The eclipse of reason
Published in: Jewish Chronicle
Why Britain? As the Jewish community reels under the impact of the boycotts, the wickedly distorted Six-Day War anniversary coverage and the eruption of hatred against Israel, people are asking why this intellectual intifada has surged so strongly in Britain.
Although bad things against Israel and the Jews are happening elsewhere, nowhere else has seen such a relentless concentration of attacks as in Britain, with journalists, doctors, architects and academics declaring open season upon Jewish peoplehood. So why is this country different from all other countries?
Clearly, certain factors are unique to Britain. One is the role of the BBC. While other media share the anti-Israel animus, the importance of the BBC in poisoning the public mind can hardly be overestimated. Afforded unique reverence as a global kitemark of fairness and objectivity, its journalism is therefore trusted as the truth by those who know no better.
But what it actually pumps out day after day is little more than Arab propaganda. Over the past couple of weeks, it has simply rewritten history in its on-line bulletins and broadcast coverage to portray Israelis as brutal aggressors, their Palestinian would-be exterminators as saintly victims — and to excise Jerusalem from its central role in Jewish history.
Next, the leadership of British Jews is uniquely supine. Refusing to make the public case against those spreading the lies, it thus fails to challenge in the popular mind what is perhaps the single most agonising and lethal aspect of this madness — the part played in it by Jews themselves. For the appalling thing is that there would scarcely be such an anti-Israel movement, with such a devastating impact upon public opinion, if it weren’t for the Jews who are its most numerous and prominent promulgators.
In other countries, leading Jews are not afraid to identify these Jewish Israel-haters as enemies of the Jewish people. In Britain, by contrast, the Jewish leadership maintains a public silence on this as on everything else. As a result, the claim that such a campaign cannot be a form of Jew-hatred since Jews are involved in it remains unchallenged.
Such a claim, which legitimises and fuels the hatred, is demonstrably false. Tragically, Jews throughout history have been prominent in promoting anti-Jewish hatred. The focus of that hatred has changed from theology to race and now to Jewish peoplehood, but its unique characteristics remain constant: the outrageous scapegoating, defamation, double standards and the belief that the Jews are somehow responsible for all the ills of the world.
Its constant hallmark is not just malevolence but irrationality; and this surely gets to the point. People say Britain is institutionally anti-Jewish and anti-Israel. Well, yes and no; its record has been both good and bad. They say Britain has a particular problem with radical Islamism. Indeed; but so do other countries.
The explanation surely lies much deeper than any of these particular factors. The irrational witch-hunt against the Jewish people now consuming much of Britain is surely part of a far wider revolt against reason itself.
Britain prides itself on being a secular, post-religious society that therefore stands for reason against religious obscurantism. In fact, by dumping religion it also dumped reason. This is because reason actually depends upon the Judeo-Christian tradition — and especially upon Judaism, the most rational of all religions.
The outcome is a supposedly rational society which has in fact become deeply irrational. Post-religious Britain now invests its faith in New Age cults, paganism, witchcraft and psychic phenomena such as reincarnation, astrology and parapsychology.
Wild conspiracy theories are lapped up by millions, including the belief that the Americans were responsible for 9/11 or that hidden elites manipulate world affairs, all heavily laden with paranoia about the alleged sinister hidden power of the Jews.
And in the universities, the epicentre of anti-Israel hatred and boycott hysteria, post-modernist orthodoxy has long proclaimed the death of truth and objectivity. The result is that our society has become a sucker for propaganda because it no longer has the means to distinguish between truth and lies by using evidence, logic and reasoning.
This moral and intellectual nihilism is not unique to Britain but is evident throughout the west. What is different about Britain is that there is no opposition to it. In America there is at least a culture war. In Britain there has been a rout.
Britain was the historic crucible of reason, liberty and tolerance. But now it seems to be intent on ripping up that legacy of the Enlightenment. One might say that just as Britain was the first into the age of reason, so it is now the first out. We’re heading back to a pre-modern age — and just as in the era of medieval barbarism, the Jews are once again the principal target of the frenzy.