The Virtue of Nationalism

Yoram Hazony has written an excellent and important book entitled “The Virtue of Nationalism.” He is an Israeli who is appropriately President of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem.

In this book he considers the transitions of political organizations from family-clan-tribe-nation-empire and concludes that “the best form of political order is an order of independent national states” (p. 51).  In particular he excoriates all those who adhere to a universalist doctrine, be it Christianity, Islam, Nazism or Communism, that seeks to impose on the world a single belief system, that then allows such believers in ultimate truth to persecute and destroy those who are particularist and refuse to submit to their credo.

After WWII it was concluded that the nationalism of the German Nazis was the source of all evil and so the nations of Europe and the world opted for a universalist anti-nationalist vision of peace and prosperity.  But, as Hazony points out, Nazism and Communism were not nationalist, they were imperialist, openly declaring their intention of taking over the world in the name of their ideology, and then set about doing so.  It was the toll of this imperialism that the nations of the world united against, not the nationalism of ordinary Germans or Russians.

The revulsion against war blamed nationalism and the competition among nation states for the suffering and destruction and this led to an increase in the liberal belief that universalist organizations, such as the UN and the EU, that are supra-national or imperial, could keep the peace.  In fact, as we have seen they are not able to do so, unless they take more and more power to themselves.  This tendency has been increased as the Security Council and the EU bureaucracy (without an actual Emperor) take decisions that are against the interests of single states (whether they be morally justified or not).  Thus, the UN might decide to criticize Israel for an action that other states such as Iran, China, Syria or so on might also carry out, but are not criticized for it. And the EU might decide that Hungary should receive a certain number of Muslim immigrants that its government and people do not want to accept.  The UK’s decision of Brexit to leave the EU is clearly opposing that tendency.

In general, I agree with Hazony’s analysis and strongly support the views he expounds in his book.  But, I find myself disagreeing with the clear-cut and rational analysis he bases some of his conclusions upon.  For example:

  • The Family: Hazony bases his analysis of the family on the traditional nuclear family, but in fact that family is much less common than it used to be; in the US it is estimated that only two thirds (66%) of all family units in the US are of this type, with many single parent and homosexual units as families.
  • The Tribe: In an era of Nationalism, the tribe was looked down upon as primitive, as if it only existed in Africa. But in fact all nation states are based on the tribe, and certainly Europe is a patch-work of nations based on tribes, German, Slavic, Hungarian, French, Spanish, and so on.
  • The Imperial State: In many cases Hazony refers to the ‘imperial state,’ but in a sense that contradicts his clear distinction between state and empire.  For example, he states “imperialism and nationalism represent irreconcilable positions in political thought” (p. 24).  In my opinion most nation states in their messy history are in fact imperial states.  For example he says that the English “adopted” the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish (p. 128), whereas in fact England conquered these three Celtic nations, for example the Highland clearances in Scotland and the Irish troubles, and forced them to become part of its United Kingdom.  The United States is an imperial state from its beginnings.  In the Civil War the Northern States fought to retain the Union and conquered the Southern secessionists.  Also the US bought and annexed the Louisiana Purchase from France and Alaska from Russia, the natives of these areas had no say in the matter, and the USA conquered Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The same could be said of the forced unification of France, Spain, Germany and Italy.  And Russia is a Federation of conquered areas.
  • Hatred: It may be that one can rationally explain the distinction between German nationalism and Nazism, nevertheless these analyses somehow leave out the intense human hatred that could lead one tribe to murder so many innocent human beings of another tribe.

Overall, this is an excellent book that adds to our understanding of current political trends. It is topical and should be read by anyone who supports the Jewish State and also by anyone who is puzzled as to why Israel is held in such low esteem by the liberal universalists in Europe.

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Is Boris Good Enough?

