Wrongthink About Israel Is America’s Thought-Crime

(This editorial is from the upcoming June/July issue of Chronicles Magazine.)

In Chronicles’ May issue, my colleague Edward Welsch took a critical stand with respect to U.S. financial support for Israel’s war in Gaza, particularly (as he’s said to me privately) since it’s led to so many civilian deaths. In his editorial “The Neoconservatives’ Latest Purge,” Welsch also targeted conservative establishment gatekeepers who brand as an anti-Semite anyone who questions the now-obligatory outpourings of unqualified Zionist sympathies.

Let me clarify my own view about the Israeli campaign in Gaza.

Israelis are forced to fight Hamas in what has become asymmetrical warfare. Since Hamas cannot match a better armed, more efficient fighting force in a conventional military engagement, they are instead driving the Israelis into a form of fighting which makes Israel look bad. Hamas has taken up military positions in hospitals and schools so that when the Israelis go on the offensive, they are bound to slaughter the innocent and vulnerable. The United States engaged in a similar kind of combat against the Vietcong during the Vietnam War, and many anticolonial struggles have been waged in this way. Guerillas, thus, have always been able to harness world opinion even when they couldn’t win on the battlefield.

It also seems to me that the Israelis, despite their usually efficient intelligence service, allowed hostile guerilla forces to build hundreds of miles of tunnels, some of it going from Gaza into Israel. At some point an investigation will take place as to why this all went unnoticed. The Israelis might have also avoided inflicting many thousands of civilian casualties if they had flooded the tunnels to kill or drive out their armed enemies before bombing heavily inhabited civilian areas. Even if the Israelis are trying to avoid civilian casualties, (and I believe they are), the type of warfare they are waging will make them inevitable.

My intent, however, is not to write on partisan wars; nor is it to defend the misnamed student protests that have swept over American universities. In any case, these never-ending riots and campus occupations seem more to be the tedious second act of the 2020 George Floyd “summer of love” than anything obviously connected to what is happening in the Middle East. What distinguishes this history as farce from earlier historical drama, if I may paraphrase Marx, is that the Democrats no longer seem in control of the violence coming from their volatile voters. I’ve absolutely no sympathy for these overindulged adolescents and other public nuisances paid for by George and Alex Soros. The rioters and their irresponsible sugar daddies would be facing dire consequences if we were still living in a constitutional republic—which we are not.

Although the anti-Semitic outbursts of the pro-Hamas demonstrators are offensive, let’s be clear about one thing: These disturbances are not even remotely comparable to the ominous anti-Semitism unleashed by German Nazis. These riots pale in comparison to what rampaging Nazi paramilitary units did to hapless Jews in the 1930s. In some cases, the violence on our campuses and in urban areas has been subsidized by Jewish sponsors; and at least some of the nuts participating in them are Jewish radicals who did not break with the rest of the left over its pro-Hamas stand.

Moreover, white Christian America, contrary to what the Anti-Defamation League and other organs of the Jewish left want us to believe, is hardly as infected with anti-Jewish prejudices as were large parts of Europe in the 1930s. Indeed, just the opposite is the case. American Christians, and most conspicuously Evangelicals, are profoundly sympathetic to Jews and overwhelmingly pro-Israel, as opinion polls repeatedly indicate. When House Speaker Mike Johnson said he supported Israel because he is a Bible-believing Christian, he spoke for Evangelicals nationwide. And let’s not forget that over 80 percent of this large Protestant constituency are now standing behind Trump and represents the morally conservative wing of the GOP.

The Zionist movement originated among philo-Semitic Protestants in 17th century England; and this Christian involvement with building and sustaining a Jewish state has continued down to the present. Pro-Israel Evangelicals represent the continuation of that long-standing tradition. They cite Scripture in explaining and justifying their pro-Israel politics, and those who produce Fox News are likely aware of these viewers when they play up their support for the state of Israel.

The fact that most American Jews identify contemporary Christians quite anachronistically with real and alleged Czarist persecution entails a flagrantly misplaced attribution of guilt. But this has not kept long-suffering Evangelicals from rushing to the defense of those whom they consider God’s chosen people. The Israeli government appreciates its Christian friends and invites them regularly to Israel as honored guests, a practice that I learned about when I visited Jerusalem about 10 years ago. Of all religions under which Jews have lived, Protestants have generally been the most tolerant, and Evangelicals the most accepting, for religious reasons.

