WHY SO MANY “LIBERALS” WAFFLE ON ISRAEL
IN THE NEWS TODAY:
“Hugely popular comedian Jon Stewart, who is Jewish – birth name, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz – was lauded by the Muslim Public Affairs Council this week for a scathing ‘Daily Show’ segment entitled, ‘Israel Invades Gaza … Missile Tov!’
The Comedy Central host, noting that rockets lobbed from Hamas into Israel are not new, posed the question, ‘Why does Israel feel that they have to react so strongly right now?’
Answer: the Obama inauguration. ‘I get it. … Israel gets their bombing in before the Jan. 20 “hope and change” deadline … it’s like a civilian carnage Toyota-thon!’ he said to roars of approval from his audience.”
LINK – San Francisco Chronicle, 1-10-09.
WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?
A reasonable person might ask:
Why would any democratic nation state ever be asked to put up with deadly missiles launched against its territory?
As to the timing, a reasonable person might answer Mr. Stewart’s question:
IT’S THE RANGE, STUPID!
…NOT SUPPORTING ISRAEL WHEN IT NEEDS IT THE MOST…
The problem with popular support for Israel-at-war – even within the Jewish community – is the widespread infatuation with Approval-Based Liberalism.
Before I explain further, I invite you to consider: What are the alternatives? In the present situation, only two are serious players.
 National security conservatism. This is the common thread found in the democratic tradition (exemplified by Truman-JFK-Scoop Jackson) and in the republican tradition (as in Eisenhower-Reagan-McCain).
 Robust, principled liberalism. This is the intellectual tradition, now derided as neo-conservatism, an honorable and durable polity that includes Charles Krauthammer, Norman Podhoretz and Victor Davis Hanson.
Approval-Based Liberalism (hereafter “ABL”) is not a political philosophy at all. It is a social stance adopted for the most part by the highly educated, well off, mostly secular upper middle class. ABL operates as a protective shield against popular jealousy.
It is the camouflage of the “tall poppies”. Let me explain:
I picked up the notion of tall poppies from our friends down under, the Australians. In a field of flowers, the tallest poppies are the first to be cut down. As a social strategy, tall poppies, the people with exceptional abilities and accomplishments, are wise to avoid being conspicuous. I’ve written about this notion elsewhere at length, but – if you are reading this piece – you are a tall poppy and intuitively and experientially know what I’m talking about. Most organizations are full of short poppies. Working in them – if you are “tall” – is sometimes very, very painful. At present, teachers’ unions are organized to protect the short poppies while pretending otherwise. I exaggerate only a little. You get the idea.
Most educated people are liberals in the ordinary sense, i.e., they are decent, well meaning, and want to live in a world filled with other decent, well meaning people. Conservatives are also liberals in this sense.
But there is that ineluctable jealousy/resentment problem. Many Christians believe in the notion of original sin, while not agreeing on which sin or category was ‘original’. I am persuaded that the core sin, if you will, of the human condition is the hidden malice directed at tall poppies. If you are checking the Decalogue, it’s part of # 10.
HIDING YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
It is hard to hide the fact that your achievements (and – to be fair – good fortune) have placed you and your loved ones conspicuously in one or two beautiful homes, complete with expensive cars, attractive clothes, excellent food, entertainment, private schools for the little ones and high end vacations.
Conspicuous ABL is your protective coloring. [Buy a Prius and feel protected.]
ISRAEL IN THE DOCK
Israel is conspicuous on a number of levels but most painfully because of its success against the odds. Leaving aside the hatred of its immediate neighbors, in this country —— Israel qualifies as a cause for the Approval Based Liberal set only when it is perceived as a victim.
Every time that Israel is forced to take robust, proactive steps in its own defense, ABL pressures all of its adherents to step in line, wring their hands, make wisecracks and – for an “A” grade – overtly oppose “the current Israeli government”.
G-d bless the tall poppies, because without them there would be no civilization worthy of the name. And G-d bless the soldiers and officers of IDF, because without their competence and courage there would be no Israel.
Footnote – in response to an email exchange.
Civilizations are never perfect, just better than humanity’s “nasty, short and brutal” barbarism models. And civilization’s armed protectors remain blunt instruments, a characteristic easily exploited by cunning enemies who are capable of purposefully embedding innocent civilians within military targets in order to produce a PR victory.
The defense of civilization needs to be careful and prudent, but a degree of ruthlessness is unavoidable. Suppose we had imposed the ‘rules of engagement’ advocated by Israel’s critics on the allies in WWII: We’d all be speaking German …and Hebrew would be absolutely verboten.