People who mind their own business have the right to be left alone. The same is true with groups of people. Does Israel mind its own business? Well, what does that even mean?
Clearly, someone who is gravely threatened by another has the right to concern himself with that other party’s affairs, up to the point that doing so is liable to end the threat. But if someone is merely disliked by another—disdained, avoided, boycotted, denounced in purely subjective terms, or in objective ones that do not rise to the level of falsehood—then to concern oneself with that other party’s affairs goes far beyond just minding one’s own business.
Is Israel gravely threatened by anyone? Sure—we all know who. Does Israel limit itself to defending against those parties? Of course not. Through surrogates abroad (many of them billionaires, CEOs and the like) as well as directly through its agents, Israel is deeply involved in the domestic affairs not only of hostile nations but of numerous friendly ones. Through campaign finance, media coordination, and even blackmail and defamation of individual political opponents, Israel meddles in these countries’ democratic processes and violates the rights of citizens there to speak, associate, and politically organize. It has succeeded in placing anti-boycott laws on the books in two dozen U.S. states that impose unconstitutional conditions on government contractors. Its military tech complex is hitched to the U.S. deep state in ways that give Israel access to the sensitive data of millions of Americans. The Israeli army even maintains a troll unit dedicated to policing online content around the world. And just this month, Israel revoked a broadcasting license from a Christian TV station for violating its restrictions on proselytizing.
From all this activity, a picture emerges. Rather than just addressing grave threats, Israel opposes itself around the world to dislike of Israel. It literally opposes the right of individuals to dislike it, to vocally condemn its policies, and to refrain from doing business with it. And the Israeli government feels that Judaism is so fragile, and compares so unfavorably with competing faiths, that inside Israel those faiths must be censored, and Israeli Jews shielded from their ideas.
An Arab proverb has it that, “Where there is concession, there is strength.” Miserliness is a sign of insecurity. Like a man, a people that is mature and self-confident does not need to concern itself with the opinions of others. Like a man, a people with a clean conscience can withstand being reviled. A regime with honest motives can withstand criticism. But for some odd reason, 21st-century Israel increasingly cannot.
It is often said by Zionists that no real distinction exists between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. This is quite correct. Historian Tony Judt once called Israel “the country that wouldn’t grow up,” but the problem he identified is not limited to Zionism or Israel. For an ethnic Jew to marry out, attend a wedding in a church, or even flip through the New Testament out of curiosity, is something fraught with jaundice and shame. Religious Judaism takes the same attitude toward classical (Greco-Roman) learning.
A creed that imposes mandatory blind spots like these and enforces them with guilt over supposed betrayal of the dead is unworthy of free men, instead producing gangsters, avengers, and fanatical agnostics. It venerates the crypt at the crippling expense of the living. It is an overbearing parent from whom we never quite individuate. As Epictetus said, “It is the act of an uninstructed person to reproach others for his own misfortunes.” The stalking wolf of anti-Semitism, of Amalek, is our own shadow, which Zionist instruction has amplified rather than diminished, despite its promises of a “new Jewish man” and a “nation like all other nations,” propositions that have been conveniently shelved in favor of more breast beating, more Holocaust, more tattling to daddy America, and zero moral responsibility for the situation the country perennially finds itself in. Even the Israeli left takes cover by blaming the problem, essentially, on toxic masculinity, and on religion, as if coveting Arab cisterns was a religion.
In 17th-century Ukraine, Jewish men disinclined to study Talmud used to run away from the shtetl, accept baptism, and join the Cossack hordes. I don’t blame them for choosing freedom and adventure over compulsive routine, and passively awaiting redemption. That is what Zionism once represented. Yet today, the Jew, and the Jewish Israeli, is every bit the specially protected creature his forbear was in medieval Europe, unable to shake off the dust of centuries, and subjected to occasional massacres as a matter of course.
Where once the relationship of hofjude to crown was the thread by which the community’s safety swung, today the country is utterly dependent on billionaire surrogates abroad for political representation, defense procurement and market exposure. And what exactly is being marketed? Software and biomedical gadgetry, i.e., magic, not unlike the Golem, Shylock’s ducats, or the “Jews of Amsterdam” in One Hundred Years of Solitude. In short, Zionism has changed nothing fundamental about the Jewish position in the world, other than making us into fearful little policemen of Arabs—who retain all the initiative in the relationship because they have nothing left to lose, i.e., freedom. Regimes come and go, but the hofjude is forever. Independence—freedom—continually eludes us. Apparently, we don’t want it.
Like a man, there comes a time in the life of any ideology or regime when potentialities are null, and what you see is what you get. What we see with Zionism is a regime that cannot sustain itself without subjecting a foreign civilian population to permanent martial law. We see a government that feels the need to nudge its neighbors into permanent civil wars. We see constant, unending tension, recrimination, hostility and strife. We see a culture obsessed with victimhood, “remembrance,” and death. We see an ideology that must suppress criticism, that cannot abide any measure of dislike because its conscience is not clean—deep down, it understands that its orientation to the outside world is clandestine. Maybe these things are the fault of everyone except the Jews. Certainly that is what the Zionist movement now believes. But you’d have to be brainwashed to believe it.