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Normally when we feature a new Prager University video at PJ Lifestyle we get an introductory blurb from either the presenter or one of our friends over there in what Hugh Hewitt affectionately calls “the Prager salt mines.” But for some of these I’m going to start introducing them myself when it’s a subject especially close to my heart.
Kenneth Meshoe is a member of South Africa’s parliament. He and his parents lived under apartheid. In a matter of minutes he calmly, factually explains why it is so offensive and factually inaccurate to equate Israel’s treatment of Palestinians with white South Africans’ treatment of blacks.
I understand how for Dennis Prager personally — and by extension the institutionalization of his approach in Prager University — the goal is to try to persuade those on the fence to take the baby steps necessary to begin a transition away from secularism, hedonism, and socialism toward biblical values, marriage, and classical liberalism. So in 5 minutes the arguments and facts picked are generally going to be some of the broadest, most universal arguments. It would be bad to try to include more aggressive rhetoric or controversial provocations. That wouldn’t be Dennis — and it’s among the reasons why he’s the best talk radio host working today. He facilitates and models productive dialogue across the ideological spectrum.
That approach is needed today — but not everyone wants to be persuaded. So another approach has emerged — the confrontational, embedded-in-enemy-territory, calling evil by its name, exposing ugliness and corruption, BREITBARTIAN New Media legacy. This ethos today is now best articulated and lived by the true heir to the Andrew Breitbart tradition, the most talented conservative of my generation, Ben Shapiro. (Incidentally, I anticipate Ben, who co-hosts a show from 6 to 9 PST on KRLA-870 here in Los Angeles, will manage to overcome Prager as the best talk radio host within a decade, perhaps sooner if someone with the power to do so wakes up and finally gives him his own daily show.)
In his recent book Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans, Ben articulates how to respond to thuggish intimidation tactics. Bullies will only stop when we fight back — when we punch back twice as hard.
And on this point, the Prager video doesn’t punch back as hard as it could — so I will make the one other argument on the subject of “Israeli Apartheid.” And I will articulate it directly.
Dear My Progressive Friends and Family,
I know my transition from Left to Right over the years after my escape from the academic bubble and experience in the real world has surprised and exasperated many of you. And what confuses many of you even more is, as the question comes so regularly, “Why do you care so much about Israel? You’re not even Jewish!” I can answer this question simply and it always breaks my heart to do it: Your question to me is as morally disturbing — and really no different — than if you asked me, “Why are you so disturbed by the Holocaust? You’re not even Jewish!”
The great Prager University video above explains very well why the claim that Israel is an apartheid state is factually wrong. But I’m going to state in blunter language the moral side of this:
Claiming that Israel is an apartheid state is antisemitic.
This seems to be a difficult concept for many progressives to understand when I try to explain it. So here’s how it works: antisemitism is when one chooses to treat Jews according to different standards than everyone else. Expect anything more or less from Jews than anyone else and you’re being a bigot.
This applies also to states. Apart from lying about the facts, for one to claim that Israel is an apartheid state while ignoring the very real, unequal apartheid status Sharia law imposes throughout the Muslim world is to be an antisemite. To be only concerned with Israel’s alleged human rights abuses of a Palestinian people who refuse to acknowledge the Jewish state’s right to exist is to be an antisemite.
And my progressive friends, I’m sorry, but you’re not going to get me back to your side. Ever. Because this antisemitism runs too deeply into the origins of progressivism. Now that I understand it I’m so embarrassed that I used to believe it for so many years — and when you start talking about Israel it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. It’s literally painful to see how effective centuries of propaganda attacks have been at confusing so many otherwise decent people. Karl Marx was an antisemite who constructed his secular ideology as a reaction against his own Jewish roots. And in Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa and Professor Ronald J. Rychlak’s new book Disinformation the authors explain how the Soviet Union seeded antisemitism throughout the Muslim world — along with training Yasser Arafat. The Communists also unleashed the Christian Marxist heresy Liberation Theology onto the Western hempisphere, first in Latin America and then rising up into the United States where it would inspire men like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who would spent 20 years mentoring Barack Obama. Thus the self-hatred of one man in the 19th century set the stage for more than a century of wars against the Jews.
This claim that Israel is an apartheid state is an attempt to get you to not care about the conflict — to think that each side is equally at fault or that the Palestinians have justified reasons to use violence. So often I’ll hear, “Well, they’ve just been fighting over there forever and it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever end so we might as well just stay out more and stop picking sides with Israel.” I suppose you think that’s reasonable because your progressive Jewish friends have that position too, right?
Well here’s the bottom line: if Israel really is an apartheid state, then it deserves — no, needs — to be destroyed and a new, truly liberal government that recognizes the rights of all its citizens should replace it. Agreed? Is that what you think you’ll get by supporting the Palestinian mission to destroy Israel?
P.S. Please watch all the other Prager University videos about Israel, embedded below. When you are done, then I will answer any remaining questions you have and we can have a friendly, rational discussion about the best ways to bring peace and prosperity and human rights to the Middle East.