Thursday, August 25, 2016

Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and the War of Words

A key indicator that Israel has lost the current (and probably the next) generation of public opinion was brought home to me when I was recently asked, rhetorically, if I sympathized with the Palestinians.  My questioner then added “after all, they are treated unfairly by Israel.”

I had no pithy one line response because the way the question was raised meant that anything I said was going to be irrelevant. In our mass communication age, pictures and instantly recalled memes are all the average attention span can tolerate.

So here are a few ideas for when and if we finally do begin to respond in a meaningful way to our aggressors and the press hounds that disseminate their global propaganda:

1)     Palestinians are in the first instance Arabs and the Arabs have been ethnically cleansing Jews (among every other minority) for 1,400 years.
2)     Palestinian Arabs desire a return to Arab apartheid against Jews and you blame us for rejecting the offer?
3)     The German people admired the British nation so much so that after they offered Briton “Peace in our Time” they opted for conquest instead.  Palestinians are the modern era’s Aryan (German) nation.
4)     The British were not heartless nor in World War 2 did it stop Briton from leveling their German mortal enemy’s cities.
5)     Look at the genocide of non-Arabs in Iraq, Syria and the Sudan. This is what Palestinian Arabs have openly preached against Jews since the struggle for Jewish independence began.
6)     The United Nations (UN) has done nothing to prevent even a single case of ethnic cleansing or genocide in its 71 years of existence. And yet uniquely, it is the Jewish nation that you demand gives its trust to Palestinians who in their entire history have only ever preached ethno-religious hatred as an ethnic Arab right!
7)     A constant of Palestinians aspirations has been cultural genocide.  They have always preached it against Jews and where possible practiced it.

I could continue as I am sure you all can. We are constantly placed onto the defensive by our opponents, even by those people who are not yet our enemy.

If they have any tolerance at all for us, it is wearing thin as time progresses and it is doing so because we are not fighting back.  It is not sufficient to assert our rights when on university campuses across the globe it is with unchallenged aggression that our pleas for civilized debate are not unsurprisingly met with derision and even violence.

The chauvinist is incapable of accepting essential equality because it will always collide with his or her narrow world view.

The Arab and Islamist world uses its maximalist, colonialist and exclusive political-religious theology to justify its crimes against humanity and through its manipulation of the UN it stifles, even prevents any debate about its own guilt.  It is an axiom of racial politics that any truth which collides with the accepted narrative must be suppressed.

It is this hegemonic behavior that is at the heart of modern political division.  Identity politics, intersectionality, hierarchical victimhood are all symptoms of a damaged and fascistic mindset.  See the apartheid Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as the perfect example.

The racists in the Western World will gravitate towards anyone whose twisted narrative validates their bigotry against Jewish independence in Israel or even, (and the British Labour Party is the perfect example of this) against Jewish equality in the Diaspora.

A strong nation requires a focused, competent and well funded Department of State that will direct foreign policy irrespective of the fitness of the political party in power.  It must have a dedicated political master. Instead, Israel has Benjamin Netanyahu for head of state and he has undermined Israel’s most important ministry of government because he is incapable of delegating power.  That makes him a bad Prime Minister.  In the government that was sworn in May 2015 he retained control over 4 separate ministries, all crucial to the health of the nation. It is inconceivable that the prime minister of a minority or coalition government would hang onto such an important department, as State is, while also trying to run the country. 

Under Netanyahu’s’ tutelage foreign policy has lurched from one crisis to another and the bureaucracy of State has been incrementally undermined.  When the state’s enemies openly boast of their intent to keep Israel in an existentially precarious state (as Hassan Nasrallah did only a few weeks ago) a full-time Foreign Minister with a well funded department is the minimum that is needed.

We are fighting BDS (which always focuses on the message no matter how many lies it contains) without support from the primary target of that boycott and I blame this situation on the prime minister of Israel.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Zionism and the Jewish State

“Except for two periods when Palestine was its correct political title it has usually been called the Land of Israel, the Promised Land, the Holy Land.  It was called Palestine from the second Jewish War with Rome to the conquest, when it formed the province of Palestina, and the second time during the British Mandate Arab for Palestine.”  (Whose Land? A History of the Peoples of Palestine by James Parkes)

To the first generation of fair minded people who came after the Second World War the Shoah proved the wisdom, not just the need for a Jewish safe haven.   It  is therefore all  the more ironic that it was the United Nations with its 1975 General Assembly Resolution equating Zionism with racism that signaled the first volley in  a relentless assault on Jewish legitimacy (and a stepped return  to organized anti-Semitic bigotry).  Then, Jews and their Christian supporters may not have missed the message but by dropping their guard they certainly neglected the long-term threat which eased the infiltration of Islamists and their neo-McCarthyist collaborators on the political Left into every aspect of public life.

