Comments on a Complex Catastrophe

Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, in 1901, credit Wikipedia

Comments on a Complex Catastrophe,
by Wade Smith

Will this, the latest war in the Middle East become a major regional military conflict? [1] And what will be its economic consequences? In his statement to the nation of 28th October, Benjamin Netanyahu upped the ante, linking the war in Gaza to the Holocaust. He stated,

Our heroic soldiers have one supreme goal; to destroy the murderous enemy and ensure our existence in our land. We have always said “Never again”. “Never again” is now.

Historical facts are open to revisionist research [2], while their interpretations and memories, whatever their objective veracity, play a persistent part in traditional desires and political ideals. This is evident in the clash between Zionists and Islamists, with consequences far beyond their particular communities. Truth is a casualty not only during warfare but in its preparation and subsequent record. Atrocity stories are nowadays aggravated by cyberspace disinformation and blogger anarchy.

“The enemies of Israel are the enemies of reason and civilisation, and of our tradition of criticism,” writes philosopher Brett Hall, adding that defenders of reason are duty-bound to “speak out” at the present time, “one of the darkest” in modern history [3]. Let us oblige him, even if less reasonable readers dismiss the following brief critique as “Anti-Semitism” or “Islamophobia”, or both – subjects too sensitive, complicated and semantically fluid for substantial examination here. “Israel is a Jewish state, a state that exists to protect Jews,” Hall avers. “This is required because there have been systematic attempts over thousands of years to exterminate Jews,” who first “populated the land where Israel is today in around 2,000 BCE” and “continuously populated” it for “close to 4,000 years”. It is not our intention here to discuss these specific assertions, nor to engage with Palestine/Israel partisanship [4], but instead to emphasise past mistakes that led to the current crisis, and which require consideration if any future resolution is feasible.

Although hostility towards Jews has existed from antiquity [5], it dates among Arabs from “early medieval” conversion to Islam and has persisted ever since [6]. To introduce, consolidate and extend an expressly Jewish sovereign state among them was a gamble, albeit unintentionally provocative. The Salafists of Hamas regard Palestine to be an inalienable Waqf for recovery, and Muslims generally oppose the surrender to infidels of consecrated land. [7]

Several alternative territories had been proposed by friend and foe alike, from “Uganda” to Madagascar, potentially to accommodate up to 10-million Jews. Given ceremonial attachments to Jerusalem before 135 CE, it was hardly surprising that the 1905 Zionist Congress rejected fertile living-space in East Africa after the death of Theodor Herzl, a secularist despite his diarised paradoxical hope to reach Euphrates as scripture promised. [8]

Three decades after the conditional “national home” declaration from Balfour, the titanic defeat of Hitler ended the worst calamity. “But tragedy overwhelmed the Jews of Moslem lands, where a revived nationalism and sympathy for fellow-Moslems defeated by Israel aroused the populations against the Jews who had for many centuries lived in their midst”. [9]

“The foundation of the state of Israel was believed by Zionists to be the only solution to anti-Semitism, but as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Muslim anti-Semitism is even more virulent than its Christian counterpart” [10]. After welcoming German, Russian and other refugees, while nevertheless losing thousands through emigration, how can the Knesset now guarantee permanent protection for its own multi-ethnic citizenry and Diaspora olim? According to Emeritus Professor of Judaism Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok, “the Zionist aspiration to solve the problem of anti-Semitism by creating a Jewish state in the Middle East has proved an illusion…. As humanity’s most persistent hatred, anti-Semitism continues to flourish…. In a world now faced with the very real threat of mass destruction, the flames of such hostility continue to burn bright, with the threat of Jewish extermination as great as ever” [11].

The passage of the Israeli Law of Return for all Jews (but not displaced Arabs) coincided with the start of escalating Muslim emigration, both legal and “undocumented”, from successive regions and for various motives. Today, the estimated Muslim population of Western Europe is more than 6% and is rising rapidly. In Britain it could exceed 17% by 2050 [12]. Even those who have sought asylum because of barbarity in their original homelands are disturbed by allegations of oppression and brutal incidents under Israeli jurisdiction, which predated the horrific Hamas incursion. Direct Palestinian fatalities since 1948 may seem trifling compared other conflicts around the world during the same period, but events in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will multiply the death-toll. There is also anger over UK military co-operation with Israel and participation in warfare against Islamic states, from Egypt (1956) to Libya (2011).  During the New Labour period, huge civilian losses in Iraq were “matched” numerically by the influx of foreign families. As recent demonstrations have shown, the Muslim demographic can feed unrest and even violence, especially against Jews. Islamic terrorists remain a major threat. Yet Siren voices from different directions urge that survivors expelled from Gaza should find refuge in Britain.

