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Mark Steyn: War between America and Europe
The Spectator (U.K.) ^ | 12/27/2001 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 12/27/2001 8:10:03 AM PST by Pokey78

New Hampshire

My colleague Petronella Wyatt reported the other week that ‘since 11 September anti-Semitism and its open expression has become respectable at London dinner tables’. Barbara Amiel then chipped in with the news that it’s spread to lunch and afternoon tea, too.

Apparently, at a recent gathering chez Barbara, the ambassador of ‘a major EU country’ told guests that the current troubles were all because of ‘that shitty little country Israel.... Why,’ he asked, ‘should the world be in danger of World War Three because of those people?’ Next came a private lunch at which ‘the hostess — doyenne of London’s political salon scene — made a remark to the effect that she couldn’t stand Jews and everything happening to them was their own fault’. A few days after 11 September, Richard Ingrams wrote a column in the Observer headlined ‘Who Will Dare Damn Israel?’ Answer: take a number and join the queue.

This is the mood music of the new war, and more mellifluous in Britain than in the Arab world, with its amusing pop songs (‘I Hate Israel’) and droll sitcoms (Plots of Terror, featuring an Ariel Sharon who drinks the blood of Arab babies and then tosses them on the bonfire). It would be frightfully tedious if Jews were thin-skinned enough to make a fuss about this sort of thing when there are so many more important things to worry about — such as, for example, the potential backlash against Muslims that Western leaders are always fretting about in-between photo-ops at the mosque. President Bush and co. have been so busy enjoining us not to beat up our Islamic neighbours that they’ve failed to notice an actual as opposed to hypothetical spate of ‘hate crimes’: according to Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, more European synagogues have been attacked and burned in the last year than in any year since 1938, the year of Kristallnacht. This doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of press coverage.

Americans are resigned to Britain’s and Europe’s need to ‘damn’ Israel, if only because they’re used to being on the receiving end themselves. Among British Conservatives, anti-Zionism tends to go hand in hand with anti-Americanism — or, to put it in a more positive light, Europhiles tend also to be Arabists (Ian Gilmour, etc.). This is perfectly understandable: a certain type of Englishman looks at an Arab and sees a desert version of his most cherished self-delusions. Where Jews are modern, urban and scientific, Arabs are feudal, rural and romantic. Jews wear homburgs; Arabs wear flowing robes and head-dresses. Jews are famously ‘in trade’; Arabs are just as famously hopeless at economic creativity: they have oil, but require foreigners to extract it and refine it. A backward culture that loves dressing up and places no value on professional activity will always appeal to a segment of the English elite. Look at the Prince of Wales in that wannabe Bedouin get-up he wore to meet Brother bin Laden the other week. Scarcely had he tossed the Highgrove hejab in the washer than he went out and gave a speech denouncing the ‘arrogance’ of skyscrapers. In America, blacks talk of the ‘white Negro’; the Prince comes over like a white Arab.

Over on the other side, meanwhile, whether or not Jews are still regarded in Europe as grasping, taloned, sallow, hook-nosed usurers with eyes like rattlesnakes, the traditional defects pale in comparison with a more recently acquired trait: their Americanism. Americans and Jews are not entirely synonymous, but, to elderly European Jews of a certain age, criticism of the Yanks has a familiar ring to it. In 1937, Sacheverell Sitwell visited the Bukovina, formerly the easternmost province of the Habsburg empire, then part of Romania and now in Ukraine. Its capital city Czernowitz was a multicultural mélange of Romanians, Ruthenians, Poles, Germans, Armenians and Swabians, but, as Sitwell noted, you’d never know that from a stroll down Main Street: ‘There is not a shop that has not a Jewish name painted above its windows. The entire commerce of the place is in the hands of the Jews. Yiddish is spoken here more than German.’ Not any more — the Jews of Czernowitz are dead or fled — but the Hebrew hegemony in the Bukovina has a contemporary echo in the high streets of modern Britain: There is scarce a shop that has not an American name painted above its windows: McDonald’s, The Gap, Dunkin’ Donuts, Toys R Us, Starbucks. American is spoken more than British: ‘Have a nice day.’ ‘Would you like fries with that?’ Resentment of US cultural imperialism is merely a supersized version of the charges levelled at ’tween-wars European Jewry: the anti-globalisation crowd, droning on about interlopers interested only in profits and swamping local cultures, are singing a very old song. Indeed, the savvier Aryans can claim to have seen it coming. As Werner Sombat wrote in The Jews and Economic Life (1911): ‘One can rightly say that the United States owes what it is entirely to the Jews: that is, its American nature. What we call Americanism to a large degree is nothing other than the influence of the Jewish spirit.’