McCarthyism was anti-internationalist in tone which naturally led it into antisemitic territory by virtue of accusations often leveled at Jews for dual-loyalty and their ‘cosmopolitan outlook’.  Soviet antisemitic vitriol usually came with a reference to cosmopolitanism, a meme everyone understood to be synonymous with Judaism. Again this is ironic, given communism’s claim to an egalitarian communalism and its international efforts for cross border legitimacy.    Today, Islamic and neo-McCarthyist radicals use classic antisemitic tropes to silence any criticism of their own history and their contemporary use of past antisemitic tactics.

For example no-one questions from where Arab-Muslim and radical left-wing funds originate, particularly when they are used to assault ‘Zionists’ and Jews who may be suspected of having Zionist sympathies. But Rothschild conspiracies and the ‘undue influence’ of any Jewish donors are oft-repeated accusations leveled against the Jewish community here in the UK.  The press will often publish articles that skirt and even cross the border between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, very rarely publishing a retraction when found to have erred. Debate around the influence of Islam and its obvious literary impact on antizionism as antisemitism is banished as Islamaphobic.

The extreme left’s antisemitism has been debated within the right-wing British press since Jeremy Corbyn notoriously became leader of the Labour opposition in the British parliament but even then that debate is very much circumscribed within parameters set by examining the Corbyn phenomena in British politics.  Little, if any examination is provided to the Left’s antisemitic origins or its contemporary racist bedfellows.

If Zionism and Judaism are forces for good they must be able to explain themselves in a world that is simultaneously inundated with and at war with a world of competing ideas. Zionism, as a Universalist and utopian Jewish idea is attacked by Muslims for denying Arab Particularism and its conquest narrative yet another victory but also Zionism is attacked because the State represents living proof of Islam’s failure to dominate all geographical areas with its exclusive Universalism.

Persistent attacks by Muslim and fascist proponents of an end to the Jewish National Homeland have rendered the gains made by advocates of Jewish autonomy subject to doubt and questioning which is unprecedented with respect to any other community. Moreover, the negative reinforcement of anti-Zionist and antisemitic Western propaganda has assailed Jewish self-confidence as perhaps never before in history.  As a way out, it has never been easier to cease to be Jewish.

Zionism has been a support for Jewish faith.  It has also been a weapon that antisemites use to bludgeon the ignorant and to assault Jewish faith.  The current crisis in Jewish identity has much to do with the bad press that Israel and the established Jewish communities failed to fight against with adequate vigor.

Identity, nationalism and religion are all weighty and conflicted subjects that so many of us do not want to discuss or even to define.  And yet a state of all its citizens must retain characteristics that give it an identity which differentiates it from its neighbors; unless of course we are all to be subsumed by a singular, neutralized identity, devoid of personality and character.   Ze’ev Maghen pointed out in an essay in “New Essays on Zionism (2006)” that “We all love preferentially.”   Preferential love is equal to sociocultural diversity; universal love is the death of intimacy without which all the great questions are without relevance.   An identity is crucial for self-expression; you cannot reach for the stars if you possess no passion for engagement. Our identity drives us to search for, to demand answers to the questions we have seen the urgency to ask.

Nora Sternfeld has written that Universalism is generally attributed to the majority society – both within its own paternalistic discourses and amongst a large proportion of its critics. She continues that it is possible to offer another perspective on this: the appropriation of a strategically universal perspective from the marginalized side, a perspective that steps out of the position of the victim and the object, and that takes pride in its capacity to act in solidarity with others.

However, choosing one minority position of oppression over another creates its own oppressive dialogue.  Just because we view a minority as disadvantaged it does not have to follow that their cultural tradition is worth supporting. Not all cultural narratives are equal in validity.

There is a reason that the Muslim world has a history of despotism and malevolent dictatorship. To question is to engage with the divine.  In the practice of a religion of submission one can only acquiesce. In the fourteen hundred years that is the lifespan of Islamic history there has only ever been exploitation by rulers who profited from those to whom submission as an article of faith meant unquestioning acceptance of a ruler’s fiat.  But at least according to Islamic theology, it also follows that even the most impoverished Muslim is superior to the Christian, Jew, or ‘other’ in their midst.  And that creates painfully dissonant questioning as to why the superior race is not in charge.

Therein is the origin of many conspiracy theories and hate filled diatribes against ‘a smart but perfidious enemy’ whether that enemy is Zionism, Capitalism, America, Israel, Western civilization, Crusader (Christianity) or Judaism!

