In his recent essay at National Review Online Mark Steyn lays out a case for Israel’s “possible doom.” It doesn’t make for pleasant reading.
Ever since Shrinkwrapped posted on the idea of Israel having “lost the will to survive”, I am beginning to wonder if this is some part of the zeitgeist to which I’m not privy. Not that I mind missing that particular burden.
Certainly, Mr. Steyn gets around enough to repeatedly run into the whiff of decomposing predictions. He says:
Almost everywhere I went last week – TV, radio, speeches – I was asked about the 60th anniversary of the Israeli state. I don’t recall being asked about Israel quite so much on its 50th anniversary, which as a general rule is a much bigger deal than the 60th. But these days friends and enemies alike smell weakness at the heart of the Zionist Entity. Assuming President Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic fancies don’t come to pass, Israel will surely make it to its 70th birthday. But a lot of folks don’t fancy its prospects for its 80th and beyond. See the Atlantic Monthly cover story: “Is Israel Finished?” Also the cover story in Canada’s leading news magazine, Maclean’s, which dispenses with the question mark: “Why Israel Can’t Survive.”
I don’t have a subscription to the Atlantic and I haven’t trusted their opinions on anything since Michael Kelly was killed in Iraq five years ago and they were left bereft of his point of view.
I’m not so familiar with Maclean’s leanings, but it is instructive that they have Israel’s demise as a declarative sentence.
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Mr. Steyn notes the comparison between the aid we supply to Israel and what goes to Egypt. This is a point I’ve been making for some time, and one that became most apparent when citizens in Cairo started lining up for bread rations in April of this year:
Would I rather there were more countries like Israel, or more like Syria? I don’t find that a hard question to answer. Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East (Iraq may yet prove a second) and its Arab citizens enjoy more rights than they would living under any of the kleptocrat kings and psychotic dictators who otherwise infest the region. On a tiny strip of land narrower at its narrowest point than many American townships, Israel has built a modern economy with a GDP per capita just shy of $30,000 – and within striking distance of the European Union average. If you object that that’s because it’s uniquely blessed by Uncle Sam, well, for the past 30 years the second largest recipient of U.S. aid has been Egypt: Their GDP per capita is $5,000, and America has nothing to show for its investment other than one-time pilot Mohammed Atta coming at you through the office window.
The noise-to-signal ratio has only increased in the last ten years. Nothing, but nothing, will deter the progressive socialists in Europe and their American mini-me’s that Israel is verboten. First Europe:
Since Israel marked its half-century, the “right to exist” is now routinely denied not just in Gaza and Ramallah and the region’s presidential palaces but on every European and Canadian college campus. During the Lebanese incursion of 2006, Matthew Parris wrote in the Times of London: “The past 40 years have been a catastrophe, gradual and incremental, for world Jewry. Seldom in history have the name and reputation of a human grouping lost so vast a store of support and sympathy so fast.
And now good, old dependable Richard Cohen, one of the premier self-flagellators on the Left:
…”Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself.”
Steyn notes acerbically:
Cohen and Parris, two famously moderate voices in the leading newspapers of two of the least anti-Israeli capital cities in the West, have nevertheless internalized the same logic as Ahmadinejad: Israel should not be where it is. Whether it’s a “stain of shame” or just a “mistake” is the merest detail.
I have never found Cohen moderate, though he is predictably anti- everything that I find interesting or worthwhile. He’s not even a good writer, which is why I stopped reading him years ago. On the other hand, Mr. Steyn’s professional hazard is that he has to read far and wide for his living.
Here is Steyn’s own dysphoric prediction:
Arabs will soon be demanding one democratic state – Jews and Muslims – from Jordan to the sea. And even those who understand that this will mean the death of Israel will find themselves so confounded by the multicultural pieties of their own lands they’ll be unable to argue against it. Contemporary Europeans are not exactly known for their moral courage: The reports one hears of schools quietly dropping the Holocaust from their classrooms because it offends their growing numbers of Muslim students suggest that even the pretense of “evenhandedness” in the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” will be long gone a decade hence.
He ends with this, a kind of anticipatory requiem:
…unlike much of the rest of the west, Israel has the advantage of living on the front line of the existential challenge. “I have a premonition that will not leave me,” wrote Eric Hoffer, America’s great longshoreman philosopher, after the ‘67war. “As it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us.”
I agree with that sentiment, which is why I am fighting for Israel. And I wonder — if we maintain our troops in Iraq – if our presence might not slow down the lava of madness flowing from one of the axes of evil and spreading over all the Middle East.
You don’t really think Iran plans to stop with Israel’s destruction, do you? The Saudis don’t, and neither do the Egyptians. Unfortunately, there is no state in the Middle East with the intestinal fortitude to stand up to Iran.
No one but Israel.