Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

Fighting To Win 

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Yossi Klein Halevi is one of Israel’s most astute and incisive political observers, and his Yom HaShoa essay in Times Of Israel on “The War Against The Jewish Story” further illustrates his abilities. But his conclusions are so anodyne as to be jarring and illustrate the timidity and near incoherence that the current situation arouses in our traditional modes of response.  We are confronting something that we don’t know how to deal with, and, as a result, we appear powerless and ineffectual.

The article lists a cavalcade of false narratives propounded by our enemies that seek to undermine the moral basis of Zionism and Israeli history, including the canards that Jews/Zionists are European colonialists and not indigenous inhabitants returning to their homeland; that Zionists dispossessed the indigenous Palestinian population; that Jews were not ethnically cleansed from every Arab jurisdiction and area of control; that Israel is an apartheid state and Zionism a racist ideology; that the Jewish people have no historical connection to the Land of Israel; that the Hamas atrocities either never occurred or were attributable to justified resistance against the occupier, Israel; that the Israelis and not the Palestinians have been the main obstacles to peace; and, perhaps most troubling, that Jews are engaged in purposeful genocide against the Palestinian people when the reality is that Hamas openly espouses Jewish genocide.

As always, Halevi’s view is accurate, carefully observed and artfully described. But then he presents his conclusions:  The ability of its enemies to present the Jewish State in this way marks “a historic failure of Holocaust education in the West.”  And the way to respond is to fundamentally rethink the goals and methodology of Holocaust education.  Otherwise, Halevi warns, we risk repeating the mistake we’ve made by failing adequately to confront the “systematic assault on our story.”  And, distinguished senior fellow to the core, the author proposes that we defend our story, tell it with moral credibility, and employ new strategies, starting with the creation of a brain trust, composed of community activists, rabbis, journalists, historians, and public relations experts, to devise and implement a plan as comprehensive as that which has been implemented by anti-Zionists.

So . . . we need a committee.

The sky is falling and we need a committee to tell us what to do.  Putting aside the sad fact that we can barely have a conversation among ourselves about basic judicial reform, it is hard to imagine that a blue ribbon brain trust will be able to stem the tide.  And I choose the idiom purposely, because we are confronted with a tidal wave of antagonism that threatens to obliterate the foundations of Jewish society, together with liberal Western civilization, throughout the world.

The problem is far deeper and more malignant than our failure to properly educate the western world about the Holocaust, or even about the virtues, legitimate claims, and rights of the Jewish people.  The problem is that malign forces have co-opted the historical narrative, taken over the educational and mass media channels, disseminated a coercive and specious worldview, and devalued or disregarded truth. When they say “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” they mean it, and they mean even more.  They are enemies of our civilization.

We have witnessed this before and it will not be defeated by a brain trust or committee, even one possessed of the bluest of blue-ribbon attributes, unless these guiding lights are charged with the mission to transform society, by planning and overseeing the execution of a detailed agenda that will reverse the current trends and extirpate the rot from academia and society.  

When Stalin determined to harness history for his own purposes in order to transform society quickly and on a vast scale, he falsified facts, manufactured statistics, rewrote history to disappear “unpersons” from the historical record, and created a new past to fit his ideological goals. Any proponent of opposing viewpoints, no matter how constituted or how estimable, was dealt with summarily, usually with a bullet to the back of the head.  For his empire building and consolidation, Stalin required the captive minds of a generation, and his methodology influenced its beliefs for half a century, until a new approach to truth emerged in the late 1980s.

Stalin had nothing on the contemporary educators and politicians of the left.  As a result of persistent propaganda and dissemination of a pernicious interpretation of history from early education on, the students on campus are constitutionally incapable of distinguishing between reality and the party line. Like automatons, when confronted by inquiries with respect to the atrocities of October 7, they reply that it is a “false narrative.” Nikita Khrushchev commented that “Historians are dangerous and capable of turning everything upside down.  They have to be watched.”  The present academic regime has bested him.  It has taken possession of and now owns history through its “historians,” having carefully selected them on the basis of compelled diversity statements, winnowed out any potentially competing narratives, or co-opted them by threat of cancellation.  

The movement writes its own history, often from whole cloth, and with the support of  a compliant, unquestioning, and influential media.  Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of The 1619 Project, which is bad history, false history, manufactured history, nevertheless wins the Pulitzer Prize, sees it heavily marketed and supported by The New York Times and  incorporated in curricula throughout the country.  So our students receive a spurious account of their country, and are encouraged  to despise it and denigrate themselves as colonists, racists, and oppressors.