If fear has meant that minorities failed to stand up to their persecutors, the last five years have signaled an end to any accommodation that non-Muslim minorities thought would keep their tormentors from oppressing them.  Islamic State (or Daesh) has nothing to do with either an Israel-Palestine conflict or Zionism, unless we now explain away the Arab Spring as inspired, not by Arab despotism, but by the success of Jewish self-determination (as expressed in the political independence of the nation-state of Israel).

The Christian Middle East is in full flight. There are no safe-havens for any non-Muslim (non-Arab) minority, excepting in Israel.  A Jewish state is of greater importance in the Middle and greater Near-Eastern region than at any time in history.

Democracy and human rights are not universally cherished.   Israel’s status as the Jewish nation is continuously questioned by ‘liberal’ exponents of secular republicanism.  They argue for separation of synagogue and state as a means of providing focus for a more inclusive (de-Judaised) national identity.  But that is something they would never dream of demanding from any other religious faith.

If modern Israel arose out of the moral disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, the catalyst to its integration into global society was not the Shoah but what preceded it, at the end of the nineteenth century.  Large scale Jewish immigration encouraged a similar wave of Arab immigration.  Legitimacy for one means legitimacy for both.  But this right is one the fascist left is unwilling to grant to Jews.  If as Ruth Gavison claims, changing circumstances affected the balance of legitimacy in favor of Jewish self-determination, a history of Arab persecution of Jews and denial of Jewish rights in the land of Israel were and remains the principle impediment to the realization of universal autonomy.

I began this blog with a quote from James Parkes.  A Jewish right to live in peace in the Land of Israel is what Ruth Gavison calls “an elemental point of religious belief”. She argues for a justification outside of religious belief in order to avoid “a pointless clash of dogmas that leaves no room for dialogue or compromise.” The most important of the universal values of any society is the right to live one’s life without fear.  On this one factor in human existence everything else pivots. Israel stands in contradistinction to every Arab, to every Muslim state.  This and this alone is the justified Zionist product that is Jewish secular nationhood. (New Essays on Zionism - 2006)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

British Antisemitism and my Friendship Failure

I had a heated discussion with an acquaintance, a former ‘friend’, after the Brexit poll that recently took place.  He is a life-long Labour Party supporter who acknowledged the futility of electing Jeremy Corbyn (JC) to the post of party leader while at the same time being exhilarated by the result.  We have not been comfortable together since he told me (just prior to one of my many family trips to Israel) that one mans history is another mans mythology.  From there it was clear I was dealing with someone of ‘easy’ personal ethics, someone who chooses sides based not on historical relevance but on ideological preference.  His justification is never swayed by either reality or counter-factual evidence. In retrospect, he was a perfect JC disciple.

We are all products of our identity.  We learn from our parents, our peers, from the education system and from society – social media, television, community.  We absorb many lies and half truths. What we have learnt from our growing up years helps us to turn away from that which is not congruent with our own belief system.  A well oiled propaganda machine can change hearts and minds; it can reroute our emotional response to input data simply by repeating its message and intimidating those people who refuse to listen, thereby silencing any counter argument.  It can work slowly or quickly depending on the strength of the message, its frequency of transmission and the opposing response (or lack thereof).

The Muslim and fascist Left’s “Boycott Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) campaign is an excellent example of this.  If you have ever tried to have a rational discussion with a proponent of BDS you will be shouted down, intimidated, threatened with violence, accused of war-crimes or simply ignored.

And thus are today’s wars eventually won.

I have always valued education and appreciated the truism that you never stop learning.  There are always at least two sides to every narrative no matter how unequal they may initially appear to be. And this is the problem that the Left has with any conflict.  I will explain.  The political Right developed from entrenched ruling elites. They evolved, they adapted over centuries to changing circumstances. If the Shoah taught the political Right wing anything it was that defeat was painful and maybe, just maybe, that using people as pawns had terrible consequences.  They may not have cared, but technology had developed to the point of making conflict uneconomical for every one, including the winners.

Except that the unfortunate truth about people is this: time, given the opportunity, forgives and even more important, forgets everything.

In contrast, the political Left was born of ideology and of original sin.  Its ideas were grafted onto a social backbone imbued with poisonous hatred of the other.  In order to facilitate acceptance Karl Marx as well as many who came after him on the political Left plagiarized the most heinous prejudices of the society they inhabited.  The British Labour Party has never fully explored, repudiated or banished its antisemitism.  Followers could choose to disregard party rhetoric at their peril.  After all, a winning meme will help to elect candidates to office.  Acceptance in a monolithic movement means unquestioning obedience. The Left has rarely had a need to justify its behavior. It has usually practiced cognitive relativism which places morals in the area of human invention; do not reflect universal truths and are subject to social and cultural considerations that override the laws of society.  Put another way (according to Marcel Stoetzler “Antisemitism and the British Labour Party”) the meta-politics of antisemitism is in its simplistic but transcendent appeal.

