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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Syria - a Russian–American failure

The Syrian Civil War presents Western nations with an opportunity to redress the balance within tribal Muslim nations in favor of tolerance and also to show their rejection of  religious extremism in all its disguises.

But in order for this to happen, world powers will need to recognize the special instability of the region and to take steps to reduce its potency.

Russia will not willingly discard its $10 billion investment (allegedly the cost of construction of its naval base) in Tartus.  It is Russia’s only Black Sea Group naval port in the Mediterranean Sea.   To lose its base and any of its most modern weapons is a serious issue for Russia and one that will be handled with critical care.  Syria received new defense systems from Russia after Israel bombed Syria’s nuclear reactor.  It received Russian S300 missiles which are allegedly not yet operational. After the defection of a Syrian pilot with his plane, to Jordan, it is doubtful that Russia will permit Syria to operate any of its most sophisticated military hardware.

So Russia needs President Assad to protect its strategic naval interests.  Russia will have to decide whether the conflict (as it extends into the decade) causes greater damage to its regional interests by maintaining support for Alawite control of Syria. This may mean it has to settle for the dismemberment of the Syrian nation and a tribal enclave that maintains Alawite territorial integrity within a diminished Russian protectorate. But even that is not guaranteed because Russia is pursuing its strategic interest in mutually hostile nations.  Cyprus, Turkey, Israel and Syria are all focus of long term interest by Russia.

Russia has always supported Nicosia’s claims against the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).  This slab of land taken by force from Cyprus by Turkey is recognized by no-one, save Turkey.   Cyprus is being courted by Russia both for its newly discovered energy resources and for the strategic possibility that Russia, if it loses its base at Tartus could replace it with one on Cyprus.   According to Stratfor ( Russia is trying to woo Cyprus and this complicates bilateral relationships because of the extensive ties that Turkey also has with Russia.

Turkey is known to be actively interfering in Syrian affairs in order to encourage the kind of activist resistance that is more in line with its own Sunni theology.

This is an area where America has failed to grasp an historic opportunity to create a strategic partnership with Russia to jointly manage naval facilities.  Cooperation rather than competition (between the USA and Russia) is the only way to defuse tension in the Mediterranean Basin.  It is the next stage in Detente between the two great nations. 

Big Power cooperation would cause others to pause before interfering militarily, and may even constrain Muslim colonial ambitions.  With 46,000 km of coastline and as a destination for over one third of the world’s tourists it is in the interest of everyone to de-escalate the potential for strategic conflict.

What complicates the picture further is the unnatural relationship that the United States has with Turkey, an imperialist nation swept up in its own hubris, nourished by its vainglorious, malevolent past.  Turkey’s eagerness to play out past glories makes it untrustworthy as an ally. But the US has a radar base in Turkey which for now gives it a seven minute window on the Iranian missile threat towards Europe from Iran.

And now we have the added dimension of America arming anti-Assad rebel forces.  CNN reported United States military support for Syrian rebels will include small arms, ammunition and possibly anti-tank weapons, according to two officials familiar with the matter. The weapons will be provided by the CIA, the officials said.

Israel is strengthening its military, economic and political ties with Greece and Cyprus.  The recent discovery of huge reserves of oil and natural gas around Cyprus has whet a Turkish appetite for territorial aggrandizement. Turkey’s bellicosity towards both Cyprus and Greece is indicative of its inability to let go of its belligerent nationalism, its need to dominate. Turkey’s fearless Islamic Imperial past, its bloody history of oppression towards both nations has endowed it with the false certainty that it has rights of precedence. Repeated threats that clearly deny Cyprus its rightful territorial sovereignty are indications that Turkeys’ colonial avarice makes for aggressive intemperance in national policy.

Israel’s fraught relationship with Greece is complicated by the antisemitism of both the extreme left-wing and the extreme right in Greece.  Eastern Orthodoxy has not had reason to undergo the kind of spiritual reflection and upheaval that was created by the Second Vatican Council (Nostra Aetate).  This leaves the Greek Orthodox Church with an unreconstructed anti-Jewish legacy that it is incapable of leaving behind.

So the recent news story that Israel has signed with Cyprus for the construction of natural gas facilities when Turkey was the natural choice may be both recognition that Turkey is a lost cause but Turkey’s fellow former colonies are not.

