In the post on Helen Thomas below, I mentioned that I thought Helen Thomas’ comments were not “animated by anti-Semitism” but rather a broader hatred of Western Civilization of which Israel and the Jews are merely a conspicuous subset by virtue of being an island in a sea of Islamic/Arabic culture . In response commenter (and friend) Bonnie points out, quite correctly, that there is a spiritual root to the animus toward the Jews in general and to Israel in particular.
This is the pitfall of hurriedly dashing off thoughts for a blog post. What I should have written is that anti-Semitism isn’t the sole force animating Thomas’ ugly remarks. Clearly, a visceral hatred for Jews and for the Jewish state is a dominant part of the mix. And this animus is indeed spiritual in root and branch; as is the hatred of Christians and the global resentment of Christian, missionary-sending America.
For example, the levels of vitriol and blind rage focused on George W. Bush each day of his eight-years in office defy explanation in terms of ideology or culture. Sarah Palin triggers the same fury in those who dwell under the principalities and powers of Media, Pop Culture, Politics, Academia and Art. Indeed any real-deal Christian who aspires to high office in America is going to find him or herself the object of this fury from the Helen Thomases of this world.
Spiritual roots aside, at an intellectual level, there is also a false assumption under-girding much of the anti-Israel bias infusing the sentiments of Helen Thomas, et. al.. That assumption is that most of our problems in the Middle East would be solved if Israel didn’t exist. This is nonsense.
If Israel as a nation-state ceased to exist tomorrow and every Jewish person on the planet were whisked off to another planet, the leaders of the Arab-Islamic world would simply find other grievances and resentments with which to whip up hatred for the West.
Chief among these would be European Colonialism, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and, hilariously, the Crusades.
It is telling that Osama Bin Laden’s original manifestos before and after the 9/11 attacks rarely if ever mentioned “Palestine” or the “Zionist Entity.” His rational for the war against America was the presencce of U.S. “Christian Crusader” troops on the holy soil of places like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
The fact is, nothing short of complete “submission” (the literal meaning of Islam) by the West to Islamic culture and sharia will appease the virulent strain of spiritual dementia that has spread through the Islamic world like mad cow disease.
That surrender is already well underway in Europe. In fact, the future King of England told a group of students at Oxford this week that we should all look to Koran to inform our views and policies on the environment. I’m not making that up. It is madness.
At another level, I am finding the term “anti-Semitism” increasingly un-useful for communicating an ugly reality. Like the words racist and sexist, the word has lost the punch it ought to have by virtue of overuse and abuse.
Thirty years of Al Sharpton and the rest of the Civil Rights Grievance Industrial Complex shouting “racist” at anyone who disagreed with them has diluted the word into meaninglessness. Feminists have done much the same thing to the word sexism. This is tragic in that real racism and real sexism still exist and we need words to communicate the concepts.
In a similar way, but to a lesser degree, the U.S. Anti-Defamation League has weakened the word anti-Semitism by hurling it promiscuously at things like Christian evangelism, Easter pageants, and simply quoting statements from the New Testament.
In my view, the word anti-Semitism is becoming too subjectively laden with varying meanings to various people to effectively convey the dark thing that is rising in hearts and minds around the world. Thus I am increasingly likely to use the terms Jew-hatred and Israel-hatred as an end-run around the semantic fog.
Oddly enough, all of the above reminds me of a great piece Charles Krauthammer wrote back in 2006 when the “Borat” movie was doing big business. Check it out if you have time.