Healing the World: Can We Safely Rescue Those Who Wish Us Harm?
Recently, my wife and I received an invitation from a respected friend to attend an event in support of the beleaguered Yazidi community of northern Iraq, now suffering under the predatory onslaught of ISIL and other Islamic groups. Soliciting a contribution of several thousand dollars on the part of fifty donors to subsidize a documentary on these hapless victims, and no doubt to pressure our government to bring in more than the approximately 800-1000 Yazidi currently in Canada, the organizer is clearly dedicated to a worthy cause.
National Post columnist Barbara Kay, who was present at the event, wrote: “It is baffling to me that the gravity of the situation for this tiny people -- perhaps a million in all -- has failed to arouse the critical mass of support it deserves in its darkest hour. … If choices must be made, our government should prioritize victims of genocide over refugees.”
I confess to deep-seated skepticism. A Kurdish religious sect practicing a syncretic faith blending elements of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Yazidi are strictly endogamous, observe a rigorous caste system and maintain an equally rigorous honor code. Yazidi honor killings are not uncommon in Germany, which boasts a large number of Yazidi immigrants. Errant daughters are at considerable risk for their lives. If choices must be made, I am not sure the country needs another contingent of problematic immigrants or of refugees, despite the pitiful situation in which they find themselves.
Not all worthy causes are of equal merit. I do not understand why my friend and those associated with him are not, for example, appealing for contributions in aid of Israel whose people have been subject since 1948 and even before to Palestinian terror attacks, and are now suffering renewed rocket barrages as well as fire kites launched from Gaza, as a result of which 2,500 acres of farmland and forest have been burned. I cannot understand why he has not prioritized the hundreds of thousands of Christians being slaughtered in Iraq and other Muslim countries, whose ordeal seems to me no less extreme than that of the Yazidi and who are, after all, part of the Judeo-Christian heritage. As my wife responded to the request for funds, “this is not to say that the Yazidi as a whole deserve the terrible things that have been done to them [but] we already have lots of problems in Canada with newcomers who hold passionately to beliefs that are inimical to Canadian values.” She could have said, with justification, Western values.
A few years back I was asked to give a talk for the Toronto chapter of the Jewish Motorcyclist Alliance, a riders’ club and benevolent organization. Riders came in from practically everywhere -- the U.S., Australia, South Africa, Israel, several European countries and, of course, Canada, approximately 900 attendees, many leather-jacketed, tough-looking specimens of Alpha manhood. I spoke at the symposium dinner on diverse themes treating of Jewish culture, politics and religion, primarily regarding the biblical and Talmudic concept of Jewish philanthropy, the pressing need to help restore a violent and broken world. (It is no accident that Israeli medical teams are dispatched almost everywhere that disaster strikes or that Israeli doctors tend to wounded Muslim terrorists as they do to their own people.)
The burden of my talk focused on the Kabbalistic notion of Tikkun Olam, that is, the canonical injunction to repair a fallen world, and the Seven Noahide Laws complementing the Ten Commandments, recognized by the U.S. and ratified by the 102nd Congress as Public Law 102-14.
Briefly, Kabbalah is a mystical philosophy dating back to the 12th century and formalized by the 16th century Safed Rabbi Isaac Luria, which seeks to explain the nature of the cosmos, man’s place and purpose in it, and the esoteric meanings implicit in the Hebrew Bible. One might posit that the Noahide Laws, their inception dating variously from the Second Century BCE to the Second Century CE, which prescribed ritual and moral duties upon the sons of Noah, is the historic and theological precursor of Kabbalah. The Seven Laws are listed in different sequence, depending on which source one consults, but for our purposes it is the traditionally accepted Seventh Law that is most important. The standard formulation of this imperative reads: Establish courts of law to ensure justice in our world, thus providing for harmony to be restored to mankind as it conforms to a transcendent order. This is the essence of Tikkun Olam.
Nevertheless, Tikkun Olam can have harmful effects on the Jewish people. The Jewish liberal/left in the U.S., Canada and Israel is so busy saving the world, lobbying for all suffering humanity -- especially social and cultural minorities who have little or no sympathy for their benefactors -- that it has forgotten that they are themselves always at risk in a world in which anti-Semitism has never died. There have been slaughters and holocausts before and after the Shoah -- Armenians, Ukrainians, Tutsis -- but these atrocities have faded and future generations need not expect or prepare for a recurrence.
This is not the case with the world’s most irrational and undying hatred; anti-Semitism is forever, as if embedded in humanity’s DNA. This is the fundamental difference to be acknowledged. A Ukrainian can walk down a street in Amsterdam, Paris, London or Berlin without fear; a Jew cannot. South Africa is no haven. Sweden is a danger zone. Even peaceable Canada has its pockets of anti-Jewish sentiment.
The U.S. is no exception. Louis Farrakhans can spring up anywhere. Keith Ellison is deputy chair of the DNC. New York Democrat primary winner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is closely associated with Jew-baiting Thomas Lopez-Pierre, he of “greedy Jewish landlords” fame. As Karin McQuillan points out in American Thinker, “She hates Israel and supports Muslim terrorists, whom she compares to Muslim protesters in Ferguson.” Other Democrat candidates such as Ilhan Omar, Scott Wallace and Leslie Cockburn have joined the anti-Semitic hatefest. “How much of this,” McQuillan asks rhetorically, “will mainstream Jewish Democrats … be willing to swallow?” Such evils have to be expected and constantly challenged. Indeed, the alt-Left (which is now the Left almost in toto) is typically anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and pro-BDS.
