Monday, October 8, 2012
Liberal Democracy and Simon Hughes
The Liberal Democrats have a problem. The Party appears to possess an inordinate number of political hypocrites and while the political animal may, as a species, not be worthy of ethical admiration what I find curious, even disconcerting about them is not the Janus faced sophistication which is a common trait amongst all politicians but the venom masked as humanity that seems so salient a feature of the Party of illiberal thought.
Perhaps it is my failure to understand the high minded and internationalist liberalism of the LibDem world-view that is at fault but first I must consider the prejudice that seems immune to logic or to history.
The Liberals grew out of the Whig party in 1859 and enjoyed success through leaders such as Gladstone, Asquith and Lloyd George but by the 1920’s had been permanently replaced as the largest opponent to the Conservative Party. They declined until the 1950’s, when in alliance with the Social Democrats began a resurgence in their appeal. In 1988 the two parties formally merged into the Liberal Democrats (LibDems).
To quote Jonah Goldberg (“Liberal Fascism”) H.G. Wells delivered a major speech at Oxford University where he called for a “ ‘Phoenix Rebirth’ of Liberalism” under the banner of “Liberal Fascism.” Wells continued by explaining that “Fabian socialism had failed because it hadn’t grasped the need for a truly ‘revolutionary’ effort aimed at the total transformation of society….they (the socialists) were just ‘too nice’.” Wells said “I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti, for enlightened Nazis.”
Post Shoah, H.G Wells came out in support of a Jewish State. But to quote Bryan Cheyette (Lecturer at the School of English, University of Leeds) “In H. G. Wells' vision of a Utopian world state, a separate Jewish culture represented a corrupt and reactionary impediment to progress and order. Wells stopped short of advocating annihilation but he blamed the existence of anti-Semitism on the Jew's failure to assimilate to the Universalist mainstream.” Of course by this he meant the ‘predominant’ English mainstream. This is not that different from what the LibDems believe today.
As I stated in an earlier blog “The Middle Classes in Crisis”:
“the Liberal Democrats are the political party of fashionable prejudice, its ideas and ideals shaped by intellectual currents rather than by ethical principles; this protean political force attempts to transect differences by sanctimonious and tendentious political posturing that leaves them hovering indiscriminately between Left and Right.
A short but notorious list of recent LibDem grandees would include Baroness Dr Jenny Tongue and in addition to its most infamous bigot, the following:
Lord Wallace (academic, writer and senior LibDem) told the Board (the UK’s main representative Jewish body) that Israeli policy towards the Palestinians was "mistaken" and that, as a democracy, Israel should be held to higher standards than Saudi Arabia. This may be the expression of a logical mind but not of a moral one. The prejudice that underlies Lord Wallace’s moral destitution is so appalling I find any emotions beyond contempt and shame to be unworthy.
Lord Phillips (Andrew Wyndham Phillips), another LibDem bigot kicked upstairs to the unelected House of Lords (in gratitude for his contribution to the party) stated that “many” Jews are “deeply prejudiced” although “not lacking in intelligence” according to the JC of 25/2/2011.
It would be patronizing and condescending were I to pontificate on the superior intellect of the Liberal Democrats. It could be pointed out however that because they are unlikely to contribute anything positive to British politics they should be disbanded as a party. This is particularly relevant in light of what seems to be their incurable predilection towards sweeping statements, generalizations and prejudice. An incapacity to present a nuanced analysis of the modern world without resorting to cliché and sophism is not of course restricted to LibDems but it does appear to be a characteristic of LibDem leadership.
North West Euro-MP Chris Davies was forced to resign as leader of the British Liberal Democrat MEP's (he remains a LibDem member of the European Parliament) after he told a Jewish constituent (amongst other disgraceful and deeply offensive statements) that “I hope you enjoy wallowing in your own filth." This was an unsolicited comment and while an extreme example, it underlines the visceral reaction of the LibDem leadership to any interaction with people of Jewish faith who fail to provide obsequious cover for the party’s prejudice. I cannot imagine any British political party apart from perhaps the extreme left or extreme right using such ugly language.
Any war may be played out over a number of canvases – there is the propaganda war, the surrogate war (fought by intermediaries), and the economic war (played out as part of the first two above) and yes, there is hot war, with lots of death and destruction. Israel has faced conflict with Britain since long before its modern foundation. By allowing the free migration of Arabs to Palestine while actively preventing Jews from exercising the same right to immigration, Britain signed the death warrant for European Jewry. By arming and controlling an Arab army it was actively complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem’s Jews and the Arab rape of east Jerusalem. Many of its politicians have waged a propaganda war against the State of Israel by financially supporting its enemies. Britain today pushes for the containment of Israel within defenseless borders while it subverts the state within the UN as elsewhere through its active support for Israel’s enemies.
