It sometimes seems like my life is inextricably bound in the events of 9/11. The date of issue on my government-issued birth certificate is September 11, 2001 – signaling, some might say, my political rebirth. On September 11, 2001, at precisely 8:50 in the morning, I was on the phone accepting an offer of employment with one ear cocked to the alarming reports already emanating from the radio, my sense of great moment at the weighty decision I had made to be soon supplanted by another, far more terrible.
I’ve never been what you might call apolitical, but I feel somehow that my political awakening began on that day, as I struggled to comprehend the enormity of the evil that had crashed with such ferocity into the collective consciousness. I was jolted into a sudden recognition of its existence, and it would lodge itself into a small, persistent kernel in my brain that insinuated itself into every opinion of significance I was to form. From that day forth, I defined my relationships by the party of the second part’s stance towards 9/11. If it was an unequivocal condemnation, without reservation or hesitation, it continued as before – our shared understanding, perhaps, drawing us even closer together. Otherwise, a rift would slowly grow between us, and, while it would never be severed completely, our relationship would never again be what it was.
There are those who link America’ support for Israel to its troubled relations with its Mideast counterparts – as if, absent America’s support for Israel, 9/11 would never have occurred and those waging an apocalyptic jihad with the West would have laid down their arms and gone quietly home. But this claim does not hold up to closer scrutiny. Spain, long after the Madrid attacks that brought its socialist government to power, narrowly averted another train bombing that could not this time conceivably be linked to Spanish foreign policy in Iraq, but rather its very existence.
For some, opposing Israel is fashionable because Marxist thought dictates the moral superiority of the powerless. Injustice is defined as inequality of outcome, and not inequality of opportunity. To such people, unequal casualty figures are proof on one side of brutality, and on the other of righteousness.
Israel has lower casualty figures because it has been threatened from its inception, and it has both the will and the means to support a vast defensive infrastructure. Its preparedness is the product of both the unceasing threat to its survival and its status as a liberal democracy.
The Muslim Middle East may have adopted all the hollow trappings of a liberal democracy, but no observer can doubt that it is a grotesque parody. It abounds with constitutions, parliaments, and rigged elections, but its fledgling democrats are all dressed up and nowhere to go. In this respect they are like all their counterparts in countries that boast some permutation of “People’s Democratic Republic” in their names. To paraphrase Voltaire, any country that wishfully includes “People’s Democratic Republic” in its name is most decidedly neither democratic, nor a republic, nor of the people.
Many Arabs cheer Hezbollah as having accomplished what even Egypt’s army couldn’t do during the Six-Day War in 1967 – keep the Zionist enemy at bay. But they are wrong; it is not Hezbollah who is responsible for staying Israel’s hand, it is the international community. Who doubts that Israel could have flattened all of Southern Lebanon had it desired? The vociferous international condemnation that is a regular feature of any Israeli effort to defend its national security jeopardizes it as surely as the original threat; and the chorus of outrage that inevitably accompanies any Israeli response to acts of war and terror is designed effectively to neutralize it.
For others, opposition to Israel is good, old-fashioned, blood libel, Protocols of the Elders of Zion anti-Semitism, embedded deep within the collective psyche. Wherever there is disaffection, unemployment, inflation, and the minutest population of Jews, there are those who draw a direct line of causation from the latter to all the former.
Hassan Nasrallah has called Jews a “cancer” on the land that is “liable to spread again at any moment”. For this reason, we “cannot think of co-existence with them, of peace with them, or about accepting their presence, not only in Palestine of 1948 but even in a small village in Palestine.” It doesn’t get any clearer. If Jews do settle in Palestine, however, he prefers, pragmatically, they do so in toto so as to save him the bother of pursuing them to extinction worldwide. His sponsor, Iran’s Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”, and both are unapologetic Holocaust deniers – the position invariably taken by people who would be the most supportive of a repeat performance.
This is not a nationalist or territorial dispute, or even good old-fashioned tribal enmity. This is a religious war, fought with such intensity of conviction, such disregard for life and thirst for bloodshed, as to make the Cold War seem a veritable gentleman’s agreement in comparison.
But we don’t have to cast our eyes overseas for chilling examples of Jew hatred. They abound right here on our own continent. Since I began writing this, a Muslim man of Pakistani origin has stormed into a Jewish center in Seattle and fired at six women between the ages of 20 and 40, of whom one was pregnant, resulting in one death so far. Reports have surfaced that during Mel Gibson’s recent DUI arrest, he launched into an anti-Semitic tirade, accusing the “[expletive deleted] Jews” of being responsible for “all the wars in the world”, and at one point stopping to demand the deputy, “Are you a Jew?” And a Canadian white supremacist has called for the deaths of two prominent Canadians along with “any of the Jews” on the Human Rights Commission.
The Bible enjoins Jews to be a “light unto the nations”, representing God to the world by exemplary conduct. Sadly, rather than a light unto the nations, Jews have found themselves become a lightning rod unto the nations, drawing its censure and, too often, its unreasoning hatred.