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Sanctified Tantrums

Mahmoud Abbas

From The Islamic Tantrum by Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal:

Before Friday’s carnage in the City of Light, the world was treated to the hideous spectacle of Palestinians knifing Jews in Israel. The supposed motive of these stabbings was a rumor among Palestinians—fanned by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—that the Israeli government intended to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.

This was a story the Israeli government adamantly denied and every serious person knew was false. Yet no senior Western leader dared call out Mr. Abbas to correct the record. Palestinian tantrums are sanctified tantrums. The violence they breed might be condemned, but the narrative on which they rest has the status of holy writ. It is no more to be questioned than the Quran is to be burned.

“To counteract the radicalization [in Europe],” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said in a televised interview only hours after the Paris attacks, “we must go back to the situation such as the one in the Middle East in which . . . the Palestinians see that there is no future; we must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”

Here was the sanctified tantrum par excellence: People murder and maim because they have been put (by Israel) to a bleak choice. Rage is not to be condemned but understood, mitigated and mollified.

Now 129 people are dead in Paris because Europe decided to make a fetish of its tolerance for intolerance and allow the religious distempers of its Islamist communities to fester over many years. That’s what happens when you sanctify political tantrums, explain and appease them, refuse to name them, try to look away.

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Carter and Israel


from National Review in 2002, Jay Nordlinger wrote Carterpalooza


 No one quite realizes just how passionately anti-Israel Carter is. William Safire has reported that Cyrus Vance acknowledged that, if he had had a second term, Carter would have sold Israel down the river. In the 1990s, Carter became quite close to Yasser Arafat. After the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia was mad at Arafat, because the PLO chief had sided with Saddam Hussein. So Arafat asked Carter to fly to Riyadh to smooth things over with the princes and restore Saudi funding to him — which Carter did.

You who read Impromptus have heard me say: When I was growing up, I perceived the Arab-Israeli conflict as a great civil-rights drama. The white oppressors were the Israelis, and the black sufferers and innocents were the Arabs, in particular the Palestinians. Menachem Begin, I thought, was George C. Wallace, and his defense minister, Ariel Sharon, was Bull Connor. (This was in the early ’80s.)

Well, blow me down. I had never heard anybody else — a soul — say anything like this. But here is Carter, to Douglas Brinkley, Carter’s biographer and analyst: “The intifada exposed the injustice Palestinians suffered, just like Bull Connor’s mad dogs in Birmingham.”

Read more at:

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Substitutes for Religion

from The Wall Street Journal,How to Defeat Religious Violence by Jonathan Sacks:

What the secularists forgot is that Homo sapiens is the meaning-seeking animal. If there is one thing the great institutions of the modern world do not do, it is to provide meaning. Science tells us how but not why. Technology gives us power but cannot guide us as to how to use that power. The market gives us choices but leaves us uninstructed as to how to make those choices. The liberal democratic state gives us freedom to live as we choose but refuses, on principle, to guide us as to how to choose.

Science, technology, the free market and the liberal democratic state have enabled us to reach unprecedented achievements in knowledge, freedom, life expectancy and affluence. They are among the greatest achievements of human civilization and are to be defended and cherished.

But they do not answer the three questions that every reflective individual will ask at some time in his or her life: Who am I? Why am I here? How then shall I live? The result is that the 21st century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning.

Religion has returned because it is hard to live without meaning. That is why no society has survived for long without either a religion or a substitute for religion. The 20th century showed, brutally and definitively, that the great modern substitutes for religion—nation, race, political ideology—are no less likely to offer human sacrifices to their surrogate deities.

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The Sound of Silence

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Similarities Between Nazis and Commies


From The Telegraph, Leftists become incandescent when reminded of the socialist roots of Nazism by Daniel Hannan

Marx’s error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity – to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order. His aim, he told his economic adviser, Otto Wagener, was to “convert the German Volk to socialism without simply killing off the old individualists” – by which he meant the bankers and factory owners who could, he thought, serve socialism better by generating revenue for the state. “What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish,” he told Wagener, “we shall be in a position to achieve.”

The idea that Nazism is a more extreme form of conservatism has insinuated its way into popular culture. You hear it, not only when spotty students yell “fascist” at Tories, but when pundits talk of revolutionary anti-capitalist parties, such as the BNP and Golden Dawn, as “far Right”.

What is it based on, this connection? Little beyond a jejune sense that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists are nasty. When written down like that, the notion sounds idiotic, but think of the groups around the world that the BBC, for example, calls “Right-wing”: the Taliban, who want communal ownership of goods; the Iranian revolutionaries, who abolished the monarchy, seized industries and destroyed the middle class; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who pined for Stalinism. The “Nazis-were-far-Right” shtick is a symptom of the wider notion that “Right-wing” is a synonym for “baddie”.

In fact, authoritarianism was the common feature of socialists of both National and Leninist varieties, who rushed to stick each other in prison camps or before firing squads. Each faction loathed the other as heretical, but both scorned free-market individualists as beyond redemption. Their battle was all the fiercer, as Hayek pointed out in 1944, because it was a battle between brothers.

Authoritarianism – or, to give it a less loaded name, the belief that state compulsion is justified in pursuit of a higher goal, such as scientific progress or greater equality – was traditionally a characteristic of the social democrats as much as of the revolutionaries.

Jonah Goldberg has chronicled the phenomenon at length in his magnum opus, Liberal Fascism. Lots of people take offence at his title, evidently without reading the book since, in the first few pages, Jonah reveals that the phrase is not his own. He is quoting that impeccable progressive H.G. Wells who, in 1932, told the Young Liberals that they must become “liberal fascists” and “enlightened Nazis”.

In those days, most prominent Leftists intellectuals, including Wells, Jack London, Havelock Ellis and the Webbs, tended to favour eugenics, convinced that only religious hang-ups were holding back the development of a healthier species. The unapologetic way in which they spelt out the consequences have, like Hitler’s actual words, been largely edited from our discourse. Here, for example, is George Bernard Shaw in 1933:

Extermination must be put on a scientific basis if it is ever to be carried out humanely and apologetically as well as thoroughly… If we desire a certain type of civilization and culture we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit into it.

Eugenics, of course, topples easily into racism. Engels himself wrote of the “racial trash” – the groups who would necessarily be supplanted as scientific socialism came into its own. Season this outlook with a sprinkling of anti-capitalism and you often got Leftist anti-Semitism – something else we have edited from our memory, but which once went without saying. “How, as a socialist, can you not be an anti-Semite?” Hitler had asked his party members in 1920.