lies in the essential lie that has formed the foundation of post-war European political culture. Namely, that once oppressive, authoritarian states were now, suddenly, egalitarian, liberal, and open democracies. In fact, something very much the opposite is the case. The nations of Western Europe are no less elitist and authoritarian then they were fifty years ago. The replacement of monarchist or aristocratic elites by supposedly egalitarian socialist elites has done nothing to change the essentially illiberal nature of European political culture. Democratic Socialism has failed to bring forth Liberty, Equality, or Fraternity and the tangled web of socialist beaurocracy has long since consumed whatever democracy once existed in the societies of continental Europe. The rumblings of popular discontent and the violent reaction to the abdication of public consent in favor of state economic and eventual political control are, I believe, nothing less then the birth pangs of a new totalitarianism.

What can we expect from the nations of Europe over the next decade, as their welfare states become steadily overburdened and their populations become ever more taxed to provide for their funding despite shrinking economies? The first outcome, one which is already beginning to show itself, is a strengthening of the extremes and the collapse of the moderate center in the political sphere, coupled with increasing violence and social unrest. The rise of openly racist and isolationist movements on the Right, and violently radical and anarchistic movements on the Left has already led to considerable, although hardly earth-shattering, political destabilization in many of the continental nations. The adoption of anti-Semitic and anti-American themes on both sides of the political spectrum also point to an increasingly irrational and paranoiac mindset on the part of the European body politic which have been historical alarm bells for the rise of totalitarianism. The growing strength of the anti-globalization and radical environmentalist movements, both of which seek to combine an essentially anarchistic and anti-modernist worldview with a predilection for the application of massive state power has already resulted in street violence and riot in several European cities.
In contrast to the anarchistic forces unleashed on the political extremes, we see the collapse of a viable center, which has given itself wholly over to the auspices of the European Union, thus in effect abandoning the stipulations of democratic consent in favor an uber-state of questionable effectiveness. The near-messianic faith of the consensus politicians of Europe in the redemptive power of EU membership cannot be underestimated as a decisive factor in the collapse of European civil society. As the center abandons democracy, the popular discontent inherent in such an abandonment has begun to seek comfort in the extremes, and the absence of a liberal alternative to the Euro-state has left a vacuum into which unscrupulous forces are beginning to be swept.
Without question, the growing alienation from the United States is only being strengthened by the consumption of democracy by its socialist counterpart and the ensuing corruption of civil society. The United States, both more openly liberal and more self-assuredly capitalist of the two societies does not suffer from many of the maladies which Europe has imposed on itself, nor is American democracy a foreign import or imposition, but rather the basis of the society itself. This, coupled with America’s lack of reticence in the realm of economic or political internationalism is placing the US on a collision course both with Europe’s growing extremes and the weakening consensus at the center. The extremes on both Left and Right are opposed to America ideologically rather than due to specific issues of dispute; the Right through its nationalism and isolationism, and the Left due to its rejection of American-style globalized capitalism and its deep-seated historical resentment of American opposition to communism. The recent adoption of an openly anti-American line by German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, which may well have won him reelection, seems to be less an opportunistic aberration than a harbinger of things to come. Cooption of the vital and growing radical movements of Left and Right by mainstream politicians is inevitable and likely to be based largely on anti-American sentiment.
The center is further pushed into conflict with the United States by its dedication to the construction of the European Union as a viable economic, political, and in all likelihood eventual military competitor with the United States. Longstanding resentments of US dominance of European foreign policy and defense throughout the Cold War are coalesced into a newly independent European Union whose diplomatic outlook is beginning to define itself through its opposition to American hegemony. The ambition of the European Unionists cannot be viewed as anything other then the desire to become another Superpower, capable of challenging US interests in all spheres, diplomatic and otherwise. The Freudian nature of this paradigm becomes more apparent with each passing year, as the European state’s desire for opposition to American power comes into increasing conflict with the undeniable economic fact that the generous European welfare states cannot be sustained without the assumption of the overwhelming burden of European defense by the United States.
Most menacing, however, is the prospects that face us some two or three decades down the road, when the aforementioned issues begin to assert themselves by a factor of magnification. As to what form the final collapse of the socialist democracies of Western Europe will take is something I will not venture to predict, but I believe that their collapse is an inevitability; it may come in a single, chaotic cataclysm accompanied by riot and bloodshed; or it may be a slow, creeping totalitarianism that erodes away liberties and freedoms until democracy as such has ceased to exist on the European continent. These are, of course, violent predictions, and the charge of Cassandrism is inevitable in such cases. It is important to remember, however, that the scenario I have outlined herein is hardly unprecedented; indeed, it has largely been the rule rather then the exception of European history. It may be that I am wrong, and that the doctrines of classic liberal democracy will one day reassert themselves on the European continent, but I must say that I am not optimistic in this regard, the forces of totalitarianism have always been far stronger in Europe then those of liberty, economic or otherwise; the democracy we regard as normalcy among the nations of Western Europe is, with the exception of Great Britain, a modern innovation and in many cases nothing more then an American imposition. Its perpetuation, on a continent that has shown a fairly perpetual inclination towards the securities of tyranny over the vicissitudes of freedom, is, I believe, unsustainable.

