It has become a cliché by this time that Israel is the canary in the coal mine, signaling to those still on the surface, that is, those who believe they are above the fray, the dangers that await in the future if precautions are not taken. And like all clichés, it articulates a general truth. As Eric Hoffer famously said in a 1968 article for the Los Angeles Times, “I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel, so it will go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.”
Echoing Hoffer, Dutch Party for Freedom (PPV) leader Geert Wilders affirmed in a speech delivered in Tel Aviv on December 5, 2010 in praise and support of the Jewish state, “It is here that our civilization is under attack…It is here that Israel has lit the light of freedom and that Europeans and Americans must help the Israelis to keep that light shining in the darkness.” For Israel is the West’s frontline army in the war against militant Islam, its “forlorn hope” (from the Dutch verleren hoop, soldiers placed in the most dangerous position or leading the charge).
As I wrote in Hear, O Israel!, “not until we can arrive at some understanding of the upsurge of Jew-hatred in the West and the red herring of anti-Zionism, whether in the form of public odium and acts of anti-Semitic vandalism or in the flagrant anti-Israeli drift of the media, the Academy, the Churches and the European polity, will we be in a position to confront our weakness and complicity.” Only when we realize that, in adopting the Islamic attitude vis à vis Jews and the Jewish state, we are seeking to conciliate instead of confronting the forces arrayed against us, which only renders us more vulnerable in the long run.
But although Israel remains a fixture in the press and elicits a disproportionate amount of public and official denunciation, few of us invest much time thinking about the canary as such and what it portends. On the contrary, it is often viewed as wholly expendable and, indeed, many of us are hoping that it will expire quickly, a climactic mistake to be redeemed by its disappearance. Clearly, the Jewish state may be the West’s sacrificial canary but that does not inspire gratitude. Israel can be happily relinquished to the noxious fumes of the Muslim Middle East, after which the West can either follow suit or, now forewarned, take appropriate measures.
But the imminent priority is the erasure of the Jewish state as we know it from the map, whether by Ahmadinejadian means, or through diplomacy and coercion, or by the application of economic pressure and international ostracism. Popular options such as the so-called “one state” (aka bi-national) solution, advocated by anti-Zionist intellectuals like the late Tony Judt, or demographic inundation via the Palestinian insistence on the “right of return” of five million instant “refugees” would do the job most effectively. (For this latter prospect, we have the U.N. to thank for violating its own rule granting refugee status to the first generation only.) As former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has written, “In the past, the most dangerous anti-Semites were those who wanted to make the world Judenrein, ‘free of Jews.’ Today, the most dangerous anti-Semites might be those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, ‘free of a Jewish state.’”
Naturally, attacking Israel as a racist or fascist or colonial or apartheid state is how one gets one’s anti-Semitism for free. It is in this way that one indulges one’s Jew-hatred without having to pay a single conscience-minted penny for one’s moral opprobrium and toxic irrationality. One can be both contemptible and ignorant while passing off these vices as deeply strenuous virtues, namely, as compassion and the love of justice. (Translation: backing the Palestinian cause and accepting its largely spurious narrative.) But such attitudes are deadly “virtues” when divorced from reality—in this particular case, from the dispensations of international law, from genuine historical knowledge and from the incontestable facts on the ground, which serve to establish the Jewish state as both a legitimate and meritorious member of the international community. Far less can be said for the Ba’athist entity in Syria, the Hashemite entity in Jordan, the Hezbollah entity in Lebanon, the Mullocratic entity in Iran or the Palestinian entities in Gaza and the West Bank.
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