I watched Boris Johnson deliver his victory speech after the Conservative Party elected him the successor to Theresa May as Leader of the Party and Prime Minister of the UK. He emphasized that he will now set about delivering Brexit, unifying the Party and defeating Jeremy Corbyn.  Amen to all that!  He has a certain charisma, a swagger that neither May, not his final opponent Jeremy Hunt, has.  If he can manage to use that in a pragmatic and efficient manner, then maybe he can achieve the seemingly impossible.

In the matter of Brexit, the most immediate concern is that a large group of MP’s, including many Tories, have declared themselves against a “no-deal” Brexit.  This is reasonable since the economic pundits have projected that a no-deal Brexit will cost the country several billions of pounds and put the economy into a recession.  The hope is that Boris will be able to play hard-ball with the EU leaders and persuade them by some arm-twisting that it is in their interests too to come to a mutual deal so that the future can be planned and rosy.

If he can manage to do this in the next 100 days, which is all he has until the December deadline for Brexit, then he is likely to go on to defeat Corbyn, who has shown himself to be less than Prime Ministerial material. But, if  Boris is unable to get beyond the May-EU agreement and if it comes down to a no-deal Brexit and if a recession ensues, then the UK will be left in a terrible mess.   The question is, is Boris good enough?

Boris, England’s Trump

The UK has its own version of Donald Trump, namely Boris Johnson. He has many of the same characteristics as Donald, lack of attention to detail, blustery personality, problems with the opposite sex. Even in the areas of policy they are similar, Trump with his immigration policy and Boris with a no-deal Brexit.  Not only that, Trump has admitted that he likes Boris.  They can get along and make the trans-Atlantic alliance a true friendship again. Perhaps Boris will even displace Kim Jong-Un as Trump’s best buddy.

Currently Boris is campaigning for the Conservative Party leadership to replace Theresa May as PM, and it has come down to two candidates, Boris and Jeremy Hunt the Foreign Minister.  By comparison Hunt is a level-headed but somewhat boring politician, but maybe that’s what Conservatives prefer.  Boris is always good at getting attention, he was photographed yesterday wearing a string of sausages around his neck in northern England.   But, today he could not remember where he had been then.

People think that Boris is a somewhat wacky personality, but a good leader.  Perhaps his ability to get headlines will outweigh Hunt’s seriousness.  The final vote of the Conservative party will take place on July 23.

Blackmail Works

Whether we like it or not blackmail works.  When Pres. Trump said he would enact a 5% tariff on all goods coming into the US from Mexico, unless the Mexican Govt. took action against the caravans of  Central Americans (from Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala) transiting Mexico to come to the USA, many people were shocked.  How can you treat an ally like that, a friendly country that has terrible problems?  But, the fact is that it worked, it got the Mexican govt.’s attention and they came up with a plan that satisfied the US.  They have sent hundreds of Mexican border police down to the borders of Mexico with the Central American countries and are now preventing the passage of illegal migrants across the borders.

People forget that according to international law, the first country a migrant enters (in  this case Mexico) they are supposed to be registered and apply for asylum there.  Only those with legitimate reasons for needing asylum to stay in a country are supposed to be allowed to enter and stay permanently, and they have to have a good reason, such as fleeing persecution or war.  This in not the case with the vast majority of Central American migrants, who are almost exclusively economic migrants that no country is required to accept. But, the host country is required to process every migrant to make sure no legitimate asylum seeker is turned away.

But, when a family arrives with children, the issue becomes a humanitarian one, you cannot turn children away because the migrant needs to be processed and because of the huge numbers at the US border this process takes a long time, even years.  So families were being allowed to enter.  In order to avoid this happening the US tried (under Pres. Obama) to separate children from parents, but under Pres. Trump this procedure was banned by the court.  But the numbers of families with children have grown, because they think children will get them in, and many adults are now appearing with unrelated children.  In order to put a stop to this unregulated flow of hundreds of thousands of migrants and their numbers growing all the time, Pres. Trump needed to act and he did. 