Beersheva, Israel
April, 2003

Friday, May 16, 2003

As I am swamped, I leave you this wonderful little j'accuse from Dissent Magazine. I dont agree with all of it, but it deserves to be read in full:

Israel and the New Anti-Semitism

by Shalom Lappin

Since the collapse of the Oslo peace process and the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has generated an increasingly hostile view of Israel throughout Western Europe. Much of this reaction consists of sharp criticism of Israel's conduct in suppressing the Palestinian uprising in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. To the extent that this response is directed at Israel's actions and policies, it is legitimate comment on the behavior of a state and its government. The severity of the criticism can, in part, be attributed to the fact that Israel is a relatively strong, developed country that is using its army to sustain the occupation of a large Palestinian population that is politically dispossessed and suffering economically. As the current violence has become increasingly brutal on both sides, the asymmetry of power between Israel and the Palestinians and Ariel Sharon's determination to entrench the occupation through settlement expansion while forcing the Palestinians into virtual capitulation have seriously undermined European support for Israel.

There are, however, good reasons for doubting whether all the hostility directed at Israel can be construed simply as opposition to its policies. The obsessive focus of European journalists and opinion makers on Israel's war with the Palestinians contrasts sharply with the relative indifference of (much) liberal opinion to other recent, as well as ongoing human rights violations on a significantly larger scale. Slobodan Milosevic's bloody campaigns in Bosnia and Kosovo attracted little if any organized protest in Europe until the United States initiated a NATO bombing campaign to force the Serbian army out of Kosovo in 1999. At that point, European peace groups launched a series of large protests against the intervention. The fact that many European Union countries actively collaborated with the Milosevic government during the Bosnian War and did virtually nothing to stop its onslaught produced no apparent outrage among most purveyors of progressive politics in these countries. While the mass murder of more than six thousand Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica shocked some people, there was no demonization of Serbia, no calls for academic boycotts of Serbian universities. The International War Crimes Court in the Hague is prosecuting indicted Balkan war criminals, Milosevic foremost among them, while popular opinion in Europe, particularly on the left, has remained largely detached from the events that led to the court's creation.

Russia's unrestrained assault on Muslim separatists in Chechnya has been met with little more than occasional censure from human rights activists. It goes largely unreported and causes little if any concern in Europe. In both the Balkans and in Chechnya the level of violence and severe human rights abuses has been, to date, far higher than in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although this doesn't justify Israel's actions in the territories, it does raise serious questions concerning the motivation behind some of the current hostility to Israel. Both the Balkans and Russia are natural areas of European interest. They are close to home and involve countries with which Western Europe is closely involved. Why, then, is there such a stark contrast between the relative calm with which the Balkan and Chechen wars have been received on one hand and the intense reaction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the other?

One explanation for the current European view of Israel runs as follows: Israel was established as an act of compensation to the Jews on the part of Western countries burdened with the guilt of the Holocaust. This guilt allowed them to disregard the cost that Israel's creation inflicted on the Palestinians, who were innocent of the Holocaust. Now that several generations have passed and Israel has become a regional superpower, the Europeans no longer wish to relate to Israel as a nation of victims. They insist on redressing the dispossession of the Palestinians.

