If you knew nothing about a person, but needed to make a moral assessment of him, how would you go about it? Most of us would assume that one effective way would be to identify the person's friends and enemies.
If the list of friends were people you knew to be particularly decent, or if the list of enemies were known to be particularly indecent, you would undoubtedly feel good about the person.
This applies equally to nations.
That is why, since Sept. 11, I have felt so proud to be an American and a Jew. I am a member of the world's two most hated peoples, and when I peruse the list of our enemies, I am filled with pride.
As the Jewish people have a much longer history than the American people, let's begin with the Jews. From the Pharaohs' Egypt, with its slave-based society and cult of death (the Book of the Dead was its bible, the pyramids were tombs), to the medieval Crusaders who slaughtered Jews on their way to the Holy Land, to the Inquisitors, to the Nazis for whom exterminating Jews was the paramount goal, to the Soviet Communists who sought to extinguish Judaism, the list of Jew-haters is a list of history's evildoers.
As regards America, in the last century, its enemies, too, have read like a who's who of evil, led by Nazi and Communist murderers.
When we move to the present moment, we find that the haters of America and the haters of Jews are quite the same. So, the question is: Can we assess the moral quality of the Jewish and American peoples by noting who their enemies are?
Well, let's take a look at the list of those who hate us:
- Most of the Arab Middle East. These are societies characterized by extraordinary levels of violence and cruelty and by having no or very few freedoms. They often relegate women to a status beneath that of a Western woman living a thousand years ago.
- All the totalitarian Islamic movements, meaning those Islamic groups that aim to violently impose Islamic law on their subjects – such as the Taliban, al-Qaida, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Sudanese and Iranian regimes.
- The Communist regimes of North Korea and Cuba.
Are these groups essentially decent ones that just happen to hate America, Israel and the Jews? Of course not. They largely constitute the cruelest groups of our time.
One should be honored to be hated by them.
But not all Americans and Jews regard this hatred as a moral badge of honor. Some Americans and Jews – those on the left and those who ache to be liked – regard this as a badge of shame. If we are hated, these people contend, it must reflect our moral failings, not the moral failings of those who hate us.
Thus, for these people, the fact that throughout the Muslim Middle East, Muslim religious leaders pray publicly for the extermination of the Jews, that the leading Muslim scholars praise Muslim suicide mass murderers, that Arab newspapers regularly publish articles that manufacture Nazi-like lies about Jews – all these facts only reflect on Israeli-Jewish venality, not on the low moral stature of the haters.
So, too, the fact that most Saudis and other Muslims in the Arab world applaud the terror of Sept. 11 says to these Americans and many other Westerners that something must be wrong with Americans, not with the societies that produce the terror.
This is surely the view of Europe, another place that dislikes – if not exactly hates – America, Israel and the Jews. But again the same question may be asked: After morally assessing, let us say, France, the leader in anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric, and the site of hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents in the past few months, would you rather be admired or disdained by France? And would you rather be admired or disdained by the United Nations?
For this American and Jew, those questions are rhetorical. Woe unto us if Saddam Hussein, the Iranian mullahs, the Sudanese regime, and the U.N. start liking us as much as they like France.
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