Ah, Israel, the ultimate wedge issue for people on the right. Nothing can queer an alliance between mainstream conservatives, paleoconservatives, and white nationalists quicker than Israel. There’s so much we all agree on! Affirmative action and antiwhite racism? Blech! Illegal immigration? Phooey! The welfare state? Feh! Political correctness? Dreck! But just when we’re getting on like gangbusters, someone has to go and mention Israel, and immediately the differences begin to matter a lot more than the similarities.
Such a shanda it is.
Last week, in the wake of all the fuss and bother surrounding the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, I was contacted by The Guardian for my thoughts on, among other things, Trump’s vigorous support of Israel and how it plays with his alt-right base. The Guardian piece as published ended up focusing on general issues of alt-right dissatisfaction, so I thought I’d use my column this week to delve a bit deeper into the Israel issue.
During my Holocaust revisionist years in the 1990s, I encountered—no surprise here—lots and lots of “anti-Zionists.” After my forced reemergence as David Cole in 2013, I encountered even more. People in those circles continue to be amazed that I’m a supporter of Israel. I, on the other hand, continue to be amused at the level of anti-Israel sentiment that exists among self-described white nationalists and alt-rightists. I don’t quite get it. Israel is the closest thing to “the West” in that fetid sandlot known as the Middle East, and Israelis do exactly the types of things that white nationalists and alt-rightists want to do themselves (build walls to halt immigration, unapologetically racially profile in the name of safety, unashamedly fight to preserve an ethno-state, etc.). Yet rather than admiration from the “white right,” Israel gets hostility.
Back in the ’90s, I got my ear bent by a lot of Arabs, who would hang around revisionist events and conferences like burrs on a sweater. They never contributed a damn thing. Talking about the Muslim contribution to Holocaust revisionism is like talking about the Maasai contribution to space travel. But boy, would those Muslims talk your ear off about their woes. Those guys were like the Islamic version of the most exaggerated Hollywood stereotypes of hillbillies. “Muh lah-yand! Git off muh lah-yand! They dun took muh lah-yand!” Anytime I would try to have a rational discussion with one of those sad sacks, the discussion would always revert back to “the Jews took our land,” as though that magical statement had the power to kill any debate about tactics.
Have you thought about the fact that maybe blowing up buses isn’t the best long-term solution to the problem?
“The Jews took our land!”
You know, massacring an Olympic team might not have been a great strategy.
“The Jews took our land!”
So going to the top of the Empire State Building and shooting a Danish musician in the head somehow helps your cause?
“The Jews took our land!”
Look, I’m not blind to the Palestinian predicament. Yes, their ancestors lost land in a war that didn’t go well for them (and then another, and then another…). But Palestinians forget a fairly important rule that all “oppressed” people have no choice but to consider, especially if they’ve suffered one humiliating defeat after another: Being “oppressed” doesn’t free you from the responsibility of crafting an intelligent strategy to improve your lot. Being right isn’t enough; you also have to be smart. Unfortunately, to the average self-righteous zealot (especially those driven to some degree or another by religion), being right is enough, and mindlessly repeating a failed strategy is seen as a good thing, a sign of faith.
I really don’t understand why the whining of Palestinians catches the ear of anyone on the alt-right. I mean, the cornerstone of the Palestinian cause is that they were “colonized by Europeans” who “grabbed land via warfare.” And you, Mr. Alt-Righter, are sympathetic to that complaint? You think we should force Israel to “give that land back”? Funny, because when the Aztlán loons in the Southwest also claim to have been “colonized by Europeans” who “grabbed land via warfare,” and when they claim that Mexico deserves to “get that land back,” I don’t hear a lot of sympathy. In fact, all I hear from alt-rightists is “Hey, wars happen. The Indians fought; they lost. The Mexicans fought; they lost. We don’t owe them their land back.”
I just don’t accept the notion that gaining territory through war suddenly became a crime against humanity in 1945, right after—and what a coincidence this is!—the victorious Allies gained a shitload of territory from Germany following World War II. That 1945 “deadline” is arbitrary, and I don’t buy into it. As far as I’m concerned, Israel has a right to keep every damn square inch of land it won, and I don’t see that as a position that betrays any particular pro-Jewish or anti-Muslim bias. If a Latino gentleman were to come to me bitching about how “this California ranchland used to be la casa de mi familia until we were forcibly repatriated after the Mexican-American War, so therefore I deserve it back,” I’d tell him to get bent.
Now, having said that, let me make one thing clear. Anything that can be said about the Palestinian leadership can also be said about the Israeli leadership. The Palestinian leaders are fanatical? So are the Israeli hard-liners. The Palestinians use brutish and violent tactics? So do the Israelis. The Palestinian leaders have an unrealistic, one might even say insane, concept of what will lead to success (“blow up enough buses and one day the Jews will surrender and leave”)? The Israeli hard-liner “blueprint for victory” is every bit as lunatic (“if we continue to make life as intolerable as possible for the Muslims, one day they’ll just up and go”). But this “equivalence” misses a vitally important point: The Israelis can afford to be violent, brutish, unrealistic fanatics. They have the power. They have the army, the nukes, and the unfailing support of the U.S. The Palestinians can’t afford to be morons. They live in squalor. Their kids grow up in slums that would make J.J. from Good Times vomit in revulsion. They have to be smart, and yet I see no proof that any meaningful percentage of them want to be.
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