On April 7, the eve of the Jewish holiday of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced to the world that the United States will reinstate “economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people.” However generous this may appear, it actually means that the Biden administration chose Holocaust Remembrance Day to declare their intention to finance Palestinian-Arab terrorism with American tax dollars, including “$75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, $10 million for peacebuilding programs through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and $150 million in humanitarian assistance for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).”
The Biden administration chose Holocaust Remembrance Day to declare their intention to finance Palestinian-Arab terrorism with American tax dollars.
Apart from the moral questions this raises, one significant problem is that the U.S. government enacted the Taylor Force Act (H.R. 1164), which ensures that the U.S. government cannot use American tax revenues to pay for Palestinian political violence in Israel. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on December 5, 2017, and signed into law by President Trump on March 23, 2018. The Taylor Force Act (TFA) requires that the U.S. government only give aid to the Palestinian Authority on the strict condition that the PA takes “credible steps to end acts of violence against Israeli citizens and United States citizens,” such as the March 2016 attack that killed former U.S. Army officer Taylor Force while he was visiting the Jewish State on a goodwill mission.
A recent piece by Bassam Tawil for the Gatestone Institute International Policy Council reveals that the Biden administration has informed Congress that the PA uses international and U.S. cash to pay off killers and their families. Tawil explains that the Biden administration “emphasized that the PA’s actions will not impact its plan to renew funding to the Palestinians.” This is in direct violation of American law. The obvious truth is that President Biden and his administration have no intention of abiding by the Taylor Force Act. The Democratic Party, especially its progressive wing, are no longer allies nor friends to the Jewish people or the Jewish State of Israel. Their entire concern is for whatever they consider to be social and economic justice for the Palestinian people.
The United States should not finance political violence against Jews and Americans in Israel. The Palestinian Authority’s practice of funding that violence is known throughout the West as Pay-for-Slay and within the PA, using religious terminology, as the Martyrs Fund. It is a slush fund that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA use to financially compensate any local Arab who kills or attacks any Jew or any Jewish ally, anywhere in Israel. The more blood, the wider Mahmoud Abbas opens his rather substantial wallet.
That the U.S. is again providing financial support under these circumstances is not surprising, considering Joe Biden’s long and unfortunate history of undermining Israel. On June 22, 1982, Biden famously threatened to cut off U.S. financial aid and was rebuked by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who told him:
Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid.
In less than two months in office, Biden has already reversed a slew of policies that President Trump had secured, including a return to calling East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and Judea and Samaria “occupied territories.” Under President Trump, the United States did not finance Palestinian terrorism against Israel. Taylor Force was a 28-year-old Army vet who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before he was murdered on behalf of “Palestinian liberation.” His wife was left bloodied on the streets of Jaffa that day, March 9, 2016. He was a Christian American victim of the Palestinian Authority and its hatred for Jews and for fundamental Western norms of decency and morality.
President Biden is now in an untenable situation: he promises that he will give U.S. cash-dollars to the PA even as the PA vows to maintain the Martyrs Fund. Last November, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris told the world: “We will take immediate steps to restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem, and work to reopen the PLO mission in Washington.”
Biden, however, seemed to contradict his Vice President by insisting that his administration will abide by the Taylor Force Act. “I’m going to fully support the Taylor Force Act, which holds aid to the PA based on payments they make to terrorists in Israeli jails,” he said.
Meanwhile, just months after the passage of the TFA, Mahmoud Abbas swore that he will finance the Martyrs Fund by any means necessary. MEMRI TV translates:
At a ceremony held in Ramallah on July 23, 2018, to honor Palestinian prisoners and “martyrs,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: “If we had one single penny left, we would spend it on the families of the martyrs and the prisoners… We consider the martyrs and the prisoners to be stars in the sky of the Palestinian people and struggle.“
The unresolved question prior to this moment was how President Biden intended to simultaneously uphold the Taylor Force Act while restoring funding to the Abbas regime. The answer is now clarified, as Biden appears satisfied to have it both ways. He will finance the Martyrs Fund while claiming to do otherwise, and most Americans, Democrats especially, won’t know or care.
In a March 12, 2021, Algemeiner piece titled, “Is the Biden Administration Planning on Violating the Taylor Force Act?” by (Taylor’s father) Stuart Force, Sander Gerber, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, we read that “news reports indicate the PA believes it can satisfy the Administration by making terrorist compensation ‘needs based.’” In other words, whereas previously PA compensation was based on physical harm inflicted upon Jewish and American citizens, now it will be based on the economic needs of the attackers and their families. The Palestinian Authority apparently hopes this will allow the Biden administration to legally skirt the legislation. But whether that maneuver succeeds or not, money is fungible and thus can be used on needs outside of the Martyrs Fund while freeing up other funds to go to precisely that.
For example, Shoshana Bryen notes:
American money will be used for schools, water projects, ‘civil society’ programming and agriculture. But fungibility means that the PA won’t have to spend its money on those things, and will therefore have more money to pay terrorist salaries.
It should not, therefore, be an enormous surprise that just days before Joe Biden took office, the PA doubled its payment to the terrorist who murdered an Israeli mother, as the blogger Elder of Ziyon tells us. The PA paid cash to the murderer of Dafna Meir, a nurse and mother of six children, just prior to Biden actually taking office. Since then, Mahmoud Abbas and the PA are preparing again to fund murder with American cash. This will be in addition to the funds it already receives from other sources, such as the European Union, the United Nations, and any number of anti-Zionist NGOs.
As we read in the Jerusalem Post on March 12, 2021:
The two Palestinian terrorists who killed Ruti and Udi Fogel and three of their children a decade ago will receive a 50% pay raise from the Palestinian Authority ten years after the 2011 attack, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported. The two have received a monthly salary as part of the PA’s “pay for slay” policy since the day of their arrest, with each earning NIS 338,400 ($101,847) so far.
The article goes on to note that if the Palestinians who murdered the Fogels and their three children are released, they will continue to receive funding that comes from foreign sources, potentially now including U.S. government funding. If, for example, they live to be 80 years old they will have received something close to NIS 6.5 million—almost 2 million in U.S. dollars.
Yet another way that the PA enables the Biden administration in its efforts to enable them is through hiring released terrorists to do no work. Palestinian Media Watch tell us:
In reality, the terrorists receive the payment merely as a reward for their acts of terror and pursuant to their incarceration. Despite receiving a ‘salary,’ they are only actually required to fulfil the duties of their ostensible positions, if specifically ‘requested’ to do so.
Under President Biden, American Jews may now be compelled to finance the murderers of their brethren in Israel—in the name of “social justice.”
Sander Gerber, who helped draft the Taylor Force Act, is quoted in the Algemeiner as saying that there “is an open acknowledgment by the State Department that the Palestinian Authority is actively sponsoring terrorists and that it has taken no steps to revoke the laws and dismantle the bureaucracy of its terrorist payment structure. Unless the laws that pay terrorists are revoked, the Biden administration giving money to the PA could be guilty of money laundering for terrorism.”
