The thread in response to my VDARE.com column, “Paleos Must Defend the West, And That Means Israel Too,” grew so long, that I am carrying it over in this new blog post.
The original, heated discussion began here. We are now on Update VII (Jan 16):
Contra Mr. Spencer, a philosophical defense of Israel can include a support for Israel’s incursion into Gaza, but, it doesn’t have to.
Richard Spencer’s colleague, Razib Khan (why can’t Americans spell “ILANA”?), objects to the term “The Judeo-Christian West.” I’ve heard this objection before from paleos put in far more sinister terms, the aim being to disinherit Judaism. Or deny the continuity between it and Christianity. An absurdity, of course.
So polite disagreement is a nice change.
Once again, Mr. Khan’s claim that between 500 and 1800 Jews were not major players in Western Civilization is not nearly enough to render hollow the term Judeo-Christian. Ditto the fact that most Israelis are descended from the Sephardi Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal in 1492 and 1497. (From their exile in the Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East, they fled to Israel as refugees after 1948.)
Consider: Under the Afrikaner National Party, South Africa’s institutions were eminently western, although Europeans formed a minority in that country. Should any paleo visit Israel, rather than just theorize platonically about the place, he will see the relevance of the SA example.
I am no theologian, nor am I remotely religious. I am, however, as Jewish as … Jesus was.
Yeah, it’s almost as though some Christians forget Jesus was as Jewish as they come.
While he was a radical, Jesus was not an alien from Deep Space, but was steeped in the Hebrew (“Old”) Testament’s ethics. Knowledge and wisdom don’t arise in a vacuum; like so many greats, Jesus stood on the shoulders of giants, and was very much in the mold of the classical prophets, some of whom had to sleep out in the fields to escape the people’s wrath.
Deuteronomy, an early book—the fifth of 39—showcases an advanced concept of Jewish social justice, and is replete with instructions to protect the poor, the weak, the defenseless, the widows, the orphans, the aliens, etc.
This ethical monotheism, developed centuries before classical Greek philosophy, is echoed throughout the Hebrew Bible (Exodus), and expounded upon by the classical prophets, who railed against power and cultural corruption so magnificently:
“There is blood on you hands; wash yourself and be clean. Put away the evil of your deeds, away out of my sight. Cease to do evil and learn to do right, pursue justice and champion the oppressed; give the orphan his rights, plead the widow’s cause.”—Isaiah 1:11-17
The claim, made by the dazzling Catholic controversialist Clare Boothe Luce, that “New Testament universalism superseded Old Testament particularism” can be dispatched with a reminder that the Ten Commandments preceded the Epistle of St. John.
My knowledge of Judaism, and its influence on Christianity, is superficial at best (my father is the scholar of Judaism), but even more superficial is it to deny the philosophical continuity between Judaism and Christianity.
Update VII (Jan 16): AN ASIDE. Apropos my comment above with resepct to Sephardi Jews, who “fled to Israel as refugees after 1948.” Note to paleos: these Jews are NOT in refugee camps.
The approximately 1.5 million Jewish refugees from Arab lands could have become a considerable obstacle to the Palestinian propaganda machine had Israel been as conniving as her enemies. Imagine the kind of trump card Israel might have wielded had she, like her uncivilized neighbors, kept these legitimate Jewish refugees in camps, refused to settle them, fomented hate among them for the Arab, and turned the fugitives into political pawns—as Arab nations have so masterfully done to their so-called refugees.
Update VIII: PAUL GOTTFRIED. Paul is the complete intellectual package, packing both scholarship and analytical prowess into his response to my “spirited polemic.”
THE ALL-ROUND REPULSIVENESS OF THE CRYPTO-LEFTIST NEOCONSERVATIVES: I don’t buy this excuse for the venom directed at Israel from the paleoconservative and libertarian factions. If I accept this lame excuse, I must also accept that paleos are incapable of intellectual honesty and consistency.
Have the big, bad, neocons damaged the brave Buchanan so that he must betray the truth? I respect Buchanan too much to whittle down his position on Israel in this manner.
I do understand sympathy for the self-inflicted plight of the Palestinians. Good men have a heart. Sympathy is no flaw. But puckering up in prayer for a One-State Solution, or the Right of Return; those are major flaws, when adopted by paleos who oppose the universal right of return (free-for-all immigration) to the United States, and who know only too well what will become of Israel once Muslims gain a majority there. C’mon.
Must I also accept that a gifted gentleman like Jo Sobran dabbles in Holocaust denial because of displaced anger at the neocons? This is too frivolous and insulting for words–to Mr. Sobran.