The Left’s universalism and its opposition to ethnic discrimination is tempered by its need to attract converts in a world that is increasingly unstable while also being more prosperous and therefore less likely to listen to its message about the underdog. Devoid of “us and them” rhetoric the Left has difficulty attracting voters to its message of class struggle and has an even greater issue justifying its “Other” particularism. The latter, empowers a perceived underclass even when that underclass is racist, homophobic, misogynistic, antisemitic and imperialistic.  These are crimes of which the Arab and greater Muslim world is guilty.  But when Jews are viewed as part of the greater Western or American (capitalist) project they become a conduit for all that is wrong with the world.  How else to justify choosing a racist Arab Particularism over a flawed Zionist Utopianism?

There is another issue that afflicts society today.  If in the past, we were taught that to win was not the most important thing but how we “played the game,” today we are told that there is no respect, there is no honor, there is just winning.   In the short term that may be a useful yardstick for success but it is a corrosive attitude that kills innovation and destroys relationships at every level of society. It means that long term planning is unnecessary and even uneconomical. We live in a society where if results are not rapidly achievable then either other options should be explored or the journey itself cancelled.  It has made us for the most part ungracious winners and poor losers.

Think of the British campaign to exit from the European Union. The campaign was intemperate. It was unlike any I had previously encountered because usually both sides attempt to woo their opponents’ voters. This time they oozed contempt for those voters.  That disdain followed through when the losers demanded a rerun.   It was often expressed that the democratic will of the people was of no consequence because the winners were clearly too stupid to appreciate the gravity of their error or because of their advanced age, either too infirm or too greedy to understand the important issues (such as cheaper British holidays to Europe).  That contempt is an impulse towards fascism but equally, it is an intolerance that is spreading even as we pray at a multicultural altar.

To return to my acquaintance, his logic cannot be faulted for the following reasons:

  • If only he is ever right then his opponent is only ever deluded, misguided, uncaring and wrong.
  • If only his vision is clear, then anyone who fails to share that vision is blind (or in theological terms his soul is corrupted).
  • If his narrative is the only history of consequence then everything else must be invalid, invalidated and expunged from the historical record.
It is a very dangerous mindset and one that explains our inaction when confronted with the wrong kind of genocide.  Genocide is political and therefore unexceptional, even irrelevant.  It is why the world did (does) nothing about the Syrian civil-war and its’ almost half a million dead until its instability and fragmentation negatively impacts homeland Europe.

It is why George Orwell’s concept of brainwashing, a central theme in ‘1984’, has always been with us.  It just takes longer to impact society than the book portrays.

We have been too gentle with our fascist friends. Their life is filled with the absolute certainty of their cause and it is only by rudely exposing their collaborationist philosophy that we can prevent a dystopian future.  We will not be thanked for exposing the bedrock of their beliefs to ridicule. Their indifference to you will remain unchanged and their hatred will help them to overcome any doubts that may linger on the margins of their minds-eye.   The Jeremy Corbyn’s of this world are the perfect example of a grotesque political phenomenon.  They possess an unwavering certainty in the justice of their cause alongside of an inability to comprehend their opponents’ humanity.  Their incapacity to change direction and a lopsided intellect that can explain and justify anything is buttressed by a lack of emotional facility to intuit any countervailing possibilities.

As a politician there are some things you should not do. One of those things is to be caught out with a contemptuous / idiotic response to an obvious question.  When Jeremy Corbyn had only recently been elected leader and given his controversial associations he was asked if he was antisemitic (see “Jeremy Corbyn and a Case Study for Fascism”).

His answer was to ask the following question: How could I be? My father fought at the Battle of Cable Street (a legendary anti-racist fight against black-shirted fascists, fought in 1936, thirteen years before Jeremy Corbyn was born).  It makes a thief of the leader of the nation’s main opposition party – to steal someone else’s virtue as a means of disproving ones own iniquities is however, worse than theft because it sullies the memory of an honorable past with the duplicitous and detestable present.

That is what makes for a conflict between good and evil.

I feel sad.  On a personal level I now realize that someone I once called a friend, perhaps because of his life-long ideological commitment to ‘liberation theology’ (just not Jewish) or an Arab fascist agenda (Pan-Arabism), he would have as easily stabbed me in the back, as betray me to the KGB or the SS.  For my kind, is there a difference?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Institutionally Racist?