I don’t entirely agree with that, but it seems to me Sombat is right to this extent: American sympathy for Israel and European support for the Arabs are essentially cultural statements, unrelated to the finer points of the ‘Palestinian question’. America supports Israel not because it’s Jewish but because it’s democratic. In fact, Republicans support Israel despite the Jews. American Jews are urban liberals and one of the Democratic party’s most reliable core demographics. There is no political benefit whatsoever to Bush in taking a ‘hard pro-Israel line’. Au contraire, Arab-Americans are just about the only immigrant group other than the Cubans that votes Republican. Yet that will never translate into GOP support for Arab states as presently constituted. My northern, rural, conservative neighbours are, when you prod ’em a little, mildly xenophobic and share a reflexive distaste for overt Jewishness. But they’ll always back Israel over Syria or Egypt because to them liberty trumps everything else. They are also under no illusions as to the kind of state an Arafat-led Palestine would be: if you gave him Switzerland to run, he’d turn it into a sewer. So Republicans look at Israel and see not Jews but a liberal democracy.

Funnily enough, that’s also what the Arabs see. They don’t hate America because it backs Israel; they hate Israel because it looks like America — it’s a functioning state. If you get out a map of the world and look at the vastness of the Arab lands from North Africa to the Gulf with a tiny Israeli sliver in the middle (if you accept the 1967 borders, it’s only 11 miles wide at one point), it’s simply not possible for any rational human being to blame the tiny sliver for all the woes of the surrounding vastness. At least in the old days Muslim victim culture sought out more plausible oppressors. Writing after the Great War, in which the Ottoman empire picked the wrong side through bad luck as much as anything else, Albert Kinross recounted his discussions with an educated Turk:

The bey’s politics amounted to this: why did British diplomacy allow German diplomacy to lead poor Turkey by the nose? He presupposed, firstly, that the Turk could do no wrong, and, secondly, that the Turk was an irresponsible and charming child whom it was the duty of the Great Powers to pet and spoil. To my unregenerate mind, a good hiding would have been more salutary.

The Turk has grown up, rather impressively. But we’re still trying to pet and spoil his former Arabian provinces — i.e., ‘win their hearts and minds’ — when in truth the good hiding administered to Osama and Mullah Omar is far more salutary.

But even if you accept that Jews are slavering money-lenders no London hostess can stand and that Israel is a shitty little country, so what? In the objective sense, the Arab states are failures. If Israel was ‘imposed’ on the region in the Forties, the other nations date only from the Twenties. The only difference is the Jews have made a go of it. Both Israel and Egypt get massive subventions from Washington: Egypt, an economic basket-case, pisses it away; Israel is now a net technology exporter.

If America recognises a kindred spirit in Israel, then so does Europe in the Arab autocracies. After all, when King Fahd, President Mubarak, et al. sell themselves to the West as anti-democratic brakes on the baser urges of their people, they sound a lot like the European Union. As we’ve seen yet again, the principle underpinning the new Europe is not ‘We, the people’ but ‘We know better than the people’ — not just on capital punishment and the Treaty of Nice and the single currency, but on pretty much anything that comes up, including national elections. When 29 per cent of Austrian voters were impertinent enough to plump for Jörg Haider’s Freedom party, the EU punished them with sanctions and boycotts. As the Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson put it, ‘The programme that is developing in Austria is not in line with EU values.’ In the new Europe, the will of the people is subordinate to the will of the Perssons. Understandably, to such an elite the Oslo ‘peace process’ ought to be as remorseless and undeviating as the path to European unity: how preposterous to let something as footling as the wishes of the Israeli electorate disrupt it.

So each half of the West looks in the Middle East for what it values most in itself: for the Americans, liberty; for Europe, paternalism, benign or otherwise. The result is a mirror image: just as Israel is the odd man out in the Middle East, so increasingly America is in the West, wedded as it is to such bizarre concepts as capital punishment, gun rights, free speech, etc.