In the 1950’s Arab scholars referred to Israel as “Syrian Soil.”  Syria fought four wars against Israel and after the Yom Kippur War in 1973 it agreed that there would be no future attacks on sovereign Israeli territory that emanated from Syrian territory.  In the 40 years that have passed since then – there has been no infiltration by terrorists through the Golan Heights.  The Syrians kept their word because it was in their interest to do so.  The activity of Syria’s proxies was another issue entirely.

Israel’s unfortunate reality is that it has no friends in the Near East – it only has interests. Its strategic (long term) decision making must be based on historical perspective, the likelihood for positive change, and not short or medium term political or monetary benefit.   Whoever wins in Syria will make little if any difference to Israel’s threat assessment.

As a non-Arab, non-Muslim nation, the overthrow of one government for another cannot replace enemies with friends.  Israel and Russia are not on the same page but they can talk to each other.  Russia and Israel both act in accordance with their perceived strategic interests.  The USA does not. This has been its greatest failure in the foreign policy arena. Islam will remain an enemy of Western civilization because it has never had to confront its global subservience to religious bigotry.  No amount of ingratiation with theologically hostile regimes (and this does include Turkey) will change that. 

Al-Nusr and the FSA are fighting a war that pits brother against brother and communities against each other.  The Vietnam War was a fratricidal war, Iraq and Afghanistan are similar.    There is no end in sight to either of these latter, national, fraternal theological battles.  And so with Syria, no-one has discussed, at least publicly, how, we may defang the militants on both sides.

The one surprise to have recently emerged from the Syrian debacle was the Russian announcement that it had withdrawn all of its military personnel from Syria ( 27th June 2013).  If this is true it indicates that it is abandoning its Alawite ally to its fate. The pessimistic view would be that Syria may seek an escalation with Israel which would damage the Sunni cause in Arab eyes.  Russia would not want to put itself into the firing line because it would complicate its relationship with Israel.  Or it may have decided to write off its Syrian investment and to look elsewhere.

If Syria was an opportunity for us to demonstrate our wisdom, there has been none shown to date.  We have left the battleground to Islamic Nazis whose destabilizing influence will spread past the borders of whichever country they infest.

Russia and the USA hold the keys to a secure, placated region but only if they are willing to exercise military restraint and police the borders.  It would also send a message to other colonial aspirants in the region.

And it would demonstrate why our Western vision is better than anyone else’s. If this means that we reject the failed multicultural model of current Western inclination then we must demonstrate why we reject it and why, what we offer in its place is so demonstrably superior.

It is sadly true that we no longer fight for our shared values and this is causing us incalculable damage.  I am not calling for misinformed jingoism or nativist militancy but for calm reflection about what choices we, as a civilization, are making.  Arming the barbarians at our gates is the wholly illogical reflex of a less dangerous age.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Syria - Revolution and History

Syria is the victim of its own murderous ethnic and religious competition but also, it is the play thing of superpowers and competing imperial aspirants for Islamic Colonial ambitions.

Western funding of the Syrian opposition is now under active discussion. We are informed that it is the only way to prevent further mass slaughter from occurring in Syria (and perhaps spreading beyond its borders).  But Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar already fund the Syrian opposition. They have armed the thousands of fighters whose hostility to the secular ‘democratic’ opposition will openly express itself once Assad’s regime has fallen.

Revolutionary causes have a long and dishonorable history of settling scores in their quest for absolute power.  In the pursuit of perfection, repression is the States favored instrument for enforcing unity. The Utopian dreams of the French Revolution soon turned into the Reign of Terror, Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution became the Red Terror and the Iranian Revolution quickly found reason to lethally suppress all opposition. 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was President of Iran during this pivotal early period of state ‘consolidation’ while the recently elected President of Iran (Hassan Rohani) was Khamenei’s personal representative to the Iranian National Security Council from 1989 until 2005.  Continuity in conflict is a core belief of the radical racist Iranian regime.

This short reminder of revolutionary history and its malevolent predisposition to violence is not meant to be a warning against political change but only as a warning against becoming embroiled in the inevitable Syrian bloodbath. In the previous article I quoted Shoshana Bye – she stated that:  “It is not about allies and friends – it is about history and interests.” Defining the situational aspect of the conflict is an issue that directly impacts our response to the ongoing conflict.  When we choose sides it must be for the right reason and not political expediency. When we pour arms into a conflict that has no clear good guys and bad guys we are simply adding oil to the inevitable inferno.  If we arm the Syrian rebels then Russia and Iran will arm Assad and Hezbollah. The quality and the lethality of the weaponry in use will increase with ever more devastating consequences.