What seems clear is that this administration has little interest in upholding American law vis-à-vis Palestinian-Arab terrorism against Israeli civilians or even against Americans. What is perhaps most galling is that under President Biden, American Jews may now be compelled to finance the murderers of their brethren in Israel—in the name of “social justice.”
Michael Lumish is a Ph.D. in American History from Pennsylvania State University who has taught at Penn State University, San Francisco State University, and the City College of San Francisco.
We remember with sorrow
Blessed memories of souls taken too soon
Their blood runs in our veins
Their souls speak wisdom known inherently
We remember never to forget
The violence and hate that our people faced
It’s not a story unique to our history
Though it stands still in time for the price we paid
Not for actions or words
But for hate of who we are, for our existence
The rationalizations and lies
May for a time go dormant but they never die
We remember and mourn
But we are not weak nor do knees tremble
Instead it’s in their memory we stand
This day and all other days alike
We stand and carry on in light
Unwilling to lose our selves in another’s hate
We remember them through memorials
Yet perhaps even more still through courage
Courage that echoes the way they never bowed
In the face of the might of the Third Reich
Courage to exist in security
In the ancient home of our ancestors
Strength to say with steady voice
So clearly that it rings out in the night
We are here and live
Long after those who would see us gone
Fortitude to know
We’ll be here long after those who seek it now
That clear voice declares for all to hear
Am Yisrael Chai
A quiet voice whispered
So faint it might have been carried on an autumn breeze
Even as the winter of tyranny
Drove life into dormancy
Defiantly and resolutely
The voice would not be silenced
The threat was not to be mistaken
Ever present and clear as a summer day
It was in the face of such great evil
That one voice was joined by others
Whispers became shouts
Calls for justice and humanity to return
That decency might be restored
And with it the soul which had been trampled upon
Then all at once the voices were silenced
Not because courage waned or wavered
But rather that the price of standing up
Was deemed a price worth paying
Standing up for those held down
Speaking for those who could speak no more
Though time has passed and seasons change
If we stood still and listened closely
Their voices still call to us
That never should a moment pass
That those who can speak should
And not be shamed or bowed into silence
For each word of truth spoken liberally
Is no less than a seed planted
So when this winter gives way to the spring of truth and reason
From the seed once more shall grow the White Rose
As a middle school student in a New York City public school, I couldn’t help but notice that while we’ve learned about many important events throughout history and relevant current events, we never once stopped to talk about the Holocaust or the rise of anti-Semitism. The Holocaust was arguably the largest genocide in human history, with 6 million innocent Jewish lives taken. Anti-Semitism is perhaps the most ancient and persistent form of discrimination for the past 2,000 years. In the largest public school system in the country, why has our education never included discussions of both the Holocaust and the very relevant rise of anti-Semitism occurring today?
Today it has become socially acceptable for anti-Semitism to get a “free pass.”
Nearly every day Jews are targeted in the form of various hate crimes and violence: synagogues are vandalized, Jewish cemeteries are desecrated, while mass shootings and stabbings have increased significantly over the past few years. Have the Jewish people ever been truly safe? Why are they targeted and singled out over and over again throughout history? And more importantly: where is their movement? Jews have always been a major player in all social justice movements and at the forefront of defending the civil rights of all minorities. But in the fight against anti-Semitism, it often seems they are alone. Today it has become socially acceptable for anti-Semitism to get a “free pass.”
As the daughter and granddaughter of Iranian Jews who were exiled from Iran during the Iranian Revolution in 1979, I have heard the stories firsthand of how my family was forced to leave their homeland because of their religion. Having to start over in a new land with a new language was not easy for them, and they did not always feel welcomed or accepted. However, they persevered. It is a common story of the Jewish people, being exiled from their homes and having to start new lives away from the fear of persecution. As an American, a New Yorker, and a Jew, I feel I have a responsibility to use my voice to raise awareness and educate the misinformed so they too can understand the horrifying events that the Jewish people have experienced throughout history. For this reason, I chose to make a podcast on the rise of anti-Semitism.
For my podcast, I was privileged to interview three well-respected experts on the current rise of anti-Semitism: Steven Khadavi, the President of IAJF (Iranian American Jewish Federation), an organization dedicated to helping Jews and raising money for those in need in Israel; Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove of Park Avenue Synagogue, one of the largest Jewish congregations in Manhattan; and White Rose’s Editor in Chief, Karen Lehrman Bloch, a journalist who has written many articles about Judaism and politics. One common theme they all agreed upon was that there is indeed a prevalent rise in anti-Semitism. They also all agreed that the root of the issue occurs throughout the education system: many schools are missing the moment to raise awareness.
“Education is the first way anti-Semitism can be countered,” said Steven Khadavi of IAJF. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it: anti-Semitism comes from a place of ignorance. I think it’s a result of people having stereotypes about Jews and perpetuating these stereotypes. As time goes on, one of the things that IAJF has done has been to support programs in colleges and universities specifically to combat anti-Semitism and BDS, the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, because I think college campuses have also gotten very dangerous for a number of reasons. I think that they are one area where we can really focus our effort. However, it starts even before then, so high schools, junior high schools, even elementary schools are all places where we can combat anti-Semitism and BDS. If we really start to educate the young, when kids get to college, they will have the tools ready to combat anti-Semitism.”
Rabbi Cosgrove agrees that schools hold a key in educating our youth against bias and bigotry. “To always remember and to never forget is crucial to the prevention of further violence directed toward Jews occurring in the future. These past events should be talked about in schools as the education system holds a huge role in the rise of hate toward Jews. Although many people have suffered, Jews have been singled out by the Nazis and were exterminated by a genocidal number of 6 million. Six million lives were destroyed in the most violent, horrific ways. The lesson of the Holocaust was made to inform us on the action we should take when seeing genocide occurring anywhere else in the world, to any group of people regardless of religion. To say ‘never forget’ means that if we see another person or a group of people being discriminated against due to their race, religion, or creed, we have a special responsibility as Jews and as human beings to remember the lesson of the Holocaust and make sure it never happens again.”
Karen Lehrman Bloch holds an interesting opinion on the issues being presented throughout the education system. “Teachers need to understand the difference between education and indoctrination, and they shouldn’t be teaching students their personal opinions. It was and should be considered unethical for teachers to be expressing their personal opinions in the classroom. Like all forms of racism, anti-Semitism is taught. Nobody is born anti-Semitic; nobody is born a racist. Sadly, many of our universities today are teaching students to be anti-Semitic. At the very least, many are teaching students to think that Israel is an illegitimate state, but anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism.”
Another theme presented through all three interviews was that anti-Semitism is as dangerous today as it has been throughout history because it has become normalized for people not to speak out against it. It is our moral obligation to speak out against any form of hatred or discrimination that we hear or see. No matter our religion or political views.
It is with our silence that the problem grows. Staying silent is, in a way, like forgetting.