As for Barbara Amiel’s EU ambassador, fretting that shitty little Israel, ‘those people’, are plunging the world into war, let me propose an alternative theory: it’s all his fault. The other day, Mickey Kaus, an iconoclastic neoliberal, noticed that Zacarias Moussaoui, the French national now charged with conspiracy in connection with 11 September, became an Islamic radical while living in London ‘drawing welfare benefits’; also, Ahmed Ressam, arrested on the eve of Y2K while en route to blow up Los Angeles International Airport, had been living in Montreal where he ‘survived on welfare payments’; likewise, Metin Kaplan, who heads a radical Islamic sect, ‘claimed social benefits in Cologne for many years until two million deutschmarks in cash was found in his flat’.

In other words, life in the Middle East may have fired their Islamic fundamentalism, but benefit cheques from the soft West Euro-Canadian welfare states enabled them to pursue their obsession at the taxpayer’s expense. If you’re looking for ‘root causes’ for terrorism, European-sized welfare programmes are a good place to start. Maybe if they had to go out to work, they’d join the Daily Mirror and become the next John Pilger. Or maybe they’d open a drive-thru Halal Burger chain and make a fortune. Instead, Tony Blair pays Islamic fundamentalists in London to stay at home, fester and plot. Having grown up in Arab countries that place no value on work and provide little incentive to economic activity, your would-be suicide bomber fits easily into the welfare culture of the European Union or Canada. He wouldn’t last long in New Hampshire.

Say what you like about the Jews, but they don’t sit around on welfare. In St Urbain’s Horseman, Mordecai Richler recalled some of the routine slurs of the Quebec government during the second world war, including an official pamphlet showing ‘a coarse old Jew, nose long and misshapen as a carrot, retreating into the night with bags of gold’. A junior minister was dispatched to do damage control. ‘Anti-Semitism,’ he told the press, ‘is grossly exaggerated. Speaking for myself, my accountant is a Jew and I always buy cars from Sonny Fish.’

Just so. In the Middle East, two cultures jostle side by side: one channels its citizens’ energy into economic fulfilment, the other into pathetic victim fantasies. The sides the United States and the European Union have chosen to align themselves with say as much about themselves and their own psychological health as they do about Palestine.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: clashofcivilizatio; marksteynlist
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1 posted on 12/27/2001 8:10:03 AM PST by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78
Support God - Support Israel - The Jews are blessed by god and to damn them is to damn yourself.
2 posted on 12/27/2001 8:15:38 AM PST by Khepera
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To: Howlin, Riley1992, Miss Marple, deport, Dane, sinkspur, steve, LarryLied, kattracks...
Ping for the MSPL.

Due to a computer failure, my ping lists have been lost. If you were on the Steyn list and I did not ping you, or if you want to be on the MSPL, then either leave a note on this thread or FReepmail me.

3 posted on 12/27/2001 8:15:43 AM PST by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78
--Mark Steyn--one of the greatest editorial writers in the world--
4 posted on 12/27/2001 8:16:11 AM PST by rellimpank
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To: Pokey78
Wow! Steyn just gets better and better.
5 posted on 12/27/2001 8:21:39 AM PST by jalisco555
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To: Pokey78
Please add me to the Steyn ping list. Thanks.
6 posted on 12/27/2001 8:22:29 AM PST by jalisco555
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To: Pokey78
This is perfectly understandable: a certain type of Englishman looks at an Arab and sees a desert version of his most cherished self-delusions.

LOL! This guys nails it all in one sentence! He then goes on to explain further, but this is the core of his article. Another GREAT one from Steyn.

7 posted on 12/27/2001 8:25:03 AM PST by Paradox
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: Pokey78
Due to a computer failure, my ping lists have been lost.

I didn't get religion about backups until it was too late either ;)

Please add me to the list...

9 posted on 12/27/2001 8:26:26 AM PST by general_re
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To: Pokey78
What was it George Washington said about avoiding permanent foreign alliances? I'd be interested to hear if anyone thinks it has any relevance to what is going on in Israel right now.
10 posted on 12/27/2001 8:26:44 AM PST by Christian B
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To: Pokey78
Yeah, what he said.
11 posted on 12/27/2001 8:29:23 AM PST by machman
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To: tex-oma; labelledamesansmerci; commiesout; zviadist
Comments please. Steyn is a fabulous writer but he is losing the plot a bit, in my view.
12 posted on 12/27/2001 8:32:23 AM PST by NewAmsterdam
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To: Pokey78; *Clash of Civilizatio; *Mark Steyn list
Bump.
13 posted on 12/27/2001 8:34:17 AM PST by denydenydeny
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To: Pokey78
Steyn nails it again:

America supports Israel not because it’s Jewish but because it’s democratic. In fact, Republicans support Israel despite the Jews. American Jews are urban liberals and one of the Democratic party’s most reliable core demographics. There is no political benefit whatsoever to Bush in taking a ‘hard pro-Israel line’. . . . My northern, rural, conservative neighbours are, when you prod ’em a little, mildly xenophobic and share a reflexive distaste for overt Jewishness. But they’ll always back Israel over Syria or Egypt because to them liberty trumps everything else. They are also under no illusions as to the kind of state an Arafat-led Palestine would be: if you gave him Switzerland to run, he’d turn it into a sewer. So Republicans look at Israel and see not Jews but a liberal democracy.

And again:

If America recognises a kindred spirit in Israel, then so does Europe in the Arab autocracies. After all, when King Fahd, President Mubarak, et al. sell themselves to the West as anti-democratic brakes on the baser urges of their people, they sound a lot like the European Union. As we’ve seen yet again, the principle underpinning the new Europe is not ‘We, the people’ but ‘We know better than the people’ — not just on capital punishment and the Treaty of Nice and the single currency, but on pretty much anything that comes up, including national elections.

14 posted on 12/27/2001 8:34:22 AM PST by Logophile
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To: Pokey78
Great stuff. If two hundred years from now a student wanted to understand the tenor of our times he or she would need nothing more than the writings of Steyn and Peggy Noonan.
15 posted on 12/27/2001 8:34:45 AM PST by Guillam
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To: Pokey78
Steyn nails it again!
16 posted on 12/27/2001 8:36:39 AM PST by B Knotts
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To: Pokey78
Arabs are just as famously hopeless at economic creativity: they have oil, but require foreigners to extract it and refine it.

True story. Arabs import all of their skilled labor.

17 posted on 12/27/2001 8:39:32 AM PST by randog
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To: Pokey78
Thank you in advance for adding me back onto your Steyn list. This one is a very good read.
18 posted on 12/27/2001 8:41:28 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: Pokey78
The article was a nice read, but the author missed another point and that is there is a similar war going on inside america. It is about mostly what he talks about and that is a culture that values work, inventivness, independence and one that would like to have america be like Europe, that is a society where the elite rules because the commoner can't possibly know better.

I recently went to a speech given by Oliver North. One thing he said rings true to me. He said (in reference to 9-11) "they don't hate us because of anything we did, they hate us because of who we are"

19 posted on 12/27/2001 8:45:31 AM PST by staytrue
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To: Pokey78
Anti-semitism is alive and well on planet Earth, and has expanded to include the allies of Israel. The pagan hordes are gathering to take a spoil.
20 posted on 12/27/2001 8:45:32 AM PST by hsszionist
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To: Pokey78
Definately put me on this ping list please.
21 posted on 12/27/2001 8:45:36 AM PST by Centurion2000
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To: Pokey78
A vague memory is running through my head...some religious reference or other about the distruction of Israel heralding Armegeddon...shame the Bible was banned in 1992, along with G_d, or I'd look it up.
22 posted on 12/27/2001 8:45:50 AM PST by cake_crumb
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To: Pokey78...
Ping.
23 posted on 12/27/2001 8:46:30 AM PST by ambrose
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To: Pokey78
A BUMP and a return-to-the-ping-list request.
 
Thanks in advance!

24 posted on 12/27/2001 8:48:30 AM PST by AnnaZ
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To: randog
True story. Arabs import all of their skilled labor.

They also surrender faster than the French, which you must admit is a remarkable feat.
Can anyone remember the last time these sheet-heads won a war?

