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An Open Letter to Patrick Buchanan By: Lawrence Auster
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, April 15, 2002


NOTWITHSTANDING YOUR WELL-KNOWN FOIBLES, I have long admired you as a leading social conservative and—when you are at your best—as one of the most serious and substantial men in American public life. I attended the first two of your American Cause conferences in the early 1990s and was tremendously impressed by the high level of the discussions and the upright manner in which you conducted them—it was a far cry from the pugnacious persona you have sometimes cultivated. During a tour of Revolutionary War sites around Boston during the conference that you held there in 1994, we visited Concord Bridge. I remember standing with you at the Minuteman statue, one of the greatest symbols of America.

Most importantly, from my point of view, we are in agreement on the need to reduce the mass immigration that is having such ruinous and divisive effects on our culture.  I am proud of the fact that you first began writing columns criticizing current immigration policy after you read my 1990 booklet The Path to National Suicide:  An Essay on Immigration and Multiculturalism, at which time you also had me as a guest on "Crossfire."  In addition to supporting your earlier presidential runs, I voted for you in the 2000 presidential election, seeing you as the only candidate who stood for the defense of the historic American nation against the twin ideologies of open borders and globalism.   

Also, I repeatedly wrote to your neoconservative critics during the 1990s defending you from their charges of anti-Semitism and extremism, which I felt were blatantly untrue and unfair. For years, despite my strong disagreement with your views on Israel, I gave you a pass on the Israeli-Palestinian problem, believing that difficult issue to be of secondary importance to us as Americans. But now, at this terrible moment, with most of the civilized and uncivilized world ganging up against Israel in the supreme crisis of its existence, and with you eagerly joining the gang, it has become impossible for me to suppress my concerns about the direction you have taken.

My worries were crystallized by your April 3 column at TownHall.com, in which you wrote: "[T]he Israeli repression has radicalized the Palestinians ..."

In order for you to write that sentence, Pat, you had to have forgotten an awful lot of awfully recent history. Namely you had to have forgotten the entire Oslo process, culminating in Barak's offer to the Palestinians of their own state on over 90 percent of the West Bank, an offer the Palestinians responded to not with a counter-offer but with a terror war. To any mind not blinded by its own hopes or resentments, this second Intifada proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Palestinians' participation in the "peace process" has been a fraud from the start—a part of their long-term campaign to destroy the Jewish state.

Yet you, sounding like a liberal who believes that "Communism is caused by poverty" or that "black crime is caused by white racism," assert that the Palestinians have been "radicalized" by Israeli "repression." The truth is that they have been radicalized—or, to speak more accurately, their blood lust has been excited—by their Islamist ideology of hate and by their renewed hopes of eliminating Israel, hopes that have been stirred in them not by Israeli repression but by Israel's suicidal concessions to them over these past eight years.

So you have everything exactly backward. Far from behaving as oppressors, the Israelis have been behaving as terminally stupid liberals. Captive to the utopian dream that denies the existence of evil and of enemies, they have dismantled their own national identity while steadfastly closing their eyes to the Palestinians' genocidal nationalism. It is a dream from which even now the Israelis are only fitfully awakening.

As a conservative who understands the realities of power and the disastrous consequences of ignoring them, you have always been quick to criticize this kind of liberal idiocy wherever it has been at work in the world. Why are you unable to see it at work in Israel, which was founded as a socialist state and even today is being led by some of the most benighted utopians on the planet, by men such as Shimon Peres, without whose approval Sharon, as the head of a coalition government, can do nothing? What is it that drives you to misconstrue eight years of Israeli appeasement as oppression?

If the same pattern of events were occurring in any other country, with demonic Third-World terrorists blowing up civilized Westerners at their holiday meals (Westerners who had foolishly ceded to those terrorists the very territory from which their attacks could be organized and carried out), you as a moral and cultural conservative would be taking the side of the Westerners against the terrorists, you would be urging them to wake up from their sleep and do whatever they had to do to assure their safety and survival. But, in this case, exactly like an anti-Western leftist, you indict Israel as an oppressor while you excuse and relativize the devilish evil of the terrorists.

Thus, in your April 6 column at TownHall.com, you give lip service to condemning the Palestinian bombers, but direct your real anger at Sharon:

"Incited by the savage suicide attacks over Passover, Sharon sent his army rampaging onto the West Bank, shooting up Arafat's headquarters, killing Palestinians by the score, and igniting a storm of protest from our friends and allies. Why, they demand to know of us, does the president not rein in the raging bull of Ramallah?"

"... Ariel Sharon does not believe in that peace. When the United States embraced the Oslo accords and Prime Minister Rabin's offer of land-for-peace, when we endorsed Ehud Barak's bold offer to the Palestinians, when President Bush welcomed the Saudi peace plan, Sharon opposed them all, rejected them all, trashed them all, fought them all. Sharon's vision is not America's vision. We must make that known to the world."