My hope is that all schools across the country include the Holocaust as part of their lesson plan when discussing history. My wish is for all people, including my generation, to speak up when they witness or hear anything that skews anti-Semitic—whether it be on social media or in their own education system. It is with our silence that the problem grows. “Never Forget” means we have to remember. It means we must talk about it. It means we must learn. It means we must speak up and call out any form of anti-Semitism we witness. Because staying silent is, in a way, like forgetting. And if we really mean to Never Forget, then we need to use our voices and take action in any way we can.
My personal plan is to bring a Holocaust survivor to speak with the students at my public school so they too can learn. While this won’t change the world, maybe it will help create important conversations that seem to have been ignored, and maybe it’s a step in making sure incidents of anti-Semitism are prevented in the future.
In a world of lies the lie is not removed from the world by means of its opposite, but only by means of a world of truth. (Franz Kafka, The Fourth Notebook, The Blue Octavo Notebooks)
Why should anyone really care about anti-Semitism, beyond those directly affected? To get by and do right wherever one can—surely that’s not to be condemned, with all that’s going on today? A residual faith in words like “hope” and “truth,” despite personal misgivings and cultural decline, might be enough to orient one’s life, especially if one is traveling with many others along similar paths.
Getting thrown off the path, or walking it alone, might require one to start defining the terrain for oneself. Despite its dangers, that needn’t be impossible if history is any guide. But is it? What use are prior examples if, so the story goes, ours really is a brave new world? And if it is, aren’t we all then lost in some pathless wilderness?
In Samuel Beckett’s 1957 play Endgame, one of his Absurdist clowns announces bleakly, “Something is taking its course.” In 1946 American poet Charles Olson, the first writer to make consistent use of the term “post-modern,” said in an imaginary address to Ezra Pound, the iconic modernist (and infamous antisemite): “It is a time, yours, when forces as large as centuries battle …” We may now all opine about “post-truth,” but as far back as 1848 another of the architects of modernity, Marx, already recognized that “all that is solid melts into air” – and he was quoting Shakespeare from nearly 250 years earlier, at the very dawn of the modern era.
A chasm opens once the questions appear that takes us back to the birth of our weirdly apocalyptic world—a “new” world that is also 3,000 or so years old. A certain constitution is needed to willingly face such destabilization, to visit it upon oneself even in thought, if life doesn’t force one to endure it or to bear its terrors. Most won’t, and in that, anti-Semitism is always born anew.
But returned to that source, by choice or by circumstance, what might be revealed? A vertiginous challenge: nihil versus creatio, power versus meaning, nothing on the march versus one who takes a stand, “forces as large as centuries.”
It is a sad privilege to be chosen in order to perceive… in the eternal return of the Jewish question, the return of metaphysical questions! (Emmanuel Levinas, Difficult Freedom)
This isn’t Germany, 1942. Stalingrad isn’t around the corner, nor are the policy-makers at Wansee hopefully formulating their Final Solution to the “Jewish question.” The White Rose was exposing the lie of the Thousand Year Reich when it was at its miserable few years’ peak. Pretending to perfection while built on the meanest of foundations, born in violence and sustained by force, perhaps it was only a matter of time until that Nazi world of falsehood collapsed. Its delusions were self-serving and unstable, its unholy war on the Jews was all-consuming, its follies were depleting its resources, and it was felled at last by its utter misjudgment of Allied will and firepower.
Had Nazism prevailed, the name White Rose would have been reduced to a lesson in the futility of resistance, or simply erased. That we can write it, let alone associate with it, identifies us as immeasurably privileged: our world survived. But which “world”? Do we in the West actually still have a shared world? Do we not these days find ourselves looking in different ways and seeing different realities?
All the elements have begun to slide. Everything seems endlessly disputable: histories, crimes, elections, genders. How to make the necessary determinations? Clear sides seem either self-evident or suspiciously too self-evident: should we trust conviction, or be wary precisely to the degree that others act sure? We can’t quite shake our knowledge of the psychological (“What part do I play in the creation of what faces me?”), of the virtual (our own eyes may be lying), of PR and propaganda (who is cunningly directing our gaze, and to what end?).
We see signs and hope they continue to signal as they once did. But if anything marks our moment, isn’t it the deconstruction of certainties? In this age of undoing, the drive is toward the relentless exposure of the given as the constructed, of appearance as mediated, including (most especially) truth. Still, unassimilated pieces of the past float by and coalesce into familiar shapes, taunting us with the prospect of orientation: “Ah, now we know where we are!”
To take only our present terrifying example: today the name “Hitler” is rightly associated with the demonic and the charge of “fascist” is justifiably one of the most grave. We condemn “The Jews will not replace us!” when chanted by brutes wearing swastikas, nostalgic for some imagined supremacy. So if we, the moderately aware citizens of the 21st century West, were ever truly prey to such fascistic tendencies ourselves—if we harbored a deep, exploitable yearning for the closed and unified group, for the certainty of answers, and for a scapegoat to cleanse our sins—would it present itself to us in Nazi attire, the Third Reich reborn? Since we know we’re supposed to learn from history or be “condemned to repeat it,” mightn’t the danger reside in the historical images themselves, or rather, in our willingness to rely on them instead of opening our eyes to the present?
Looking to the right, where eternal truths have been claimed to reside, we find tradition inevitably corroded by skepticism, thanks to two millennia’s worth of competition between last words; each successive religious variation has sought to put its seal on the faith, but schisms appeared and new contenders arose. Looking to the left, we find the repeated betrayal of hope, with promises of justice wielded for access to power, then cynically abandoned. We’re each alone in a new way, the insecurity of our knowledge unlike any of the peoples of the past. The depth of our disagreements terrifies, and rightly so.
And so who am I to speak to you? Especially with the grandness of my address—“we” this and “we” that! I have no official designation, no particular expertise or exceptional experience. Who am I to suggest anything? And who, for that matter, are you, that I should wish to reach you, to propose the facing of something together?
George W. Bush’s speech of September 21, 2001: “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” The crux is us. Who are “we,” really? What makes “us”? A war or an attack can do it, or facing an enemy (even a contrived one). A tornado or a flood, too, or just a loud noise in a crowd: we turn, together. The prophetic call: “Everyone! Listen! Look!” And if some people were to say “Yes! We hear it! We see it!” then, in speaking as one, and in acknowledging “it,” they would become “We… ” Our response makes us.
When I visited the German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin, where one of the exhibition rooms is of course devoted to the White Rose, what struck me most forcefully was the sheer diversity. There were rooms honouring the resistance to Nazism by the workers’ movement, by business leaders, artists and intellectuals, students, soldiers, Christians, Jews, Roma …
We know today, at least dimly, what it was they all saw and heard, what motivated them to say “We!” in the face of what sort of disintegration. And thanks to their stand, we in the mainstream Western 21st century may indeed be justified in supposing, along with Martin Luther King Jr., that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Slavery and imperial domination are owned as our ignominious heritage, and we cite dystopian novels to signal our diligence about horrors still possible. We no longer countenance the persecution of whole peoples – ethnicities, sexes, sexualities, religions – according to immutable, supposedly negative characteristics. We invoke the spectre of “concentration camps” to affirm that we won’t allow it to happen again.
Coincident with our moral advance, however, with the progressive bend of the arc, is that other development. We’re told that for the first time in all our tens of thousands of human years, including every tribe and civilization ever, we may at last be beyond the one thing we’ve always oriented toward, often fought over, but never imagined ourselves without: truth. What kind of perverse evolution is this? Are we at last learning to be decent, or are we nearing the culmination of a nihilistic revolution? Is nothing sacred or are we progressing toward a better world?
We do find ourselves brought together, voluntarily or otherwise, by a backstory: an “us” has been made by our globalization. We are in a historical condition that is uniquely confusing – thanks to the relativism that becomes possible through intercultural encounter, to the opposition of rival truths, to the transformations of language, to the acceleration of technology. But it also allows a figure to take shape against the chaos. Thanks to its regular appearances, despite its protean manifestations – Christian, Muslim, secularist – we can discern the “anti-Jew.”
Whatever its role in other forms of anti-Semitism, the spectre of a “Jewish world conspiracy” haunts the fantasy of all globalizers – Christian, Muslim, secularist – at every turn, because its source is in Judaism’s place at the conceptual, imaginal, spiritual core of our shared world. It is therefore understandable (if never less than unconscionable) that anti-Semitism should have re-emerged at every juncture of its formation. The anti-Jew is a defensive response to the Jewish challenge, and therefore, perhaps, an intellectual, spiritual, moral key to our cultural unfolding (or undoing).
The continuing existence of the Jews triggers an identity crisis that threatens to undermine the (mis)appropriated “chosen-ness” of every subsequent body of believers: the Christian Church with its “new Jerusalem”; Islam as the revisionist final word on Judaism and Christianity; secularism as an “adulthood” that has outgrown believers’ “childishness”; most preposterously and obscenely, Nazism’s Aryan “Master Race”; and (for many, most shockingly) in the contemporary West, what philosopher Judith Butler has identified as “social movements that are progressive, … that are part of a global left,” among which she includes Hezbollah and Hamas, groups as fanatically dedicated to persecutory anti-Jewish delusion as the Nazis—for anti-Jewish bias has gradually, thoroughly permeated the assumptions of today’s left/liberal/progressive mainstream. A “light unto the nations” – as the people of Israel are chosen to be – anti-Semitism is a reflection back onto the nations of their own fault lines.
The Jewish story stands alone for aloneness, for the personal connection of the individual, mortal human being—and thus of universalized humanity, of “us”—with the transcendent. An unstoppable evolution was inaugurated by the revelation of the Torah at Sinai, and we are all its children, born with an “inner judge” of our every thought and action. Whether it be heeded or denied, it carries with it a pressure George Steiner described as “the blackmail of perfection”:
We come to hate, to fear most those who demand of us a self-transcendence, a surpassing of our natural and common limits of being. Our hate and fear are the more intense precisely because we know the absolute rightness, the ultimate desirability of the demand. In failing to respond adequately, we fail ourselves. (“The Long Life of Metaphor”)
This conflict between the moral ideal and its perceived impossibility has accompanied monotheism’s spread throughout the world, its other forms accommodating themselves in various ways to their inherently Jewish basis. It is carried within the language itself, in words like “morality” and “justice” and “truth.” If they remain today short of their full meaning (and, as I say below, undergoing their very reversal), their rhetorical persuasiveness alone is testimony to the penetration of the Jewish event into the consciousness of “the nations.”
That the Jews, tiny percentage of the global population though they may be, remain not only here in the world, surviving against all odds and all assaults, but there at the source, right where our disorientation leads us, is simultaneously uncanny and predictable. Inseparable from the individuality before God that was instituted with Judaism, a new sort of community was also forged through the sharing of this very burden and gift.
Every person, as a person—that is to say, one conscious of his freedom—is chosen. If being chosen takes on a national appearance, it is because only in this form can a civilization be constituted, be maintained, be transmitted, and endure. (Emmanuel Levinas, Difficult Freedom)
The Jewish “creation myth” is unlike any other: a disparate group that brings itself into being as a collective through the individuals’ acceptance of a law that equalizes everyone in worth; and more, a covenant entered into as equals with God, its other party, who too must abide by its terms, so great is its authority. This conceptually abolishes the archaic cosmos of natural hierarchy, in which humans were defined by whatever place had been allotted them by birth and circumstance, according to fixed truths. The covenant at Sinai asks for and thereby creates the very notion of free human beings, bound not to a law imposed from above by divine power, but by a law voluntarily assumed for the just sharing of earthly power.
When we hear in popular discourse now about “Jewish values” this is an echo of this unique notion of impartial justice before the highest moral standard. And it is for this reason that the country of the Jews, Israel, stands today in the position it does, eternally on trial.
If the reader is unfamiliar with the situation of Israel in the context of the globalized story I’ve been telling, I can only avow the good faith of the following account—though no amount of data would be enough to convince a determined skeptic, and the argument as a whole makes almost impossible demands on an innocent worldview. As if “post-truth” confusion and its reactionary fanaticisms weren’t enough, one must now recognize a commitment to unreality so extreme and determined that it seeks to control meaning completely, to bend it according to a self-interest raised to metaphysical heights in a disguise so total it is hidden even from itself.
Having had our whole millennial history to draw upon, this is evil in its most refined form. It illegitimately assumes what international human rights lawyer, Irwin Cottler, has called “the language of universal human values.” Unlike Nazism (which it sets up as its opposite), it is explicitly non-exclusionary, prouder than any historical force for good in its acceptance of diversity. If the post-Holocaust inspiration of the United Nations was a veritable institutionalization of “Jewish values,” it could not be more telling that the UN was quickly overtaken by anti-Jewish powers who turned the machinery of internationalism against Israel. The Nazi slogan “The Jew is our misfortune” has been recast in the globalist era with Israel now cast in the role as “the Jew among nations” (Léon Poliakov):
Far from exposing Jews to the temptations of might, the creation of Israel had inadvertently reproduced in the Middle East a political imbalance almost identical to the one that Jews had experienced in the Diaspora. Israelis were no more inclined or able to subdue the Arabs than the nations among whom Jews had sojourned in exile. … Israel’s geopolitical situation from the moment of its founding … restricted the political options of the sovereign Jewish state not much less than statelessness had previously impinged on the Jews of Europe. (Ruth Wisse, Jews and Power)
Israel is legitimately defensible on every ground: humanitarian, political, legal, pragmatic, ethno-cultural, religious, psychological. Each provides a strong enough foundation on which to build a case capable of meeting the highest standards of neutral adjudication in its own domain. Nothing in the venture of Zionism is socially unjust, impossibly utopian, destructively religious, or morally questionable. At the same time, one can even reject or ignore any one of these grounds one finds objectionable or irrelevant without diminishing in the least the legitimacy of the overall claim.
Indeed, the range of characteristics for which the Jews have been attacked over the centuries—religious at first, then ethno-cultural during the Age of Reason, genetic during the rise of science, political today—taken together amount to what makes up a person, generically speaking. We as beings are comprised of the very dimensions that have been in turn assaulted by anti-Jewish aggression: spiritual, cultural, biological, political. Does this not forcefully suggest that the anti-Jew is, precisely, the anti-human?
If the various claims in Zionism’s favor were illegitimate or mutually contradictory, the near unanimity of support for Israel among Jews worldwide might be little more than self-serving bias. And this is, of course, the view of Israel’s enemies: Israel is accused of being a nightmare for the Palestinian Arabs, a theft of land and history, a political proxy for Western conquest, a travesty of international law, a pragmatic disaster for the region, rife with ethno-cultural racism, founded on religious supremacism, and psychologically pathological.
Not surprisingly, given anti-Semitism’s projective nature, these accusations could not be more untrue, reversing facts with an acuity that signals the profoundest (self-)deception and betrays the actual self-serving bias at work. Beneath their imperialist new clothes, they nakedly enumerate the accusers’ own acts and intentions: to be a nightmare for Israelis, the thief of Jewish land and history, a political proxy for Arab/Islamic conquest, a perversion of judicial impartiality, a constant pragmatic nightmare for Israel, founded on Judeophobia and supersessionist ideology, and psychologically neurotic. Is it necessary to insist here that these accusations against Israel’s enemies can be supported with all the evidence a transcendent authority, a truly moral judge, might require?
The Israelis rarely refuse (and indeed have no need to refuse) a full, impartial inquiry, knowing as they do that if the matter at issue were to be judged on points of fact or law their case would usually be upheld.
When bad faith reaches these scandalous proportions, it is absurd to react as though the rule of law still obtained, and to plead a cause. (Jacques Givet, The Anti-Zionist Complex)
Nazism, too, proceeded by such reversal. It “promoted the elimination of the weak, and, … turned the commandment not to murder upside down. … [T]he legalization of murder replaced the Judeo-Christian prohibition” (Bruno Chaouat, Is Theory Good for the Jews?). Hitler reportedly believed that the Jews “invented conscience”—hence the desirability, for its self-professed enemy, of a world without Jews.
The attempt, thanks to everyone from Allied fighters to the White Rose to the anonymous resisters, was unsuccessful. But was the anti-Jew’s war on Jewishness itself defeated? Did it not simply change fronts, from Europe to the Middle East (where, just two years after the Holocaust, the amassed armies of multiple Arab nations engaged in a self-avowed war of annihilation against a fledgling Israel), and, through prolonged propaganda efforts, now the West? (Terms like “occupation” and “settlers” normalized in Western Israel-related discourse are testament to the mainstream success of a propaganda campaign of unprecedented patience, as part of the Arab/Islamist “Long War” now into its eighth decade.) If anti-Jewishness has accompanied the Jews as surely as the Jews have managed to survive, its adherents are clearly far more widely spread and more numerous, belonging like an internal pathology to the structure of globalizing consciousness itself.
Given that today the self-consciousness of the West is so permeated by a notion, however attenuated, of “Jewish values,” we – unlike Hitler – pride ourselves precisely on our sense of “conscience.” The world has turned. A Nazi could feel confident in hating Jews and loving goodness, because they were defined as opposite; today, the “anti-Jewish spirit” can tell us it doesn’t “hate” at all.
For this, it needs Israel to be criminal. The focus on the nation as political entity exempts the anti-Jew from today’s socially fatal charges of racism and bigotry, demonstrated in their willingness to embrace any Jew—secular or religious—who rejects Israel. It is here that the Islamic supremacist, determined to effect Islam’s supersession of Judaism by any means, meets Butler’s “global left,” which challenges both Israel’s right to self-defense and the legitimacy of its very existence with double standards whose audacity is only equaled by their normalized pervasiveness. (For a broad and well-documented survey, I recommend Industry of Lies: Media, Academia, and the Israeli-Arab Conflict by Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini, who has in fact always considered himself politically leftist.) Yet Israel has the support of well over 90% of the world’s Jewish population (which, it must be noted, has not yet returned to its pre-Holocaust level,) and this should be enough to belie any claim that one can stand against Israel and not stand opposed to that overwhelming Jewish majority.
The defeat of today’s anti-Jewish vanguard, however, lies within the model itself, in the very structure it has misappropriated and sought to repurpose. In adopting the language of “truth,” “justice,” and “morality,” Israel’s enemies are obliged—unlike prior enemies of the Jews—to present a universally valid case. They are on the Jews’ home turf, the terrain Judaism brought into the world with the covenant at Sinai: a plain upon which all are equal before the most stringent moral and judicial standards. To win, they must either make their case before a global consciousness now at least moved by the force of such notions as “universal justice” or they must illegitimately occupy it by force and thereby invalidate its very nature. That this is their own real-world military and propaganda strategy is hardly coincidental; it is the source of their projections against Zionism.
They must redefine the words. But the words push back. The greatest power of resistance is in language itself—in the truth, for example, that “the truth will out,” because “t-r-u-t-h” is not merely an empty thing made of sounds and strokes, but has a force of its own despite its being – also in truth – just an empty thing made of sounds and strokes.
They must assert that the Jews have abandoned “Jewish values,” that they themselves are now “the true Jews.” (Have we not seen every anti-Semite ultimately claim to be the new “chosen”?) But this requires, according to “Jewish values” as such, a presentation before the highest moral arbiter conceivable. And because this “arbiter” does not exist positively in the human domain (call it “God” if you are religious), because it transcends the perspective of any single group or single individual (and within the very consciousness of that individual), there is no entity on Earth that can pronounce the final word. Any determination will require the ratification by a legitimizing body. In the current global arena those bodies include the UN & the International Criminal Court.
If justice, truth, and morality are your proclaimed values, but in reality you are driven by a lust for power, victory, and domination, then you will be obliged to attack Israel and Jews with the contrived assent of the people. Israel and the Jews are of course not inherently in the right; truth isn’t on their side by definition. But to have placed themselves on the side of truth as their choice, their founding choice, is what has allowed Israel, to survive against all historical odds. Returning to their indigenous homeland, birthplace, Holy Land, it has even enabled them to thrive.
Conclusion: Having seen
The vowels in Hebrew are unwritten; this acknowledges that, as the very breath of life, they must be supplied by the consciousness of the human wielding the consonants. Like the worlds that we build together in response to what we find ourselves facing the form of words is constructed & could be otherwise – which, thanks to our relativized, globalized perspective, is now undeniable.
But the shock of collective consciousness at the “social construction of reality” has fooled it into believing this means “we can make up anything we want.” The post-truth “global left” and the revisionist history of Islamic supremacism, twin sources of greatest danger to Israel and thus to the Jewish people, agree on this naïve, self-serving, ultimately self-defeating fantasy.
Even through its distortions, in acceptance or denial, truth bends reality around it like a center of gravity. That the truth of Jewish reality is opposite to the claims of the anti-Jew—Christian, Islamist, secularist—shatters them beyond all reconstruction. This is what they fear and what provides the fuel for their obsessive attack.
