Jews, Liberalism, Nationalism–Some Interesting Historical Continuities

Ted Bromund has this interesting follow up to the Noah Pollak piece I linked to Wednesday:

The problem today is not that the peace process has failed or that this reveals the failure of the liberal vision. All that is true enough. The problem is that the liberal vision itself has changed. Not all liberals reject the nation-state, but suspicion of the nation-state as the organizing unit for the world does stem predominantly from the left. In view of the importance that the left attaches to the state as the provider of welfare benefits, this is both ironic and contradictory. But it does not change the fact that one reason liberals (especially those of a European persuasion) have fallen out of love with Israel is that it — along with the United States — was founded on and persists in maintaining a democratic and nationalist vision.

This is why the liberal critics bracket Israel and the U.S. They claim they do so because the U.S. supports Israel. Actually, they do it because they reject the worldview on which both nations are founded, the worldview that has motivated the U.S. to support Israel. For the critics, democracy and nationalism must ultimately be in conflict. Hence the importance of the EU and transnational initiatives like the International Criminal Court. This is a worldview founded in the European reaction to the Second World War. The fact that this war led to the destruction of the European nations and the rise of the Israeli one is another reason for anti-national liberals to look upon it with scorn: to them, Israel appears to be resisting the lessons of history.

I don’t know if Bromund is right or not, but it led to this interesting thought: to the extent that he is right, it turns out that Western leftists (more accurate in this context than “liberals”) despise Israel because they think the Jews have stubbornly chosen to maintain a particularistic, Judeo-centric ideology–in this case Zionism–despite being offered a more rational, enlightened, universalistic, and pacifistic ideology by more enlightened folk. In other words, it’s a secular version of the primary theological rationale for Christian anti-Semitism for the last millenium–that Jews stubbornly clung to Judaism and Jewish particularity when offered more rational, enlightened, universalistic, and (in theory) pacifistic Christianity. If so, no wonder even the most absurd anti-Zionist charges have resonance among European leftists and their American compatriots; it’s not like blood libels, the Deicide charge, and the like made much sense, either.

UPDATE: Hmm, this theory would also explain why certain harsh American critics of Israel, who surely think of themselves as enlightened people with no prejudice against Jews, could launch certain types of venomous attacks against Jewish supporters of Israel. For example, it would explain why John Mearsheimer feels comfortable dividing the Jewish world into “righteous Jews” (leftist Jews who attack Israel) and “new Afrikaners” (everyone else); why Walt & Mearsheimer felt comfortable attacking Elliott Abrams as a stooge of Israel for writing, consistent with traditional Jewish theology (and not in the context of discussing Israel), that “there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live;” why Juan Cole could write of Douglas Feith: “Having a Likudnik as the number three man in the Pentagon is a nightmare for American national security, since Feith could never be trusted to put US interests over those of Ariel Sharon,” while also noting that “only a small minority of American Jews support the Likud Party or its policies, and that a majority of Jewish Americans opposed the Iraq war;” and so on.

Ancient prejudices unwittingly repackaged into anti-Zionism, anyone?

FURTHER UPDATE: And how can one “unwittingly” adopt ancient prejudices? Well, consider the extent to which the modern environmental movement, a very secular movement, unwittingly incorporates a secular version of Judeo-Christian themes, such as: the Garden of Eden (the world before modern technology); the Tree of Knowledge (modern technology); the Fall (the use of modern technology leading to environmental devastation and the destruction of life in harmony with natures) and so on.

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