Friday, February 25, 2005

Column: What Are They Thinking?

One has to wonder, looking at Ariel Sharon and the Israeli Left bulldoze forward with their "disengagement plan", what they are really thinking -- what is their goal?

Even while it grows more tempting to blame the Bush administration as it endorses a contiguous "Palestinian State" for its supporting Sharon in his antidemocratic plans, let us remember that it was Sharon that went to Bush and not the other way around and that removing all the settlements in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza has long been the stated policy of the Left -- a policy that Sharon seems to have adopted somewhere along the line -- exactly when remains a mystery, as does the degree of his adoption.

It seems to me that in order to answer the question asked above it is helpful to look at the Israeli Left and understand their perceptions of and relationships to Europe and America respectively. It will also be helpful to look at the American Left and its view of Europe.

The American Left leans more towards the UN and the EU than do American conservatives -- as evidenced most glaringly by candidate Kerry's endorsement of a global test to precede American military action. Likewise does the Israeli Left lean towards the UN and the EU -- this being so even in spite of their anti-Israeli stance -- for reasons hard for us to understand. The difficulty in understanding is exacerbated by Europe's hatred of America -- a hatred that Bush's recent trip to Europe and his speech there was meant to assuage.

That the speech was meant to soften Europe's hatred and bridge the divide that has developed over more than a decade between the continents is clear, but is it clear to us from where that great animosity grew?

One of the main causes was that with the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, America became increasingly the target of a Europe that feared the might of a single superpower no longer held in check by a powerful foe. This fear of America's military might eventually expressed itself in hatred of America amongst Europeans, but there were other factors.

One of those is a sense of cultural superiority that Europe feels towards America. They see America as a country of cowboys, consumers, and the hopelessly anti-intellectual. They see themselves superior, educated at an early age in France for example in philosophy -- it being standard fare along with reading, writing and arithmetic. Their long history when compared to America's also makes them feel superior and this overlays their sense of cultural superiority with their traditions of art and music going back long into history.

There are other issues that relate more to government and governance. Amongst those leaders in Europe that enjoy the privileges of ruling in democracies that still have remnants of aristocracy and privilege -- democracies that are quite less democratic than the democracy that grew on American soil, free of an aristocracy and in loath of it -- American style democracy represents a threat to their privilege were it to spread freely in the wake of American expansionism.

Related to this is the matter that for Europeans the idea of handing sovereignty over to bureaucrats in Brussels in matters so vital as security, finance and the courts, has been embraced -- an embracing that American conservatives, cherishing the constitution and seeking to preserve it against any and all that would undermine it naturally detest. It is this stubbornness of American conservatives in guarding the constitution and rejecting the move to empower a European bureaucracy over vital American interests that has also infuriated Europe.

It was to this hatred and the causes enumerated that John Kerry turned his gaze towards Europe and brought his platform of a global test before the American people --and it was this hatred that George W. Bush recently sought to assuage.

Of all the reasons mentioned above for Europe's animosity towards America I think that in regard to Israel, one stands out as the primary reason for the Israeli Left's identification with Europe -- in spite of all. That reason lies with the nature of the government and governance

Israel is closer to Europe than America in its form of democracy. The socialism from which Israeli democracy grew was more like the monarchies of Europe from where their democracies originated than American democracy which abhorred aristocracy and privilege and had its main purpose the ideals of Locke and Hobbes to limit government and undermine entrenched power and tyranny in the name of a social contract between free men.

It is here that the Israeli Left is so threatened. Threatened by too much democracy, threatened by a referendum on "disengagement", threatened by a truly free press, threatened by civil disobedience and a population that rejects them and their policies time and time again at the polls -- and so it closes its eyes and blindfolds everyone and marches forward in some strange hope that Israel can survive while they maintain their power -- a power, which it seems the maintenance of, is their highest ideal and goal.


Blogger Hescominsoon said...

Too bad you do not have trackback..:) Ever since stumbling across Csomic X I have been looking for more blogs from inside israel. I was able to visit Haifa back in 1995 and cannot wait to go back and to see Jerusalem.

God Bless

7:49 PM  
Blogger Barry Freedman said...

Thanks much for the good wishes. What is trackback?

Best to you.

1:42 PM  

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