This is a guest article by Alan Melkman whose own blog can be found at the following site:

While it is now dated by publication of the Shami Chakrabati report, subsequent behavior by Jeremy Corbyn’s (JC) fellow travelers in Momentum (a grassroots but influential movement of JC acolytes), his ongoing nonfeasance and dishonorable behavior at the launch of Shamis’ report simply reinforces the impression that the report into widespread allegations of antisemitism within the British Labor Party was no more than a face-saving whitewash.

The tragedy is that it distances the Labour Party even further from future electoral success because in dismissing any need to examine its own toxic antecedent history as well as contemporary antisemitic behavior it only encourages recidivist antisemitism within the Left.  As such, it can only promote further public extremism which decent people will reject along with the party that practices it.

Institutionally Racist?

Let’s be clear – crystal clear.

Anti-Semitism is the hatred of Jews. It is the hatred of a people, of a race, not for their beliefs, but for who they are. It is the hatred of Jews because they are Jews. It is holding them responsible for evil without any substantive evidence. It is to make them the centre of conspiracies of enslavement of the rest of the world and the instigators of unspeakable collusions. It is race hatred in its purest form.

Islamaphobia is, as its name would suggest, the fear of Islam, the religion. Adherents to the Muslim faith come in all varieties and from all races. It is a fear of the teachings of Islam which inspire a small minority to commit despicable atrocities such as: acts of indiscriminate slaughter, violations of young and not infrequently older women, intimidation of those who resist their pernicious ideology, homophobic insanities and much, much more. It is not, as antisemitism is of Jews, a hatred of Muslims because they are Muslims. It is a fear of a small minority for their outrageous religious beliefs. It is not racist.

So, if these two phenomena are entirely different, why are they so often conflated?

For example, the British Labour party is undertaking an investigation into itself, led by a member of its own party, into allegations that it, through its members, has exhibited anti-Semitic behaviors in recent years. It has created what is politely referred to as an impartial enquiry, headed by Labour party member Shami Chakrabarti who has, amongst other things, broadened the enquiry way beyond focusing solely on anti-Semitism to include an equal consideration of Islamaphobia.

These two phenomena, as explained, are completely different. It is like insisting any enquiry into bribery within World Football must include an equally hard look at endemic political corruption in Venezuela. Rationally, including Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism is totally absurd, almost laughable. So why has Shami chosen to include fear of Islam in the same brief as hatred of the Jewish race? Why has she chosen to ‘muddy the waters’?

Perhaps there are a number of reasons why Shami has decided that Islamaphobia and Jew hatred are essentially the same. Perhaps it is because their investigations will show that Islamaphobia is more widely spread than anti-Semitism, particularly among members of the Conservative party, thereby diminishing the perceived size of problem whilst putting the Conservatives ‘on the back foot’. It might be that they discover that attacks on UK Muslims and their properties, in absolute numbers, are greater than on Jews which again diminishes the perceived extent of anti-Semitism. Most importantly it conflates racism with the fear of an ideology and thereby exonerates the Labour party from the accusation that it is institutionally racist.

I suspect that most impartial observers have already had some reservations on the likely conclusion of this Labour navel gazing exercise. The veracity of their report might, and I suggest should, be judged against the following criteria for which I am indebted to Stephen Spencer Ryde who has been carrying on what appears to be an almost single handed campaign against the perversions of natural justice that the Labour party, under Jeremy Corbyn, is masterminding.

1.     The inquiry’s scope only covers the rules in future cases of antisemitism.  It will not examine existing cases that remain unaddressed, such as the case of Sir Gerald Kaufman. It may point out that there has been a balance of Islamaphobic inferences and this historical issue is beyond the remit of the enquiry
2.     The Labour Party’s antisemitism problem is not so acute because the rules were too lax. The enquiry might conclude the Party’s leadership and structures have failed to identify antisemitism and condemn it. But then the same comments will be made about Islamaphobia. The inquiry should then logically examine the conduct of the Party’s leadership, but it will not.
3.     The Vice Chair of the inquiry is Professor David Feldman, who has already dismissed claims of antisemitism in the Party as “baseless” and “politically motivated” in an open letter. It is ludicrous to appoint as judge and jury someone who has already made up his mind in opposition to the vast majority of British Jews. However, he will show his impartiality by putting equal weight on the Islamic scale to balance the anti-Semitic evidence.
4.     The inquiry seeks to concoct its own definition of antisemitism.  There is already a definition that is used by the Government, the College of Policing, and even foreign institutions like the EU Parliament and the US Department of State.  The definition is called the EUMC definition (presumably also used by All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism), and it covers precisely the kind of antisemitism that has invaded Labour’s immune system: antisemitism disguised as political discourse.  The EUMC definition is not up for debate, but we know that the inquiry will not adopt it because Professor Feldman has argued for its abolition every time he has been given the opportunity. It is likely therefore that the Shami definition of anti-Semitism will be vague enough to include a completely different animal, Islamaphobia.
The report will almost certainly conclude that that mere criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic and that this label is thrown about to stop legitimate disapproval and the stifling of free speech. What it will almost certainly not conclude is that the Labour party is both institutionally racist and in deep denial of this fact.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Meander through a shared American and Israeli Exceptionalism