While you're making those insights known to the world, Pat, that is, while you're painting Sharon as an animalistic aggressor and interloper, let me add some facts that you've omitted from your lurid account. The simple truth is that the Israeli people elected Sharon in a landslide because the peace process that he had so long criticized had led to calamity. Without that calamity, he would never have become prime minister. Then, to the dismay of many of his supporters, he pulled his punches for an entire year, responding to repeated terror attacks on Israeli civilians by launching Clintonesque missile strikes at empty buildings. When he sent military forces into the West Bank in early March, and President Bush told him that this was "not helpful," Sharon, whom you describe as a "rampaging bull," immediately withdrew his troops. Then came the Passover massacre, and Sharon at long last took decisive steps to root out the killers, initiating a full-scale incursion into the Palestinian areas that was backed by Barak and Peres and other Labor members of Sharon's coalition government, not to mention by the Israeli people, whose battered spirits soared when they saw their government finally engaged in meaningful action to defend their lives.

If ever in the history of the world there was a justified use of military force, this was it. Yet you, along with the international left and the globalist bureaucrats of the UN and the EU, of whom you have now become an ally for the first time in your life, have been speaking about Israel as though it were some swaggering killer, some barbarian outlaw endangering the civilized world.

As bad as all that it, is, it gets worse than that—much worse. "The Sharonites," you write, "are the mirror image of Hamas and Hezbollah." [Italics added.] In other words, for fighting back against some of the most evil killers the world has ever seen, the Israelis are the moral equivalent of those killers. In addition to its moral nihilism, your "mirror image" comment is murderous in its practical implications. It is saying that in the face of unendurable suicide bombings being committed on Israeli civilians, effective Israeli self-defense shall not be permitted.

Not only do you announce that Israel is as bad as the terrorists, and therefore has no right to defend itself, and therefore has no right to exist; you approve of the terrorists and support their aims. "The terrorism of the suicide bombers of the Intifada—ugly and awful as its manifestations are in Netanya, Haifa, and Jerusalem—is but a tactic in a guerrilla war of national liberation being waged by the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation. It is a tactic with a venerable pedigree in the 20th century, where it was used repeatedly and successfully against the Western empires." [Italics added.] Among the examples you give of this "venerable" and "successful" tradition are Sinn Fein, the Irgun, the African National Congress, the Algerian FALN, and the Islamists who blew up the U.S. Marines barracks in Lebanon. "Terrorism works," you continue, "and the terrorists of yesterday—such as Begin and Mandela—often emerge as the statesmen of tomorrow."

In trying to legitimize the Muslim terrorists by equating them with "good" terrorists of the past, you make several false inferences. None of these terrorist campaigns were ever venerated by decent people;, the Irgun's tactics against the British military government in post-war Palestine, for example, were condemned by the vast majority of the Jewish community of the time. Nothing done by Menachem Begin (the head of the Irgun) or by Nelson Mandela was remotely like the Palestinians' random suicide bomb attacks on civilians. Mandela was tried and convicted for sabotage, treason, and violent conspiracy, not for terrorism, while the Irgun's only large-scale act of terror, the bombing of Jerusalem's King David Hotel, was aimed at a specific military headquarters, not at ordinary people going about their daily lives in streets, buses and shopping malls.

You also fail to mention that Begin and Mandela each reformed his character over a period of decades before becoming the leader of his country—in Mandela's case, through the humbling and ennobling experience of a 28-year jail term, in Begin's case, through a 30-year career as an elected party politician in the democratic state of Israel. Contrary to what you would have your readers believe, these men did not leap in a single bound from armed insurrection to Nobel Prizes and presidencies, as happened with the unspeakable Arafat.

Nevertheless, you say that since terrorism "works," and is working in Israel, Israel should surrender to it by making further concessions to the terrorists. It doesn't seem to occur to you that this would encourage the terrorists to continue their suicide bombings, not only in Israel, but in other "infidel" countries as well, including our own. Like the anti-anti-Communists of the Cold War era who refused to acknowledge the totalitarian nature of Communism and the necessity of resisting it, you refuse to face the expansive and totalitarian character of Islamo-fascism.

Instead, evincing all the realism of a Colin Powell or a Shimon Peres, you indulge in transparent illusions about the Arabs' willingness to be appeased:

"The only hope lies in a Palestinian state. A small state of their own would give Palestinians a huge stake in peace and in preventing acts of terror against Israel—i.e., national survival. Syria does not allow acts of terror on the Golan Heights, because Assad knows he has a nation to lose in any war with Israel. And, after independence, the IRA, the Irgun, the Mau Mau and the ANC terminated the terror."