The historical claim on which this view is based is incorrect. The United Nations partition plan of 1947 that established Israel was adopted largely because of American and Soviet support. Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union suffered Holocaust guilt in 1947, nor should they have. They, together with Britain, were responsible for destroying Nazism and ending its genocide against the Jews. Stalin was staunchly anti-Zionist but supported the creation of Israel as a way of gaining political influence in a strategically important region still dominated by Britain. Truman remained undecided about partition until shortly before the vote, with both the State Department and the Pentagon split on whether or not to support the plan. Although historical and moral considerations seem to have played a role in Truman's decision, the desire to deepen American influence in the Middle East, displace Britain, and block Soviet penetration was probably the decisive factor in determining his position. Britain, the other major player in the partition debate, did its best to prevent the emergence of a Jewish state in Palestine. After the war it took the view that Jewish Holocaust survivors and refugees should be repatriated to the countries from which they had come. This included Polish Jews at a time when postwar pogroms were taking place in Poland against returning survivors. Britain blocked the immigration of Jewish refugees to Palestine right up until the end of its mandate in 1948. It abstained from the UN partition vote, and it actively supported the Jordanian Legion in the 1948 war. It changed its policy and supported Israel only in the early 1950s. The idea that the creation of Israel was the product of Western guilt over the Holocaust is, then, largely unfounded.

Nonetheless, the idea that Israel was created through Holocaust guilt has gained widespread currency in Europe. This idea is used to impose moral conditions on Israel that are not generally applied to other countries. If Israel was created as an act of expiation for crimes against the Jews, so this reasoning goes, then its legitimacy depends upon its not oppressing other people. The idea of Israel as a conditional concession wrung from the West through Jewish suffering in Europe goes some way toward explaining the glee (relief?) with which Israel's more strident European critics insist on comparing its treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi persecution of the Jews. The obvious perversity and inappropriateness of the comparison is the source of its attraction. Not only are the victims of the Nazis transformed into the oppressors, but the basis of their collective legitimacy is undermined. The power of the comparison has not been lost on Arab nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists, who invoke it regularly.

More significant than Holocaust fatigue in shaping European responses to the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, I suspect, the fear that militant anti-Western sentiment in the Islamic world will bring large-scale terrorist violence to Europe, as it did to the United States on September 11, 2001. With the end of the cold war and the creation of a more integrated European Union in the 1990s, West Europeans embraced a vision of prosperity and human rights promoted through an expanded framework of international institutions. The shock of September 11 and the Bush administration's aggressive, often unilateral "War on Terror" have replaced this optimism with a profound fear that Europe will once again be drawn into bloody ethnic conflicts that it thought belonged to its past. This danger is not only external. The existence of large communities of Muslim immigrants in Europe, where Islamic activism flourishes, turns this into a local issue. To the extent that Israel has become the focus of a massive wave of Islamic anger, many Europeans have come to see it as a major liability. They hold the country responsible for the terrorist threat that they wish to avoid. Intense European criticism of Israel is, in part, aimed at heading off this danger and purchasing security by deflecting Arab and Islamic hostility.

Israel as a Jewish Polity
But even granting the role of Holocaust fatigue and fear of Islamic terrorism as important factors in conditioning the current European reactions to the Middle East, there is another element that surfaces with increasing frequency in the discussion of Israel. That is a general discomfort with the notion of Israel as a Jewish polity. Even when Israel's right to exist is affirmed, a common complaint among both European and Arab critics is that Israel's characterization of itself as a Jewish country is exclusionary and racist. Although this criticism has always been raised by the anti-Zionist left, it is now often expressed as a mainstream view in the European media. We should consider it carefully.

Laws and institutions that reserve rights and privileges for one ethnic group while excluding others are indeed discriminatory and incompatible with liberal democratic values. Unfortunately, discriminatory legal structures do exist in certain parts of public life in Israel, specifically in the use and development of land owned by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which accounts for most public land in the country. These restrictions date back to the pre-state era, when the JNF was the instrument through which the Jewish community in Palestine acquired land for settlement and development. Arabs are still excluded from leasing and building on this land.