In my own professional life, such as it is, I have been far less blessed than most big-name paleos I know (even those who’ve been hard done-by). For most of my life I was tucked away in the Third World. Although I’m infinitely glad to be in the US now, the First World has not been terribly kind to me either. I remain the embodiment of an outsider–an untouchable to the Treason-type, libertarians lite, not exactly accepted (read: published) by paleolibertarians; once courted by some influential neocons, they ceased to call on me, starting with this editorial in September of 2002. (I imagine that likening Bush’s grin to that of a patient with end-stage syphilis did not enhance my popularity with the establishment.)
Other than that class act Peter Brimelow (and Paul and Tom DiLorenzo, naturally), unique in his intellectual courage and honesty, who’s helped my career among paleoconservatives?
My publishing woes for the book Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post Apartheid South Africa can’t be exaggerated. My column is forever in Jeopardy.
Have my positions waxed and waned to reflect my deep disappointments and disillusionment with America in the Age of the Idiot? Or with the intellectual honestly and tribalism of my fellow traditionalists? (Like “intellectuals” of the mainstream, so too do libertarians and paleos huddle in atrophying intellectual attics, making sure dissenters are kept away.)
Not on your life.
Similarly, Pat Buchanan has had, and is having, a good run. I could not be happier; I’m a fan. Most other paleo talent did okay until the dawn of the neoconservatives and the tyranny of political correctness.
There are no personal excuses for the paleos’ curiously inconsistent positions on Israel (or for Joe Sobran’s Holocaust skepticism, given the historical evidence. Did the big, bad, neocons drive Sobran to abandon history and embrace pseudo-history?).
Suck it up! (We all should.)
Paul writes self-deprecatingly:
“The question is whether I would reason this way about Israel absent certain factors: for example, if I had no Jewish blood, if members of my family had not fled Hitler and gone to Israel, and if my son-in-law were not an Israeli military officer. The answer is probably not.”
Once again, I don’t buy this, especially given that the most vehement critics of Israel and Jews are … Jews. Always have been, always will be. I quote my father here: “If we know anything from Jewish history it is that the very root of our tragedy is our own self-destruction.” Israel against Judea; the two tribes against the ten tribes; in the second temple there was terrible internecine conflict, even with the Romans at the gates. In the Middle Ages rabbis excommunicated each other… Ben Gurion handed over Irgun people to the British.
On and on.
“The story of Jew not lifting up a hand to Jew is a fallacy, an American superficiality,” now parroted by paleos, and “developed” in Kevin MacDonald’s Fee Fi Fo Fum “science” of Jews.
My “tribe” has no bearing on the positions I take, have taken, and will continue to take; justice does; my core beliefs do. Paul does himself and his scrupulous record a disservice to suggest otherwise.
(Update IX): “Ilana, Israel, and I.” (Richard, my writing “Robert” was a typo. But the coupling of Robert and Spencer is intuitive to those who follow Robert as well as Richard.)
Update X (Jan 17): Sigh. In response to the please-allow-me-to-remain-neutral-about-Jihad plea: In the previous thread we rehashed the issue of foreign aid, which I’ve resolutely opposed, always. This is old hat. WE ALL OPPOSE AID TO ALL SIDES. Get off this self-righteous hobby horse.
By now it is abundantly clear what I mean by philosophical affinity. Sadly, many paleos like to play at moral equivalence. They’re afflicted with a leftist malady. With all the lofty pontificating about it being impossible to adjudicate “old conflicts in the Middle East,” etc., ask yourself this: If the Israelis stopped all forms of aggression today, forthwith, would you trust the Palestinians to follow suit?
Yeah, I thought so. So much for the cycle of violence.
The Hutus (generally uglier and inclined to envy) of Rwanda slaughtered near a million Tutsis (tall and better looking). I condemn the former. I do not draw moral equivalence between the criminals and their victims. Yet one paleo dilettante declared that to him the Israeli and Palestinian conflict is but “Hutus and Tutsis.” He is unable to philosophically distinguish innocent from guilty in the latter case, and clearly is not much better when it comes to the former.
Update X (Jan 18): There, I’ve said it: Afrikaners make the most spectacular paleos. “The modern Boer,” wrote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the popular British writer of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, is “the most formidable antagonist who ever crossed the path of Imperial Britain.”
And the modern paleo Boer is Dan Roodt. Roodt recently paid tribute to his Afrikaner ancestors’ “miraculous victory over the Zulu forces of Dingane during the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838,” when “450 Afrikaners defeated an army of at least 13,000 Zulus without any losses in their ranks.” Roodt’s coda:
“The Day of the Covenant should be internationally celebrated among all those who believe that our Greco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian civilisation is still worth fighting for.”
No (unmanly) weirdness there.