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Struggling to transcend mortality:  An illustration from “The Surprizing Life and Death of Doctor John Faustus”, printed in 1727 (Wellcome Collection/Wellcome Images)


Last November, when my good friend Dr Amichai Magen brought me here to the IDC [Interdisciplinary Center, Herzlia, Israel], he painted the place in such glowing colours that I thought I was bound to be disappointed. Nothing could have prepared me, though, for the beauty of the campus, the brilliance of the students and the welcoming attitude of the academics. The warm atmosphere here reminded me less of a university than of Kibbutz Amir in the Upper Galilee, where I worked as a volunteer for a summer back in 1977, although the food there, being home-grown, tasted even better. An unexpected pleasure of my visit here was to be received by an old friend from his time in London, Ambassador Ron Prosor. I hope Ron won’t mind my mentioning that, as my visit happened to be on the day of the US election, we had a lively discussion about the likely outcome. Ron ventured the opinion that the polls were completely wrong: in his view, they hugely underestimated the margin of victory. Knowing how well-informed Ron invariably is, I regretted that it was too late to place a bet. Actually, it was just as well for me, because the candidate Ron thought would win by a landslide was Hillary Clinton.

Having been pretty divisive as a candidate, Donald Trump has proved to be only slightly less so as President. But I hope we can agree that after the first few months of this administration, the United States is in a strong position at home and abroad, reasserting its authority in Syria and the South China Sea, reassuring most of those who feared either too close a relationship with Russia or too hostile a one with China. To judge by the economy, the President’s self-confidence appears to be infectious, while in practice his brand of conservatism seems both more compassionate and less isolationist than some of my fellow neo-conservative friends at first feared. Mr Trump’s style will never satisfy his critics, but the substance may yet surprise us all. As far as Israel is concerned, it has so far been more a question of giving the Prime Minister some latitude on the settlements than of any concrete shift in policy. But these are early days and Mr Trump has yet to be tested.

I shall return to the question of Israel and the West, but first I should like to consider what it is that we mean when we speak of “the fate of the West”. The phrase is reminiscent of Oswald Spengler, and Dr Magen has reminded us that The Decline of the West appeared almost exactly a century ago. Spengler’s prophecies have not stood the test of time, but his civilisational fatalism is still to be encountered across the political spectrum. For example, the former editor of the Economist, Bill Emmott, has just published a profoundly fatalistic book that is actually entitled The Fate of the West. Mr Emmott sees President Trump and Brexit — two distinct phenomena, both of which he conflates with the rise of “populism” — as the major threat of our time to the open society. Though he rightly sees the West as “the world’s most valuable political idea”, I beg to differ from Mr Emmott. The threat to the West does not come from the exercise of democracy, but from the enemies of the open society that he admires. The line that separates the friends and enemies of the West isn’t always easy to draw, but Donald Trump and Theresa May are both quite certainly on the right side of it. The conservative masses who are challenging liberal elites across the Western world are not enemies of liberty; for liberals to see them as such is to claim a monopoly of virtue that is as unjustified as it is illiberal. As Karl Popper wrote in The Open Society and Its Enemies, the classic work that supposedly inspired Mr Emmott, “This is why our Western civilization is an essentially pluralistic one, and why monolithic social ends would mean the death of freedom.”

To say to the declinists, as Adam Smith said of the nation, that there is a great deal of ruin in a civilisation, is not to pretend that the West is invulnerable. As a tribute to the civilisation that meant so much to him, the great medievalist Ernst Kantorowicz always used to quote Dante, Shakespeare or Goethe in his lectures. Like countless other Jewish émigrés from Nazi Germany, Kantorowicz knew better than most how precarious was the survival of Western civilisation. I shall follow his example, with the proviso that the greatest writers of the Western canon are all ultimately indebted to the Hebrew Bible, especially when they seem oblivious of that debt. Thus even Goethe, the pagan poet-sage of Weimar, draws his most important idea, the Faust myth, from late medieval demonology. The Faustian man, with his quest for unlimited knowledge at all costs, has long been seen — not least by Oswald Spengler — as symbolic of Western civilisation. The pact with the Devil is a theme that is both very old and very modern: it derives ultimately from the Book of Genesis, but it describes rather well the temptations that today assail those in whose hands the fate of the West rests. We are still, like Faust, confronted by Mephistophelian deceivers, in the form of those who would persuade us to abandon Judaeo-Christian values, without which our civilisation cannot flourish, and in particular to betray Israel to its enemies. The Biblical core of Western civilisation is the soul that must never be sold to Satanic forces: the creation of man in the image of God, embodied in a covenant; the history of the Jews as a liberation from captivity and the restoration of the rule of law, embodied in the commandments; and the promise of a messiah, embodied in the moral injunctions of the prophets and psalmists. Thanks to the conversion of the Graeco-Roman world to Christianity, these Biblical themes have saturated the West for two millennia, but their universalisation throughout the gentile world has always carried with it the danger that their particular manifestation in the Jewish people might be sacrificed. In today’s secularised West, the temptation to denigrate or deny our Biblical inheritance, to emphasise the Hellenic aspects of Christianity at the expense of the Hebraic ones, seems overwhelming.