The errors of fact and logic in the above passage are almost too numerous to mention. First, since the transfer to the Palestinians of increasing amounts of land and the promise of a sovereign state at the end of the process were not enough to give them a stake in peaceful behavior, what reason is there to assume that actual possession of a sovereign state would give them such a stake? Second, as cannot be pointed out often enough, you're brushing over the crucial reality that Israel did everything it could to give the Palestinians a state (so eager was Israel do so that it ignored the Palestinians' gross failure to fulfill their central commitments under the Oslo accords), and got a terror war in return for its indulgence. What rational basis is there to believe that further giveaways by Israel will bring peace? Third, you're turning a blind eye to the Palestinians' frequently expressed views in this matter. Arafat's foreign minister said the other week that for the Palestinians "the Right of Return of the refugees to Haifa and Jaffa is more important than statehood." In other words, the Palestinians don't care about acquiring a state; they care about obliterating Israel. Why don't you listen to them? Finally, your reference to the laying down of arms by past revolutionary movements sets up a false analogy with the Palestinians. Those other groups ceased their terror campaigns when they had fulfilled their revolutionary ambition, which was to drive out a foreign ruling power or to take control of their own country's government. But the Palestinians' driving ambition is to take over Israel. Therefore, even by your own logic, their acquisition of a state in the West Bank will not end their terror.

Why is Israel the exception?

Since the whole liberal-left establishment of the Western world is as unsympathetic to Israel's plight as you are, you may wonder why I'm singling you out for criticism. The answer, obviously, is that you are not a liberal. After all, when liberals and leftists engage in moral equivalency and seek to appease the forces of evil, when they make spurious denunciations of Western "oppression" and sympathize with Third-World liberation movements, when they side with savagery against civilization, that is only to be expected; they are expressing the leftist belief in the overthrow of traditional institutions and traditional morality. But when a conservative such as yourself adopts the same set of leftist attitudes, that is a mystery that cries out for explanation. Why, Pat, when it comes to Israel, do you make such a shocking exception from the conservative principles that you apply elsewhere? Why do you—who have always stood for strict morality and old-fashioned law and order—call terrorists "venerable"? Why do you—who throughout your career have opposed every left-wing national liberation movement—give aid and comfort to the one national liberation movement that is aimed at murdering Jews?

In fairness to you, it could be argued that your anti-Israel stand is motivated by a patriotic desire to keep America from becoming entangled in foreign conflicts that are none of our concern, and in imperial burdens that will diminish our liberties and exhaust our national strength. There is nothing wrong with believing that America should be a republic, not an empire, to quote the title of your excellent book on the subject. But your opposition to American empire, no matter how sincere and principled it may be, cannot account for your tortured attempt to legitimize Muslim terrorists. It cannot explain, or excuse, your brutal demonization of a fellow Western country at the moment of its maximum mortal peril. Sadly, therefore, I am left with only one plausible explanation for the ugly and uncharacteristic positions you have been taking on Israel: a profound, unspoken—and perhaps unconscious—animosity toward Jews.

That animus must run deep, indeed, Pat, for look where it is leading you. It is leading you to betray almost everything you've ever believed in. It's leading you to embrace utopian hopes for a blatantly fraudulent "peace." It's leading you to sign on to the "root causes" theory of evil and to use moral equivalencies that would make a Sixties liberal blush. It's leading you to erase the distinctions between terrorist killers and their victims, to justify monsters who blow up and dismember women and children, to promote the political aims of the people who celebrate such maiming and dismemberment, and to deny a brave and embattled nation's right to defend itself against these monstrosities. And it is leading you to align yourself with the European left, whose aim is not just the disappearance of the Jewish state but also the abolition of all sovereign Western nations, including our own.

Whatever the real or imagined cause of your grievance against the Jews, don't you see—don't you care—that the forces of a second Holocaust are gathering for the kill? Israel's back is to the wall. A billion Muslims are cheering on these mass murderers who have made it clear that they want to push the Jews into the sea. Familiar figures from the past—the French anti-Semites, the Europeans who saw Hitler coming and did nothing—are lining up to play the same role that they played in the Thirties. America and Israel are isolated. And you, Pat, you who cherish Western and Christian and American values—how are you relating to this Jihad against the Jews, which is also a Jihad against Christendom and the West? Are you thinking that if the West sells Israel down the river to appease these Muslim fanatics, or in some other way forces the extinction of the Jewish state, the result will be to strengthen the will and the moral fiber of the Western peoples about whose spiritual health you claim to be concerned? Surely the truth of the matter is the exact opposite. If the West abandons Israel to a Second Holocaust at the hands of Islamic extremists, that will be an act of collective moral suicide—the true Death of the West.




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