Other cases of blackmail include Pres. Trump using tariffs to try to pressure China and the EU from using unfair trade practices.  And Boris Johnson, who Pres. Trump likes, has come forward with a plan, that he will not pay the b$63 that the UK will owe the EU in order to carry out Brexit.  He has said that he will not pay the fee unless the EU agrees to a sharp Brexit with guarantees for the UK.  In other words, let’s negotiate a deal that includes the amount of this fee, that PM May was prepared to pay.   So Boris Johnson is taking a leaf out of Pres. Trump’s book.  It may win him the leadership of the Conservative Party and the Premiership of the UK.

Immigration: The Case of Hungary II

John O’Sullivan, who is a former editor of the National Review and now makes his home in Budapest, gave a very spirited and articulate presentation to the MEF group.  He explained two main topics, why Hungary under Victor Orban is different from all other countries in the EU, and why he moved there.  In relation to Victor Orban he has written widely on the subject. and just to be very brief, he regards him as a new form of national conservative, in other words on the right, but no longer a protest or populist movement (such as the Brexit Party in the UK, or the United Rally in France), but both a moderate nationalist (not radical) and a free market supporter (see https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/orbans-switch-back-to-the-center-right/).  Some would say Victor Orban has gone too far in becoming less democratic and more authoritarian.  But, that is a matter for discussion.  Daniel Pipes summarized it nicely by saying that Orban doesn’t want to leave the EU (like the UK), but wants to take it over!

We discovered that some politically conservative people who are fed up with the leftist control of their countries, with the mass immigration of hostile elements and who seek greater security and quiet, are moving to Hungary,.  Many are now finding a haven in Hungary, and we met two Germans who have done this, escaping politically motivated hostility and seeking improved security.  The main problem is that you have to learn Hungarian!

Maria Schmidt is a historian and former adviser to PM Orban.  She initiated the Terror Museum in Budapest that documents the torture used by both the Nazi Gestapo and the Soviet KGB.  After WWI, Hungary lost 2/3 of its territory as well as groups of Hungarian-speaking peoples, especially to Romania.  But, it became a much more homogeneous and quieter country.  With the collapse of Communism there were the first partially free elections in 1980.  But, the liberals formed a coalition with the communists, for which they have never been forgiven.  Since 2008, Victor Orban has promoted a market economy and has increased his majority at each election since.  He wants to keep Hungary prosperous without mass immigration. Hungarians are determined that there be no repeat of living under Turkish rule! Also, Hungarians have never had colonies in Africa or the Middle East and do not see why they should have to accept migrants from there.  She pointed out that Jews in Hungary before WWII were part of the society, not separate as in Poland, and many more remained in Hungary than in any other country after the Holocaust.  Victor Orban is pro-Israel and philo-Semitic.  It is clear that he hopes Jews and Israel will support him in his campaign, and that is why he visited Israel and met with PM Netanyahu recently.  Daniel Pipes pointed out that Hungary and Israel are unique in having both conservative governments and increased population growth compared to all other Western countries.

When we met Rabbi Koves, I asked him about the controversy over the planned Hungarian Holocaust Museum that historian Maria Schmidt was supposed to be curating, but her interpretations were challenged by a group of eminent Holocaust scholars.  He would only comment that the matter was under review and would be resolved soon.  I did not raise this issue with Maria Schmidt, but today in the Jerusalem Post there is an article that reports that Maria Schmidt has been removed by agreement with the Hungarian Government as a curator of the “House of Fates” museum. 

Next we heard from Peter Kreko, Director of the Political Capital Institute, a centrist, who assured us that anti-Semitism is not a live issue in Hungary.  The Jews in Hungary are in no danger, there is no Muslim minority, no immigrants and no Islamic radicalism.  There is anti-Semitism in public opinion, like the Jews control the economy, but it is unfocused.  After the economic collapse of 2009 the Jobbik party was anti-Semitic, but it was replaced by Victor Orban and Fidusz, and the government now has good relations with the Jewish community and with Israel.  He refuted the claims that there is no free press or a lack of democracy in Hungary.  