There are also non-Evangelicals who are responsible for the now repetitious Israel boosterism that is emanating from the GOP media and Conservatism, Inc. Being sympathetic to Israel is one thing. But hitting viewers over the head with nonstop praise for our “best ally” and “the most perfect democracy on the planet” may be a bit much.

In seeking what is perhaps the main reasons for this extravagant praise, we may have to turn to monomaniacal Zionist sponsors like Paul Singer, the late Sheldon Adelson, and the Murdoch family who have payrolled conservative establishment media—and who expect a bang for their buck. There are furthermore neoconservative commentators like Mark Levin, Douglas Murray, Brooke Goldstein, and Alan Dershowitz, whose opinions about Middle Eastern affairs are so predictable that one can recite them without hearing the attached voices.

I was hardly surprised to learn that Commentary magazine strongly advocated for the bill unfortunately passed by the House of Representatives claiming to fight anti-Semitism. It would criminalize anti-Semitic speech based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) overly broad definition of anti-Semitism as, among other features:

a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. … Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.

The bill is also falsely presented in the Murdoch press as “conservative” because far-left Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) was preparing an even more egregious bill that was designed to go after putative right-wing anti-Semitism, while allowing the left to get away with violence and incitement to riot.

The explicitly neoconservative plan behind H.R. 6090, which empowers federal administrators to track down and punish “anti-Semites,” is a godsend to the therapeutic-managerial state. Not at all incidentally, U.S. public administration is overwhelmingly filled with leftists. If German socialist August Bebel described anti-Semitism as “the socialism of fools,” then this neoconservative measure, which the Republican establishment stupidly embraced, is the “anti-Semitism of idiots.”

If Republicans were serious about punishing leftist riots, they could do so by withdrawing public funding from the universities that permit it. Moreover, as Daniel Horowitz notes, stopping the flow of illegals would reduce the number of Muslim anti-Semites entering the country. One could thereby address the outbreak of anti-Semitism without threatening our constitutional liberties.

Republicans should note that “anti-hate” laws in other Western countries have been predictably used by leftists against supposed threats from the right or those who criticized progressive projects. It is simply unimaginable this won’t happen with the ill-advised neoconservative measure now put into effect.

Indeed the IHRA definition of “anti-Semitism” is worse than any other definition I’ve seen, and also includes accusing Zionist Jews of dual loyalty or questioning authorized accounts of the Holocaust. Prosecuting dissenters for these thought-crimes will only help subvert what remain of our civil liberties. Under this accelerated anti-discrimination regime, freedom of expression will be further restricted, thanks to our self-appointed guardians of truth.

One of the most self-important members of this group is someone whom Welsch mentioned in his commentary, Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro. Shapiro has made tons of money with his media company and seems to be the conservative commentator whose name my Protestant Republican neighbors know best. He speaks in a now-familiar staccato voice, forcefully expressing opinions on whatever wanders into his agitated mind.

Many of these opinions just strike me as eccentric. For years Shapiro has been holding forth on gay marriage, which he thinks should be allowed, because sooner or later the government will be persuaded to stay out of marital relations. The odds of government actually removing itself from any area of life where it currently exercises power are microscopically small, although Shapiro and his gay activist friend Dave Rubin have amicably agreed to disagree on the application of the term “marriage.” Why not? The odds of Shapiro rather than Rubin getting his way on gay marriage, given the character of our government and media, are about the same as a Martian landing on my roof this afternoon. Shapiro is also quite expectedly full of rancor when he describes the history of “Southern bigotry,” and he finds nothing good to say about the American conservative movement before its fateful takeover by his side in the 1980s.

Shapiro does escape the charge of feeling dual loyalty to the U.S. and Israel because as Welsch showed, he makes no secret of the fact that his support for this country is contingent on its aid to Israel. A statement to this effect that Shapiro made at a 2022 CPAC conference drew applause from the celebrity-intoxicated attendees: “The existence of the State of Israel is the single greatest guarantor of my loyalty to the United States, frankly. Because Israel exists, that means the United States is going to be a more welcoming place for me.”

