As I see it: Israel and the culture wars

A BDS poster quoting calling for "No peace with Matisyahu" (photo credit: BDS)
A BDS poster quoting calling for "No peace with Matisyahu"
(photo credit: BDS)
The banning of rapper Matisyahu by the Sunsplash reggae festival in Spain – subsequently rescinded after protests – was an “aha!” moment.
After pressure from the Israel-bashing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, the festival organizers disinvited the singer because he refused to support “the right of Palestinians to have their own state.”
Matisyahu is, however, not an Israeli but a Jewish American. Aha! people exclaimed; now BDS stands exposed as demonstrably anti-Jew.
Well yes; and so too is the wider anti-Israel obsession which shares the unique characteristics of Jew-hatred down the ages: a frenzied agenda of lies and libels, grotesque fantasies of covert global conspiracy and accusations of behavior of which its targets are not only innocent but are in fact the victims.
However, there’s rather more to the demonization of Israel than just Jew-hatred.
Across the Western world old-fashioned liberalism, based on reason and truth, is disappearing. It has been hijacked by hardleft attitudes based on eradicating the difference between right and wrong, truth and lies, tyrant and victim, in favor of the only distinction that matters: the powerless versus the “imperialist” West.
Through that distorted prism, it inverts reality and punishes any who disagree.
This has bent the minds of millions of “progressives” as effectively as the brainwashing by the Spanish Inquisition, Soviet communism or modern-day Islamism. And just as under those closed thought-systems, today’s progressives are inherently unable to perceive how twisted they have become.
In Britain, the political establishment is reeling at the likely prospect that Jeremy Corbyn, an unashamed Marxist radical, will be elected leader of the Labor Party.
He has called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends,” supported other terrorists and their supporters such as the IRA, the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and assorted jihadi preachers, and espouses a Syriza- style economic program that would bankrupt Britain.
What is causing amazement is that none of this dents his support. On the contrary, the more his unsavory connections and collectivization fantasies are pored over, the more his supporters from the “Occupy” generation seem to increase.
The mirror-image is happening across the Pond. In the US, support for the outrageous maverick Republican presidential contender Donald Trump is knocking his more restrained rivals out of the park. And the more ludicrous or loathsome his insults against women or minorities, the more the American Republican grassroots roar him on.
Mainstream Labor Party politicians and Republicans are frantically scratching their heads over all this because they have no understanding of the part they have played in bringing it about.
In Britain, those who think of themselves as “center-left” fail to grasp that what they identify as “progressive” is in fact cultural Marxism – an attack on the bedrock Western values of family, faith and nation in an explicit attempt to create an entirely new society.
Parading its conscience under the banners of human rights, saving the planet and compassion for the poor, this is in fact an abuse of power exercised through bullying, intimidation and sometimes violence.
Christians opposed to gay marriage, climate- change skeptics or opponents of the Iran deal are vilified as “right-wing,” aka enemies of humanity utterly devoid of honesty or conscience.
So if you point out that Palestinian identity is a fiction invented solely to mask the fact that the Jews are the only people for whom Israel was ever their national kingdom; or that the world’s climate patterns have not changed significantly over time; or that President Obama is enabling Iran to develop nuclear weapons, you are smeared as a Zionist warmonger, stooge of Big Oil or traitor to America.
Truth has become a “right-wing” heresy.
For leftists, anti-Semitism can only be “right wing” and they themselves can only ever be morally pure.
So they create bogeymen such as Zionists, “climate-change deniers” or traditional Christians who they genuinely think are fascists. But of course, it is these leftists who are the fascists – while Israel, Christian traditionalists or those championing science against its corruption are their victims.
This cultural totalitarianism has taken over the Blairites who are supposed to represent moderation in the British Labor Party. In the US, it has taken over the Democratic Party, where not just Barack Obama but Hillary Clinton sat at the feet of the revolutionary Marxist guru Saul Alinsky, whose Rules for Radicals created a template for societal insurrection.
It has also crept into Israel, where it is made yet more toxic by the abysmal ignorance amongst the young of what Judaism means and their correspondingly vacuous belief that Israel is “just a country like any other.” The result is young Israelis who say Zionism is a “cruel and violent” creed, thus casually dismembering their own national right to self-determination.
This is why the world seems to have gone mad. The West has succumbed to the eclipse of reason and the replacement of truth by power.
But most conservatives in both Britain and the US simply haven’t got a clue about all this. Most have gone with the flow, maybe because they have neither the moral nor intellectual depth to stand up to the university and media bullies, or they want to gain cheap votes, or they are greedily eyeing the trillions of dollars that will flow from the Iran deal with the devil.
So the way is open even for populist demagogues like Trump to articulate the views of disenfranchised angry white conservative males (and some females) by railing against immigration, multiculturalism, feminism – defending the building-blocks of the culture against a political establishment which is tearing them down.
The real political contest now in the West – the only one that matters – is the culture war between those of all creeds who are defending core Western values and those who want to destroy them. In this war, you are either on one side or the other.
That means the 340 American rabbis who have naively supported the Iran deal have made themselves complicit in the arming of Iran against the Jewish people – just as did all those liberal Jews who voted for Obama, of whom some are now displaying buyers’ remorse.
Too late. It’s their bad. And they still haven’t got the wider point.
Israel’s cause stands at the very vortex of the culture wars in the West’s crisis of civilization. It is impossible to fight Israel demonization unless this is understood.
It’s why among liberal American Jews support for Israel is fading fast – because their liberal universalism and secularized religious ignorance have obscured the key fact that Jewish identity itself is composed of a unique triple lock of the people, the religion and the land. To knock away any one of these three components is to attack Jewish identity itself.
If Israel is to fight demonization, it will have to start educating the West that not only its physical but its cultural security lies in viewing Israel as its indispensable champion rather than as a global nemesis.
But first, Israel must start educating Israeli and Diaspora Jews.
Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK).