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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Book

David Pryce-Jones has a new book out, Betrayal: France, Arabs and the Jews. Pryce-Jones’ previous book; The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs, is by far the best primer Kid Various has read on Arab culture and provides the most cogent explanations for the bizarre and often self-destructive behaviours within Arab society that he has often observed.

The new book details the complex nature of the French and their relationship to the Arabs, which has traditionally been tempered with a nice dollop of anti-Semitism. As Daniel Johnson notes in his review; the historical tendency of the French to indulge in Jew hatred had been peripheral, until the rise of Zionism and the creation of Israel.

Like so many misfortunes, this one has its origins in the megalomania of the Bonaparte clan. For more than two centuries, since Napoleon's expedition to Egypt, French diplomacy has been gripped by a delusion of grandeur: the idea of France as une puissance musulmane, 'a Muslim power' - a phrase that has a new and sinister echo now.

French diplomats, determined to outdo their British and German rivals in great-power politics, were also convinced that France had a special mission civilisatrice in the Islamic world. Yet their sentimental orientalism was entirely compatible with an institutional anti-Semitism that is documented in shocking detail by Pryce-Jones. The rise of Zionism transformed this anti-Semitism from a mere prejudice, odious perhaps but peripheral to foreign policy, into a distorting mirror which motivated and reinforced the fatal misjudgements that have led France to its present predicament.

It’s on the Kid's reading list.

And while we’re on the Jew hatred topic, take a look at Victor Davis Hanson’s latest blog post where he speculates about why Israel is the target of so much venom from all corners of the world, when the many varied outrages by other powers go unnoticed…

On this Christmas day there is a terrible amount of injustice in the world. All of Tibet has simply been absorbed by China. Greek Cyprus is still occupied by an illegitimate Turkish state. Iran is killing innocents in Iraq and violating UN accords to get the bomb. In Darfur there is a real genocide. Somali Islamists are killing Ethiopians. Hezbollah and Syria are trying to destroy Lebanese democracy. The list of injustice and carnage could be expanded.

…The answer can only be that something about Israel—not any facts that it is uniquely harsh to its neighbors by the world’s standards—infuriates a few elite Westerners to the point of driving them out on the streets of Fresno at Christmas. And that singular emotion that privileges purported Israeli felonies over all the others in the world, I submit, can only be explicable in terms of hating the notion of a Jewish state.

In this, The Kid thinks VDH is mostly wrong (a rare thing for him.) Surely, in the constant condemnation of Israel by the members of the Mos Eisely Cantina on the East River, anti-Semitism plays a large role. But when VDH sees his local college know-it-all hippies, in their chic kaffieyahs ranting about Israeli crimes against humanity, there’s a different and more important dynamic work than simple Jew hatred (hell a lot of them probably are Jews.)

What we are seeing is a general hatred of the West. The reason Israel is singled out for special condemnation (aside from a true human rights abuser like China or the Sudan) is because it is a Western society locked in a conflict with a traditional society. Of course, this is why the United States, along with Israel, is constantly pilloried by the international community as well. It’s important because it gets to the heart of the Long War – which could well be defined as basically a struggle between Western Culture and Traditional Culture. And it is a war in which we are showing up late in the game and 5 men short.


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