But language had this future built into it all along! Words were made to reveal their nakedness: what we encounter at the end is nothing that wasn’t already visible in the beginning. We are meant to be on our own, together, with only the bonds we craft between us and the highest moral standard of justice we can conceive. These are “Jewish values.” This was the challenge of Sinai to all of humanity. And this is why one’s relation to Jews, Judaism, Jewishness—and, most importantly, Israel—today holds out an invaluable possibility: an authentic position in regard to our time’s contradictory demand for foundational clarity during its inevitable dissolution of sense. The perspective afforded by this view from the founding allows us to recognize pieces of our shared world, even amidst its deconstruction.
The enemy—let us call it “the fascist spirit”—is no longer by definition on the right or the left; it doesn’t appeal in particular to Christian or Muslim or secularist. It can appear in any doctrine, ideology, or drag. It may wear jackboots, a priest’s collar, keffiyeh, torn pants, or suit and tie. But its truth is and always has been revealed in its position on what it insists on posing as the “Jewish question”—now, the “Israel question.” Unable to accept its own inner contradiction, unwilling to challenge itself to face truth, it can only encounter truth in its own defeat.
If what we today face is so hard to distinguish that at first we can’t agree on anything but its disintegration, then we, also disintegrated, might still recognize as much together. And in that shared seeing, “We!” might be forged.
Resistance must be unlimited by our habitual forms, our outward appearances, in order to meet the slippery, innovative cunning of the fascist spirit itself. But we have the gravitational force of truth on our side because we place ourselves on the side of truth, which reaches us and draws us together through any desert wasteland, even when “forces as large as centuries battle.”
Everything depends on repentance and good deeds: the messianic coming is to be found at the level of the individual effort that can be produced in full self-control. Everything is already thinkable and thought; humanity is mature; what is missing is good deeds and repentance. (Levinas, Difficult Freedom)
Beckett, Samuel. Endgame (New York, NY: Grove Press Inc., 1958)
Broch, Hermann. Geist and Zeitgeist: The Spirit in an Unspiritual Age (New York, NY: Counterpoint, 2002)
Chaouat, Bruno. Is Theory Good for the Jews? French Thought and the Challenge of the New Antisemitism (Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2020)
Yemini, Ben-Dror. Industry of Lies: Media, Academia, and the Israeli-Arab Conflict (New York, NY: The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy/ISGAP Books, 2017)
German Resistance Memorial Center. Catalogue of the Permanent Exhibition “Resistance Against National Socialism” (Berlin, Germany: Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand, 2014)
Givet, Jacques. The Anti-Zionist Complex (Englewood, NJ: SBS Publishing, Inc., 1982)
Kafka, Franz. The Blue Octavo Notebooks (Cambridge, MA: Exact Change, 1991)
Levinas, Emmanuel. Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1990)
Nancy, Jean-Luc. The Banality of Heidegger (New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2017)
Olson, Charles. “This is Yeats Speaking” from Charles Olson and Ezra Pound: An Encounter at St. Elizabeth’s (New York, NY: Paragon House, 1991)
Scholl, Inge. The White Rose: Munich 1942-1943 (Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1983)
Steiner, George. “The Long Life of Metaphor: An Approach to ‘the Shoah’” in Encounter, Vol. LXVIII No. 2, February, 1987 (London, UK)
Wisse, Ruth. Jews and Power (New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 2007)
Yemini, Ben-Dror. Industry of Lies: Media, Academia, and the Israeli-Arab Conflict (New York, NY: The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy/ISGAP Books, 2017)
Michael R. Caplan is a designer, writer, singer, and theatre-maker, and the Director of Michael Caplan’s House of ShAkE, a production company working in print, performance, music, and other media. www.houseofshake.ca
One of the most important jobs any man can have on earth is being a father. This is not an exclusion of mothers, but an appeal to a society that tends to undervalue men and the role they play as fathers specifically. As a black American, knowing the statistics on fatherlessness in the black community, the weight of being a good father to my own sons is heavier than it has ever been. No matter what their skin-color, however, fatherhood is crucial to every single child’s development.
Even for those who grew up without a father, let this be an encouragement that you can still be the father for your own children that you never had for yourself.
I learned three very crucial lessons from my father that continue to help me navigate through life even as a husband and father myself.
The first lesson was when I was about four years old. My dad was working at least two-and-a-half jobs at the time, and was gone during the working hours of most days. At that time, I would mostly only see him in the evenings before bed, and Sundays when he would take me to church with him to pray, early before the service started. So for this period of time, I would spend the majority of my week with my mother.
At this time, I was going through a phase of challenging my mother’s authority. I blatantly defied her by doing things she made clear I was not allowed to, and not doing those things she told me to do. I was belligerent with my sisters, and an all around nuisance in the house. My mother said that as soon as my father came home from work, I transformed into “the perfect little angel.” No one in the house was more compliant than I was once daddy arrived home. I’m not sure how long this went on for, but my mom was fed up enough to finally tell my father that his little angel was not the same boy when he wasn’t around.
I remember vividly being in my room when my father came in and crouched on the floor where I was sitting. We were face to face as he looked me in the eye and said to me:
“I heard from your mother that when I’m gone, you don’t listen to her; that you run around and do whatever you want. That’s not good enough, son.” He then began to explain to me what integrity meant—doing the right thing whether someone was watching you or not. He continued: “She may be your mother, but she’s also my wife. And if I hear about you acting like that with my wife again, it’s gonna be you and me. You understand me?” Needless to say, I understood.
Even though many of my boyhood memories are somewhat fuzzy, that moment I will never forget.
When people find out that I grew up with five sisters, many articulate the explicit assumption that this must have been a great way for me to learn to respect women. However, simply growing up in a house full of women did not teach me these essential values. Rather, it was my father who taught me the importance of respecting women.
The second lesson came at a time when I could not have needed it more. I was 14 years old, and a karate student at my first out-of-state karate tournament. My father decided it would be good if just the two of us went together. When we arrived, I found myself increasingly nervous and afraid as I watched some of the other students and saw how fast and strong they seemed. Two boys in particular who happened to be in my division, impressed me. I tried my best to hide my fear because I did not want to disappoint my father or my little cousin and his dad who happened to live in the state we were in.
It was time to spar, and as it happened I was pit against those same two boys I was most afraid of, one after the other. The first beat me badly. By the time I got to the second one, I was a little less afraid and went in for a few shots, but I was still beaten pretty badly. After the fights, I held back tears and walked over to where my dad, cousin, and uncle were sitting. They all encouraged me, and I said thank you and smiled, then I went to the restroom to change clothes and sat in one of the stalls and cried my eyes out. I felt incredibly humiliated. I also felt so stupid for how scared I had been, and angry at the arrogance of the two boys. I was embarrassed that my little cousin was watching me get my butt handed to me twice, and that the thousands of kids that were there had witnessed the same thing. But most of all, I was mortified that my father had to sit through watching his son get pummeled. How weak must I have looked to him? That was the main question I kept asking myself in my head.
