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Modern vs. Postmodern

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Modern vs. Postmodern

Jews across the West must defend themselves within a culture that has increasingly replaced evidence with narrative. May 28, 2021

It’s not clear who won the recent war in Gaza. We probably won’t know the answer to that question until we’re able to judge how many months of peace Israel has been able to purchase. In the interim, we’re left with memes about Israeli “white privilege” that have taken hold in pop culture.

After 1,000 bombs were dropped over 11 days of fighting, the Israeli Defense Forces say that they “killed at least 225 Gaza-based terrorists.” More than two-thirds of those killed were terrorists, and the IDF has the evidence to prove it. Roughly 60 of the dead were civilians, some killed by the 35 percent of Iranian-designed rockets fired by Hamas that fell short and landed within Gaza. (The UN estimates higher civilian casualties.)

Thanks to Israel’s Iron Dome, mocked by its critics as Ronald Reagan’s critics once mocked his Strategic Defense Initiative as “Star Wars,” only a dozen Israelis died—mostly elderly people too slow to make it to shelters. For those who think in conventional military terms, the IDF’s accomplishments were astonishing. It was an extraordinary feat, notes the Jerusalem Post’s Yaakov Katz, achieved by no other military in history: 1,000 bombs dropped on as many targets, with only about 60 civilians killed.

But Hamas was fighting on a different battlefield, and largely winning. Their aim, along with Iran’s, was to foil Israel’s attempts at coexistence and normalization. Hamas terrorist-in-chief Ismail Haniyeh declared victory, saying he had “foiled attempts by Israel to integrate into the Arab world.” He also thanked Iran for its generous aid and armaments. “This battle has destroyed the project of coexistence,” Haniyeh said from Qatar, where he resides. He took considerable satisfaction from the widespread clashes between Israeli Arabs and Jews. He talked of an Intifada today in the West Bank and a revolution inside the 1948 borders.

Hamas, unlike Israel, is not constrained by the need to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas glories in civilian casualties as emblems of Palestinian suffering. That in part is because Hamas has little interest in Palestinian nationalism. It sees itself as the leader of the greater cause of global Islam. It seeks to win support from Muslims around the globe, which is why one of its leaders has said that where Israel is now is the property of all Muslims in all parts of the world. As Efraim Karsh wrote in The Spectator, the fighting “has little to do with freeing Palestinians from Israeli domination. It is inspired instead by the idea of freeing the Holy Land from Israel.”

The cities of Lod, Ramle, Acre, Haifa, and Jaffa, long lauded as examples of Arab–Jewish coexistence, have been shaken by rioting as mobs have attacked Jews and torched synagogues. This despite the 15 billion shekels, or nearly $1 billion, the Israeli government has invested in these cities over the last decade.

In America, all of this is increasingly seen through an “internationalist” filter that looks at what’s happening in Israel as a mirror for racial issues. “Hamas got laundered from a terrorist organization into an Instagram-ready social justice movement,” as Liel Leibovitz put it in Tablet, pointing out how the word “genocide” is “casually applied to a war in which the total deaths on both sides amount to less than a third of the number of people killed in Chicago last year.” Israel, Karsh writes, “is somehow portrayed as a singularly evil human rights violator when the Syrian civil war has claimed 400,000 lives in 10 years—about 300,000 more than the total number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict, starting in 1860.”

In the United States, Black Lives Matter draws heavily on the Palestinian model. The organized group’s Marxist leadership sees the world, Soviet-style, as divided between oppressors and oppressed, and its original charter accused Israel of genocide and apartheid. That helps explain the wave of violence directed at American Jews. In Times Square, a Jew wearing a kippah was beaten up by an admirer of the Palestinian-American supermodel Bella Hadid, who enjoys a vast following among the semi-educated sociopaths who inhabit social media. In the Diamond District, protesters bearing Palestinian flags sought out, harassed, assaulted, and threw fireworks and explosives at Jews. On the Upper East Side, a kosher pizzeria had its window shattered with a brick. In Borough Park, a man set fire to a synagogue and yeshiva before beating up a Hasidic Jew. In Los Angeles, self-righteous Palestinian fanatics attacked diners at a sushi restaurant.

Israel grew and thrived in the modern era, which looked to evidentiary arguments as the basis for disputation. We’re in a different era now, a postmodern period in which Palestinians can successfully present themselves as victims of genocide even as their population expands and they feel free to assault Jews in America as if they were fighting in Jaffa. Muslim violence isn’t a response to oppression. It’s an expression, as numerous jihadis have acknowledged at their trials, of the need to dominate unbelievers.

The upshot is that Jews across the declining West will have to learn how to protect themselves by using not only evidence but also embroidered narratives—not to mention some old-fashioned self-defense.

Photo by MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

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