DEI, which is antithetical to all that America has stood for with respect to equality of opportunity, is adopted in schools, the armed forces, government agencies, and major corporations.  “Socially responsible investing” seeks to impose DEI and crippling restrictions on corporations. With DEI comes the division of society and political entities into victims and victimizers, with the victims afforded unmerited and unearned rights and privileges, and the victimizers allocated nothing but guilt. “Intersectionality” allows the coalescence of every leftist theme into a unitary (if discordant, inconsistent, and even contradictory) patchwork of victimization.  So, no matter how irrational, “the path to climate justice travels through a free Palestine,” the marauding terrorists of October 7 bring to the “anti-racist” mind a vision of rebellious black slave fieldhands, and Israel is an apartheid nation, motivated by Zionism, a racist and genocidal ideology. 

Once Jews are classified as white and Israel is classified as colonialist and European, nothing that they or it do can be defended.  The fact that Israel protects the rights of gays, when Hamas brutalizes them, is “pinkwashing.”  Israeli women, being “settlers,” are not afforded the same presumptions and protections against rape and mutilation as any woman who is not Israeli.  Any terrorist action, even kidnapping and torture, as well as other war crimes, such as the use of human shields and of hospitals for military purposes, are defensible as the reasonable resistance of an oppressed people.  Hate speech against Jews is permissible, even lauded and encouraged, where identical slurs against Blacks, women, Asians, or any other minority, would be grounds for extreme and immediate sanctions.

Just as society preferred to believe the fiction that white cops were murdering innocent blacks en masse, while black on black crime was disregarded, so the death tolls in Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, and China are not relevant to the “movement-approved” history. In this Manichean world, all that matters is the approved narrative.  Fossil fuels are evil, gender is nothing but a personal choice, and Israel is a racist, genocidal entity. It is simplistic to see the violent encampments on campus as just some sort of moral reaction to the suffering of Arabs in Gaza.  That is the cause du jour, the pretext for the anti-Zionist, anti-semitic, Marxist, anarchist, antifa, anarchist, hardcore Islamist coalition of convenience against Western values and civilization.

Against this challenging environment, with the forces of evil and darkness arrayed against us, it is necessary, but hardly sufficient, to follow Halevi’s suggestion that we “defend the story we inherited from the survivor generation” and mount a credible defense of our mid-20th century story, which “continues to sustain us as a people.” 

One of the problems of this approach is that the movement-approved history has inoculated itself against any non-conformist information or history.  Even posters of kidnapped Israeli children are torn down and mocked.  They are a “false narrative.”  The Party is never wrong.  The people in the tents and their terrorist heroes are infallible.  We will not be able to penetrate their perimeter with the mere truth, or by mere argument.

This is an evil that must be rooted out, extirpated, vanquished, and extinguished.

How?  Let me propose a suite of solutions for consideration by the blue ribbon commission, as it establishes a battle plan for civilization to endure and prevail.

First, Israel has to be allowed to win the war against Hamas, for its own survival and for the associated defeat it deals to Iran.  There will never be peace in the Middle East unless Israel has the wherewithal to dictate a sustainable scenario for one.  Paradoxically, Hamas must be defeated to save the Palestinian cause, for as long as Hamas survives, peaceful coexistence is impossible. Hamas and its sponsor, Iran, crave the death of Israel and its inhabitants by any means necessary.  Israel just wants to be left alone.

The world needs to know that Israel has the support of the great majority.  Eighty percent of the American population support Israel over Hamas.  The resources exist within that majority to = make much more noise and exert much more influence than the coordinated efforts of the admittedly very vocal protestors. But their efforts are carefully and meticulously coordinated, right down to the type of tent to buy from Amazon and the prescribed tactics to oppose the police.  Our efforts are ad hoc, local, uncoordinated, and largely ineffective. They are media-savvy and disciplined in their unruliness.  We are just outraged and, being right, assume that we will ultimately prevail.  History does not support our misplaced confidence and (lack of) strategy.

Second, given the fact that the insidious penetration of DEI policies and radicalized faculties and administrations have rendered our universities powerless against enemies of civilization, the institutions must be transformed by those with the power and resources to do so–the legislatures, the donors, the alumni, the Boards of Trustees.  There can be no effective discipline when sympathetic faculty who are part of the problem sit on disciplinary committees and will support and defend transgressive students.  We need some adults in the room.  As evidenced by such leaders as Ben Sasse, Mitch Daniels, Lee Roberts (the interim chancellor at UNC who personally replaced the Palestinian flag that had been substituted for the US flag by demonstrators), and other counter-demonstrators, they exist and they speak for the majority.

The cowards who cede the field of battle to a violent minority (disgracefully, the Emerson administration offered to bail out the protesters after it was compelled to call the police because of mounting violence) need to be replaced by people who, together with the great majority of the populace, believe in traditional Western values. The rule of law must be respected. The words of Ronald Reagan still resonate: “All of it began the first time some of you who know better and are old enough to know better let young people think that they had the right to choose the laws they would obey as long as they were doing it in the name of social justice.” 

Expel them, suspend them, and cancel the visas of unruly, criminal guests.

