Exit Strategies

Letting Politics Trump Scholarship

I have long considered Kevin MacDonald’s work on anti-Semitism to be an important contribution to the social science literature, and I have so stated in my latest book, The Perils of Diversity.  His work on the subject bore the marks of serious scholarship when dealing with social issues, among which are a reliance on evidence, full coverage of differing views on that evidence, and a keen eye for the context in which social events play out.

I was therefore dismayed by his intemperate and gratuitous slur in his recent piece at The Occidental Observer (which was re-posted at Alternate Right), “Attack of the "Jew-Hating Stormtroopers"” claiming that “Israel is an apartheid state bent on ethnic cleansing and oppression of the Palestinians.” The vicious attack by David Horowitz on Ron Paul was completely out of line and should be answered; however, MacDonald’s skewed depiction of the Israel-Palestinian conflict didn’t help his cause.

In trying to determine the basis of MacDonald’s view, I examined a 2003 article (PDF) in The Occidental Quarterly in which he makes similar charges against Israel. As regard to evidence for these serious charges, he relies exclusively on anti-Zionist authors, with no reference at all to those who have challenged their views. For instance, he quotes at length Ran Hacohen, an Israeli leftist whose website is unabashedly and vehemently pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. For example, Hacohen wrote, during the height of the suicide bombings in Israel, that those bombings were justified by the occupation of the West Bank and that they could easily be stopped by building a fence, but such a move was resisted by Israeli leaders as it might be seen as a permanent border.  After the fence was built and proved successful, Hacohen then charged that it represented an effort to establish an “apartheid” state.  Even a cursory perusal of Hacohen’s website will reveal that it is wildly lopsided in its analysis. Had he wished, MacDonald could easily have found sources challenging Hacohen’s interpretations. But this Macdonald failed to do and thereby failed a fundamental test of honest scholarship.

As to context, would anyone consider a scholar honest who wrote about the destruction of German cities by allied bombers, claiming these were war crimes (as they may well have been), but failed to even mention the German bombing of English cities early in the war? In his 2003 article, MacDonald asserts that the Israelis have adopted a more aggressive posture toward the Palestinians and are more supportive of the West Bank settlements. No mention is made of the context in which this change of sentiment took place. After the peace treaty with Egypt and the handing over of the Sinai, no real normalization of relations materialized between the two countries even though this had been stipulated in the agreement. Egyptian schools and media continued the demonization of the Jews in the most virulent terms. MacDonald, in his recent post, fails to consider the response of the Palestinians to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and its effect on Israeli public opinion regarding peace with the Palestinians.

Perhaps Israelis, much like increasing numbers of people in the West, are beginning to finally grasp the true nature of Islamic relations with non-Muslims, as outlined so well in the works of Serge Trifkovic. Any non-Muslims on lands claimed by Muslims must be murdered, expelled or, or at the least transformed into Dhimmis subservient to Muslims. As is becoming increasingly clear to Europeans, fundamentalist Muslims, as poll after poll shows, represent a majority of Muslims, do not wish to adopt Western values as immigrants in Europe and have no desire whatsoever to tolerate non-Muslims in their midst. Why would the presence of Jewish communities in an Arab state be an impediment to a peace agreement, when Muslim communities exist in Israel? MacDonald never addresses this obvious question.

MacDonald also failed to take into account the context of the establishment of the Jewish state in the aftermath of World War II. That war produced enormous numbers of displaced persons and caused the realignment of national boundaries in every region of the world. The Jewish state was supported by the European powers in large measure because no state would accept displaced Jews and sending them to Palestine seemed a relatively safe solution to the problem. No sooner was Israel founded than she was attacked by her neighbours and virtually every Arab country expelled their Jews who, in most cases, had no place to go but Israel. To go into greater length on this and related issues is far too complex to discuss here. Needless to say there are now many, including many Jews, who have begun to question whether the European solution to Jewish displacement was based in sound thinking. Certainly, few at the time of the establishment of Israel could have anticipated the demographic explosion in the Middle East, which is certainly at the root of much of the current unrest in the region. A fair assessment of Israeli actions in recent years would have to take these factors into account. Anyone familiar with Israeli politics knows that there are profound differences among her citizens as to how to deal with the Palestinian issue and few believe the current situation is desirable. Those differences, however heated they are, take into account the context in which Israel finds itself. Unfortunately, MacDonald fails to do so and in this failure abandons serious scholarship.