Ever since the Vietnam misadventure, a postmodern revolution had been looming in America. Barack Obama’s tour de force is its clincher. American campuses have been mass-producing smug, politically correct poseurs and slogan-spouting groupthink conformists for decades. Converging circumstances enabled the postmodernists who indoctrinate America’s younger minds to conquer its highest political bastions as well.
To us in Israel none of this is new, except that here postmodernists are called post-Zionists.
Their underlying assumption is the absence of objective truths, justice or ethical absolutes. Nothing is black and white – just subjective shades of gray on a landscape of moral relativism. All cultures are of equal merit. The worst despotic societies aren’t more villainous than societies which, their imperfections notwithstanding, sanctify civil liberties. Indeed, the postmodern inclination is to downplay autocratic repression while casting doubt on the freedoms of the world’s most egalitarian systems.
Bottom line: Democracies are in essence little better than the tyrannies which challenge them.
The operative conclusion is that rather than fight for their righteous causes, democracies must acknowledge inherent guilt for the state of the world, make amends, shrink inwardly and, where possible, appease and buy respites.
This is an all-encompassing mindset. It manifests itself even in stateside liberal aversion for offshore oil drilling and nuclear power. At heart is the belief that America shouldn’t expand its own fuel supplies but should go green, pump up car tires, recycle restaurant grease, hype windmill farms and practice what Al Gore preaches.
The perception of American culpability leads to prescriptions for retrenchment versus growth and for contraction of global American superpower influence. This, in turn, leads directly to a conciliatory attitude toward the nuclear ambitions of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As if the 1930s never were – as if Neville Chamberlain never sold out at Munich – Obama has already categorized Iran as puny and insignificant. If we minimize the probability of conflict – to say nothing of outright genocidal attack – make nice to the most bellicose of potentates, try to understand what gets them riled, talk things out, meet them “halfway,” and pressure their intended victims, then maybe the bad guys will reform and the nightmare will dissipate.
We Israelis have been there, seen that.
AS THE world proletarian revolution expired with a whimper, well-heeled Western radicals discovered the Third World – downtrodden but, as stylish mythology would have it, spiritually superior. The sufferings of the Jewish people, it goes without saying, never aroused significant sympathy. As ever, Jews constituted fashionable foes, whereas pro-Arab sentiments – especially under the Palestinian label – became de rigueur. Trendy Israeli left-wingers eagerly jumped at the opportunity of luxuriating in the ambiance of European enlightenment and winning coveted approval and acceptance.
Thus originated Israel’s unique brand of postmodernism. It evinces no qualms about jeopardizing the self-determination of the ancient Jewish people, while at the same time espousing the notion of self-determination for Palestinians whose nationhood is a recent invention, cynically calculated to counterbalance renascent Jewish sovereignty.
For Israeli “progressives,” who freely avail themselves of the benefits of Jewish broadmindedness and democracy, anything that basically furthers the interests of the Jewish state and steels it against unmitigated assaults is anathema.
We have paid the price on our buses, streets and marketplaces, and can expect more bloodbaths unless we somehow manage to reason out of the box that post-Zionist groupthink foisted upon us. That of course will be a tall order even if in our upcoming election we avoid Peace Now’s endorsed choices. Our judiciary, academia and above all media still exclusively chant left-wing mantras. They’ll make successful government nearly impossible for anyone they viscerally hate (like Binyamin Netanyahu) and they’ll let their darlings get away with anything.
IT WAS mind-boggling to gauge the zero-resonance to Yossi Beilin’s unambiguous confession that he cooked up the Oslo fiasco clandestinely, sans authority, even behind Shimon Peres’s back, and that he had conducted his negotiations in clear contravention of the then-prohibition against contact with the PLO, when it was appropriately designated a terrorist enemy.
In an October 31 Yediot Aharonot interview Beilin unabashedly admitted that during the Oslo process he “had to do things behind peoples’ backs. I was deputy foreign minister. The foreign minister and prime minister [Peres and Yitzhak Rabin respectively] didn’t know that I was conducting talks with the PLO until I decided to inform them.”
This should have generated a furious political maelstrom. Our opinion-molders should have been scandalized. Our entire public discourse should have reverberated with outrage. But nobody was appalled. Nobody reeled. It was the season of the Rabin assassination anniversary, and the media yet again exploited the occasion to whack its political opponents, as is unfailingly its annual rite.
Thus, one day post-interview, Israel Radio’s weekend news magazine ignored what Beilin voluntarily owned up to. Moderator Pe’erli Shahar instead bellyached about “those at the Zion Square balcony 13 years ago who stayed silent despite posters of Rabin in SS uniform.”
It doesn’t matter how thoroughly a lie is refuted, if it’s repeated frequently, consistently and melodramatically. One would assume that by now every Israeli knows that “the posters” were a single A4-page (21 cm. x 29.7 cm.), not conceivably visible to Netanyahu while he was addressing a mass rally from the second story. Moreover, the small homemade photomontage was the handiwork of Shin Bet agent-provocateur Avishai Raviv, who goaded and guided assassin Yigal Amir.
But who cares about truth when falsehood is so satisfying?
WHO CARES about serious dangers when frivolities serve as diversionary tactics? Just as Oslo’s illegitimate birth didn’t preoccupy Israel’s press, so its American counterpart preferred to dwell on Sarah Palin’s wardrobe instead of on Obama’s frighteningly ultra-radical milieu.
In our postmodern reality truth is conditional – a malleable function of interpretation. Facts are blithely ignored if counterproductive to groupthink choirmasters. What counts is the buzzword’s efficacy, not its relevance and certainly not its veracity. Sadly, gone are the days – both here and in the US – when more than a few rare news outlets tolerated dissident opinion and when refusing to run with the pack was the hallmark of professional integrity.
Manipulative, brainwashed and arrogant reporters cluster expediently and cozily in the shelter of shallow consensus without critically evaluating its catchphrases. Individual insight and independent criticism are lost in pursuit of advantageous cohesiveness. Views outside this comfort zone are unlikely so long as the overriding motivations of news purveyors are to avoid embarrassment and/or to continue currying favor with the powers-that-be.
This is the essence of groupthink, the underpinning on which postmodernism and post-Zionism are erected. Cadres of dutiful mouthpieces, whose homogeneity of associations and ideology is striking, maintain this construct. Without effective defiance from genuinely introspective and analytic freethinkers – and without according such journalists fair space and airtime – nothing can upset postmodern groupthink.