25 posted on 12/27/2001 8:52:03 AM PST by KJMorgan
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To: Pokey78
Where Jews are modern, urban and scientific, Arabs are feudal, rural and romantic. Jews wear homburgs; Arabs wear flowing robes and head-dresses. Jews are famously 'in trade'; Arabs are just as famously hopeless at economic creativity: they have oil, but require foreigners to extract it and refine it. A backward culture that loves dressing up and places no value on professional activity will always appeal to a segment of the English elite.

In general, I support Israel's right to defend itself. That said, this supporting premise is racist tripe. Here in Silicon Valley we have thousands of Arab and Muslim programmers, engineers, scientists, and businesspeople making a real contribution to technology. These people are not dumb, nor are they culturally illiterate. They are in general, better educated than Americans (which isn't saying much). His assertion is condescending garbage.

26 posted on 12/27/2001 8:53:18 AM PST by Carry_Okie
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Comment #27 Removed by Moderator

To: Pokey78
BUMP
28 posted on 12/27/2001 8:53:36 AM PST by Nachum
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To: ambrose;Pokey78
In other words, life in the Middle East may have fired their Islamic fundamentalism, but benefit cheques from the soft West Euro-Canadian welfare states enabled them to pursue their obsession at the taxpayer’s expense. If you’re looking for ‘root causes’ for terrorism, European-sized welfare programmes are a good place to start.

Did I told you people here in Holland mosques are build with money from the government, unlike the buildings of other religions?

29 posted on 12/27/2001 8:55:35 AM PST by knighthawk
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To: Pokey78
As the Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson put it, ‘The programme that is developing in Austria is not in line with EU values.’ In the new Europe, the will of the people is subordinate to the will of the Perssons.

Great line! Funny and all too true.

30 posted on 12/27/2001 8:55:37 AM PST by Snuffington
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Comment #31 Removed by Moderator

To: coteblanche
Hiya, cote! I used to imagine more than dinner with Miss Amiel. The picture on the front of her autobiography was astounding.
32 posted on 12/27/2001 8:55:46 AM PST by Argh
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To: Pokey78
Steyn is simply brilliant here. Welfare has literally destroyed whole nations, witness the Roman empire and the "corn and games" freebies the emperors gave away. Witness the virtual destruction of the American Indian on the reservations. Witness the insane riots in Los Angeles. People who have to work don't have time for such nonsense.

But the most frightening aspect of this whole scene is the strong possiblilty that Europe will again fall into militarist fascism. They seem to like that sort of philosophy.

It is interesting that the Brits would be so crazy like this. After all it was they who invented these ridiculous non-nations like Afghanistan and Kuwait. If anyone is to blame it's the Brits, not the Jews.

33 posted on 12/27/2001 8:58:49 AM PST by Seruzawa
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To: Pokey78
Very good article!
34 posted on 12/27/2001 8:59:08 AM PST by SoDak
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To: Pokey78
For "compassionate" Liberal/Socialists, the problem is simple, "compassion", is defined, begins, and ends, with their control of the situation, the end of their own noses being it's limit. This is what being an enlightened intellecutal acutally means, "I will protect my elite lifestyle from all threats, preceived or real, from the dirty masses, even if that means that I must throw everyone else's money and lives at the threat."

Isreal is not something that is within their control, it threatens their lifestyle, so it matters little or not at all what is right or wrong to these moral equivocators, "what is safe for me?", is the only thing that registers on their radar screens. If Israel is a threat that might lead to WW3, don't ask WWJD in that situation, that is saved for when you want to attempt to guilt those you hope are ignorant enough not to actually know WJWD, just get rid of Israel if possible.

35 posted on 12/27/2001 9:00:24 AM PST by MissAmericanPie
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To: ambrose
a certain type of Englishman looks at an Arab and sees a desert version of his most cherished self-delusions

No just the Brits, more's the pity...

Appreciate the ping!

36 posted on 12/27/2001 9:11:53 AM PST by backhoe
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To: Carry_Okie
"Here in Silicon Valley we have thousands of Arab and Muslim programmers, engineers, scientists, and businesspeople making a real contribution to technology"

I support your position that Arabs are not dumb or, in general, culturally backward. However, the Arab and Muslim programmers, engineers, scientists and businesspeople you refer to are in the United States, a free country, and not living in Mideastern Islamic states.