The Law of Return is a more complex case. It grants the right of residence and citizenship to Jews (and immediate non-Jewish family members) from abroad. This law recognizes as extra-territorial nationals Jews living in the diaspora. It has approximate parallels in the nationality laws of other countries (China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Germany) that confer the right of citizenship or residence on people connected to the country by culture or descent. Unsurprisingly, the Palestinian Liberation Organization Charter proposes a similar law of return for Palestinians in the diaspora. For both Israeli Jews and Palestinians a law of return is regarded as a legal instrument for rehabilitating a nation of refugees in its national home. In general, laws that establish special rights for Jews derive from the formative period of the country when it was in the process of absorbing Jewish immigrants. Many Israelis of the liberal left who are committed to the existence of Israel as a Jewish country support the abolition of all these laws, with the possible exception of the Law of Return. Most Israelis regard the latter as still necessary for the protection of Jews living in unstable or repressive countries.

Critics of Israel who object to its identity as a Jewish state are, for the most part, not exercised by the fact that Iran and Saudia Arabia define themselves as Islamic states. They may reject their governments as theocratic and reactionary, but they do not regard these countries as illegitimate. They do not, in general, have problems with the religiously based partition of the Indian subcontinent between Pakistan and India, which took place at the same time as the creation of Israel. The implementation of this partition was accompanied by intense political violence that produced hundreds of thousands of refugees on both sides, most of whom have never returned to their homes. Most significantly, they have no difficulty whatsoever with Arab states that purport to be both secular and Arab. They see these states as natural political frameworks for the national groups that constitute their populations. The obvious question, then, is why they have such difficulty with a country that provides for the political independence of a Jewish population.

Assume the following utopian scenario. An enlightened liberal democratic government comes to power in Israel and reaches a peace agreement with the Palestinians: a full withdrawal to (the equivalent of) the 1967 borders and the establishment of a Palestinian state. This government then proceeds to eliminate all discriminatory legislation and institute a full separation of religion and state. It implements reforms to integrate the Arab minority into the social and economic mainstream of the country. Israel would still be a Jewish country in that it would have a decisive (80 percent) Jewish majority, its culture and history would continue to reflect the experiences and concerns of this majority, and its first language would remain Hebrew.

I suspect that many of its critics would continue to object to Israel in this fully democratized format. These are the same people who reject as racist the proposal advanced by some on the Israeli left for a partition of Israel/Palestine along demographic lines; that is, that Israel should return as much territory as possible to the Palestinians, including areas currently within the green line that contain large numbers of Israeli Arabs. Many reject a two-state solution and favor a single country, "a secular democratic state of all its citizens." In fact, as they must know, such a state would either dissolve into civil war or become an Arab country with a subordinated Jewish minority. What lies behind their critique is less a concern for secular democracy than a deep hostility to the very idea of a Jewish state, even when it is cast as political independence for a large Jewish population under conditions of genuine democracy for all and equality for the non-Jewish minority. The objection to a Jewish polity of any sort in the territory of Israel/Palestine lies at the heart of Arab nationalist and Islamic hostility to Israel. It also informs much of the more extreme criticism of Israel that has recently entered the mainstream of political discourse in Europe.

The sense that much of the Arab and Islamic world simply cannot accept a Jewish political presence under any conditions has driven many Israelis to despair. After Oslo had raised hopes of a final peace agreement and reconciliation, the virulence of Palestinian and Arab hostility have persuaded a not insignificant part of the Israeli population that peace is impossible whatever concessions they make. This has produced a dangerous sense of helplessness and victimhood that effectively paralyzes the electorate into acquiescence in the brutal, expansionist policies of the right, even when most Israelis reject these policies. The specter of widespread European complicity in this challenge to Israel's basic legitimacy has further intensified its sense of isolation and reinforced de facto support for a disastrous right-wing adventure.
The rejection of a Jewish polity is closely related to a refusal to recognize the collective legitimacy of the Jews as a people who are entitled to a place among the nations of the world. This idea is deeply rooted in both European and Islamic sources. It has assumed a variety of religious and political forms in the past, and we may well be witnessing the emergence of a new version of this traditional theme.

