Sunday, August 10, 2003


A left-wing Jew tells how his own personal experience of the reality of Israel’s situation led him into political incorrectness:

“I remained haunted by the lesson I had learned in 1973 on the Golan Heights and at the Suez Canal about Israel’s vulnerability. Israel had zero margin of error—literally, it could not survive the loss of one war. The Arab regimes had nothing to lose except the lives of thousands of their own soldiers, which they were cavalier about anyway, and some treasure, which they could always replace with the help of one of the big powers or the Saudis. Thus, they were free to try and try again to destroy the Jewish state.

Nevertheless, I still found myself suppressing such dark thoughts, because they led to politically incorrect conclusions. Right-thinking people had to assume a certain degree of rationality on all sides. They had to assume that if you offered someone a better deal, he would take it, and that with enough goodwill all differences could be overcome — after all, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were now pursuing detente; Richard Nixon had even gone to China. Weren’t the Arabs rational human beings?

This orthodoxy held that anything called a “peace process” was always better than war. And it wasn’t just in Europe and the United States that the mindset prevailed, but in Israel too. Despite all of the failed peace overtures of the past, wasn’t it worth trying yet one more time? To think otherwise, to believe that there might be something inherently violent and unreasonable in Arab Muslim political culture was — well, racist.

Rather than indulge such heretical thoughts, Israeli intellectuals found it easier to look critically at their own country’s culture and history.”

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