It was quite alright for his listeners that Shapiro uttered such an unsettling thought since he was featured as a paradigmatic conservative mentor. Given his iconic status in the movement, he was also apparently authorized to castigate two unprogrammed members of the right, Tucker Carlson and Candace Owens, for not taking his side on the question of American financial support for Israel. In any case, if H.R. 6090 is passed by both chambers of Congress, both these heretics may be legally dealt with under our neoconservative war against “anti-Semitism.”

Although I would have voted for the Israel aid package if I were a congressman, I find no justification for Shapiro’s ranting against those who hold differing views as anti-Semites. He even went so far as to fire Owens, who had the temerity to disagree with him. Unlike Rubin’s case of having a nontraditional understanding of the institution of marriage, disagreeing with Shapiro’s views on aid to Israel is something his friends must never do.

Now that I’m on this tear, allow me to mention one of the most shocking opinions offered by Shapiro during his already long career. This revelation may tell us more about Conservatism, Inc. than it does about my subject. In a 2003 syndicated column titled “Transfer Is Not a Dirty Word,” Shapiro argued for the mass expulsion of Palestinians from Israeli territory:

The Jews don’t realize that expelling a hostile population is a commonly used and generally effective way of preventing violent entanglements. … After World War II, Poland was recreated by the Allied Powers. … Anywhere from 3.5 million to 9 million Germans were forcibly expelled from the new Polish territory and relocated in Germany. … The Germans accepted the new border, and decades of conflict between Poles and Germans ended. … If Germans, who had a centuries-old connection to the newly created Polish territory, could be expelled, then surely Palestinians, whose claim to Judea, Samaria and Gaza is dubious at best, can be expelled.

Reading this favorable reference to the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Poland to justify a similar fate for Israeli Palestinians made me think that I wandered into a 1950s college fraternity bull session. About 15 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, for reasons of ethnic cleansing. Most of those victims had nothing to do with Nazi war crimes, but expelling them allowed others to seize their property, just as the Nazis did to the German Jews whom they drove out in the 1930s. According to historians Alfred-Maurice de Zayas and R. M. Douglas, both of whom have written well-researched books on this subject, many ethnic Germans were killed or brutalized in the series of atrocities that Shapiro may not have noticed or about which he simply doesn’t care.

Equally unsettling is Shapiro’s plan for driving out millions of Palestinians from their homes. Could one imagine what would happen if he made the same suggestion for inner-city blacks in the U.S., who are disproportionately responsible for violent crimes and unruly demonstrations? No, of course, we couldn’t imagine anything like that. It wouldn’t sit well with Shapiro’s sponsors and other neoconservative gatekeepers. But then Germans and Palestinians are different. Neocons don’t much like either group; and so inflicting hardship on them from the standpoint of neocon media stars and their sponsors is just fine.

Please keep in mind that Shapiro and his fellow gatekeepers of the misnamed “conservatives” are delighted to kick out of their movement anyone expressing inappropriate “prejudice.” Thus, National Review summarily fired several brilliant writers for transmitting the unthinkable in their commentaries, including John Derbyshire. Derbyshire said in a moment of admirable candor that he would discourage his son from stopping on a highway for black teenagers who were waving him down, apparently to help with a disabled auto.

Steve Sailer, too, lost his standing in the movement for speaking in a non-prescribed manner. Sailer kept bringing up sociobiology, long after the “conservative movement” decided that topic might offend those on the left whom it was trying desperately to reach. The fate of Washington Times and Chronicles columnist Sam Francis, as someone whom Conservatism, Inc. ruined professionally, may be too well-known for further retelling; and I shall spare my readers the ugly details of that character assassination, which continues to the present day.

Not surprisingly, I, too, was canceled by Conservatism, Inc. eons ago for multiple unauthorized judgments. I was openly critical of the movement’s opportunistic shifts toward the social left, and more recently I’ve become the subject of a girly whispering campaign for failing to keep the prescribed distance from “extremists.”

Yet Shapiro is allowed to say unspeakable things about groups that his movement feels free to dehumanize, and this indiscretion has done nothing to hurt his meteoric rise as a conservative movement star. Quite to the contrary! Shapiro has become a fixture within the conservative establishment and he is the face of the Daily Wire’s multimillion-dollar media operation. Although certainly no less bigoted than the frequent victims of conservative purges, Shapiro possesses an indispensable quality for someone who hopes to succeed in the movement over which he now towers. He remains closely tied to the donor base. Indeed, by now the two may have become indistinguishable.

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