Messianism and Replacement Theology
Late biblical and rabbinic Judaism introduced the idea of a messianic age in which peace and justice would be established for all humanity in real historical time. The concept of the messianic age is the result of a remarkable evolution from the demand for a national savior to deliver the people from external oppression (as in the period of the judges and the kings) to a universalist vision of a redeemer who ushers in a just social order. The messianic idea animated Jewish resistance to Roman occupation and sustained the Jews for centuries in the diaspora.

In appropriating the Jewish messianic vision Christianity sought to replace the Jews as the heirs of the covenant with God within which this vision was defined. In order to achieve this expropriation it was necessary to portray the Jews as perverse nonbelievers who had forfeited their right to the covenant through their refusal to accept the Messiah. Jews were offered the choice of giving up their Jewish identity and joining the church in order to enter the New Covenant, or existing as a despised religious minority excluded from the social mainstream. It is important to recognize that orthodox Christian doctrine accorded the Jews a recognized role as an outcast community, in contrast to heretics, who were not tolerated at all. The marginality of Jews in the traditional Christian world was intended to emphasize the stigma that attached to their rejection of the new messianic order. The price for acceptance was, then, a total renunciation of Jewish life. The intensity of Christian anti-Semitism was due in part to the persistence of self-affirming Jewish communities in the midst of Christian societies, for these communities testified to the failure of the Christian messianic enterprise to displace its predecessor and so complete its universal project.

Islam also began its history with a failed overture to the Jews. Initially it received a positive response from Jewish tribesmen and rabbinic authorities in Arabia, who recognized the close affinity between the Prophet Muhammad's robustly monotheistic teachings and traditional Jewish belief. However, conflict soon developed when the Jews refused to give up their Judaism to embrace the new religion. The Jews, together with the Christians, were assigned the status of el dhimmi, a protected religious minority living on the fringes of Islamic society. Islam understands itself as incorporating the religious insights of both Judaism and Christianity while superseding them. Unlike Christian Europe, the Muslims did not regard the Jews as a threat to their hegemony, nor did they subject them to systematic, large-scale violence. However, the price that the Jews paid for refusing to accept Islam's messianic project was, again, existence in a marginalized community. Although their situation was far better than the one that they endured in the Christian world, there are obvious parallels between the positions that each society assigned them.

While traditional Islam does not recognize the legitimacy of any non-Islamic political power, the ongoing competition between Islamic and Christian empires that played out from the Middle Ages into the modern era forced pragmatic acceptance of non-Muslim rule in formerly Islamic territories such as Spain, Greece, and the Balkans. By contrast, the Jews never had collective political power at any point in this period, and so the question of accommodation with a Jewish political entity was not an issue. Similarly, Christian Europe had no need to deal with Jewish military or political power, and therefore the idea of a Jewish polity simply did not arise. In both Christian and Muslim domains the Jews were understood entirely as a dependent minority defined by its refusal to disband and join the new majority order.

Secular Messianism and the European Left
With the emergence of secular civil societies in Western Europe following the French Revolution, Jews were offered the possibility of social and political emancipation without explicitly renouncing their Judaism. However the conditions of this offer required that Jews enter the new social order on a strictly individual basis and abandon their view of themselves as constituting a people. The ideal recommended to them was full assimilation. Reconstitution as a religious denomination on the model of Christian churches would be tolerated. But to the extent that Jews insisted on retaining a connection to a collectivity, they would be stigmatized as an obstinately atavistic group clinging to an unwelcome foreign identity. Count Stanislas-Marie-Adélaide de Clermont-Tonnerre provided a particularly clear formulation of this view of the Jew in a civic society in his "Speech on Religious Minorities and Questionable Professions" delivered to the French National Assembly on December 23, 1789.

