Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: The axis of evenhandedness
Posted on 08/23/2006 7:18:39 AM PDT by Pokey78
There's a hoary old joke from a few years back in which the Secretary-General proposes that, in the interests of global peace and harmony, the world's soccer players should come together and form one United Nations global soccer team.
"Great idea," says his deputy. "Er, but who would we play?"
"Israel, of course."
And so, on a tour of residential areas of Beirut, UN humanitarian honcho Jan Egeland accused Israel of "excessive use of force" and "a violation of humanitarian law," whatever that is. His colleague, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Canada's Louise Arbour, went further and accused Israel of being guilty of "war crimes" under the Geneva Conventions.
Really? Hezbollah is an organization of unlawful combatants that as a matter of policy uses civilians as shields: under Geneva, that's a war crime. But Mme. Arbour and Mr. Egeland couldn't care less. So the value of their observations lies less in their interpretation of "international law" than as a reminder of the peculiar psychology of the post-nationalist, indeed postmodernist, "civilized world." It's not just that the terrorism and the resistance to terrorism are seen as morally equivalent: perish the thought. In the eyes of the UN, the resistance to terrorism is the real crime.
Israel's challenge in the years ahead is most accurately summarized by the IRA. After they tried and failed to kill Mrs. Thatcher in the Brighton bombing, they warned her: "You have to be lucky every day. We only have to be lucky once." That's the situation the Zionist Entity is in. Until these last few weeks, they had no idea Hezbollah could launch rockets into Haifa--rockets specially augmented with ball bearings, which have no value in military terms but maximize civilian casualties (that's also a war crime, if Mme. Arbour and Mr. Egeland are interested). Those ball bearings tell us that Hezbollah is in the business of killing as many Israelis as they can. So what will they have a year or two down the line? In an age of nuclear terrorism--where "non-state actors" can project force around the world more easily than Canada--the odds of Hezbollah getting lucky on a scale the IRA could never have dreamed of improve with every passing year.
That's the "disproportionality" the UN and the Europoseurs never address. What does Israel want from its enemies? A few acres here and there maybe, and some bad guys in jail. What do its enemies want from Israel? The liquidation of the state and the removal one way or another of every Jew. As President Ahmadinejad told his people the other day, "We shall soon witness the elimination of the Zionist stain of shame."
Oh, well, I'm sure that's just that time-honoured Persian rhetorical tradition we hear so much about. In the Toronto Star the other day, Linda McQuaig wrote that Stephen Harper is "abandoning our traditional attempt at even-handedness in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." But it would be truer to say that it's Linda's columnar colleagues who've abandoned any "even-handedness." As Richard Cohen wrote in The Washington Post, "Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself." Matthew Parris in The Times of London stopped a few yards short of that: "The past 40 years have been a catastrophe, gradual and incremental, for world Jewry. Seldom in history have the name and reputation of a human grouping lost so vast a store of support and sympathy so fast. My opinion--held not passionately but with little personal doubt--is that there is no point in arguing about whether the state of Israel should have been established where and when it was"--which lets you know how he would argue it if minded to. In essence, then, Messrs. Cohen and Parris, two famously moderate voices in the leading newspapers of two of the least anti-Israeli capital cities in the West, have nevertheless accepted the principle underpinning Ahmadinejad's view of the situation: Israel should not be where it is. Whether it's a "stain of shame" or just a "mistake" is the merest detail.
If this is "evenhandedness," who needs it? Israel is not yet in the suicide business. Faced with an existential threat, it has determined to resist it. Yet even then it feels obliged to fight in the postmodern western manner, with one hand tied behind its back. It accepts, implicitly, that it's not allowed to crush and exterminate Hezbollah, only to degrade its capability to one degree or another. And then Hezbollah will catch its breath, and wait to be resupplied by Iran via Syria. This isn't even Westphalian. Linda McQuaig, the EU, the UN and many others demand, in effect, that Hezbollah, a terrorist "non-state actor," be recognized as a formal, permanent part of the landscape.
"The Jews are a peculiar people," wrote America's great longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer after the 1967 war. "Things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem . . . But everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab . . . Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world."
That's an interesting question, isn't it? Is it that we hold Israel to a higher standard? Or is rather that in the postmodern era Israel--unlike Canada, Britain, France, New Zealand--is the only western nation that's found itself fighting an existential struggle? Let's take it as read that a lot of folks don't like Jews. The present conflict then is chiefly of significance as a study in whether the least enervated of western nations is capable of seeing off the terrorist proxies of nuclear Islamists. Because, if Israel can't hold off a resurgent Islam, what chance Norway or Belgium?
For over a generation now, Canada and many other countries have regarded civilizational self-loathing as just another alternative lifestyle, like being gay or vegetarian. It's a kind of literal "homophobia"--a fear (phobia) of the same (homo-), the same old white-bread people that produced the world in which you live, the legal system, the property rights, the economic prosperity. Yawn. Who needs them? Along with Linda McQuaig's musings, the Toronto Star recently produced an editorial supporting Stephen Lewis' campaign for a UN agency for women's rights. I don't happen to see the point of creating yet another transnational racket: just as the "Human Rights Council" is manned by all the worst human rights abusers, no doubt a women's rights council would wind up being staffed by Sudan's leading clictorectomy enforcers and Pakistani honour-killing advocates. But I regard the broader cause of women's rights as one of our best long-term strategies against Islamism, and I'm always interested in rare glimpses of pampered western feminists rousing themselves from their self-absorption to take an interest in their sisters overseas. So what did the Star's gal have to say about the status of women abroad? Well, it seems they're in big trouble because of "colonialist manipulation."
Yes, indeed. It would never have occurred to those Jordanian wives-beaters to ill-treat their womenfolk had it not been for 24 years of nominal British rule. But wait, that's not all: in Afghanistan, "women's hardships" were "used to arouse emotions that justify misleading international involvement."
Under the Taliban, women were forbidden to feel sunlight on their faces. By law. Bush and Blair ended that. If you feel that intervention was "misleading," fine. But under your scenario those women would still be prisoners in their own homes. So, unlike Bush's support for Afghan women, your support for Afghan women makes no difference.
It's an open question whether those who think like the Star editorialists are in a majority. Certainly, they hold a majority of cultural levers--at the CBC, in schools and universities, on the roll of Governor-General's Award winners, in the UCC and other churches. But that kind of cultural relativism is unsustainable in the face of primal forces like Islamism. The advantage of being Israeli is that one understands every day the precariousness of liberty. In Belgium and Sweden and, alas, much of Canada, we don't.
That's true and brilliantly stated. What a treasure is Steyn!!
Here's the edge of the envelope on righteous indignation in print. Mark seems to have patented the words that exactly state the vileness against which he inveighs, without descending into the same pit of anger and hate.
And manages to add yet more muchable quotables, as if it's as easy as snagging flies in the outfield.
---Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.---
Israel seems pretty enervated to me.
Pls add me to your ping list.
The biggest issue, or step forward from the terrorist's perspective, of the recent Israeli conflict, is that the UN and certain nations recognized Hezbollah as a de facto state actor, when they are really nothing more than a criminal organization. It's akin to negotiating with the Mafia!
The Olmert government has got to go!
"So, unlike Bush's support for Afghan women, your support makes no difference."
That one line sums up what it means to be a modern lefty, all talk and "compassion" but never ant action.
His phrasing and modulation are perfect.
They think that putting a 'FREE TIBET' bumper sticker on their car actually makes a difference, when all it really does is make them feel better.
You think Israel is exhausted and worn out?
Actually, it makes them feel superior without having to do anything substantive.
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