‘Woke’ winds must be stopped at Israel's borders - opinion

One of the major attributes of the woke sensibilities is the one-size-fits-all moral view of things.

People participate in a meditation walk in support of Black Lives Matter organized by the Portland Buddhist Peace Fellowship near the Justice Center in Portland, Oregon, U.S., September 1, 2020. (photo credit: CAITLIN OCHS/REUTERS)
People participate in a meditation walk in support of Black Lives Matter organized by the Portland Buddhist Peace Fellowship near the Justice Center in Portland, Oregon, U.S., September 1, 2020.
(photo credit: CAITLIN OCHS/REUTERS)
Historically, borders have been a major facet of Israeli life. On the level of international law, borders, still indeterminate, are passionately debated. More practically, borders have been important in terms of the effort to turn away illegal migration, and to stop potentially catastrophic pandemic infection cases from entering the country.
But there is another, perhaps more metaphorical, need for strong Israeli borders. And that is to be a bulwark, a shield and a deflector of the toxic political, social and cultural ideas that are increasingly dominating Western collective existence.
Here, I am speaking of “woke-ism,” and its willingness to disparage, disregard, demonize and flat out destroy the pillars of values and history that made the West the paragon of freedom, opportunity and creativity in human history.
In a breathtaking display of arrogance mixed with ignorance, hard-core leftists have tried and convicted Western civilization, judging it to be racist, oppressive and the vehicle for the suppression of minorities of every stripe and definition.
The proof text has been Western history itself, which is often regarded through the prism of the values, sensibilities and “morality” of those considering that history.
Nowhere is this revisionist perspective more prevalent than in the US. Long regarded as mankind’s greatest achievement of freedom and opportunity, warts and all, America is increasingly being regarded by woke-ists as the fount of all evil.
From the home of the free and the brave, America is now, to a significant segment of its people, the white supremacist home of slavery and inequity.
In scenes that beggar the imagination, we have seen statues of Lincoln, Washington and even Frederick Douglass, the great black freedom and advancement advocate, torn down. This is not ignorance, and it is not just a rebellious hissy fit. This represents a concerted attempt to toss away the pillars of everything that embodies America: its myths, self-image, history and, above all, its values.
It might be anarchy, it might be cultural Marxism, but above all it is an effort at calling America’s integrity into question. Actually, the question has already been answered: America is illegitimate.
These forces of cancellation are not just limited to campus-based social justice warriors, Black Lives Matter activists finding racism in every fiber of America, or Antifa thugs with their self-professed platform of Marxism and revolution.
Amazingly, the woke need to expunge phantom systemic racism is being expressed by a broad swath of American elites: big business, big tech, big finance, big media. All have decided that is high time to recognize the manifest sins of American society, and to do something about it.
This effort at forced confession and reeducation has a distinctly totalitarian whiff to it. It is reeducation into the modes of thought and action that we, the elites, deem proper.
In this effort, empathy and identification with those seemingly in need of rewiring has been conspicuously absent. This, of course, is the kind of obliviousness (many would say, contempt) that helped get Trump elected in 2016.
There is also the sense that, in this effort, American elites are looking to their counterparts from abroad for guidance and reenforcement. The great global reset, beloved of the Davos set, extends not only to all things ecological, but also to morality and universal values.
Which brings us back to our borders. One of the major attributes of the woke sensibilities is the one-size-fits-all moral view of things. There are universal values of equity and benighted minorities who need to be elevated, extolled and, if necessary, recompensed. In the world of intersectionality, there are favorites and pariahs.
In this binary perception, Israel, and to a lesser degree, Judaism, are pariahs, bestowed with privilege, and purveyors of oppression of the Palestinians (definitely on the list of favorites). All of this is known; it is not news.
What is less known however, is the attempt to transplant this mindset here, to Israel. This might sound absurd, just as the idea of embracing that and those who dislike you seems nutty. But, consider the rampant anti-Zionism on Israeli campuses, consider Israeli academics calling for international boycotts of their own institutions, and the absurd seems more and more plausible.
So our borders, meaning our own willingness to dismiss and to dispel this kind of thinking, become important.
Why? Because, left unchallenged, creeping woke-ism will demonize the particularity of Israel as a Jewish state. Forget the idea that there are more than 30 countries that are officially Islamic, and more than 20 that are officially Christian. In the world of double standards that Judaism, Israel and Jews inhabit, the one single and only Jewish state is a nationalistic, chauvinistic anathema, an affront to the one world sensibility that woke-ism embraces.
While it might sound crazy, do you really believe that the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, will go unscathed? I think it is just a matter of time before the Bible itself is excoriated as the true original sin of the West, with its advocacy of slavery, genocide and hegemony, all on behalf of the usurping Israelites.
Given this frontal assault, and given the inevitable seepage that we will see through academia and some areas of culture, the rest of us need to be aware, alert and ever mindful of the scourge being brought to our borders.
One reason why that the Europeans have such a hard time with Israel is that we are, from their perspective, the outlier, the exception, indeed, the People who lives apart. This sense will contribute to the desire to remake, reeducate and recreate us by Progressive woke-ists.
At the same time that we are celebrating the excitement and potential of new ties and relationships in the Arab world, in Africa and in the East, let us not turn a blind eye to the looming difficulties that we will face from within, from the West.
Israel might thankfully be opening up, recovering from the trauma of Covid. Ironic then, but also essential, that we keep a vigilant watch on our borders to prevent the life draining and soul sapping onslaught of the invidious disease of Progressive woke-ism in Israel.
The writer is the chairman of the board of Im Tirtzu, Israel’s largest grassroots Zionist organization. He is also a director of the Israel Independence Fund.