The original Faust legend, first given literary significance by Christopher Marlowe, is a tragedy: the magician repents, but too late to save himself. Goethe, however, divides the story into two parts. The first transforms the tragedy of Faust into that of Gretchen, the woman he seduces and for whose child’s death she must atone. The second transfigures Faust into a pioneer of modernity by reclaiming land from the sea, and an almost Biblical benefactor of mankind, enabling his people to go forth and multiply. Between Parts I and II, the tragedy of the individual evolves into the history of civilisation.

In the final act of Faust Part II, the eponymous protagonist confronts the sinister but thoroughly modern spectre of Care (Sorge). She curses him with the loss of his sight: “Throughout its whole existence your human race is blind — now, Faustus, it’s your turn at last.” The magus of the Enlightenment is literally blinded, but clings on to his bright prospect of a new “Eden”. (We should note that this reference to the Garden of Paradise in Genesis is another Biblical metaphor.) Faust’s Eden is a cosmopolitan, capitalist, feminist utopia that has much in common with the bourgeois liberal society, freed from tyranny, bigotry and poverty, that Goethe saw emerging in England and to a lesser extent France at the end of his life. In the final scene, this consummation of Faust’s secular paradise receives a kind of divine blessing from the Mater Gloriosa, a matriarchal manifestation of the “eternal feminine”. The Goethean Faust offers a compelling, though mystical, vision of the destiny of the West, one that incidentally embraces the emerging liberal international order as an integral part of the future of mankind. Yet the curse of blindness is never lifted: humanity is not only weighed down by doubt and despair, but doomed to blunder about in the dark, making the same errors with catastrophic results.

Faust is only one of a number of ancient and modern myths that define man’s struggle to transcend his mortality, from Prometheus to Frankenstein, from Don Quixote to Don Giovanni, from the grand narratives of Marx and Freud to the Brave New World of artificial intelligence and transhumanism. The West is not so much a place as a predicament: humanity’s inescapable and inextinguishable need to imitate the Creator, by remaking nature in our own image. Yet in our ambition to transform our world from a purgatory into a paradise, we sometimes create a hell on earth. The last great retelling of Faust, by Thomas Mann, uses the myth as a metaphor for the tragedy by which high German culture, one of the glories of Western civilisation, came to succumb to the Nazis. This was a Faust story that ended on a far darker note than Goethe’s. The wilful blindness of the German elites to their own and their continent’s impending destruction, was caught by Mann’s narrator, Serenus Zeitblom, who depicts Germany “dragged down by demons, covering one eye and staring into the horror with the other, from despair to desperation”. Some had indeed foreseen Europe’s catastrophe; but many more had been willing to lead it into temptation, and none delivered the Jews from evil.

Since 1945, the fate of the West has rested primarily in American hands, for which the guardians of global peace have been rewarded by their allies with little gratitude and even less solidarity. The West is, however, much more than an alliance. It is a civilisation. What do I mean by this? A community of free nation states, bound together by much more than interests and insecurities common to all, the West is also the culmination of aeons of shared endeavour, and the site of collective memories reaching back deep into the origins of human society. Western civilisation is the cathedral of historical consciousness, the temple of time past and time future, the destination of a journey that began in the land we still call holy, with Abraham and Moses. The Bible, in both its Jewish and Christian versions, is both the repository and summation of this civilisation; its stories still speak to us across the ages in a way that no myth or epic can.

Partly for this reason, I find the story of Adam and Eve more fitting as a metaphor for the predicament of Western civilisation than the Faust legend. In Genesis, when Eve is tempted to eat the fruit by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, she does not knowingly compromise with evil incarnate. She is persuaded by a combination of rational and sensual motives that God cannot have intended to deny them knowledge of good and evil. Adam is more culpable than Eve, for he is not beguiled by the serpent, he too knows that the fruit is forbidden and he nevertheless decides to eat. Both, perhaps, are tempted by Satan’s promise that if they eat they shall “be as Gods” — a promise which God himself later seems to confirm when he says, “Behold, the man is become one of us, to know good and evil.” Both decide to ignore the threat of death — perhaps because they cannot understand what death is, nor indeed what fear is, until they have eaten of the fruit. But what Milton called “man’s first disobedience” is prompted by pride and curiosity, not by anything diabolical. Adam and Eve are flesh of our flesh, sinful yet also repentant, with their desire to possess knowledge even at the price of mortality, learning by bitter experience to distinguish good and evil, suffering in childbirth and earning their bread by the sweat of their brow. The loss of primeval innocence, bringing banishment from Paradise and death into the world, is also the beginning of history, the opening of a horizon that makes civilisation both possible and necessary.

Compare this with the Faustian soul whom Spengler holds up to us as the paradigm of Western civilisation from Dante to Goethe, from Rembrandt to Beethoven. Its external symbol is infinite space, its internal one boundless loneliness. God is no longer a person, with whom the soul conducts an endless dialogue, but an absence, Deus absconditus, the hidden face of an empty universe. Even the Devil has ultimately no place in this Nietzschean vision of man beyond good and evil: just endless longing, energy that ends in entropy. Spengler’s Faustian soul is amoral, even inhuman, in exactly the way that Adam and Eve are all too human. In short: dictators may be Faustian, but democrats are Biblical. Just as Mann made Faust into an apposite metaphor for the Third Reich, so the story of Adam and Eve makes much better sense as a guide to the fate of the West and the survival of the liberal order.

After considering one of the most ancient of all writings, the Biblical account of Creation, I should like to introduce two living writers into the discussion: David Goodhart and Douglas Murray. Both are among the liveliest, sharpest and most intelligent observers of the international scene; both have important new books out this year; and both are, of course, regular contributors to Standpoint. Goodhart hails from the Left, Murray from the Right, but both agree that the status quo is unsustainable if liberal democracy is to survive. From very different standpoints, they point to the failure of political establishments across the Western world to listen to the voices of large sections of society and to make necessary adjustments in response.

In The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics (Hurst, £20), Goodhart contrasts the Anywheres, global citizens whose skills are mobile and are at home everywhere and nowhere, with the Somewheres, those who are rooted in a particular nation, community and culture. His argument is that for several decades, policy and politics in the West have favoured the Anywheres to the virtual exclusion of the Somewheres. Yet the Somewheres are usually the majority and they are asserting themselves in various ways, notably in so-called populist movements and in unconventional leaders who present themselves as speaking for the forgotten masses against the elites. The Anywheres have struck back, notably in the recent French elections, and are still very much in charge of most Western democracies even when they lose elections. It is notable that the American defence and foreign policy establishment moved swiftly to reassert a degree of control over the Trump administration, for example.

Yet the shift in power from elites to grass roots is palpable and seismic, with even the proudest achievement of the Anywheres — the European Union — in disarray. Even if the EU is able to present a united front against an external threat — Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey — or against an internal dissident — for example, Orban’s Hungary — it has been unable to prevent a series of existential crises. These include the departure of its second-largest contributing economy, the near-bankruptcy of its Mediterranean member states, and the failure either to police its borders or to deal competently with an unprecedented influx of migrants from the Muslim world.

This brings us to the subject matter of Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam (Bloomsbury Continuum, £18.99). In a searing indictment of Europe’s civilisational somnambulism, Murray accuses the governments and elites of treating their publics with such contempt as not only to ignore their interests and opinions, but to have deliberately sought to replace them with new, supposedly more congenial populations. Ideological blinkers — based on post-colonial guilt, cultural relativism and a blind faith in secular society’s ability to integrate ever more radical forms of Islam — made it impossible for Europe to change course even if its leaders had wanted to do so.

Murray paints two contrasting outcomes for the continent. He considers how migration might have been more robustly managed, with a serious attempt to reassert an identity based on pride in our past and a wider range of permissible views. But he also weighs the likelihood of any change and finds the forces of inertia still predominant. His conclusion is a stark warning: “An entire political class have failed to appreciate that many of us who live in Europe love the Europe that was ours. We do not want our politicians, through weakness, self-hatred, malice, tiredness or abandonment to change our home into an utterly different place . . . If they do so change it then many of us will regret this quietly. Others will regret it less quietly. Prisoners of the past and of the present, for Europeans there seem finally to be no decent answers to the present. Which is how the fatal blow will finally land.”

Who is the “we” for whom Murray claims to speak? It is clear that he, in common with large pluralities and sometimes majorities of Europeans, sees Islam as a rising and threatening power. What, though, is the “fatal blow” that will deliver the coup de grace to a dying continent? It seems that demography really may be destiny: unless something changes, Christianity will be replaced by Islam as the dominant religion of Europe during the lifetimes of many of us. In the race between the Europeanisation of Islam and the Islamisation of Europe, it appears that the latter is winning. All attempts to revive the Jewish and Christian faiths of our fathers have struggled to gain traction, even as our hollowed-out rites of passage seem to mock the religious rituals and habits of mind that have defined our civilisation. Even that indomitable Nestor of secularism, Jurgen Habermas, laments the vacuum bequeathed by a church reduced to pleading for the godless to act as if they believed in God.

So how do the symptoms of this civilisational exhaustion impact on the practical sphere? Let us consider the most basic task of any government: the defence of the realm. What has happened to the armies, navies and air forces that won the Cold War without firing a shot? Apart from US forces, which have been starved of resources under Obama but remain formidable, the Nato allies are spending less on defence (even including intelligence gathering) than in their entire history. Most have never seen action, and there is a striking reluctance to risk armed conflict even as part of a deterrence strategy — for example, to protect the Baltic states or stand up for Israel at the United Nations, let alone to intervene against the aggression of tyrants, predators and fanatics overseas. There is also more than a suspicion that this aversion to active service is in part due to the fact that neither the personnel nor their equipment are fighting fit. My memory of a few days spent training with the Bundeswehr during the 1980s is quite different: the German army then stood ready to defend not only its own territory but the free world too. The demographic decline of our ageing societies has been accelerated by a demoralisation that manifests itself in a desire to avoid confronting evil at any price, echoing the Europe that offered so little resistance to the Nazis and so little assistance to the Jews. It is no coincidence that the revival of anti-Semitism in Europe has accompanied this demoralisation, and I shall return to this later.

In the three score years of my lifetime there have been two epochal events: the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11. Both came as a complete surprise to the West, blind as ever to the warnings of the Moirai, the Norns and all the other fates. Their long-term consequences, with which we are still living, were also unforeseen. It would be rash to predict the third such epochal event. But I cannot refrain from speculating that it may well involve the State of Israel.

If I have so far said little about Israel, that is because I take it for granted that its survival and that of Western civilisation are inseparable — indeed, indistinguishable. This year we celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration: one of those rare moments in history when a great power makes a noble gesture that actually signifies much more than anybody at the time could know. The year 1917 was not only notable for the Bolshevik Revolution that divided the world on ideological lines, so far irrevocably, but also for the intervention of the United States in the First World War. That intervention was decisive, not only for the outcome of the war, but for the emergence of the West as a political idea. The Balfour Declaration, legitimising the return of the Jewish people to Palestine, establishing the principle that  Jews were entitled to settle there as the rightful heirs of ancient Israel, and foreshadowing their statehood, was the first great act of Western statesmanship. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the recognition of Israel was the second and most enduring such act by which Western civilisation gave effect to its most deeply held values. For all the imperfections that it shares with every other state, Israel has more than justified the hopes invested in it by the West. Like the United States, Israel had to fight for its independence; unlike Americans, Israelis live in a region where they have always been surrounded by enemies. Again and again, against the odds, Israel triumphed over them, notably 50 years ago in the Six Day War; and it has remained the sole beacon of liberty, legality and democracy in an increasingly dark and despotic region.

Why, then, do I fear that Israel may be about to be tested as never before in its struggle for survival? Because Israel is confronted by a series of dangers, physical and ideological, that cumulatively amount to a threat to its survival as a Jewish state. I shall mention seven of them, but the list is by no means exhaustive. None of them will be new to this audience, but they are routinely played down in the parliaments and chancelleries of Europe, and indeed elsewhere.

(a) The global wave of Islamist jihadism that has replaced Marxism and nationalism as the dominant ideology in the Muslim world. Thanks to the genocidal anti-Semitism that is one of its manifestations, jihadism is a mortal threat to Israel. The only cause that unites Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and non-Arabs, “moderates” and radicals is the elimination of Israel.

