By Raphael Israeli
Western societies that are dipped in their Judeo-Christian tradition draw from the great Biblical Prophets who used to relentlessly lash out at their secular authorities, in a remarkable display of moral concern for both the domestic and external policies of their countries, whenever they felt that Truth was violated or the wrong prevailed. In so doing, they also ached the pains of the entire world, including their own, for they were aware that evil spirits might concoct lies and conspiracies against the Jewish Commonwealth in which they lived. When they defended their turf against outsiders, they did not do so as servants of their regime but in the name of their revulsion against outside enemies and evil doers. But those hallowed principles have become the prisoners of political correctness in recent memory, so much so that when wrong is done to Western culture or to Israel, western, especially Israeli, intellectuals would rather self-flagellate their public and "admit" sins they never committed, and furnish intellectual rationalizations for the most convoluted arguments raised by their adversaries, rather than take up their country's defense even when its conduct is beyond reproach.
Particularly distressing is the fact that many of those bleeding- heart critics rely for their education in matters in which they are not versed on committed newspapers and pamphlets, that more than they are bound by the truth or what is right , would rather submit to their political agendas, shamelessly reneging on the principles and the morality they usually profess . A case in point is the Israeli daily Haaretz, which is read by intellectuals, professionals and "thinkers", and routinely advocates decent conduct, "correct" policies, moral and transparent government, human treatment of prisoners, permissive behavior and the like. When much-maligned Ariel Sharon run for the top office in 2001, haaretz crowned him with all the epithets of contempt and hostility possible and campaigned against his election, to no avail. But when he announced after his election that he stood for disengagement from
A Sampling of Oddities
A respected colleague shared the platform with me in a panel that addressed hundreds of donors to the
A few years back, when the Intifada was raging, an Indian delegation stayed in
How ironical that the President of the Weizmann Institute, Haim Harari, who cared to devote some research to the question of terrorism, came to the same conclusions as myself regarding Muslim terrorism, though he couched his findings in a much more categorical and less nuanced way than me, as is the wont of hard-core scientists! In another conference in
In intellectual circles in
Ben Porat's message perked down to other university institutions, either by fiat or by obsequious conformity to the general mood. So much so, that with rare exceptions, every time there was a topic of direct interest to me, even when I published more than others on it, the boycott on me was strictly enforced. There were days when in the Institute of Research of which I have been one of the veteran members, a similitude of balance and debate was kept, even when my view was diluted in many others, and my participation in several research projects was banned as soon as I indicated the direction to which I wished to take my own investigation. For example, it was legitimate to examine all the aspects of a prospective Palestinian state, or the grievances of the Arabs as a minority in
Some Consequences and Tentative Conclusions
Obviously, the greatest sin one can commit towards the politically correct is to be right and thereby to ridicule their dug-in positions and to wipe out their conventional wisdom. The rise of nationalism among Israeli Arabs, the lethality of Muslim fundamentalism and the vanity of Oslo were clear from their inception, but intellectuals preferred to look the other way, to dig in in their world of denial and to build around them a flimsy web of rationalizations and justifications so as to preserve their narcissistic ego and never admit their misguided delusions, otherwise their aura of authority might be irretrievably lost in the public domain. Ask those people and they will continue to praise
The best illustration of this Kafkaesque situation was the celebration of the decennial of
One cannot deny that following the outburst of Palestinian violence in 2000, in what became known as the Second Intifada, some politically correct intellectuals were shaken up (that is ironically the literal meaning of Intifada), and they began questioning the world of lies and delusions in which they were immersed thus far, and that had been diffused by the conforming media. There were days when this phenomenon of repentance , some of it in public, would fill my heart with joy, but I have grown weary of this attitude of fear and hypocrisy among intellectuals, who are ready to whisper in your ears their "repentance", but cannot still mobilize the requisite courage to get up and counter in public the strong lobby of political correctness. Consequently, my response to them is to reject their "secret" repentance and to insist that it must be declared in the open in order to have any impact. In the West , especially following the September 11 events, there are voices that rebel against the suffocating correctness around them which has driven them to low ebbs. When in Australia in Feb-March 2007, I was amazed at the tremendous responses to my remarks about the dangers of Muslim immigration to the West and at the wide public debate that my words had caused, as if those generally held feelings had been compressed, with few daring to talk about them, but now that the "safety" valves were open, a mighty current of grievances came gushing forth. So much so, that even the credible military commentator of Haaretz, came forth with a harsh criticism of the
In the provincial quagmire of
Everyone knows that truth cannot be blocked, nor can mouths be shut in the long run. Therefore, political correctness and the damages it inflicts on society are bound to be exposed and rejected by free societies. The trouble is that young generations of beginning scholars, who are rightly concerned about their careers and do not dare to rebel publicly for fear of being excluded and boycotted, will cause the intellectual world, and with it all society, to pay very high prices before the wrong is redressed.
The author is a professor of Islam and Middle East at
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