The nightmare scenario for Syria is that it will become the new Lebanon. At the height of the Lebanese civil war 22 separate militias acted independently within Lebanon. They represented the disparate religious and ethnic groups; allegiances and alliances changed according to the persuasive powers of the warlord with the biggest gun.

Syria is 18 times as large in land area as Lebanon and has 5 times the population but this only means the carnage could be considerably worse than what Lebanon suffered during the civil war it fought between 1975 and 1990.

A brief summary of the main players follows:

The FSA (Free Syrian Army) is a loose band of opposition parties fighting to defeat the regime. Its leader Riad al-Asaad stated that the FSA had no political goals except the removal of President Assad.  The problem is that fighting along side of the FSA are al-Qaeda affiliated bands of militants, many of its own members are from the Muslim Brotherhood and some will be from the even more violently racist Salafist movement. There is an inherent weakness in the opposition that fails to provide it with a cohesive focus.

Apocalyptic rhetoric has usually been reserved for Iran’s irrational leader’s religious belligerence and through Shiite Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, its international agencies, but it is also a characteristic of Sunni extremism expressed via al-Qaeda (and its world-wide affiliates).

Iran has been pouring arms and manpower into the Syrian conflict in support of its Shia ally for many years.  This was acknowledged by General Mohammad Ali Jafari (Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard) when he said that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (the elite special operations unit ‘al-Quds force’) were present in Syria and Lebanon - but only to provide "counsel."   It was the first time the Guards had publicly acknowledged the presence of al-Quds members in Syria. (Ynet 16 Sept, 2012)

If Bashar al-Assad survives, Iran will have a far more significant influence over Syria than it does today and Lebanon will once again tremble.  If the regime survives, Iran will control an arc of radicalized Shiite states stretching from Western Afghanistan through Iraq into Syria and ending in Lebanon. It will embolden radicals in Iraq and Iran.  If the Shiite Syrian bloc is destroyed a Sunni regime will emerge from the ashes of the Alawite dictatorship.  Almost certainly it will be hostile to Iran, the Iranian presence in Lebanon and elsewhere. 

Ancient indigenous Christian communities have been everywhere in the Arab world, passionately more pro-Arab than their Muslim neighbours. This demonstrable fealty protected the faithful. But it no longer works in Iraq nor has it protected Egyptian Copts.  Both communities have suffered marginalization and dispossession. In Iraq we must speak of the ethnic cleansing of the ancient Iraqi Christian communities, reduced to no more than a quarter of their size in a quarter of a century.  They are doomed to extinction as was the Jewish community before them. But the international community will not deliberate on either of these crimes against humanity.

The same fate of dispossession that befell the regions indigenous Jewish population now almost certainly awaits Syria’s Christians.

If the human story is about history and interests and not about choosing between good and evil then we have not learned from the carnage of the twentieth century.  Pain and suspicion are godparents to human conflict.  Nourished by superstition and greed they represent an inability to look beyond narrow historical considerations.

If Russia and the USA cannot bring about a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict there is little hope for anywhere else in the Mediterranean Basin.  That basin extends into Western Asia and North Africa but it also serves as the gateway to Europe.  Its destabilization serves Iran on one side and al-Qaeda on the other. The Hapsburg Empire was known as the Sick man of Europe and its decline led to World War 1.  Syria could similarly trigger the next world war.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Syria - Appraisal of a Failed State

Not necessarily in love, but certainly in the pursuit of peace, we start from the assumption that the human desire for an easy life will eventually overcome all barriers. The problem arises that many of our politicians are reluctant to view our enemies as being sufficiently trustworthy as to be creditable negotiators. Yair Lapid (currently Israel’s Minister of Finance) summed this up when he stated in a Jewish Chronicle interview (13th January 2012) that “people have different needs and wants, and for the Palestinians their desire to have their own version of nationalism is stronger than peace and love.”  Sadly, as a general principle, this applies to the Arab world.  If we are not witnessing the final disintegration of Syria it won’t be because this regime is guided by national unity.

 Logic does not always drive a regime’s activities. The need to survive steers government behaviour and it is history that informs the process.  Arab history is violent and built on a self-image of supremacy and right-to-rule.  The disconnect between perception and truth is at present, too wide to bridge, but also, discussion is rigidly defined through what is culturally acceptable.

Hassan A Barari wrote in his introduction to ‘Israelism - Arab Scholarship on Israel, a critical assessment’ that “Writing on Israel has not been objective and has been linked to the conflict prism, which has defined much of the epistemology (methodology -me) and ontology (fundamental truths -me) of Israel studies in the Arab World…”  it was a solid way to confuse his meaning and more simply it means that the conflict between Israel and its neighbours is reinforced by Islamic imperialist and racialist attitudes.  This intellectual malignancy is not restricted to attitudes towards Israel.

