George Gilder’s ‘Israel test’ — and ours
Writer and thinker George Gilder has challenged Americans throughout his career. His book Wealth and Poverty ought to be required reading at the White House, but isn’t. There’s no indication from the disastrous policies pursued by this administration that anyone there has ever read this important work. (We might suggest it, though, for all those Occupiers of Wall Street. It would do wonders for their grim employment prospects.) Similarly, Men and Marriage was a Gilder work that laid out the secular case for social improvement and which — not incidentally — showed how the polygamy that is endemic to the Arab Middle East was a root cause of the ceaseless turmoil in Muslim societies there.
Now, he gives us another powerful book, The Israel Test. In this vital work, we see the disaster that has overcome the Arabs who have listened to the siren song of anti-Semitism. It is not the Jews’ fault that Arab societies are afflicted by backwardness, poverty, and oppression. The Arabs of Israel were better off in terms of their health education and welfare than any Arabs in the world. And those Arabs who worked with Israelis were the most favored of all their tribes. Only in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the return of the PLO dictator Yasser Arafat to power over millions of Arabs in Palestine did the progress of Arabs end. “Intifadas” — revolts marked by Arab youths throwing stones at Israeli soldiers — put an end to progress for the peoples who lived in close proximity to Israel. Arafat promised credulous policy makers in the West, especially those of the European Union, that he would change his spots and become a democratic leader of a modern state. He never intended to keep any of his promises — except the promise to take more and more of the lands then held by Israel. If land for peace was a formula for a Middle East settlement, Gilder shows us, then we would long ago have achieved peace.
Israel first yielded control of Sinai. Returning it to Egypt, Israel gained a cold peace with Anwar Sadat. When he was murdered by the Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak succeeded him and ran an authoritarian regime for 30 years. At least there was no war. But Mubarak made no attempt to crack down on the rampant anti-Semitism in his Egypt. In every train station, every hotel, you could buy Arab language copies of Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Tsarist-era forgery that stokes the flames of racial and religious hatred.
Arafat, of course, was even more venomous. In his Gaza headquarters after his death, Gilder informs us, were found stacks of Arabic versions of Mein Kampf, Hitler’s screed against the Jews, the seminal work that sparked the Holocaust. In Arabic, that work translates as “My Jihad.”
Gilder shows convincingly that anti-Semitism is behind the envy and covetousness that targets the Jews and that fuels the anti-capitalism that is foundational to Marxism and Nazism. In a stunning insight, Gilder notes that Jews achieve so highly they even excel in anti-Semitism. He notes that Karl Marx and U.S. academics like Noam Chomsky and the late Howard Zinn (Hollywood’s favorite Marxist historian) helped to popularize the image of grasping Wall Street “profiteers” and international bankers as a stock figure in left-wing analyses as well as Nazi propaganda.
George Gilder offers a striking confession. Despite the closeness of his own family to high-achieving Jews for generations, he was a rebellious prep school boy. When the young lady who tutored him to get him ready for acceptance to Harvard asked him how he liked Exeter, the teenage Gilder said it was fine, “except there are too many New York Jews.” The confident and caring tutor responded that she, too, was a New York Jew.
Gilder challenges us to confront our own prejudices and ask ourselves how we react to Israel. Do we think of the embattled Jewish state as a constant thorn, as a nation forever in need of handouts and special attention? Or do we see this nation — the size of New Jersey — as a leader on the cutting edge of technological and medical innovation? How many Nobel Prizes and physics prizes have been won by Israel’s foes? Arafat may be the only Hitler-praising, Nazi-promoting winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. His prize, appropriately enough, was stolen by his even more violent, more hateful Hamas opponents when they overran his home in Gaza.
Gilder argues that the U.S. should be a solid ally of Israel. One way to secure this relationship is for the U.S. to lead the world in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Winston Churchill said it best: “Let the Jews have Jerusalem; it is they who made it famous.” Gilder, we are sure, would agree.
Twenty years of appeasement of violent Arab movements and regimes has yielded nothing but terrorism and threats. We have wasted billions in the vain pursuit of a Mideast settlement, building our houses upon shifting desert sands. Let’s recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided, eternal capital. And let Israel’s enemies recognize reality.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are Senior Fellows with the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.