My counsel to the conferees was simple: be always vigilant, consider yourselves and your families first, and only then worry about the world. Tikkun Olam is all fine and dandy, but to set that messianic task before the imperative of self-preservation is foolishness personified -- or as we say in Yiddish, gantz meshugàs. The many Jews abducted by socialist and communist ideologies are a testimony not only to their folly but to the power of biblical precept -- especially the Book of the prophet Amos who inveighs against those indifferent to the plight of the disadvantaged -- and the influence of Talmudic exhortation. But the world you want to save does not necessarily love you. Therefore, stay alert and temper your ideological extravagances. Don’t listen to me if you are offended, I conceded, but at least listen to your wives and children. Almost immediately, the entire New York assembly rose to a man and conspicuously walked out.
Naturally, I was initially taken aback, but the mass exodus only served to reinforce my fears, for it was clear that not only would they not listen to me, they would not listen to their wives and children either. They were far too mesmerized by the principle of Tikkun Olam to take its dark side into account. The Jewish preoccupation with repairing the world, with little regard to the possibility of future cataclysms or isolated evils, is a species of sanctimonious negligence. Jewish leftism is understandable, but it is the height of naivety and ultimately ruinous.
But we are not dealing with an exclusively Jewish problem. The Judeo-Christian West is also in thrall to Tikkun Olam and is assiduously working against its own interests, having welcomed a calamitous inundation of adverse cultures, including murderers, rapists, marauders and economic parasites, into its midst. Helping the stranger is an exalted mission but, applied uncritically, it can have devastating effects, as is evident from the inroads that Islamic migration has made into the West and especially from the vast influx of unreconstructed Muslim refugees and jihadists swarming in great numbers into Western nations.
A recent report from the RAND Corporation reveals the enormous and unsustainable cost of this domestic invasion. Along with the destructive and bloody terror attacks visited regularly upon host nations and the consequent disruption of civil life, it is estimated, the report reads, “that since 2004, terrorism has cost the EU about €185 billion in lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and around €5.6 billion in lost lives, injuries, and damage to infrastructure. It is argued that terrorism also harms trade, foreign direct investment and tourism … as well as transport.” The cost continues to mount. As for “merrie olde England,” it is pretty well cooked.
The U.S. and my own country are by no means exempt from the economic and demographic catastrophe that awaits us as a result of such migration and refugee flows. Kaye Forest and Sierra Rayne, in an American Thinker article analyzing the report, go one better than Donald Trump in advocating “a complete moratorium on further immigration from the geographies and ideologies of concern” (italics mine). Similarly, in the words of Michael Walsh at PJ Media, “The issue of ‘immigration’ has now reached a critical mass on both sides of the Atlantic, with Latin Americans marching on the U.S. across the southern border and mostly Muslim ‘migrants’ trekking to the European version of El Norte -- France, Germany, and England.”
As we reach the inflexion point, assuming we have not yet passed it, nations that once celebrated the “diversity” and “tolerance” canard are now closing their borders and beginning to expel the waves of “migrants” to prevent the “relentless assault on national sovereignty and political borders” whose effect is to bring “the civilized First World down to the nasty, brutish level” of the Third World. “This is not intolerance, or racism, or xenophobia (which can sometimes be very useful),” Walsh concludes, “but prideful self-preservation.”
So much for policy-driven compassion and magnanimity, principles which are now being re-thought and reversed by various nations and afflicted regions -- Italy, Spain, Austria, and the Visogràd Group. The Noahide Laws, specifically the Seventh, and Tikkun Olam have not healed the world at large, though it will have benefitted the alien and often hostile cultures that have installed themselves among us. A noble cause can be lethal.
One thing is clear. Whether in the Jewish community in particular or the Judeo-Christian West as a whole, programmatic solicitude for the poor, the disadvantaged and the suffering of other nations and cultures can, if not properly monitored, wreak havoc and perhaps lasting damage to our own. As my wife wrote, it is not as if we don’t have lots of problems of our own -- which, I might add, are only exacerbated by the problems we have imported.
There is no such thing as “universal humanity” in the sense that we all want the same things. We don’t. Some peoples and cultures are manifestly not civilizational partners. If we are determined to extend our concern and hospitality to the afflicted in other parts of the world, let us at least ensure that that those we allow into our country share our customs, civics and values, are willing and eager to integrate, and are able to contribute to the well-being and prosperity of the nation. Failing this obligation, we can look forward to increasing levels of social turmoil, cultural fragmentation and economic vandalism -- in short, a general decline in both our standard of living and our criteria of civil order.
Lest I be accused of heartlessness, let me say that I have empathy for the Yazidis and wish them a better fate, but I have greater empathy for the Christian communions being systematically erased from the Middle East, for Israel struggling to survive under the Islamic scimitar, and for the citizens of my own country and the peoples of the Judeo-Christian West who have realized, hopefully not too late, the exorbitant cost of Tikkun Olam.