When Americans looked at World War 2 Europe, what they saw was a continent addicted to war where protection from tyranny took a barely material second place to what was clearly a wholly discredited nationalism.  When Americans tried to understand why war was second nature to Europeans they concluded that Europe was fatally flawed by its inability to move past its narrowly regimented ethnocentric national interest.  And so the Marshall Plan (before it became overtaken by the Cold War) was the first volley fired in the war on the bellicosity of European chauvinism and towards the creation of a supranational union that would bind all the old enemies into one united super-state.

It has been observed that Europeans and those people of the ‘old world’ viewed strategic decision making based on their history.  It was backward facing and unsuited to resolving its own issues without recourse to violence.  The USA had a mere few hundreds of years of history to proclaim, so it made its own future, based on imagination and idealism.  It is here that its entrepreneurial spirit was nurtured. 

This forward looking approach is the reason that Israelis and Americans are usually vilified in the same breath. Both nations are representatives of the ‘new world’ - implicit in the name is a rejection of the old ways and its tainted history.

Both nations have been forced into defensive or offensive positions by their ideological enemies.   Both are yet to come to terms with the ‘old world’ reality which is an intellectual incapacity to learn from history. The question is not whether a clash of civilizations can be appeased (because it cannot) but how and whether, mutually exclusive ambitions are capable of reconciliation?

If the over-arching principle that drives the USA is safeguarding its national political institutions, the subsequent failure to protect human rights is a fundamental failure of strategic understanding. It should be noted that Britain is similarly deluded in its approach to tyranny. Without a philosophical commitment to freedom for all, political liberty may be used as the means by which tyranny spreads and infects the body of the nation.  Like a microbial infestation, fascism, which is the application of tyranny, honors no borders. Universal human rights can only be possible if they are equally understood and crucially, applied equally. Without certain fundamental rules of engagement (see next paragraph), political liberty is little more than a vehicle used to expedite fascism which in this case signifies both a pretense to equal human rights and a particular bias against equal protection before the law.  That final conditional inequality undermines society.

The fundamental rules of engagement are the most simple to apply.  All people are welcome to take shelter under the cultural umbrella that defines the society into which they have sought refuge, as long as they do not cherry pick what they are willing to accept. Democratic nations are united by the consensus they live out and not by the selective tolerance they provide to people who reject any accommodation with them. Similarly, the so called ‘nanny state’ is created, not by being too caring but by failing to inculcate in everyone a narrative of personal responsibility both towards each other and towards the society they share.

According to Michael B. Oren the refusal to accept responsibility is the largest single obstacle to fostering democracy and forging peaceful co-existence between peoples of different backgrounds. (‘New Essays on Zionism’ 2006)

Zionism is the Jewish right to self-determination. Its failure was that in its wider utopian Universalist naivety it did not appreciate the opposing Muslim theological narrative of religious triumphalism and an Arab conquest narrative that was (and remains to this day) inextricably intertwined with Islamic identity, revanchism and a need to sow discord among its competitors and ideological enemies.  Again, Michael Oren expresses this well when he says: “Islam developed during a period when Muslims ruled most of the civilized world” therefore “Islam harbors no misgivings regarding power – the attainment of power is incumbent on every individual Muslim. Arab Muslims thus have a problem with a palpably powerful Jewish State.” – ibid

Zionism’s failure to understand the hegemonic nature of Islamic society should have served as a lesson for Europe’s enthusiastic proponents of integration and unity.  In Britain, the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (Trevor Phillips OBE) publicly decried multiculturalism claiming it was out of date and legitimized what divided communities rather than encouraging what united them.

Israel does need to fight harder against the coercive, voluntary segregation of culturally disparate (Arab and ultra-orthodox) communities.  Michael Oren proposes that we flag-waivers for Zionism bear a weighty responsibility “to prove to ourselves, and the world that the phrase ‘Jewish State’ is not in fact a contradiction in terms……(to shoulder) the responsibilities of reconciling our heritage with our sovereignty, our strength with our compassion, and our will to survive with our desire to inspire others.” – ibid

Put another way, Zionism must show its equal benefits to all its communities so that the compulsion to embrace it becomes not just 9 till 5 but 24-7.

