The left believes that a clever elite can fix all the world’s problems; conservatives accept that human error can lead to disastrous outcomes. Liberals fancy themselves rational in contrast to conservatives’ dour acknowledgment of tradition and tragedy. Why, then, is the left so impossibly, stubbornly, counter-factually dense when it comes to the state of Israel (among other matters)?
Liberal rationality is a pose. Knowledge is existential — that is, we tend to ignore facts that apply to a world in which we will not exist at all. I saw that before the 2008 banking crash, when I tried to warn the industry that a crash was inevitable. Most of them said, in effect, “If what you’re saying is true, then I shouldn’t have a job, so I won’t think about it.” Not long afterwards, most of them didn’t.
The left (and the European left in particular) doesn’t like certain facts because they are dying — literally. The triumph of the secular welfare state in Europe is associated with a catastrophic population decline. Three-fifths of southern Europeans will be elderly pensioners by mid-century. Of course, they’re going to go bankrupt. And Muslim society is fragile, and much of the Muslim world has entered a tailspin from which it won’t recover. The left clings to the magical idea that if only Israel would roll over and die, and validate the illusions of the Muslims, that somehow this horrific future might be avoided.
This is about as rational as the cargo cults of New Guinea after World War II. The sociologist Eric Kaufmann is an enlightened liberal, because he observes that liberalism is a self-liquidating proposition: “The weakest link in the secular account of human nature is that it fails to account for people’s powerful desire to seek immortality for themselves and their loved ones,” he wrote in a recent book titled Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? Secular liberals don’t have children while people of faith do.
The existential irrationality of the liberals came to mind yesterday as I listened to Alan Dershowitz, Shelby Steele, and other distinguished friends of Israel on a Hudson Institute conference call. Hudson and Touro College are hosting a conference titled “The Perils of Global Intolerance: The United Nations and Durban III,” on Thursday, Sept. 22, across the street from the United Nations. Speakers will also include Ron Lauder, John Bolton, Elie Wiesel, Wafa Sultan, Ruth Wisse, and other dignitaries. It’s an important event, and deserves wide attention. (Note: Watch the proceedings live on PJTV, September 22.)
”We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years,” Mr. Abbas said the other day. That’s another way of saying that the “occupation,” in Mr. Abbas’s view, began with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and not with Israel’s takeover of the West Bank and Gaza after a war that threatened Israel’s existence in 1967.