Smash It If You Can

by Jay Nordlinger

On the homepage, we have an editorial about the decision of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to divest from Israel. We note that there are approximately 200 nations in the world, some of them very bad actors: dictatorships, terror states, and so on. But which one does the world single out, year after year? Which one is the object of the world’s unrelenting hostility? “Tiny, democratic Israel,” as the editorial says.

“Last year,” we point out, “the General Assembly adopted 25 resolutions against particular countries. Twenty-one of those resolutions were against Israel; the other four were against Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Burma. Not since the apartheid regime in South Africa has a country been so stigmatized by the world.” Naturally, Israel’s foes want it to be seen as an “apartheid state.”

The founder of our magazine, William F. Buckley Jr., once observed that every person has within him a tank of indignation. No one has unlimited indignation. On what do you spend your tank? How a person spends this tank can say a lot about him. The same is true of an organization (including a church).

Why do so many individuals and organizations spend their tank on Israel? There are various possible reasons. In Europe, it could be Holocaust guilt: “Yes, we killed them, but see how they lord it over the poor Arabs?” More generally, it could be the sense that Israel is a Western state, and has failed to meet Western standards in its struggle to survive.

Then there is the terrible question of anti-Semitism. Anti-Israel people always shriek that there’s a difference between opposition to Israel and opposition to Jews. There surely is. But the historian Paul Johnson is on to something when he says, “Scratch a person who is anti-Israel, and you won’t have to dig very far until you reach the anti-Semite within.”

Okay: What causes anti-Semitism? Well, that is the subject of a thousand books. A hundred thousand books. Not one of them answers the question satisfactorily — at least to my satisfaction. George Gilder’s Israel Test probably comes the closest (for me). But I don’t believe that envy alone can explain Jew-hatred. There are lots of successful people and peoples, and envied people and peoples. They are not hounded and killed and lied about the way the Jews are.

Anyway, I concluded long ago that trying to understand anti-Semitism was a fool’s errand. The only thing to do is counter it, and smash it if you can.