Later that day, my dad and I ate a quiet dinner together, then took a bus to the movies. Once we got off the bus, we had about a five minute walk to the theater. In those five minutes, my father began to tell me how proud he was of seeing me get back up every single time and throw myself back in to face two guys who were easily twice my size. He told me that watching me persevere and fight on through it all spoke volumes to him; the fact that I would get back up and plunge into the fight again and again meant more to him than me winning or losing. Then he embraced me and we both cried. The movie we saw that night was Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, and the thing I remember most from it was the quote: “Bruce, why do we fall?”
The third lesson is more of a theme that continues to repeat itself throughout my life, and is my dad continually telling me, “no matter what, son, always treat people right.” That piece of advice sounds simple enough, but I have seen my father apply that wisdom time and again in his own life. I have seen him treat with the utmost kindness people who have only returned anger and bitterness to him. As a pastor, I’ve seen people spread lies about my father in real time, and him responding by doing nothing but continuing to be kind to them; whether that be praying for them when they ask him to, visiting them or their loved ones in the hospital, or going out of his way to check in with them if he hasn’t seen them in a while.
Now, my father’s personality can be very intense. My dad is not afraid to call something or someone out if need be. This kindness he taught to me is not weakness. It is actually strength. It is an active kindness that sends the message that I am stronger than whatever pettiness seems to be coming between us at the moment. It says that I am stronger than your hate; that my G-d who guides me is stronger than whatever seems to be driving you. Of all the people I’ve seen spurn my father, so many have come back, sometimes years later, apologized, and thanked him for not cutting them off when they deserved it. I’ve seen enough of those types of full circles in my dad’s life to understand the principle, and yet he never ceases to remind me when things come back around. He says, “you see that, son? Always treat people right. No matter what is going on, now matter how you feel, you treat them right.”
With all this said, fathers are not important solely because they can teach certain principles, though that is one big aspect. Fathers are important because they shape a child’s view of who G-d is. From my father, I learned about the character and nature of my heavenly Father. And as I raise my two boys with my wife, I feel the weight of ensuring my sons are trained in the way they should go, just as I was. I pray I’m able to know exactly what to do in those defining moments for my sons, just as my dad knew for me.
Of all of the titles and positions we may have in our lifetime as men, being a father surpasses them all. Why? Because what good is it for me to do all the good I could possibly do for the world, if I raised two boys that did not share those values? What good is it for me to raise children who spurn and destroy everything my wife and I are currently building? There is no good in it. We often speak of creating a legacy and leaving our mark on this earth before we leave it. There is no greater legacy or mark we leave behind than our children.
The stats and sentiments have been repeated by many people now from Tupac Shakur to Barack Obama; men who grow up without fathers are at much higher risk of being in prison, on drugs, in gangs, and killed young. And with a third of children growing up fatherless today, the future seems bleak. On the flip side of that, if those stats are true, then the inverse is also true. If this generation of fathers can determine in our hearts to put our hands to the work of raising our children, and to the best of our ability, we can change the statistics. We can change the trajectory of the entire world.
Individual Freedom is the fundamental and underlying principle supporting the core values of classical liberalism. Liberalism as a political philosophy begins with empowering individuals by placing explicit trust in them to make rational and responsible decisions for themselves. John Stuart Mill, one of classical liberalism’s most influential thinkers, declared “over his own mind and body, the individual is sovereign.”
According to classical liberalism, the rights of the individual supersede those of the collective. The individual may choose to put the needs of others such as family or community ahead of one’s own, but such actions remain in the domain of individual freedom to make one’s own choices. This ideal also precludes government from trespassing on those rights through legal coercion or deterrence. This extends even so far as the right to make decisions that may not be in the individual’s best interest, but the right to choose supersedes the question of whether it will prove to be beneficial, and whether government has the right to legislate that choice.
Building on the principle of individual freedom, Freedom of Expression is a natural next step. Classical liberalism holds that the individual, a responsible human being, should be free to make his or her own choices, and so those choices invariably extend toward speech and expression. Not only should individuals be free to express their opinions, they should be free from any repercussions or fear of suppression in doing so. By extension, others have the freedom to choose to hear or to ignore such thoughts or beliefs by an individual.
The government, which is tasked with protecting the rights of the individual, is also expected to protect the individual (author or speaker) as well as the audience from reprisal by other citizens or by the government itself with regards to expressed rhetoric. This is not to say that a person should not be held accountable for expressing controversial beliefs. Quite the contrary: classical liberalism also protects the rights of an individual who wishes to respond, disagree, and counter those ideas. By protecting the freedom of all in regards to the exercise of free expression, liberalism encourages and supports civil discourse and intellectual engagement. This in turn enriches and helps develop a healthy civil society, where all ideas are free to be promoted as well as challenged.
Hand-in-hand with classical liberalism’s foundational values of individual freedom and freedom of expression comes the core value of the Rule of Law. A free society should be governed by a set of rules that are known to all individuals so they can make choices and take actions while informed of the principles and mechanisms by which conflicts are resolved. The rule of law is not meant to restrict freedom; rather it is a set of rules acting as guidelines to support the individual’s choices toward successful actions.
What maintains an individual’s freedom and liberty in a society governed by the rule of law is the structure within which the government must operate. A critical restriction around the rule of law is that it outlines what the government may not do to its citizens. Another essential tenet of the rule of law is that all individuals, even those who enforce the law, must be held accountable to its dictates, thus ensuring that a free society is ruled by law and not by the arbitrary whims of men.
Recognizing that Pluralism is the natural condition of modern free societies necessitates the active practice of tolerance to ensure the preservation and ongoing existence of these societies. In classical liberalism, this concept comes from understanding that people groups deeply disagree about many things and embrace very different ways of life. One of the goals in exercising toleration is to reciprocally recognize and accept that others may find our own views distasteful or possibly immoral.
To deal with these differences without having to resort to subjugation or oppression of diverse people groups, successful societies have been able to develop “norms of toleration” which allow space for the accommodation of these differences. This is in stark contrast with having the need to reconcile differences for agreement and cultural homogenization. Practiced in conditions of pluralism, toleration compels the understanding of opposing points of view rather than encourages the action of violence in response to that which offends us. In the long run, it establishes a strong framework for a truly good pluralistic society.
Civil Society refers to the way in which people associate when they’re not buying and selling goods or services on the market, and they’re not interacting with the state or participating in the political process. These direct associations between people are categorized in three areas, depending on the level of participation: primary, tertiary, and secondary. Associations between family members and close friends are considered to be primary. Tertiary associations are with groups to which you belong or support in some manner, but you do not necessarily connect directly with other members of those groups. Secondary associations are all the other relationships in which people connect and that are not based on familial relations or on business exchanges.
A robust civil society is most dependent on secondary associations and their role of limiting the power of government through efficiency and morality. The idea of efficiency argues that government is too big to know what people need, and therefore too big to help people in the way they need it. The morality argument is focused on the idea of coercion. That means that even if a person disagrees with how government is handling any particular situation, that person will be coerced into accepting government’s approach. There is no freedom for an individual to exit this relationship with government.