Syria is ruled by The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party of Syria and has been ruled continuously by the Party, since the 1963 coup d’├ętat which brought the Ba’athists to power.  The ideology is authoritarian and expansionist.  It views its borders as being that of the resurrected ancient Syrian empire which would include parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and all of Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. The next largest party is the SSNP (Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party) which according to Wikipedia seeks the establishment of a Syria “spanning the Fertile Crescent, including present day Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Cyprus, Kuwait, Sinai, south-eastern Turkey and south-western Iran...”   It is instructive that non-Arab nations are included in this melange against their will, and Israel is Palestine!

This colonialist ambition is both Arab and Islamic. It is truly astonishing that it is wholly absent from any contemporary debate about regional instability afflicting this region of the world.

Like all the Arab regimes created through Franco-British collusion (after the collapse of the Ottoman [Turkish] empire in 1917) Syria is an authoritarian kleptocracy dependent on the goodwill of its partners for its survival. It is an unstable amalgam of mutually intolerant ethnic and religious groups: The Alawite minority put into power by France in 1946 was groomed to be dependent on the assistance of others by the precarious nature of its rule. The Alawites represent 12% of the total Syrian population.  They were positioned as the nation’s military elite; hence a client-master military relationship was cemented between France and Syria, and later, Russia and Syria.

The Alawite minority were dependent for their control of the nation on the good offices of other interested parties. Christians (10%) and Kurds (9%) profited from their relationship with the regime. Sunnis who make up the majority of the population (about 74%) were kept in an uneasy and inferior position within society by the active collaboration of the most powerful Sunni families.   It is this mix that determined the successful co-existence of the main groups based on the consensual terror of its Alawite rulers.

The Sunni elite were allowed their own share of the spoils of Alawite dictatorial rule.  The leading Sunni clan that supported Assad Senior in his rise to power was headed by Mustafa Abdul Qadir Tlass (former minster for Defence). Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Prime Minister Al-Halqi are both Sunni’s.

But in July 2012 the Tlass family defected to Turkey. They had formed the main pillar of Sunni support for the Alawite regime.  It is doubtful Junior Assad could have successfully taken control of Syria without the patriarch, Mustafa Tlass, standing at his side (according to Stratfor analysis).  In the same month, according to the newspaper Yediot Achranot “Syria: 8 signs that Assad is through,” 20 brigadier generals and colonels had defected to Turkey as had some 20,000 troops.  Almost a year later it was reported by Turkey's state-run news agency that 73 Syrian military officers, including seven generals and 20 colonels, had crossed the border into Turkey "seeking refuge" with their families. They were taken to a refugee camp that houses military officers who have defected from the Syrian army (Ynet news 15th June 2013).

President Assad lost his brother-in-law to a killer who managed to infiltrate his closest protective detail.  Assef Shawkat was the officer tasked with suppressing the civil war. He was assassinated along with two other top Syrian government officials on July 18th 2012.

The internecine conflict within Syria that began in February 2011 has been complicated by Iraqi refugees (almost one and a half million people adding a strain on the already weak Syrian economy) and the intervention of Iran on the side of the Alawite regime.

Why Iran? Iran is a Shiite nation and Shias are despised by the majority Sunnis.  Iran ‘accepts’ the Alawite with their lapsed Shiite status, for now they forgive them, for the sake of Iranian geopolitical influence they tolerate their ‘betrayal’ of Shiism.  And if we then inject Iranian and through Iran, Lebanese involvement into the conflict we create a momentum of escalating terror based on al-Qaeda’s (Sunni) involvement. In February 2012 Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in reference to the ongoing Syrian Civil War stated: “They have not murdered six million people in Syria, not half a million and not one thousand. Only a few people have lost their lives.” Leaving aside the moral turpitude of the statement it is clear that Lebanon’s undisputed Shiite ruler places no value on human life.

Nor are the Sunnis so forgiving. In a recent statement Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi, stationed in Qatar, (majority Sunni) declared that the Alawite were worse than the infidel Jews. He declared that an appropriate response would be to rid the world of all Alawite heretics. Iran, which in the past has not been shy about interfering in Qatar (24% of its citizens are Shia), may not be so well disposed towards Qatar in the future.