We also heard from Boris Kalnocky, the correspondent for Die Welt German newspaper in Hungary, and Kent Ekeroth, a former member of the Swedish Parliament now living in Budapest.  Purely for reasons of space I will have to skip describing their interesting presentations.

 

 

What is the Jewish Interest in Europe?

I am a Zionist who realized my life-long ambition to become an Israeli.  But, I grew up in the UK and I have an interest in Europe, and even as an American citizen I want to see Europe prosper and be a stable democratic region.  However, I have to recognize that the EU is politically liberal-leftist dominated and is not only anti-Israel, but also tends to be anti-Semitic.  The long-term interest of European Jews, Israel and America is that the EU not remain dominated by this leftist agenda.  Also, that it not be swamped by a  liberal-inspired wave of Muslim-dominated immigration, that has already begun with the immigration of more than a million migrants into Germany and Sweden and elsewhere in Europe. The primary interest of the Jews, Israel and America is to ensure that Europe not be overcome by a tsunami of Muslim immigration.

Jews tend to be liberal and tend to identify with immigrants, because after-all weren’t we immigrants once.  But, it is very important to emphasize the differences between then and now. First of all, the vast majority of the current immigrants are economic migrants, not because of war or persecution, while the Jews of the past were definitely driven to migrate because of constant and extreme persecution.  Secondly, over 90% of the migrants entering Europe are not Syrian or Iraqi refugees fleeing war.  They are mainly Afghanis, Libyans, Nigerians, Somalis and so on.  Yes, among them there is a minority of legitimate refugees seeking asylum (estimates are about 5%).  There are international protocols for processing all migrants to exclude economic migrants which no country is obliged to accept.  Why were these protocols not followed??

Turkey was the primary country of entry for most of the migrants in the 2015 wave that swept into Europe.  Why were these refugees not registered there as the first country  entered, as required by law?  The answer to this is clearly political, in fact Pres. Erdogan of Turkey used the migrants to blackmail Europe.  Also, at first Greece failed to register them, no country wanted to be their hosts.  Seeing the flood of migrants arriving at their borders, several countries, including Serbia and Hungary set up border fences to keep them out, contrary to EU (Schengen Agreement) policy.  Hungary allowed ca. 450,000 migrants to pass through its territory in trains as long as they were only in transit to Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel accepted them. 

Note that Merkel accepted a million refugees into Germany without consulting anyone, not any other country, not the EU, nor even her own government!  She felt it was necessary to avoid a humanitarian crisis, to show liberal concern, perhaps in an over-compensation of guilt for what Germany had done to the Jews.  A cynic might argue that Germany exchanged the Jews (who they murdered) for the Muslims (that they welcomed).  But, this is having major repercussions for Germany and all of Europe.  Since these migrants are not easily assimilable, they have a high reproduction rate, they are not easily educated (many don’t speak German), and they are mainly young unemployed males and crime and rape statistics have sky-rocketed.  This is not merely a biased opinion, look at the rape statistics for Sweden, that went from one of the lowest in the West to one of the highest in a few years, look at the rape-fest that occurred at Cologne train station in 2016, look at what is happening in Northern England (Rotherham and elsewhere). 

But, beyond these concerns is a far more dangerous one, the presence of a large and growing Muslim minority in Europe.  There are now ca. 5-10 times the number of Muslims compared to former Jews in some of these European countries.  Altogether there are an estimated 19 million Muslims in Europe (not counting those in Bosnia and elsewhere).  Further, Jews not only assimilated but contributed mightily to European culture and civilization, think of Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Stefan Zweig, Karl Marx, Paul Ehrlich, Moses Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn, Fritz Haber, Heinrich Heine, Max Born, Walter Rathenau and the list goes on.  Does anyone foresee the Muslims making similar contributions?  It is in fact a tenet of Islam, one of the famous “Ten pillars” that it is incumbent on all Muslims to ensure that the country/place he lives in is governed by Islamic (Sharia) law.  Note this is not the same as a group being governed by its own religious laws (such as even the Jews had), this is the government/law of the country!  And this is not only extremists, but any believing Muslim (ask any Muslim you know if they want Sharia law in your country?)