We must refuse everything to the Jews as a nation and accord everything to Jews as individuals. We must withdraw recognition from their judges; they should only have our judges. We must refuse legal protection to the maintenance of the so-called laws of their Judaic organization; they should not be allowed to form in the state either a political body or an order. They must be citizens individually. But, some will say to me, they do not want to be citizens. Well then! If they do not want to be citizens, they should say so, and then, we should banish them. It is repugnant to have in the state an association of non-citizens, and a nation within the nation.

Where European liberalism insisted that Jews give up their involvement with a religiously defined collectivity as a condition for acceptance in the new civic democracy, the mainstream of the revolutionary European left refused to accept a culturally autonomous secular Jewish proletariat committed to class struggle alongside the working-class movements of other nations. The Jewish Labor Bund was persecuted by the Bolsheviks and then by Stalin. Trotsky and his followers also rejected it.

In contrast to the Zionists, the Bund did not seek the creation of a Jewish state, nor did it endorse a territorial solution to Jewish oppression in Eastern Europe. It envisioned the emergence of autonomous Jewish communal and cultural institutions within a socialist society. The Bund enjoyed widespread support in Poland and the Russian pale of settlement, where three to four million Jews constituted approximately 13 percent of the population. It argued that the Jewish population in Eastern Europe was an oppressed national minority that should be permitted to take its place among other peoples in the struggle for a just society.
The left's problem with the Bund was not one of accepting a religious community in a secular society. The Bund's heresy was neither territorialism nor unacceptable ideas on the nature of socialism, but its demand that Jews be recognized as a people and permitted to sustain their language and their cultural institutions. The revolutionary left claimed to respect the rights of all peoples to self-determination and defended the rights of national minorities in other cases. Its refusal to apply these principles to Jews who sought to participate in the revolutionary movement as Jews exposes its thoroughgoing inability to cope with any form of Jewish collective life.

In effect both classical European liberalism and the revolutionary European left offered the Jews a secular version of the traditional Christian choice: either discard involvement with the Jewish people and achieve individual acceptance in a new liberated era or suffer stigmatization and marginalization as perverse holdouts against the mainstream. The choice expressly excluded the possibility of existing as a free nation among other nations.

Given that the view of the Jewish people as an illicit nation is so deeply ingrained in both religious and secular European culture, it is not surprising that assimilation failed to eliminate European anti-Semitism. Most Jews who adopted variants of this strategy soon found that their attempts to sever connections with collective Jewish life generated the suspicion that they had not fully renounced their forbidden loyalties. They were all the more threatening for having receded into the limbo of non-existence imposed upon them by classical liberals and revolutionary socialists. The issue was not simply Jewish collectivity but Jewish visibility. Leon Pinkser's critique of assimilation (Auto-Emancipation, 1882) as a means of escaping oppression proved to be entirely correct.

A large part of the contemporary European left has inherited the liberal and revolutionary antipathy toward a Jewish collectivity, with Israel becoming the focus of this attitude. While acculturated Jewish intellectuals and progressive Jewish activists are held in high esteem, a Jewish country is treated as an illegitimate entity not worthy of a people whose history should have taught them the folly of nationalism. The current intifada is regarded as decisively exposing the bankruptcy not so much of a policy of occupation and settlement, but of the very idea of a Jewish polity, which could not but do otherwise than commit such misdeeds. These underlying attitudes are clearly expressed in Perry Anderson's extended editorial article "Scurrying towards Bethlehem" (New Left Review, July-August, 2001). Anderson is at pains to show Zionism as a nationalist movement begotten in the sin of collaboration with European colonialism and sustained by continuing involvement with American imperialism. He envisages the de-Zionization of Israel as a necessary condition for a reasonable solution to the conflict. Interestingly, the fact that Arab nationalism and the various states that emerged from it were also deeply involved with European colonialist ventures plays no part in his story. Moreover, he does not regard Palestinian nationalism in particular and Arab nationalism in general as problematic phenomena. The former is understood solely as the engine of a progressive movement for national liberation. It seems, then, that the reasonable demands for graduation to a postnationalist politics and for a critique of historical myths apply exclusively to Israeli Jews. Palestinians and other Arab nationalists are exempt from these requirements as their national movements are inherently progressive, even if occasionally misguided in their formulations.