In opposition to Shiism, The al-Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra is an offshoot of al-Qaeda.  Their hatred for Alawites was undiminished even before the ‘moderate’, highly influential Sunni Qaradawi spoke.  So Muslim fighters, fresh from other Islamic conflicts are pouring into Syria in order to facilitate the end of the heretic regime.  When we inject Lebanon’s Hezbollah into Syria’s conflict in order to boost the Alawite regimes chances for survival, the potential for a blood-drenched future is increasing without pause.

And America’s contribution to the bloodbath is at best foolhardy and at worse, madness. Shoshana Bryen of the Centre for Security Policy could not have enunciated more clearly, the foolishness of this move.  The Muslim world does not need to be taught how to kill – they know it very well – perhaps better than we do. Therefore, to train them to kill using better weapons is simply short-sighted.  You don’t train people to kill their brothers and cousins.  They will neither thank us for it, nor ominously, will they forget our benighted generosity.

I will continue with Part 2 next week.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Nazism and the Antisemitic Left

What is the difference between the Left and the Right if they are both antisemitic? When does an action become ‘Nazism’? Is there a magic line delineated by a point on a compass that prevents us from damning the Left for its attitudes or behavior even though it may result in actions that are reminiscent of the Third Reich?  And if the end result of extermination or elimination or murder or death (or whatever euphemism we may wish to use) is specific to Jews (or their supporters) why should we refrain from bestowing this heinous epithet on their proponents?  And if the aim is to silence, delegitimize or eradicate those with whom they do not agree whether as people or as a national entity does the religion of the target group bare any relevance to the debate?

I do not differentiate between Right wing Nazis or Left wing Nazis for the simple reason that the systematization of killing starts with articulation.

When the end in practice, justifies the means, bewilderment is no excuse for post-factum ignorance.  An atmosphere of hatred, of lies and a narrative built around discredited 19th Century theories of materialism and 20th Century theories of post colonial guilt cannot justify the Lefts familiarity and comfort with a dehumanizing view of either Western Society or Jewish emancipation. This self-flagellation manifests itself in anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism and self-abnegation, at least in the latter case, amongst Western nations grown old, tired and frightened of their own shadow.

I do not differentiate between Right wing Nazis or Left wing Nazis because given the rhetoric of the extreme Left and their mouth-piece global newspapers, if I am Jewish or support Jews then the result is the same. Nazism does not have to mean an end in gas chambers, mass starvation or mobile death squads.  The philosophy that justifies ethnic or national extinction for Zionism, Israel or the Jews exists. It is Left wing and it is Islamic and in Britain it is embraced by many in the Liberal middle-class. William Buckley alleged that “in England antisemitism is not just a prejudice but a way of life.” I believe that it is precisely because every supporting lie is embraced with such ease, the epithet of Liberal or Left wing Nazi is warranted.

The philosophy of Nazism demonized Jews and Judaism; it rewrote the history of the Jewish people to exclude them from history and to exclude them from civilized society.  It denied Jews the rights it gave to everyone else.

That last paragraph neatly summarizes what the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), Pro-Palestinian, Muslim, and Liberal-Left wing Press embraces.

Jews that support Israel, Israelis that support Israel and Zionists are all damned before they even offer an opinion. That is what BDS is all about. If you cannot have an opinion then you cannot ever be correct.  That is the way the Nazis were ultimately so successful. Their pristine vision could not be questioned.

The aim of the post-Marxist Left is to debunk history or to simply rewrite history.  BDS is no more than a mouthpiece for Palestinian exceptionalism.  As Arabs they have the right to a globally unique, irrevocable and perpetual, refugee status and they are entitled to exploit their dishonestly obtained refugee prominence for its own antisemitic purposes.

It is time we stopped calling ourselves ZIONISTS because not having an obvious definition, it is too easily misunderstood and therefore, too easily damned. The fascists and the filled with hate announce that they are anti-Zionists, it is quite another thing to announce that they are anti-Israeli.  That is personal, and there are far better candidates for international opprobrium.  But as the extremes work their way towards the center even this barrier is disappearing because the extreme left (and in the UK this includes their Liberal allies) do not accept that Jews have rights equal to either Muslims or to Christians; to people of non-white skin or for that matter, to people of white complexion.

To humanize a people is to deny their interlocutors the opportunity to sit in absolute judgement.  They do not accept our humanity because a people of the heart and not of the mind are entitled to make the same errors as everyone else. We live in a world of black and white; of good and bad; we seem to need to experience a radical dualism of two halves in eternal or fundamental conflict. Or maybe, the issue is that evil needs an anchor by which it is able to ruthlessly focus the attention of the weak to the exclusion of any divergent views; mitigating or extenuating considerations.  So that evil may triumph, it needs its blameworthy scapegoat.

