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In Praise of LOYALTY

There’s been nothing like it in human history. A small and ancient people loses its land and forgets how to speak its language; wanders defenselessly for hundreds, thousands, of years throughout the world with its God and its sacred books; meets with contumely, persecution, violence, dispossession, banishment, mass murder; refuses to give up; refuses to surrender its faith; continues to believe that it will one day be restored to the land it lost; manages in the end, by dint of its own efforts, against all odds, to gather itself from the four corners of the earth and return to that land; learns again to speak the language of its old books; learns again to bear arms and defend itself; wrests its new-old home from the people who had replaced it; entrenches itself; builds; fructifies; fortifies; repulses the enemies surrounding it; grows and prospers in the face of all threats.Letters to an American Jewish Friend, The Case for Life in Israel, by Hillel Halkin.

I do not want to rationalise, equivocate, qualify or pirouette around the issue. So let me state it plainly: liberal Jews, especially educated liberal Jews, seem to  have forgotten the simple virtue of loyalty, unqualified and unambiguous loyalty. Loyalty to their identity and their people, to their tribe. Instinctive, gut loyalty. The loyalty understood and appreciated by the most primitive tribesperson. Certainly the loyalty understood by Arabs and Muslims and most peoples on this planet.

Here is the comment by the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Jazeera in an interview with Die Weltwoche, a Swiss Weekly:

Can you please explain to me what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with these problems? The Palestinian cause is central for Arab thinking.

In the end, is it a matter of feelings of self-esteem? Exactly. It’s because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West’s problem is that it does not understand this.”

It is not exquisite issues of right or wrong or the delicate  balance of universalism and particularism or the state of  his moral balance sheet which motivates the head of Al-Jazeera: it is the wounded self-esteem of his people. The need for them to reclaim their dignity, apparently by whatever means. It is loyalty, instinctive unapologetic primitive loyalty. The Jews be damned.

But some Jews are apparently above anything so basic, so fundamental, so appallingly vulgar as self-defence or pride or hatred of those who wrong you, slight you, threaten you and bomb you. Oh no. In the face of constant incitement; of teaching young people that the Jews are a deceitful, treacherous race, the offspring of apes and dogs and that the greatest good lies in the destruction of these vermin. In the face of indiscriminate suicide bombings (no, not indiscriminate! bombings designed to kill as many civilians as possible), of barrages of missiles aimed at civilian populations, we are exhorted by our liberal elites to remember the humanity of our enemies, hold in our hearts the suffering they incur in their attempts at our destruction and, at all times, to conduct ourselves with the merciful and, above all, impartial justice demanded of us by our Jewish ethics.

In the face of such paranoid, vile caricatures like those of Rev Arrison “Dear Rev Meshoe and members of the ACDP. Re: Your support for the racist apartheid State of Israel. Greetings to you...” we must bear in mind the humanity of those who would destroy, without a moment’s thought, regret or pity, one of the most heroic and poignant achievements in human history: the creation of Israel.

In short we must be more Christian than the Christians. We must remember in the face of the stone, the insult, the suicide bomber, the demagogue, the exploding mortar shell, the shattered flesh of our kin,  the profound fact that those who wish to destroy us are also part of the great brotherhood of humanity. We must never for one moment forget our own shortcomings our own imperfections, the pain  we may have inadvertently or perhaps deliberately inflicted on our enemies.

This is what our liberal elites constantly demand of Israel and, by extension, of Israel’s defenders. One Jewish racist in their eyes cancels out 10 suicide bombers. One medieval Rabbi is equivalent to a hundred murderous Imams. “We could not love Israel half so much, loved we not our virtue more” is the motto of the Peter Beinarts, the Doron Isaacs, the Nathan Geffens and the like.

Well as a liberal, as someone who detests racism and religious and other intolerances, I say F*** THAT! When the Jews (and here I include Zionists) are no longer threatened with extinction. When they are no longer caricatured, demonised, slandered and misrepresented then I too will be happy to take up the cudgels against Jewish transgressions.

But, until that happy day, Israel (and most of its supporters) prize simple, unstinting, unqualified loyalty above the other virtues. No virtue without loyalty is worth a bag of beans. We are prepared to forgive (not condone or deny) a lot of imperfections in the loyal. And the sane amongst us know the difference between genuine loyalty and empty professions of love. We prize loyalty towards the real, extraordinary Israel together with her warts her corrupt politicos, her medieval Rabbis, her opinionated and occasionally parochial people and her racists, but not the “love” which dishes out its support with teaspoons carefully titrated against caveats and exhortations to ever greater moral perfection.

It with those very personal thoughts I bring to your attention the following exchanges. They require substantial reading but you will find them extremely rewarding.

Your responses and criticisms will be welcomed.

Mike Berger




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