So another terrorist outrage on the mainland of Europe ends in an all to familiar way. With the death of a Jew followed by the national leader standing behind the microphone swearing to protect this embattled minority and emphasising what an important part of the greater community they form.
For Denmark’s Helle Thorning-Schmidt read President Hollande of France. Their words are inter changeable the sentiments identical. The cynical among us must wonder which European leader will next take the stand in front of the TV cameras under the unremitting glare of the world’s press and express their undying love for the Jews and all things Jewish . Do I believe them? Yes.Do I think they will do anything to change the situation which caused it? No I do not.
Western civilisation stands at a cross roads and has been found wanting.It has a leadership deficit and its moral compass is all over the place. Whether it be Obama or Cameron, Merkel or Hollande, none of them can find due North.
The late great philosopher Arnold Toynbee spent years of his life examining the rise and fall of all conquering civilisations and empire’s and what led to their demise. His conclusion was that like seasons all civilisations have a spring, summer, fall, and winter. Naturally they are at their peak in spring and summer. This is followed by a gradual decline which ends in the civilisation unable to defend its self is swallowed up by younger and hungrier peoples.
This has been amply demonstrated by the West’s non action in Syria and Iraq, its lack of action in the face of Russian aggression in Europe and its lack of empathy with Israel in its seemingly never ending struggle with the Arab world.
Obama declared a red line in Syria which he said could not be crossed. When it was crossed he failed to act because British Prime Minister David Cameron was unable to drag his country kicking and screaming into militarily supporting the United States. Why the super power that is America needed the fig leaf of British support when such support would by its nature be minimal is a mute point. The truth was both leaders did not have the mass support of their people and had no appetite to act. .
Now here is the rub. The job of leaders is just that. Leadership. It is their responsibility to get their views across to the people and explain in stark terms why a certain course of action must be pursued. But the truth is most Western leaders today are not leaders but managers. They have come up through the ranks as interns and political assistants. They care more about their careers then what is right and wrong and providing they feel they can steer a middle course through the maelstrom they are content.
Where is a Roosevelt and not to be politically partisan, where is a Reagan . where a Churchill where a Thatcher , and to broaden the argument where is a de Gaulle. This article started out with Denmark. So where is even a King Frederick who when he was informed the occupying Nazis had ordered all Jews to wear yellow arms bands with a Star of David put one on himself.His brave actions resulted in a large proportion of the Danish public donning Star of David arm bands and the eventual evacuation to neutral Sweden of almost 100% of the Jewish community. A graphic example that leadership works.
Where are the leaders willing to tell their people that though Israeli behaviour is far from perfect it faces apocalyptic organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas on one side who if hell froze over would still not countenance a peace treaty and on the other side a corrupt PLO whose leader’s main interest is dying in his bed of old age and passing on the loot he has amassed through his years of corrupt leadership to his children.
The people’s of the West are bewildered and bemused. There is no straight talking,because that means taking a position, not something which characterises the modern day politician. Though its a time wise saying that in the Nazi era all Jews were victims but not all victims were Jews similarly all Muslims are not terrorists but the terrorists killing in the name of god and bent on world domination are Muslims.
As one London journalist wrote the Muslim leaders were able to get tens of thousand of people onto the streets to protest about Israel’s actions in Gaza. The slaughter in Paris however was met with condemnation and platitudes from the usual suspects .This was quickly forgotten among their pleas that it was in fact they who were the real victims, suffering from Islamaphobia. No march in favour of free speech happened or was even suggested.
The great British historian Alan Clark in his seminal work on the first world war described the British soldiers who died in their thousands as victims of bad general ship. They were led by Toffs who owed their positions to their birth. It was, he wrote, a case of Lions being led by Donkeys.The Peoples of The West today deserve better. Facts can be unpalatable but in a democracy the people must be trusted with them.
Are things any better in Israel? After every atrocity Prime Minister Netanyahu parrots that it is time for the Jews to emigrate to Israel.Invitations seemingly born out of desperation never seem attractive and Israeli society does not appeal to most Western Jews, language aside.
Israel’s leaders are suffering from the same leadership deficit which affects the West. They rule through a political system more unstable than California’s San Andreas Fault. But it suits them so they continue along with it. Corruption is rife but only a crime when committed by the other side. Not only do they fight like feral cats among themselves but insult American leaders for short term gain without taking into account long term repercussions not only from those self same politicians but a naturally patriotic American public.
So where are the Israeli big beasts..Where is a Ben Gurion or a Begin, who after stating he would retire to the Sinai burned the settlers out when he discovered that Sadat was genuine in his pursuit of peace. Where is a Rabin who shook hands with Arafat and paid for his pursuit of peace with his life. Where is a Sharon , the Warrior turned peacemaker who but for his untimely death might have just been adventurous enough to have pulled off a peace deal. Also Shimon Peres the last of a generation who despite his age is smart enough to know the status quo cannot hold indefinitely.
What are we left with? Netanyahu , who seeks power for powers sake, Lieberman and Bennett , loose tongued and unreliable, Herzog, on record as saying he would rather have the Haredi parties in his coalition than the centre ones. What sort of statement is that from a so called progressive politician.
So it would appear a bleak future looms ahead for us but assumptions can prove wrong. I am a Jew and by definition an optimist. I am sure somewhere out there a few lions lurk in the bushes.