Of Lions , Donkeys, and Feral Cats

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.

About the Author
Adrian Needlestone quit sixth form at 17 to follow his dream to become a journalist. So desperate was he that he accepted a wage of £6 a week for six days work as an office boy at what was then London largest independent news agency, The Fleet Street News Agency. After making tea and buying sandwiches for six months he was given the opportunity to cut his working week down by one day and cover the East London Crown courts in those days known as Quarter sessions Courts. The bread and butter work was the local paper contracts the agency held with the occasional national story being cream on the top. During 18 months covering the courts stories in the nationals became the norm rather than the exception and he was quickly switched back to the main office in Clerkenwell to work with the news team. At the age of 21 came his first big break when Murdoch took over the Sun newspaper and promptly hired the agency’s news editor and most of the senior staff. In a leap of faith the agency head promoted him to news editor but confided many years later that it was the “cheap” option which if he sank that was life and if he swam so much the better. Seven years later after working regular evenings on the Mirror and the Mail he joined the Evening standard on the news picture desk. From there he moved on to the National Enquirer in America, the News of the World, BBC national radio and ran the news section of the Derek Jameson TV magazine programme on Sky. After 25 years in the business he decided to slow down and turn his hand to business but he never enjoyed the success in that world to match his career in Fleet street. Semi retired he has now taken to the internet and is writing a blog as well as simultaneously trying to write three books, one about his time on the News of the World which he hopes to launch through Kindle in about six weeks.
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