The logic of the anti-Zionist, in particular, the Jewish Uncle Tom, is that if Jews are a rational construct then they are also, and in perpetuity, the onlooker, the observer of society; the impartial other; both superior and detached but therefore uninvolved and incapable of personal emotional connection.  It makes hating ‘your own kind’ easy because prejudiced judgment becomes rational condemnation. If one is detached from the group and yet simultaneously part of that same group one is endowed with “privileged insight.” This is of course incorrect. A prejudiced mind is as blind to truth as an ignorant one is.

The bigot will always self-justify and the Uncle Tom will goose-step with those he or she is so desperate to imitate. It explains the cold contempt of the Judith Butlers and Noam Chomsky’s and lesser minds will, in their turn, emulate them.  To reinforce their hegemonic world view they encourage terror.

They flout the principle of academic freedom and they endorse censorship on campus.  By their uncompromising rhetoric and by their control of debate their appeal to free speech is a sham. They harass or shout down the target group, hate literature is distributed freely but they can incite violence because it is in support of a socially acceptable cause.  The accusation of attempting to stifle free speech is only levelled against those that attack the antisemites, rarely against the racists themselves. Noam Chomsky stated “antisemitism is raised as an issue because [Jews] want to make sure they have total control, not just 98% control” (Robert Wistrich: From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel.) In fact, control is the issue but it is always the fascist who uses threats of intimidation and violence against the innocent to silence their opposition to persecution.  The Left learned how to apply the tactics of McCarthyism particularly well.  Violent Jewish Uncle Toms are particularly prone to intimidating other Jews with whom they do not agree. Recent U-tube videos of university demonstrations have highlighted this tactic.

Marxist writer August Bebel called antisemitism “the socialism of fools”. If a central assumption of the Enlightenment was that humanity was forward thinking and would ruthlessly strip away past superstition then the reaction to it is a romanticised and fictionalised reinterpretation of nativism – a jingoistic and ethnocentric blindness that is wilful in its rejection of progress. 350 or so years after the Age of Enlightenment began we may conclude that we continue to fight its agents of rejection who are enthusiastically led by extremists of Left and Right wing politics.

US academic Judith Butler, has sagely advised us all that “Understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”   Hamas and Hezbollah are organizations that wage war on women; they kill gays, and murder those who leave the faith.  Their bigotry is only exceeded by their purity of primitive vision.  They hate that which is not them.  They represent the antithesis of modern civilisation. They are the barbarians at the walls of Rome but armed with 21st Century weaponry.  Hamas and Hezbollah are social movements because they are first religious, then political movements. Their power base and their sacrificial lambs are the ignorant peasants they incite to lethal violence.   The Western, Judeo-Christian tradition has as its modern basis a progressive desire for equality.   The terms have been hijacked and are mocked by religious racists and their political allies on the Left.

The extreme left, like the extreme right; like any kind of extremism, it is a disease and like all diseases its influence begins around the periphery of marginalised society and gradually its contamination infects the centre.  It spreads out from the fringes, its dendrites spreading through the body politic until it has corrupted the entire corpus.

Since the 19th Century, Judaism has lost more souls to socialism than it has to the missionaries.  It cannot be lost to those with a sense of irony that the hatred of the secular neophyte has fuelled antisemitism and persecution and has been exploited by Judeophobic enemies across the secular-religious spectrum.

As a people it is the difficult questions we ask that define us. Groucho Marx quipped that he would not want to be a member of any club that wanted to have him. He was wrong. In order to affect society we do have to be part of that society; not the perennial onlooker, observing from the outside.

Many years ago I sat in class with a professor whose PhD in history was so specific she knew nothing about anything outside of her own area. In a class where she made an antisemitic throw away comment I stood up and I belittled the inadequacy of her education. Her superficial knowledge of the Jewish faith justified (in her mind) her prejudice but her knowledge was deficient, a wiser head would not have spoken.

So the question that we must ask, is how, could Western Society have arrived at the point at which we became intelligent ignoramuses? And how did we permit society to put the dunderheads in charge of our education system? How is it that we became so specialised that we actually stopped seeking out the truth?

If we are lucky, in a century from now, these questions will become a discipline of intense reflection that will trouble the best of our minds; because in the analysis lies the answer to how we lost the creativity and the reflection that showered us with all the benefits and graces of our Western Civilisation.