The Right Not to Commit Suicide

January 19, 2012

Multiple Pages
The Right Not to Commit Suicide

The other evening one of my dinner clubs had a meeting. I’m getting addicted to these clubs—I now belong to three of them.

This one is conservative-dissident. By “conservative” I mean skeptical of social change, especially of vast social-engineering experiments—the normalization of buggery and bastardy, mass immigration from low-attainment populations, and almost any public-education policy from the past half-century. By “dissident” I mean that no careerist dreaming of a position as a Fox News analyst, or of ascending to The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, or of taking over from David Brooks or Ross Douthat on The New York Times’ op-ed page, or of running for office under any major political party’s aegis, would be seen dead in the same room with us.

It’s a good crowd: academics, lawyers, small-business types, a schoolteacher, a cop, an artist, a writer. We have an invited speaker, generally someone of our own kidney. We eat a hearty dinner, listen to the speaker, then argue with him and each other while getting gently tipsy on wine or beer. It all makes for a very agreeable evening.

This being New York City, and top-quintile intelligence being a requirement for club membership, a lot of us are Jewish. Oh, you didn’t know there are conservative Jewish New Yorkers?

“Oh, you didn’t know there are conservative Jewish New Yorkers?”

This month’s meeting was blessed with the presence of two actual rabbis, one of them an Orthodox sailing under full canvas: black frock coat, broad-brimmed black hat, major beard, payot, the works. This gent was way above the club’s IQ requirement: super-duper smart, with a three-levels-down knowledge of any subject we raised. I tried him on Northern Ireland. He knew all the players and nuances, and we ended up singing the Sash in unison. I wish I had a video of me three sheets to the wind and a rabbi in full fig belting out Ulster Protestant marching songs together, the club members standing around looking baffled.

My job demands that I spend a couple of hours every day trawling through news stories. Sifting through all that dreck, now and then I turn up a little gold nugget.

Last week’s gold nugget was this utterance by a distinguished public official: “Human rights do not prescribe national suicide.”

That’s an obvious enough thing to say. It’s only separated by a few inches from Robert Jackson’s observation that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.” What’s remarkable is that it needs saying and that hearing it struck me with such force.

There are powerful people in positions of great authority all over the Western world who act as if they believe human rights do prescribe national suicide. This is plain from stories that show up well-nigh daily in our newspapers. Here’s one from today’s press.

So savor that utterance: “Human rights do not prescribe national suicide.” It’s practically subversive. But who said it?

It was this guy, Israeli Supreme Court Justice Asher Grunis. He was ruling on a challenge to a law passed eight years ago. The law denies Israeli citizenship to Palestinian Arabs who marry Israelis. “Liberalism don’t live here anymore,” one left-wing Israeli blogger keened ungrammatically. Excellent!

Last week was bad for national suicide in that part of the world. Almost as Justice Grunis was speaking for Israel’s judiciary, Israel’s legislature was passing a law on a different subject: illegal immigration.

A good candidate for the title of World’s Most Dysfunctional Region is the belt of six sub-Saharan African countries from Somalia through to Chad, total population 153 million. People who live there often want to live somewhere else. They trek north into Egypt and Libya. But those nations were no better than semi-civilized even before the past few months’ ructions. The nearest functioning state the East Africans can get to by land is Israel. They have to go through Egypt and then the Sinai Desert, but what took Moses forty years is a lot easier now.

The Israeli government estimates 50,000 came in the past seven years, most from Sudan and Eritrea. That 153 million figure I quoted is close to Mexico and Central America’s combined population, which is around 156 million. East Africa’s failed states are to Israel what our southern neighbors are to us, except the USA has 307 million citizens while Israel has fewer than eight million.

Hence the law the Israeli legislature passed last week that allows indefinite imprisonment without trial for illegal aliens and 15-year sentences for those who assist them. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported the legislature and called the African illegals “a national scourge.” Israel is also building a 150-mile fence to seal the Sinai border.

So I asked my rabbi friend: Will Israel be a light unto the gentiles? Now that the banner bearing the legend “Human rights do not prescribe national suicide” has been raised in Israel, will it also be taken up in the West, perhaps even by a senior judicial authority?

The rabbi shrugged. “If you don’t defend yourself, keep yourself a people, then you will disappear,” he said with the air of having stated something very obvious indeed.


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