One could argue that not all of Britain’s politicians are as morally indigent or incoherent in their approach to Islamic extremism as the LibDems are but it does seem curious that it is the LibDems who too often link Jewish self-determination to all that is wrong with the world.
International economic and cultural harmonization is a Utopian ideal. It is undesirable when it is predicated on the extinction of the rights of one group for the greater good; that is another marker for what constitutes ‘liberal fascism’. What David Remnick, editor of New Yorker Magazine called “pandering, married to ignorance” is the LibDem justification for prejudice against the Jewish State and it seems, Jews.
We could be generous. We could say that the Liberal Democrat Party, in spite of its top tier university educated parliamentary representation is not prejudiced at all. It is simply, linguistically challenged. And I will explain why.
In any discussion we should always be cognizant of the need for semantic precision in our narrative. For example, the Jewish community is fragmented, disorganized and fiercely jealous of its individuality and independence (which every Jewish group will defend against every other Jewish group). And yet, we use terms such as ‘world Jewry’ and ‘the Jewish people’ and then interpret this grouping of words as if Judaism is a monolithic, hegemonic, all-controlling, hermetically sealed bloc. But when we talk about the Muslim world or the Christian world we do not similarly convey a vision of overbearing or controlling conspirators. This may in part be due to a missionary legacy that needs to justify the same negative characteristics that are then superimposed on its victims. Or perhaps an Arabist foreign policy is so deeply ingrained within British society that it is not possible to repair the damage within the ruling racist bureaucratic psyche?
Mohammed Asif, Chief executive of ‘i-Engage’ (a British and Muslim PAC) wrote that “Zionism is not part of the Jewish faith; it is a political ideology that has advanced the idea of a national struggle to establish a homeland for the Jews in the modern era.” ‘i-Engage’ defended the right of radical Islamists to preach in Britain and encouraged the activities of antisemitic Muslim groups on British university campuses.
With respect to M. Asif the yearning for Zion is spiritually central to Jewish faith. We do not require a physical pilgrimage or Hajj to substantiate our identity as Jews. As a basic interpretation of what Zionism is, the right to Israeli self-determination, irrespective of religious identity, is fundamental to reconciling the Arab / Muslim world to Israel.
Simon Hughes was formerly President of and is current Deputy Leader of the LibDems. He fully supported the hiring of ‘i-Engage’ which in June 2010 wrote to the Education Secretary to express its opposition to Zionism being taught in Jewish Schools).
The problem with ‘i-Engage’s’ line of thinking was that just as they had the right to express their opposition to Zionism (or any other ‘ism’), equally, I could demand a ban on the Koran being placed in any British schools and not just those independent Muslim schools that receive state funding. The Koran does not acknowledge a separation between religion and political engagement and says some rather unpleasant things about non-Muslims that could be interpreted as providing sanction to incitement against anyone with whom they disagree.
On one LibDem site I noted the insidious claim that the Arab world is incapable of antisemitism because the Arabs are Semites.
This canard is false on two levels. First: a jingoistic, fantasist theological narrative declares the Arab race to be Gods’ sole legatee from the beginning of time through to the current age. It is therefore unsurprising that the Arab world tends to be racist in its self-identification when the Arab ‘race’ is gloriously unique in history. Secondly: antisemitism is specifically meant to denote hatred of Jews. To quote Wikipedia:
“While the term's etymology might suggest that anti-Semitism is directed against all Semitic peoples, the term was coined in the late 19th century in Germany as a more scientific-sounding term for Judenhass ("Jew-hatred"), and that has been its normal use since then.”
Antisemitism is much more simply defined than this. It is present when one is incapable of transferring ones prejudice against Jews to any other group or individual.
And so finally, it was reported that Simon Hughes believes the time has come to consider a “one state solution” to Israel-Palestine. To quote the Jewish Chronicle of 21st September 2012 “a single federated state in which Muslims, Jews and Christians had separate constitutional rights may now be the best solution.” This angers me. Perhaps Simon Hughes meant to say the final solution to the problem, after all, there is not a single Muslim state that is capable of guaranteeing the right to self-determination of its own minorities nor one that is able to respect its citizens rights. For a human rights lawyer as Mr. Hughes is to propose this, is to display at best inexplicable ignorance of Muslim society. Mr. Hughes continued “JC readers needed to understand the genuine feelings of anger and frustration felt by his colleagues over Israeli government policy.” Damn it, we Jews just don’t listen when our betters tell us what to do.
I would not say that the LibDems are guilty of wholesale duplicity, deception and dishonesty in their constancy of anti-Zionist propaganda but I do question the frequency with which they seem to attract attention to themselves by employing antisemitic arguments.