For the USA it is free markets and open borders, where liberal values are a means to an end (social and economic comfort).  People who are comfortable do not go out of their way to kill each other (unless they are political or theological sociopaths). Prosperity should be the end result of a free market economy.  However, like all absolutes, theory and reality are dependent on the strength of human laws to hold back the darker ambitions of human nature: greed, peoples’ blind passion for being right all of the time (which inevitably means that they are wrong most of the time) and peoples hunger for exercising power over others.

Neither restraint nor intellectual pluralism is the modus operandi of a missionary faith or of a zealous political ideology.  Communism is a political ideology with many of the attributes of an embryonic religious faith. ‘Progressives’ and others on the extreme left of the political spectrum inevitably share aspects of fascism.  They include intolerance (they will mask it as ‘zeal’) for any world-view that has not been sanctioned by their political bible, vigorous attempts to ostracize those people who disagree with them and their tactics, and, proscription for any counter-narrative. The gauleiter of the secular Inquisition thus ensures the right to free speech is no more than a delusion, a basic right that is only enjoyed by his or her followers. 

American and Israeli Exceptionalism have at their (separate but connected) heart and soul a Universalism that has the potential to benefit all of humankind. It is only through intelligent engagement and careful language that their shared idealism can be demonstrably proven correct, serving as a light unto the nations of the world.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The BREXIT Campaign – The Facts

We will soon be voting on whether to remain members of the grand European project or to leave it.  I present below some observations. 

Britain is currently the world's fifth largest economy based on total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – Britain’s GDP currently stands at $2.8 trillion. The list below (at least in terms of relative position) agrees with the World Bank, UN and CIA world Factbook position on global GDP trends.

IMF World GDP Ranking 2015

GDP (Millions of US$)

      United States

      United Kingdom

World trade declined 1.7% in the first three months of 2016.  It is this trend that is the main threat to British prosperity and not the hysterical projection of BREXIT proposed by champions of the Remain campaign.

The reverse projection, bumper growth, would put Britain on course to become the world's fourth largest economic powerhouse ahead of an ageing Japan and Germany in the 2030s, according to the Centre for Economic & Business Research’s latest world economic league table.  The total cash value of the UK economy will grow to around $4.7 trillion by 2031, but is expected to be quickly overtaken by Brazil in fourth spot by the 2040s.

That is if we place our trust in economic star-gazing.

The UK is the fifth biggest economy in the world.  44% of our exports go to the EU. However, the EU benefits from maintaining a healthy economic relationship with us to a far greater degree.  Britain in the year ending 2015 had a £68 billion trade deficit with the EU.  So no, the European Union is not going to threaten us with dire consequences when the potential material damage would be far worse for them than for us.

Europe is declining in financial importance while Asia and South America are ascendant.  The EU currently represents about 20% of Global trade but that percentage is declining. It is estimated that in the future the EU will be no more than 10% of the global economy.  The EU has no trade deals with the worlds’ largest economy (the USA).  Nor does the EU have trade deals with Brazil, India, Australia, or China.  If we left the EU we would remain its biggest single export market. 

We are a net contributor to the EU budget (we give Europe £10.1 billion per year more than we receive from Europe).   The Remain campaign focuses on the £350 million that the exit campaigners remind us, is sent to Brussels bureaucrats every week, to be spent by unelected European politicians. They aren’t entirely straight with us. We receive in terms of university, research and agricultural grants (amongst other items) £156 million per week from the European Union. That still leaves Britain with a net figure of £194 million per week haemorrhaging from British coffers. This is where the excess payment figure of £10.1 billion originates.

I do not have a principled objection to paying money into an integrated Europe except that Europe is neither integrated nor is it unified towards one purpose.  I will explain.

A friend of mine is a keen cyclist who likes to follows the route of the Tour de France on his bicycle.  He does cycling trips around Europe.  On his trips to Spain he has observed that there are entire stretches of A-class road that he and his friends would cycle along where they would not see a single car, often for many kilometers.  The hundreds of millions of Euros those roads cost to build across Spain were simply the visual manifestation ‘proving’ the power and influence of corrupt local Spanish politicians.  There was no local benefit to their construction, there was certainly no regional or national purpose served by their planning and implementation.

What those empty, meandering roads epitomized were the corruption as well as the greed at the heart of the current European project.  That attitude we know from history is core to any project or grand historical scheme benefiting entrenched tribes or factions usually at the expense of some other tribe or faction.  The issue the EU faces today is that there is no accountability and no public recognition that anything is wrong.

The reluctance to forego any diminution of its own financial benefit is the big problem killing the EU – corruption facilitates decline, it does not engender democracy, human rights or world peace.  Corruption creates national bottlenecks that embitter the losing faction (the ones missing out on all those truckloads of cash).  ‘Priorities’ may be significant for one nation but completely insignificant for another.