Islamic states are not free, and the flower of creativity and individualism no longer blooms in those countries. If, at some point, an Islamic state decides to turn into one with a representational government, with the same basic freedoms we enjoy in the US, then those countries will progress. Heck, there aren't even public opinion polls about the leaders of these states.

There have been no great achievements in any of those countries in centuries. The reason os not ethnicity or religion. The reason is lack of freedom. It's hard to progress when your leaders keep you ground into the dirt under their bootheel, while hoarding oil money.

37 posted on 12/27/2001 9:13:04 AM PST by cake_crumb
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To: Carry_Okie
That said, this supporting premise is racist tripe. Here in Silicon Valley we have thousands of Arab and Muslim programmers, engineers, scientists, and businesspeople making a real contribution to technology. These people are not dumb, nor are they culturally illiterate. They are in general, better educated than Americans (which isn't saying much).

The doctors from Arab countries at the hospital I work at are likewise quite good. But you note these people left the Arab nations to make their contribution. I would bet that most got at least their graduate degrees at American (or Canadian) universities.

38 posted on 12/27/2001 9:13:39 AM PST by Celtjew Libertarian
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To: Pokey78
Please add me to the Steyn Ping List. Thanks.
39 posted on 12/27/2001 9:14:12 AM PST by Celtjew Libertarian
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To: Carry_Okie
"Where Jews are modern, urban and scientific, Arabs are feudal, rural and romantic. Jews wear homburgs; Arabs wear flowing robes and head-dresses. Jews are famously 'in trade'; Arabs are just as famously hopeless at economic creativity: they have oil, but require foreigners to extract it and refine it. A backward culture that loves dressing up and places no value on professional activity will always appeal to a segment of the English elite."

Anyone else note that this sounds oddly like the divide between the American North and South that led to the Civil War?

40 posted on 12/27/2001 9:15:15 AM PST by rdww
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Comment #41 Removed by Moderator

To: Pokey78
bump
42 posted on 12/27/2001 9:23:46 AM PST by Red Jones
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To: cake_crumb
No argument there. I am merely pointing out that the way the article put it, ALL Arabs (including those in Europe) were portrayed as intrinsically backward, especially when compared to cosmopolitan Jewry. It was a racist generalization that discounts the idea that things could be any different were Arab political institutions reconstructed by their citizens.

Such positions lend tacit approval to treating Arabs as chattel. They allow for a policies that don't appear to me to be constructive but are instead a sophisticated means of ethnic cleansing by bureaucratic fiat. Such means are particularly familiar to those in the American West where environmental laws are being used to dispossess landowners of their property.

You can't help people (or settle their ancient grievances) if you don't respect their worth and potential. That is just a fact of nature.

43 posted on 12/27/2001 9:27:54 AM PST by Carry_Okie
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

To: Pokey78
Say what you like about the Jews, but they don’t sit around on welfare.

That's good. Does that mean they're now going to start supporting the Republicans instead of the Socialist Left which explicitly encourages people to 'sit around on welfare'?

45 posted on 12/27/2001 9:35:13 AM PST by Post Toasties
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Comment #46 Removed by Moderator

To: MissAmericanPie
I agree. In fact, Bismarck invented the welfare state to preserve the German monarchy and the power of the Prussian aristocracy. His deal with the socialists was we will care for you from cradle to grave if you leave the property and power with us.

The welfare state was invented to preserve authoritarianism.

47 posted on 12/27/2001 9:38:12 AM PST by colorado tanker
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To: Pokey78
Bump for brilliance and yes please to the ping list.
48 posted on 12/27/2001 9:38:51 AM PST by colorado tanker
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To: Lazarus Long
The fact is that people get the government they deserve

I am not certain that I buy this, because the idea of "deserve" is so subjective that it devolves to a tautology.

49 posted on 12/27/2001 9:39:39 AM PST by Carry_Okie
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To: theoldright
The last time I looked Israel was surrounded by black rock worshiping Islamics, and Europe is far away. Though I wouldn't really classify Europe as Christian, more secular

Pagan usually refers to religious practices not sanctified by the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These are clearly listed in the Scriptures.

And what do you mean by you folks?
50 posted on 12/27/2001 9:40:18 AM PST by hsszionist
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