Stefan Molyneaux on Israel and the Nature of Judaism

A while ago Mondoweiss banned comments implying that Israel’s bad behavior had anything to do with the nature of Judaism. So it’s a safe bet that Stefan Molyneaux would be banned from the site. As a libertarian with a knowledge of history, Molyneaux finds the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the natural outgrowth of trends within Judaism going back hundreds of years—a view that is quite compatible with a biological perspective.

The essential plot line is as follows. Drawing on Israel Shahak (e.g., Jewish History, Jewish Religion and Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel), he paints a picture of historical Judaism in Eastern Europe as communities ruled by autocratic rabbis who had absolute control over life and death of their subjects. These were communities in which free speech and tolerance of dissent were ruthlessly suppressed, with ne’er-do-wells sometimes murdered. Then came the Enlightenment which is the origin of all the trends libertarians hold dear. Rabbis began to lose control of their congregations, and there was the rise of secular Judaism in Western societies.

Fearful of loss of power and the specter of assimilation, rabbis needed a new idea to retain control (13:33). They therefore welcomed Zionism because it prevented assimilation and would provide a new opportunity to create closed communities under strong rabbinical control. This is something of an oversimplification of the forces within the Jewish community favoring Zionism and their motives. For example, fear of assimilation and intermarriage also motivated the racial Zionists, many of whom were not religious, who were very prominent in early Zionism (see here, p. 157ff). In the words of Jewish racial Zionist Elias Auerbach, Zionism would return Jews “back into the position they enjoyed before the nineteenth century—politically autonomous, culturally whole, and racially pure” (John Efron, Defenders of the Race: Jewish Doctors and Race Science in Fin-de-Siècle Europe, 1994, 136).

Molyneaux often quotes prominent Zionists to show the strong racial/nationalist tendencies within Zionism from the beginning. For example, Abraham Kook (Chief Rabbi of Palestine, 1920-1935) stated “the difference between Jewish souls and non-Jewish souls — all of them, in all different levels — is greater than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle”), and notes that such a statement is more extreme than any statement by defenders of South African apartheid. But Kook’s ideas are foundational; the idea for the religious right in Israel is to recreate pre-Enlightenment Jewish society in Israel. At 24:00 he notes a Haaretz article pointing out that Israel is far closer to Tehran than to Stockholm (see “The Jewish Ayatollahs“). It has become a xenophobic theocracy.

At 26:00 he also cites King’s Torah which provides guidelines for justified killing of non-Jews. This is an excellent example of the particularistic morality that has always characterized Judaism — vastly different ethical norms for Jews than for non-Jews. Thou shalt not kill really means thou shalt not kill other Jews. Killing babies is justified if the babies could grow up to harm Jews.

The roots for such thinking run deep in Judaism At 27:20 he quotes from the Talmud: a heathen who smites a Jew must die. A heathen who studies Torah must die. A girl as young as 3 must be killed if she has sex with a Jew, the reason being because she got the Jew in trouble.

Violence against the Arabs was part of the plan from the beginning. At 32: 40 he quotes racial Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky on the need to forcibly remove Arabs. (Jabotinsky has been the inspiration for the pro-expansion, pro-settler Likud Party—racial Zionism in all but name.  As Geoffrey Wheatcroft has pointed out, at the present time Israel “is governed by [Jabotinsky’s] conscious heirs.”) Later he describes the massacres and rapes at Deir Yassin and Bassa and the ethnic cleansing of Arabs during the 1948 war.

At 34:00 he discusses the Balfour Declaration as a quid pro quo in which American Jews successfully promoted American entry in WWI on the side of Britain. He also notes in passing that this contributed to Hitler’s attitudes on Jews, and that  the victory of the French and British then enabled the Treaty of Versailles which led to WWII.

At 51:00 he discusses the consequences of America’s support for Israel as fueling anti-American hostility among Arabs and in particular Osama Bin Laden.

So the bottom line is that he is not optimistic about the future of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. At 54:00 he has a nice discussion of rationalism in the West versus irrationalism combined with xenophobic authoritarianism and an End Times mentality in the Middle East; this leads to a fight to the finish.

There is little to disagree with here, and it is certainly true that Israel has come under the control of the fanatics.

I suggest that in a real sense Israel can’t change its direction. … The extremists are in charge and have been so at least since the 1967 War. Any attempt to make a meaningful withdrawal from the West Bank and Jerusalem and to allow a viable Palestinian state would produce a civil war among Israelis and likely provoke a strong response by the lobby on the side of the nonaccommodationists. The fate of the Oslo peace process, the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the support by the lobby of the most radical elements within Israel certainly argue that there is little chance of a successful move in this direction.

As throughout Jewish history, it is the most committed members who determine the direction of the entire group.21 This is doubtless true of most groups, but it is especially the case with Jews where there is a long history of fanaticism. I am reminded of Christiane Amanpour’s depiction of Jewish fanatics in her excellent TV documentary, God’s Jewish Warriors. These West Bank settlers and Jewish activists are massively ethnocentric, and, unlike the propaganda put out by the lobby, they are not at all democratic. They live in a completely Jewish world where their every thought and perception is colored by their Jewish identity. Theirs is an apartheid world separated by high concrete walls from their Palestinian neighbors, where even tiny settlements are necessarily protected by the Israeli army. And at a time when Americans are constantly being encouraged by Jewish organizations like the ADL to be ever more tolerant of all kinds of diversity, these people are anything but tolerant. Calls for expropriation and expulsion of the Palestinians are commonplace among them. Israel has created a classic Middle Eastern segmented society in which different groups live in an ingroup/outgroup world, completely isolated from each other. (Review of Mearsheimer and WaltThe Israel Lobby, 50-51)

The horror, of course, is that Jewish activist groups in the West have spearheaded the move for immigration and multiculturalism as models for Western societies while at the same time supporting Israel’s xenophobic nationalism. And since the libertarian values that Molyneaux holds dear are an exclusive Western creation (which all of our experience in the Middle East confirms overwhelmingly, not to mention the very high-profile support by Jewish organizations in the diaspora for controls on free speech), we must be very pessimistic that Western libertarian values can survive ethnic Westerners becoming minorities in the societies they created. Libertarians should be on the front lines opposing the displacement-level immigration that threatens all Western societies.

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