The EU, if it is to successfully pool its resources and focus on integration of all of its citizens has lots of questions it is not even beginning to discuss. For instance: If countries have entirely different pension or taxation policies then their individual cost and revenue streams are going to be always out of synchronization with each other. Inequality breeds exploitation and resentment.  If the people in each country in the union do not enjoy the same opportunities then the basis for a stable relationship does not exist. Good governance is measured by equality of risk. That also means however that in order for the EU to succeed it must have fiscal integration as an end target and that requires uniformity of fiscal policy.  Without it, the perception of institutionalized corruption will continue to drag down the EU project. Shouldn’t we be addressing those issues? 

In the United States of America there are 50 states and the District of Colombia.  Only the federal government is permitted to run a deficit while individual states are forbidden to do so.  But then, the EU is not a federated system but a confederation. The difference is crucial.  A confederation is a union of States individually maintaining primary sovereignty over their affairs while devolving some authority to the central bureaucracy. In a federation, primary sovereignty is given to the central government which exercises control over every member state in areas defined by but not exclusively including the military, diplomatic relations and the economy.

The predicament of the EU is that political unity means having a single army, a single currency and unified border controls.  The contradictions that define a confederation make it inherently too weak to maintain the union and too conflicted to bring about the equality that is needed to unify its separate units. In order to work the European Union has to be an integrated i.e. a federated entity.

If the European Union is working towards a federated, possibly even a two tier unity then it explains the Incrementalism which is fundamental to current EU policy. But because of the inherent dishonesty within this approach the EU must be reformed and this reform is not liable to happen under current conditions where the debate over intentions has not even started.

In one lecture I attended (with thanks to Professor Brendan Simms) it was proposed that Europe was not a club that many were clambering to join but a shared destiny. “Europe is Greece, Rome and the Enlightenment” (apologies but I don’t know who said this).  The rejection of enlightenment principles (some Eastern European nations as well as Turkey have little experience of the Enlightenment) means that common interests are not always the reason for joining.  Turkey understands the union as a confederation rather than as a union so it can never agree to fulfill all of the conditions of full membership. It is on record as having repeatedly reminded Turkish expatriates that their primary loyalty is to Turkey and that they must not integrate into their host society (going so far as to threaten those people who stand aside from the Turkish nation).

People are selected for a European political sinecure as a means of rewarding them for past service to their party or as a means of ridding the party of an individual who has become a political liability or embarrassment. Direct elections to the European parliament and for top jobs in the European Commission would enhance the prestige of the European Parliament; it would also herald in an era of political transparency and accountability. Both are necessary for a healthy democracy to remain so and entirely missing from the current European project. 

Brendan Simms pointed out that Poland in 1717 and the Holy Roman Empire (in 1806) disappeared because they could not reform.  Contrast this with The 1707 Act of Union which consolidated power in the United Kingdom and similarly the USA in the 1780’s.  Both created frameworks for unity and a common identity guaranteed by the power wielded by centralized authority.

“There was a pharaoh and he knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1.8) this refers to the arrival of a new Egyptian king who did not know Joseph or his generation of immigrant workers. The textual reference to forgetting Joseph raises questions about the extent to which oppression is linked to a minority group's involvement in, and commitment to the larger society.  But it also raises questions about the historical tensions between host societies and their guest workers/immigrants and the fears, whether rational or not that makes the debate so difficult to present.

Simms said that the World War 2 generation are dead and even their children are in the 70’s (at the very least).  What happens when they forget the war? The German people are still very embarrassed by it.  But is it not relevant that Poland, Germany, Greece and France have all got significant voting populations that have embraced the National Front?  I will just point out some of the other countries with recent electoral results below.

The Swiss People’s party is a right wing, populist, political party and the largest party in the Swiss Federal Assembly.  It is also Eurosceptic.  In Denmark’s general election in 2015 the Danish People’s Party (described by the media as right and far-right wing) secured 21% of the vote; in Hungary, the far-right Jobbik Party (described as radical nationalist) won over 20% of the parliamentary vote.  In Austria the Freedom Party polled 49.7% of the vote on 22nd May 2016. Norbert Hofer came within 0.6% of being elected President of Austria.  His party, founded after WW2 by “former” Nazis is nationalist and anti-immigration, its credentials are toxic.

Throughout Europe, nations are not rejecting greater union; they are fighting an identity crisis they do not see being adequately addressed by their political elite. The issue of immigration and refugee absorption are part of the debate over European identity that again, is being ignored because the issues they raise are apparently too complex for our simple brains to comprehend.

It is this disrespect that politicians and bureaucrats have for us all that is at the heart of the rise of fascism in Britain and throughout Europe.