Third, every election, from county commissioner, to school board, to state legislature, to Congress, to the presidency, for the next ten years must be contested by qualified candidates willing to take on the leftist foundations, the teachers’ unions, and the entrenched bureaucracies.  Either we are willing to hand over our children to the malign establishment that has foisted upon us the shallow, poorly educated, propagandized, brainwashed, sloganeers on display on our “elite” campuses or we are not.  And if we are not, it will take a well-funded, well-organized, committed society to reclaim the country and reintroduce freedom.  A well-harnessed backlash to the excesses of the violent, unhinged campus radicals should and could trigger a concerted effort on behalf of an enlightened, well-intentioned society, resulting in transformed admissions policies focused on merit rather than ideology; abolition of DEI programs and administrators; reexamination of curricula to restore emphasis on western civilization and STEM; the demise of noxious and spurious foolishness like intersectional gender and queer studies; and reevaluation of faculty, including a wholesale rejection of the tenure policies that have foisted the present generation of imbeciles upon us.

Until this crisis passes or is favorably resolved, there is regime change in Iran, and the Arabs of the Middle East decide, for their own benefit, to be good neighbors and loving cousins (currently estimated to coincide with the arrival of the Messiah), we, like our Black friends, our pro-life friends, our pro-choice friends, and our soccer Mom friends, need to become and encourage other like-minded people to become, one issue voters.  We need a thousand more elected officials like Ritchie Torres, Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, John Fetterman, Ted Cruz–we need to stand up for politicians who have the courage and will to stand up to the haters.  Our lives are on the line; we can’t acquiesce to ignorance and hate, ceding the public forum to Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Jamaal Bowman. And the untrustworthy politicians who speak out of both sides of their mouths need to know that they will pay a political price.

Fourth, we need to commit ourselves and our society to equality of opportunity for all and color-blindness.  We need to demand an unbiased press that fulfills the function of the Fourth Estate and does not put its fingers on the scales to support one party or the other.  Defund NPR and let the New York Times know that its policies should not be set by staffers, who are undereducated, doctrinaire, ideologues.  We need to restore fairness and true diversity of opinion to government bureaucracies and faculties.  It may take ten years, but it must be done if society is to be saved.  The current bogus efforts to liberate the world from an imagined white supremacy need to be replaced by a deep commitment to fairness, equality, dedication to the rule of law, and mutual respect for divergent opinions.

I would be willing to wager that the lowlifes camped out at Columbia could not identify William A. Dunning, a historian and political scientist who received his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1885 and continued to teach there.  He was an expert on the Reconstruction  and the theories of the Dunning School were, in large part, responsible for the “Gone With The Wind” way America viewed the “carpetbaggers,” “scalawags,” and Southern gentry for generations.  He is now (probably justifiably) accused of being a racist and a white supremacist, whose view of the Reconstruction was the basis for reactionary policies, legitimization of the Jim Crow system, and sympathy for the white Southerner.  In short, he was a Democrat of his time.

He founded and was the first President of the American Historical Association.  In 1913, at its annual meeting, he presented a paper called Truth in History.  It’s about eight pages long and it is a brilliant analysis of history and historiography.  He describes the prevailing view that history is the relentless pursuit of objective fact, but advances the argument that such an approach unduly dismisses the influence of what was believed to be true, as opposed to what was actually true. He points out that the Roman texts, as well as the Jewish and Christian Bibles, and such notables as Dante and Montesquieu used myth and legend and folklore, none of which can be empirically verified, to shape the course of history.  In this view, it doesn’t matter what happened.  What matters is what people believe happened.  “There is more importance in the ancient error than in the new-found truth.”

Why this long detour?  Because Jim Geraghty of The National Review has just reported the results of a March 2024 survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, a purportedly independent research institute in Ramallah.  It found that 71% of Palestinians believe Hamas’ actions on October 7 were correct, and 64% blame Israel for the ongoing war.  Lest you think that is an encouraging number, 20% blame the United States.  Only 7% blame Hamas.

Facts don’t matter.  Not in Ramallah.  Not at Columbia.

Respondents believed, by overwhelming majorities, that Israel and not Hamas was committing war crimes.

Bottom line: right now, Israel enjoys significant support in the United States.  That support needs to be nurtured and cultivated. Politicians must be recruited and educated.  Channels of education and commerce and legislation must be developed, and the minds and laws of future generations must be informed by the actual truth and by the enduring values that shaped us and our civilization.

We are on the right side of history.  But we must be willing to help preserve and effectively transmit that history in its highest form.  Because left to its own devices, given the natural, or unnatural, proclivities of the uneducated and poorly educated masses, the Jewish story, as we know it, will not prevail.  Nor will Western civilization.

And they must prevail.

About the Author
Gary Epstein is a retired teacher and lawyer residing in Modi'in, Israel. He was formerly the Head of the Global Corporate and Securities Department of Greenberg Traurig, a global law firm with an office in Tel Aviv, which he founded and of which he was the first Managing Partner. He and his wife Ahuva are blessed with18 grandchildren, ka"h, all of whom he believes are well above average. He currently does nothing. He believes he does it well.