Perhaps the greatest danger to Western civilization is moral relativism. Its basic premise is that there are no truths, just opinions. Our values are invariably belittled as vested interests. What our enemies promote is invariably elevated to the stature of the authentic yearnings of downtrodden masses.
History is downgraded to mere narratives, their factual base notwithstanding. Narratives of Third World authorship (including oil-rich potentates and Muslim clerics) are accorded credence, no matter how unfounded. Opposing narratives are disdainfully trashed, no matter how solidly founded on fact.
To ignore underlying postmodern distortion when grappling with the issues of the hour is to misread the hype.
TAKE FOR instance the latest flap on settlement construction versus recognition of the right of a Jewish state to exist in the narrow strip between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. The de rigueur rationalization is that the demand for a total moratorium on any Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and much of Jerusalem belongs to the laudable aforementioned category of the authentic yearnings of downtrodden masses. What Ramallah proffers (as its ever-increasing price for deigning to talk) must be acceded to.
Simultaneously, Jerusalem’s demand for recognition of the right of Jews to a state is extensively portrayed as an obstructionist pretext. Yet Israel merely asks that the Arabs belatedly accept 1947’s UN partition resolution, which provided for a Jewish state and which the Arabs violently violated. By still refusing to recognize Jewish-state legitimacy, ostensible peace partners reserve the right to Arabize the entity provisionally known as Israel.
Both supposed hindrances to the moribund negotiations go to the heart of the matter. Yet to understand this, we need to set aside the acquired postmodern contempt for history. The past is significant. The present is a direct ongoing attempt to resolve what was started yesteryear.
Without historical context there can be no valid evaluation of existential predicaments – certainly not of crucial continuities. That’s why those who seek to obfuscate and skew do their utmost to erase telltale fundamental perspectives and portray whatever they focus upon as vital isolated concerns.
The anti-settlement argument is that peace is contingent on Israelis staying inanimate and refraining from altering reality beyond the non-border (1949’s armistice line, the so-called Green Line). Otherwise they jeopardize US President Barack Obama’s magic remedy for all that ails the region but which had thus far eluded cure by lesser healers than himself.
However, contrary to Obama’s hubris, he’s no innovator.
This has been the Arab subtext since the very dawn of Zionism, though at different junctures the casus belli assumed different forms. In all instances the pro forma accusation was that Jews “change facts on the ground” – just as now.
On occasion, as currently, the outcry centered on settlements, or more specifically on land purchases. (Jews weren’t always accused of usurping Arab land. Sometimes their offense was buying stretches of wilderness for exorbitantly inflated sums.) At times it was immigration.
Often, it was both, as in the days of the infamous White Paper, published by Britain mere months before World War II erupted, when the Holocaust was about to be set in motion. Germany’s Jews were already shorn of citizenship and stateless. Hitler’s threats were well recorded, shouted in the world’s face and hardly kept a secret.
Besides its draconian curbs on Jewish land ownership, the Neville Chamberlain government’s White Paper also set a limit of 10,000 Jewish immigrants annually for a five-year period. It magnanimously allowed an additional 25,000 quota for the entire five years to allow for “refugee emergencies.” Any post-1944 Jewish entry would necessitate Arab permission.
MEANWHILE ARAB immigration into the Jewish national home continued unhindered. Itinerant Arab laborers flocked from the entire Arab-speaking world – from the Maghreb to Syria – to partake in what the Jews created here. Arab migrants were regarded as natives. The UN conferred “Palestinian refugee” status on any Arab who sojourned here two years prior to 1948. The Brits and their allies didn’t deem the Arab influx as “changing facts on the ground,” possibly because progressive Jews didn’t riot.
While panic-stricken Jews fled in desperation to escape Hitler’s hell, the White Paper encompassed all the helpfulness the international community could halfheartedly muster, lest “changes on the ground” transpire that would peeve the Arabs in and around the Jewish homeland.
Hitler mockingly invited the world’s democracies to receive his Jews, if they were so anxious about them. He knew that for all their moralizing rhetoric, these countries wouldn’t accept his provocative challenge. After 1938’s Anschluss, their representatives met in Evian-les- Bains, on Lake Geneva’s French shore, to decide what to do with Nazism’s frantic victims, pounding on their gates in search of asylum. They never even called them Jews, lest they incur the Fuehrer’s wrath.
It turned into a great Jew-rejection fest. Britain bristled at any suggestion of allowing Jews into what it mandated as the Jewish national home. Forebears of today’s Palestinian terrorists made sure endangered Jews wouldn’t be sheltered and his majesty’s government appeasingly assented.
The vast empty spaces of Canada, Australia and New Zealand were likewise off limits. American humanitarianism consisted of tossing the undesirable hot potato into the international arena, because the Jews weren’t wanted in the Land of the Free either.
FDR toyed with the notion of shipping German Jews to Ethiopia or Central Africa. The UK favored the jungles of Venezuela or Central America. Mussolini changed direction northward. Instead of exposing Berlin’s urbane Jews to the rigors of the tropics, he opined that the Siberian arctic might be a preferable hardship.
The competition was on: Who’d recommend a more remote and less hospitable exile in which to dump those whom the British Foreign Office shamelessly labeled “unwanted Jews.” The motivation wasn’t much more beneficent than Hitler’s initial choice of Madagascar.
The ultimate White Paper goal was the creation of a single bi-national state with power-sharing according to the proportion of Jews to Arabs as would exist by 1949.
Restrictions on Jewish immigration would preclude any “changes on the ground” until then – just what Obama purports to prevent by banning Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria.
Nevertheless, the Arab Higher Committee rejected said White Paper, demanding “a complete and final prohibition” on all Jewish immigration and unequivocal absolute repudiation of the Jewish national home.
Translated into today’s diplomatic parlance, this is equivalent to “the unconditional end to all settlement activity” and the unyielding refusal to recognize the right of a Jewish state to exist.
Therefore, both the current Jerusalem and Ramallah demands are anything but irrelevant. Both take us back to basics. Ramallah keeps evincing enmity. Jerusalem wants this enmity repudiated.
The bete noire that once was aliya is today called settlement, but by either name it intrinsically effuses identical antagonism toward Jewish presence. Jews are anathema, as is any habitat for them. Undercutting Jewish existence was and remains the Arab endgame.
This is still what it’s all about.