Why I write about Israel

Mike Berger says he is outraged by lies disseminated daily by activist groups

Why do I write about Israel, almost exclusively of late? After all I am a South African citizen and my country has enough problems to be concerned about. And, in fact, I have written extensively about South Africa in the past and have been quite widely published on the subject. But, yes, I do have dual loyalties. So what?

Secondly, it is tempting to believe that most South Africans are not really interested in Israel except for many in the Jewish and Muslim minority communities. But that may not be entirely true. For many pro-Israel Christians what happens to Israel has important biblical associations. Many anti-Israel Christians are advocates of "replacement theology" in which an allegedly more merciful Christianity has replaced a primitive and bloodthirsty Old Testament. Others are political activists in the self-styled progressive camp who use religious motives to justify their actions.

But quite honestly these issues are for me beside the point. I write because I am outraged by the lies disseminated daily by activist groups with the passive and sometimes active complicity of segments of the media. I write because I detest hypocrisy. I write because I will be damned if I will allow my people, a tiny, much abused minority, to be slandered without a response. I write because I hate bullies and injustice.

I detest Israeli bullies and racists too, and have said so. But while they need to be held firmly in check, they are not the problem. Israel is surrounded by failed states: states which have failed to liberate their people from the shackles of political and religious tyranny; from the shackles of ignorance and poverty; from the shackles of homophobia and gender discrimination and from the shackles of corruption. 

Israel is hemmed in by states and religious and political elites which have systematically implanted hatred and enmity into the hearts of their peoples, who have made the destruction of Israel the meaning of their existence and martyrdom their avenue to self- fulfilment and glory.

These nihilistic cultures are of course an existential threat to Israel and, somewhere down the road, to the West and to the values arising out of the Western enlightenment.  They are also a dreadful barrier to the liberation of their own people, as reflected in the, at least partial, capture of the "Arab Spring" by Islamist forces and by immigration from many of these countries to Europe, the USA and other democracies.

But I write also because the Western intellectual classes have become fatally compromised by the misapplication of the progressive social doctrines of multiculturalism, anti-colonialism and egalitarianism. Instead of remaining intellectual and political values constrained by context and subject to continued re-evaluation, they have assumed a religious flavour - doctrines which distinguish the enlightened from the benighted, good from evil.

In the words of Thomas Sowell  "The behavior of those who follow the vision of the anointed has long included certain patterns...Their behavior often reflects attitudes rather than principles. They often see issues in terms of crusades and their vision as something to protect, virtually at all costs, even if that means keeping it sealed inside a bubble where discordant facts cannot get in to threaten it." In Sowell, Thomas (2012-03-06). Intellectuals and Society (Kindle Locations 2978-2981). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

The consequence is that they have become the dupes, the enthusiastic fellow travellers, of those who share no such cultural affinities or inhibitions; those for whom the Geneva and Hague Conventions have no meaning but cynically use these institutions and Western values they do not share, to tap into the guilts and intellectual paradigms of progressive Western elites. It is a source of amazement how readily such groups buy into the blatant fabrications and exaggerations of Hamas and other terror entities, and many others, in the Middle East.

As a scientist by training and temperament the psychological and sociological substrates of such vulnerabilities are fascinating; and important if democracies are going to find the intellectual and psychic resources to withstand the predators of the international arena.

Of course, not all the Western collaboration is quite so innocent. Ignorance, commercial considerations, lust for power and prestige and sheer prejudice, antisemitism to be specific, also play a role.

Since my writing reflects all these different motivations, it runs the gamut from coldly analytical to the angry and passionate. I would like to maintain my own values in what I write and the manner in which I express myself.  And in a larger and more important sense, the values and ethos which have made the democracies successful must also be maintained, within the fluid constraints of context, if the free(-ish) peoples of this world are to retain the edge over the various forms of nihilism and totalitarianism which challenge them now and will again in the future.

Israel is a litmus test of such resolution and insight. It is a cause in which all of us have a stake and my writing is an expression of this. Israel has, of necessity, the key role but we outside who share many common values cannot leave the entire burden to that country alone.

Mike Berger

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