The increase in anti-Semitism in Europe can be related directly to the increase in Muslim migration.  Most of the terrible anti-Semitic acts in France for example have been perpetrated by Muslims, including the murders of Ilan Halimi, Lucie Attal, Mireille Knoll, Sarah Halimi (no relative) and 7 others murdered.  However,most of the perpetrators in these cases have been released (the judge in charge of these cases may be Muslim).

In 2005, Bat Ye’or wrote “Eurabia: The Europe-Arab Axis, ” foreseeing the problem.  The only way to avoid this problem is that there develops in Europe a series of conservative parties that are both anti-migration and yet civilized and committed to protecting European democratic culture and minority rights.  Some of the central and eastern European countries could hardly be said to have a long history of democracy.  But, that is the most important value they must protect against the kind of violent authoritarian control that one finds in all Arab and Muslim states (with few exceptions).  Under Arab/Muslim culture an opponent is considered an enemy and the only way to oppose him is to kill him (look what happened to the so-called “Arab Spring,” currently Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia are failed states).  So finally it comes down to this.  It is in the Judeo-Christian interest to ensure that Muslims do not take over Europe.  I will discuss how this might be achieved in future blogs, based on the recent MEF trip I attended run by Daniel Pipes, with the primary theme of Muslim immigration into Europe. 

 

Everything changes

I go away for a week and everything breaks down (can’t they manage without me?):

  • May resigns as PM in the UK, leading to a battle for her replacement:  Due to her failure on her promise to deliver Brexit, mainly due to a fractious Conservative Party, Theresa May was forced to resign,  leaving UK politics in a  shambles.  It is unclear if any of the possible replacements, Boris Johnson or Michael Gove, could do any better than she did. 
  • The EU elections take place with major changes in many countries: The EU elections were in a sense revolutionary, for in country after country, Germany, France, UK, the center (right and left, often in coalition) lost big!  They were replaced by parties on the two extremes, on the right and left.  But, the traditional left socialist parties did not do well, instead the environmentalist left, the Greens, did very well as a result of continuing demonstrations and propaganda that portrays climate change as apocalyptic and imminent.  The traditional right also did not do so well, but rather the new (or neo) right right did very well, for example Marine Le Pen’s newly named United Rally (purged of her father’s anti-Semitic right) did very well, and in the UK, the newly founded Brexit Party came first (!) (and the Lib Dems second !), while in Hungary Victor Orbans’ party increased its representation.  What these results, indicating increased polarization, portend for Europe is unclear.
  • A scandal in Austria leads to the Govt. falling: A complex scandal involving a two-year old video tape showing Christian Strache, Head of Austria’s right wing Freedom Party (FP), participating in a drunken dinner in which he stated his willingness to sell favors, resulted in the break-down of the Govt. coalition and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, of the People’s Party, resigned and called new elections.  This happened during our visit to Vienna, and one of our speakers, Christian Zeitz explained these events as a set-up by Kurz to get rid of the FP and obtain a greater proportion of the vote (he also stated that George Soros was behind this, but that seemed like too much of a conspiracy theory for many).
  • Netanyahu in Israel calls new elections: PM Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition government by the deadline, due to a stalemate between Liberman (Yisrael Beitanu) and the Haredi parties (Shas and UTJ).  Liberman was adamant in his secular position that he refuses to alter the IDF Draft Bill that would require Yeshiva (religious) students to be drafted into the IDF like everyone else.  The Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties want to prevent this happening and refused to join a coalition if it will support this Bill.  So an unprecedented result is that the just-elected Knesset dissolved itself and there will be new elections in September.  Whether or not this stalemate can be resolved in those elections seems unlikely.  The religious parties won’t change their position and Liberman is adamant.  One possible resolution might be if Netanyahu increased his majority and could form a coalition without one or the other of the two contending parties, and since Liberman’s party is much the smaller it might be without him.