Secondary associations to allow an individual the freedom to move freely between relationships that meet a wide variety of needs, and they also give the individual more freedom to dissent without being coerced into any particular actions. Relying on secondary associations allows people the flexibility to find the relationships that best meet their needs, and this is a hallmark of civil society
Public policy based on organizing the economy around a framework of individual liberty rather than one of economic control is an important component of classical liberalism. Stated simply, Economic Freedom is actualized by allowing individuals to make their own economic decisions rather than outside organizations or government entities doing so. A review of human history with an acknowledgement of the times in which societies flourished and were most prosperous will show that these were not random occurrences, but rather they were periods during which people were free to invent and innovate, and they were encouraged to develop solutions to the challenges of their times. Further, they were incentivized by the guarantee of property rights and the ownership of their ideas and the fruits of their labor.
While it is possible and even appropriate for government to play a role in the maintenance of the economic environment, government’s active participation should be limited. Milton Friedman stated that economic freedom is a prerequisite to political freedom. If public policy defines and drives an economy that inhibits the entrepreneurial impulse, society’s vitality will suffer as surely as if political freedom was inhibited by force.
In 1942, a group of students at the University of Munich formed an intellectual resistance group called WeiBe Rose—White Rose. The group’s aim: to tell the world what the Nazis were doing.
Led by Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie, Alexander Schmorell, and Christopher Probst, the group sent letters around the world, dropped leaflets throughout Germany, and graffitied “Freedom” on the walls all over Munich.
Conscience gives us the capacity to distinguish between good and evil.
Most of the group were fairly religious Christians: they believed that they could not continue in good conscience knowing about the barbaric atrocities the Third Reich was committing. Sophie’s boyfriend wrote to her: “We know by whom we are created, and that we stand in a relationship of moral obligation to our creator. Conscience gives us the capacity to distinguish between good and evil.” It was a paraphrase of John Henry Newman’s sermon “The Testimony of Conscience.”
Their leaflets quoted extensively from the Bible, Aristotle, and Goethe. The symbol of the white rose was intended to represent purity. The group knew that in a society where thoughts and words were banned, they could face death as a result of disseminating the truth. But they felt that they could not remain silent: in the face of evil, silence was not an option.
Within days of being caught distributing leaflets at the University of Munich, they underwent faux “trials,” and three—including Sophie and Hans—were executed by guillotine. Sophie’s father, who had previously been arrested for calling Adolf Hitler the “scourge of God,” told her how proud he was of them. Han’s last words were: Es lebe die Freiheit! Let Freedom live!
During the summer of 2020, as riots and gratuitous violence were taking over the streets of New York City, as the media and politicians on the left spouted lie after lie after lie, as evil was being called good and good being called evil, I came across Sophie’s most famous quote: “Stand up for what you believe in even if you’re standing alone.”
It resonated. After the publication of my book The Lipstick Proviso: Women, Sex & Power in the Real World in 1997, I had been verbally bludgeoned by women’s studies professors for daring to voice two truths: biological differences between the sexes exist and feminism only means freedom, not a laundry list of political opinions. Pre-Internet, they slammed me for heresy in print, on radio shows, in phone calls in the middle of the night. It was my first encounter with today’s thought police, and it was so ugly I moved from Washington, D.C. to NYC to focus on aesthetics.
In June 2014, I was on Facebook conversing with a large group of friends in the international art world. The terrorist group Hamas captured and murdered three Israeli teens, starting yet another war. My posts up until that point mostly involved beautiful images. I had never written about Israel or even about being Jewish, but the appalling capture of the three teens struck a nerve. I waited for my more political friends to post something. To my astonishment, those in the art world took Hamas’s side. To my even greater astonishment, friends I had worked with at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic—liberal Jewish friends—posted nothing. Literally nothing.
I asked a friend of 25 years about it. “Oh,” she said matter-of-factly, “you can’t defend Israel publicly.” Why not? “You just can’t. And if you do, I can’t be friends with you.”
Even though I’ve always been a bit shy, I’ve also always been a proud non-conformist. You demand that I do something and unless it’s the right thing to do I will most likely do the opposite. Thank good parenting, Ayn Rand, and a strong Maccabean soul, I’ve never taken orders from friends and wasn’t about to start.
I began to defend Israel, hoping it would encourage my Jewish liberal friends to do the same. It didn’t. A few even unfriended because of those posts, and the partners of two of my best friends blocked me. Everything I had experienced in ’97 from women I didn’t know I was now experiencing from my closest friends.
All because I dared to tell the truth.
For the next six years I defended Israel but also classical liberal values. As Quilliam founder Maajid Nawaz realized in 2007 when he was being attacked for denouncing terrorism, the left was no longer liberal. It had become, in his words, “regressive leftist.” As a columnist for the Jewish Journal, I tried to show how leftism was illiberal, but nothing mattered: it kept getting worse. Mob justice ruled, forcing cancellations and firings; anti-journalism—propaganda—completely replaced journalism; neo-racism emerged as a state religion.
It also got very personal: because of COVID, I was able to hear millennial teachers try to indoctrinate my 11-year-old son, just as they had been indoctrinated in college.
When the history of this period is written, it will show that there were people who resorted to violence when non-violence would have moved mountains; there were people who resorted to lies when they had the truth on their side; there were people who watched silently when their bravery was needed.
No progress ever stems from lies, violence, and cowardice. What elevates and what destroys—it’s the question that every generation has faced, and right now we are allowing the destroyers free rein.
When I saw that Sophie Scholl quote in the summer of 2020, I began to look deeper into what White Rose stood for and was able to accomplish. What was needed, I thought, was a new magazine rooted in the bravery and moral clarity of those University of Munich students. A publication independent of both parties and thus able to engage in real journalism: reporting the truth and calling out whichever side went off the extremist edge.
Liberalism rests on a foundation of objective truth, objective morality, and a pluralism of opinion.
A publication that would also reteach the values of classical liberalism—individualism, heterodoxy, liberty, ethics—because no knowledge of those values can currently be found in newsrooms, classrooms, even the halls of Congress. A magazine that would state unequivocally that liberalism rests on a foundation of objective truth, objective morality, and a pluralism of opinion.
Finally, a publication that shows why culture in general and art in particular must be depoliticized, and that in fact depoliticized art has the greatest ability to elevate and unite—precisely what is needed right now. A publication that would show how the principles of liberalism and aesthetics align, and why that’s not a coincidence.
“Only the brave write history,” tweeted Hassan Sajwani, when peace was formally established between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Indeed. And our goal is both to honor the students of White Rose—and to make them proud. Our clarion call is the same: no more silence. You’re either calling out the illiberalism or covering it up. Working to liberate or to suppress. Standing up for true liberalism or bowing down to fascism. It’s well past time to revive the bravery of Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, and Golda Meir.
It’s well past time for the rebellion of freedom.