(b) The spread of nuclear weapons to Muslim states, notably Iran, that openly call for the destruction of Israel, but also the proliferation of other technologies that could pose a serious threat. Israel’s ability to stay one step ahead of its enemies in defence and intelligence may become harder to sustain in the future.
(c) The indoctrination of an entire people, the Palestinians, with a fanatical hatred of Israel that is immune to compromise yet which exercises a powerful hold on global institutions and media, while preventing any normalisation of relations between Israel and its neighbours. Palestinian propaganda and terrorism show no sign of abating, nor are they likely to do so as long as the West indulges a corrupt and devious leadership that depends entirely on a culture of grievance and a cult of death.

(d) The propagation of anti-Semitism under the guise of the anti-Zionist boycott movement throughout the West, leading to the demonisation of Israel, especially on the Left. This primarily impacts on the Jewish diaspora but it also poses an indirect threat to Israel by undermining its political legitimacy.

(e) The demographic factors that not only leave Israel increasingly outnumbered in the region but make it harder to sustain a Jewish majority within Israel and the West Bank. These factors are disputed; however, there is no doubt about their psychological impact. I have already alluded to demographic decline in Europe, except among Muslims, and Israel is not immune to the same factors.

(f) Israel’s diplomatic isolation remains a serious problem. Despite its rapidly growing economy, Israel remains dependent in important ways on the United States — most obviously in defence. It is unlikely that a future US government would withdraw such support, but the shock and humiliation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last December, which the US failed to veto, showed that Israel clearly needs a broader network of allies to counter relentless hostility not only at the UN, but among NGOs and international courts. The British not only voted for Resolution 2334, but its diplomats helped to draft it — perhaps the worst act of betrayal in the history of Anglo-Israeli relations. To be fair to Theresa May, when she realised the damage done by her own Foreign Office, the Prime Minister showed her true colours by responding to John Kerry’s parting shot at the Netanyahu coalition with an equally unprecedented rebuke of a US Secretary of State: “We do not think it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.” If even the US and the UK cannot be relied on to support Israel, a new formal alliance is clearly needed.

(g) The instability of the Middle East has been a problem throughout the seven decades of Israel’s existence. The last decade has been exceptionally fissiparous, even if Israel has been able to remain on the sidelines, apart from its interventions in Gaza. Yet there is no guarantee that Israel’s luck will hold, especially as the dream of a Caliphate is likely to survive the defeat of IS, so providing a permanent source of volatility within the largely artificial states of the region. If Israel is drawn into almost any conflict it is bound to become the focus of violent protest and terrorism. The potential for an even more spectacular upheaval than the misnamed Arab Spring has not been diminished by the return of Russia to the Middle East for the first time since the 1970s. Like Mr Trump, Israel should beware of Mr Putin’s bear hugs.

For these and many more reasons, the West should be reassessing its attitude to the Jewish state. If South Korea and Japan are worth defending against nuclear blackmail, if Afganistan and Iraq are worth repeatedly liberating, if genocide was worth preventing in Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Kuwait and Libya — then is not Israel worth giving the cast-iron commitment that only a formal treaty provides? If red lines are to be drawn in Syria to deter the use of WMD, enforced by Tomahawk missiles, should not equally lethal threats to Israel from Hezbollah and Hamas be deterred similarly? Above all, should not the West repudiate the rapprochement with Iran — it is not really a “deal” — in the absence of any evidence that the Islamic Republic has abandoned its intention to annihilate what it calls “the Zionist entity”.

In the face of so much enmity towards Israel, what is needed is more than a gesture. Of course, gestures of solidarity are important. If members of the British Royal Family visit Israel to mark the Balfour anniversary, Theresa May’s gesture will be deeply gratifying for Israelis. If the US Embassy is indeed moved to Jerusalem, Donald Trump’s gesture will send a powerful signal — to be followed, I hope, by Britain and perhaps even Germany. But what really needs to happen — and soon — is an explicit security guarantee for Israel, enshrined in an alliance, and signed by all those nations that claim to belong to the West. What I propose to call the Israel Security Treaty would state that any attack on Israel should be treated as an attack on the West. Such a treaty would be unique, in that reciprocity would not be required: Israel has its hands full defending itself. But the threats that I have listed are also unique.