In the course of his article Anderson makes the important observation that Israel is unique as a settler state because its immigrants had no mother country in whose colonial interests they were dispatched. This insight should have alerted him to the important difference between the historical reasons that brought Israel into being and those that produced other immigrant-based settler countries, and hence to the inapplicability of a simple-minded analogy between Israel and these products of colonialism. Instead, he suggests that the power of Jewish economic and political influence in America has transformed the United States into an effective mother country for Israel. "Entrenched in business, government and media, American Zionism has since the sixties acquired a firm grip on the levers of public opinion and official policy toward Israel, that has weakened only on the rarest of occasions. Taxonomically, the colonists have in this sense at length acquired something like the metropolitan state-or state within a state-they initially lacked."

The specter of a Jewish-Zionist lobby/conspiracy that controls state power and the media, particularly in America, has become a significant theme in the writings of left-wing political journalists in Europe. So, for example, Robert Fisk ("I am Being Vilified for Telling the Truth About Palestinians," Independent, December 13, 2000) and John Pilger ("Why My Film is under Fire," Guardian, September 23, 2002) insist that a powerful Zionist lobby operating in Britain but directed from America is working with considerable success to suppress all objective reporting and critical discussion of Israel. The January 14, 2002, issue of the New Statesman ran two articles on the Zionist lobby. The cover of the issue featured a large golden Star of David piercing the center of a British flag over the caption "A kosher conspiracy?" The first piece, by Dennis Sewell, concluded that the lobby, to the extent that it exists, is largely ineffective in stemming the tide of hostile reporting and comment on Israel. But the second article, by Pilger, repeated his claim of Zionist power in the British government and the press. It also included the comment that "Blair's meeting with Arafat served to disguise his support for Sharon and the Zionist project." For Pilger, then, Sharon's appalling policies are only derivative problems. The real target is the country as such, reduced to an ideological slogan as "the Zionist project." Peter Wilby, editor of the New Statesman, apologized for the offensive cover in an editorial that appeared in the February 11, 2002, issue. He explained that it had been innocently intended to attract attention on the newsstand. He did not address the obvious question of why a venerable publication of the Labour left should choose to use an image clearly reminiscent of Nazi iconography to promote its sales. It is too facile to dismiss this incident as a passing mistake of judgment. Sneering chatter of a powerful international Jewish lobby, once the stock and trade of fascist propaganda, has now become a staple of left-wing comment on Israel in the British and European press. By contrast, the activities of Arab, Muslim, and pro-Palestinian advocacy groups in the media and public discussion of the Middle East have gone largely unremarked. It is generally assumed, quite reasonably, that such groups have a natural role to play in debates on conflicts that concern them directly. Oddly, these assumptions do not extend to Jewish and Israeli advocacy groups.

The contrast between Europe and North America in this matter is clear. While by no means free of anti-Jewish prejudice, North America defines itself as an immigrant society in which ownership of the country is not the preserve of a single native group. Jews function like other immigrant communities, most of which have succeeded in developing hyphenated personae, easily combining their ethnic identities with their active presence in the mainstream of American life. It is not surprising, then, that public Jewish visibility and the notion of a Jewish polity seem to pose less difficulty in America than in Europe and the Middle East.

Although much of the criticism directed against Israel in the past two years of the intifada is legitimate if not always accurate, the growing hostility to the country stems, at least in part, from acute resistance to a Jewish polity and general difficulties with Jewish collective life. These attitudes are deeply rooted in the histories of both Europe and the Islamic world. The problem of distinguishing bigotry from reasonable opposition is difficult, given that in Israel the Jews are no longer dispossessed, but citizens of a powerful country with a large army that is now being used to sustain the occupation of another people. When considering the critical response to Israel it is reasonable to insist that it be accorded the same legitimacy and judged by the same principles as other countries. To require less of Israel is to allow it to claim rights that are denied to others. To demand more is to invoke a unique set of standards motivated by traditional prejudices. Both positions are unreasonable and must be resisted.

Shalom Lappin is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at King's College London and is an active supporter of Peace Now in Israel. He has been involved in social democratic and labor organizations in Israel, Canada, and Britain.