In a pair of important new books, Joshua Muravchik explains.
By Sol Stern, MOSAIC, July 9, 2014 at 6:15pm
The Middle East is exploding in mayhem and savagery. The region’s system of nation states is disappearing before our eyes, perhaps to be replaced by one or more jihadist movements pledged to the destruction of Western civilization. In the upheavals to come, only one civilizational force, one stable democracy, has the will and the means to fight back and to defend the values of the liberal West. It is the tiny nation state of Israel.
Since this is indisputable, you might think that out of sheer self-interest, if for no other reason, the Western democracies would extend some degree of solidarity to embattled Israel. At the very least, they might defend it against the unrelenting campaign by Arab and third-world powers to vilify and prosecute it at the United Nations and in other international forums. But this the democracies have seemed largely disinclined to do. As a result, not only are we witnessing the near-collapse of Western resolve against the threat of jihadi Islam, but the democratically elected leaders of Israel are the ones being routinely pilloried in enlightened opinion as warmongers, racists, and colonial oppressors.
A key moment in this development occurred at a private dinner party in 2001, when Daniel Bernard, France’s ambassador to England, was overheard remarking that “All the current troubles in the world are because of that shitty little country Israel. Why should the world be in danger of World War III because of those people?” That ugly episode is, in turn, the starting point of a slim ebook by Joshua Muravchik, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, published last January under the title Liberal Oasis: The Truth about Israel. An important contribution in its own right, Liberal Oasis is also an indispensable companion piece to Muravchik’s newly released Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel. Together, the two add up to a powerful indictment of the West’s serial moral failures regarding Israel and the Middle East conflict.
In Liberal Oasis, Muravchik presents a long list of Israel’s extraordinary accomplishments during its 66 years of existence. He begins with a few telling comparisons with the nation whose envoy judged Israel to be a “shitty little country.” As Muravchik reminds us, “big” and “glorious” France had to be bailed out by the United States in World War I, surrendered abjectly to the Nazis in World War II, and then lost brutal colonial wars in Vietnam and Algeria. “Shitty” or not, little Israel, standing alone, defeated numerically superior Arab armies bent on its destruction in 1948, 1967, and 1973.
But that’s far from all. Despite a huge defense burden and the expense of absorbing millions of destitute immigrants from the Middle East, Ethiopia, and the former Soviet Union, Israel is poised to catch up with France in per-capita income, and …read more