It may be argued that merely to propose such a treaty would be provocative. But is it so provocative for Europe and America to acknowledge the self-evident fact that Israel is part of the West? More provocative than regularly threatening to drive Israelis into the sea? More provocative than the global propagation of Holocaust denial? More provocative than funding terrorism and extremism across the West? More provocative than denying the right of 400,000 Jews to live on the West Bank, even though 1.7 million Arabs live in Israel? More provocative than comparing Zionists to Nazis? All these are official positions that have been or still are those of various Arab and Islamic states and Palestinian representatives. Some of these views have even been adopted by Western politicians or academics, seemingly indifferent to their provocative nature. The New York Times, like other Western media, strove officiously to play down evidence of the Shoah in order to avoid provocation throughout the Second World War. Where the survival of the Jewish people is at stake, I do not believe in avoiding provocation. The only way to persuade the Muslim world that the Jewish state is here to stay is to stop appeasing Palestinian demands — as the French government did by hosting a ridiculous “Middle East summit” in January. There are signs of a more realistic attitude in some Arab governments; it is even conceivable that Mahmoud Abbas will take up Mr Trump’s offer to broker a deal, although I wouldn’t trust the Palestinians not to find an excuse to walk away, as they did in 2000 and 2008. In any case, Hamas won’t be party to such a deal: their new, “moderate” document (which doesn’t abrogate the genocidal anti-Semitism of their founding charter) still calls for Hamas-controlled Palestine to reach from the river to the sea, thus eliminating the “Zionist entity”.

Right now, Israel may feel relatively secure and the future looks bright. But our intelligence services — I except of course the Mossad, which knows everything — failed to predict almost every major event of the postwar era. In the last decade they failed to foresee the global financial crisis, the Arab Spring, the emergence of IS, the Russian invasions of Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine, the European refugee crisis, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. If anybody here can honestly claim to have predicted all of these events, I should be grateful if he or she would put in a word for me with the Almighty. Not even prophets and patriarchs, let alone presidents or prime ministers, can anticipate the course of destiny: mere mortal prescience has its limits.

This brings us back to our expulsion from the Garden of Eden. When they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge Adam and Eve, the Book of Genesis tells us, had their “eyes opened”. With our mortality came a loss of innocence, but also the work ethic and the instinct for survival in a hostile environment. The Jews, to whom the West owes the genesis of its spirit, are the only survivors to bear witness to the ancient world and the most remarkable testimony to the work ethic in history. The well-nigh miraculous creation and survival of modern Israel, a veritable Eden arising from the desert in less than a century, is proof of humanity’s infinite potential. Yet the fact that from its inception Israel has been and remains embattled is also proof of man’s infinite capacity for envy, barbarity and evil. The enemies of Israel, we must never forget, are also the enemies of the West. There are many politicians in Europe today who would like to expel Israel from the Western community. But Israel is far more sinned against than sinning. It is we Europeans who should beware of listening to the serpentine propaganda of the BDS movement, which merely regurgitates the Nazi, Soviet and Islamist poison.

The world has been led by the West for so long that the emergence of hostile, malevolent rivals still tends to induce complacency rather than resistance. Yet there could be no clearer, no more overwhelming case for the West to show solidarity than that provided by Israel. Not only is the Jewish state, with its humanitarian openness to the persecuted, the great bastion of decency in a region that sometimes seems to have turned its back on the civilised world, but it has set an example even to America and Europe of how the integration of very different cultures can be accomplished by the inculcation of a strong yet inclusive identity. The reward for this uniquely Israeli symbiosis — so much more successful than the notoriously one-sided German-Jewish symbiosis of the past, once castigated by Gershom Scholem — has been the flowering of science and technology, of the arts and humanities, which have enriched not only Israel but the world. So American and British, French and German partners stand to gain too from the solidarity that I am demanding for Israel. But there can be no more double standards from the West: no more photo-opportunities for visiting VIPs at Yad Vashem accompanied by surreptitious encouragement of hostile resolutions at the UN, or appeasement of anti-Semitism at Unesco, or boycotts by the EU; no more memorials in European cities for past Jewish victims while turning a blind eye to the funding of terrorists who murder Jews now; no more praise for Israeli democracy while undermining the legitimacy of the governments that Israelis actually elect.

 Israel is not a distant cousin of the West; Israel is our brother and sister. In Genesis, God comes walking in the cool of the day and calls out: “Adam, where art thou?” Well, where are we? The West should support Israel, not because we have a bad conscience, but because it is the right thing to do. Yes, the West failed the Jews of Europe; let us not fail the Jews of Israel now, in your hour of need.

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Iddo
August 6th, 2017
11:08 AM
Articulate and compelling. Guarantees to Israel from Europe won't suffice. For every John 23 there is a Pius 12, even today. The ability to be an Anti-smite while occupying the moral high ground is just too attractive to many of today's Christian Europeans. Though they endanger themselves, theirs is the cry of Samson "let me die along with the Philistines". My hope is that reasonable views, such as yours, will prevail in the never ending struggle.

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