Jordanian Islamists chant anti-Israel slogans in Amman.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Different periods in history have different moral challenges. Slavery was one of the major issues of the 19th century. Abolitionists, whether of the religious or the secular variety, were on the right side of history while those who continued to justify this morally repulsive practice were on the wrong side.
Fascism, Communism and imperialism were the evils of the 20th century, from which humanity barely managed to escape. Though hindsight is 20-20, very few critics had the moral wherewithal and sensitivity to identify all three evils as misguided and immoral in real-time. Ernest Hemingway, Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells and many others failed regarding at least one of the three. George Orwell, Arthur Koestler and France’s first Jewish prime minister Leon Blum were some of the few intellectuals and politicians who were right about all three.
The 21st century has its moral challenges as well. One of them is radical Islamism. Recognizing the dangers presented by the various expressions of reactionary, nihilistic Islamic ideology is a prerequisite for fully comprehending the single biggest threat to Western civilization.
Another litmus test for moral rectitude in the 21st century is one’s position on Israel. Those who view the Zionist project favorably and are generally supportive of the Jewish state are on the right side of history. Those who are hypercritical of Israel, favor using boycott, divestment and sanctions to coerce Israel to cave in to the demands of the Palestinians and other Arab nations, or focus solely on Israeli “crimes” while ignoring the violent rhetoric and actions of Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas are failing the moral test of the day.
Often the two go together. For instance, those political activists who take part in various “flotillas of freedom” to break the blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip are not only singling out Israel for condemnation while conveniently ignoring the fact that the Egyptian blockade on the Strip is considerably more stringent, they are publicly supporting Hamas, an anti-Semitic terrorist organization with a political platform that includes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and which represses Palestinians who dare to resist Hamas rule.
With all this in mind, it was refreshing to see this week, in the wake of the nuclear weapons agreement reached between the six leading powers and Iran, that politicians from a number of countries publicly expressed support for the Jewish state.
The same week that German business leaders rushed to Tehran to take advantage of opportunities in a country soon to be released from the shackles of economic sanctions, Canada under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper was busy finalizing a trade agreement with Israel.
“Israel is a priority market for Canada and holds great potential for Canadian companies in a variety of sectors,” Harper noted.
“An expanded and modernized free trade agreement will lead to a strengthened bilateral relationship as well as an increase in jobs and opportunities for Canadians and Israelis alike,” he said.
Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gave a strongly pro-Israel speech in the Knesset affirming the Jewish people’s right to a sovereign state, calling on Palestinians to recognize this and attacking proponents of BDS.
And in the US Senate a lively debate is being conducted regarding the pros and cons of the Iran nuclear weapons agreement. Unlike in other countries around the world (except Canada) where the deal is being accepted blindly, in the US the details of the agreement and their ramifications for stability in the Middle East and for America’s security are being carefully examined and discussed.
In addition to strong Republic opposition, about 15 Democrats in the Senate are considering voting against the deal. Like the Republicans they seem to reject the stark choice posited by President Barack Obama between accepting the deal as is and war with the Islamic Republic.
Recognizing the risks presented by radical Islamists and defending the right of Israel to exist in peace and security are two of the major moral challenges of the 21st century – like slavery in the 19th century and fascism, communism and imperialism in the 20th century. At a time when so many leaders of nations and intellectuals are failing to choose the right side, it is heartwarming to see that some are getting it right.