Internally, we contend with two political follies, not one. The first was the import of many thousands of immigrants already ill-disposed towards Jews. The second is that our supposedly beneficial alliance with Israel has enflamed that hostility and is cynically exploited by anti-religious and anti-nationalist revolutionaries like the Socialist Workers Party. Civic tranquillity, not just free speech, needs to be prioritised. Externally, the ultimate folly would be a geostrategic contest between expansionary Islamism and obdurate Zionism drawing in the major powers, and eventually risking a nuclear Armageddon.

Editorial note; Wade Smith is a pseudonym. Publication of this essay in QR does not constitute endorsement of its contents.


[1] RUSI, Global Security Briefing 62, 1 November 2023, online; Thomas Fazi, “Will Israel-Hamas cause a world war?” UnHerd, 1 November 2023; Mark Almond, “The savagery displayed by Hamas…” Mail Online, 10 October 2023; Wikipedia, “Samson Option,” online
[2] See e.g.: Margaret MacMillan, The Uses & Abuses of History (2010), 47,88-89, 105-109 & 137 on Israel.  Other examples include Gulag mortality estimates over four decades from 1.2 million (Adam Augustyn) to 60 million (Avraham Shifrin), Guernica and Dresden, the Armenian massacres; and positive re-assessments of Genghis Khan, Shaka Zulu & Neville Chamberlain.
[3] “Antisemitism: The sinister pattern,” Quillette, 1 November 2023, online
[4] Comparese Edward Said, David Gilmour, Rashid Khalidi, Norman Finkelstein, Jonathan Cook & Nur Masahla with David Pryce-Jones, Elie Kedourie, Robert Wistrich, Ben-Dror Yemini, Rick Richman & Jake Wallis Simons, amid a vast literature.
[5] Peter Schaefer, Judeophobia (1998); Jerome Chanes, Antisemitism (2004); David Nirenberg, Anti-Judaism (2018)
[6] “Islam: References to Jews in the Koran,” Jewish Virtual Library, online; Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism (2020); Yehoshafat Harkabi, Arab Attitudes to Israel (2017); Thomas Kiernan, The Arabs (1991), 120f
[7] John Jenkins, “The Iran Trap,” The New Statesman, 10 November 2023; David Bukay, Islam & the Infidels (2020); Patrick Sookhdeo, Faith, Power & Territory (2008); Dr Ahmad Abu Halabiya: “Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are…. Kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them and those who stand by them…because they established Israel here in the beating heart of the Arab world” (Palestinian Authority TV, 13 October 2000/MEMRI)
[8] Gen. 15.18, Deut. 1.7-8 & 11.24, Josh. 1.4, 2 Sam. 8.3. Cf. Daniel Pipes, “Imperial Israel,” Middle East Quarterly (March 1994), note 11.  This biblical basis has been refuted by the non-observant Jew Jerome Slater; and by the evangelical Christian Stephen Sizer [IVP 2007] and ex-communist Muslim Roger Garaudy [SFI 1997], both consequently penalised for “antisemitism”.
[9] Solomon Grayzel, A History of the Jews (1968), 723
[10] John Bowker (ed), The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (1997), 76
[11] Anti-Semitism: A History (2002 ed), 341-342
[12] Olan McEvoy, Statista, 28 February 2023, online; Guilio Meotti, “Great Britain: Multiculturalism & Islam turn it upside down,” Gatestone Institute, 18 December 2022, online; Douglas Murray, The Strange Death of Europe (2018 ed), 336-7

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7 Responses to Comments on a Complex Catastrophe

  1. Brian Rockford says:

    Your photo conveys the personality of great stature that Herzl shares with Spinoza, Disraeli and Nordau.
    Bibi’s televised reference to I Samuel 15.3 should also be considered in relation to IDF policy in Gaza.
    Many Israelis oppose him politically and personally, and do not share the view that the “longest hatred” need go on for ever, with an “Amalek” or a “Haman” every few decades.
    The “religious” ironies however persist in that modern Israel is demarcated according to a supposed ancient conquest of Canaan at the behest of an imaginary deity Yahweh, it is opposed by militant adherents of a religion based on supposed communications from an imaginary deity Allah, and it is supported by militant adherents of a religion based on scriptures supposedly about an imaginary deity Jesus.
    Perhaps it will be up to Han and Hindu to sort this out, preferably asap.

    • David Ashton says:

      Professor Jacob Howland, who has written on the Talmud, the Holocaust and other Jewish issues, asserts on UnHerd that we have entered an “apocalyptic” moment with the Hamas attack, and can “never escape” the descendants of Cain, rightly drawing attention to intrinsic death-cult aspects of Islamism and to the now rising flood of anti-Jewish comment on “social” media, already a mendacious vehicle of stupidity, falsehood, malice and filth. For him, it would seem, the monstrous Rephaim are back in a new guise.
      Chronological sequence, however, matters, past and present. Nick Cohen has described Israel as a state “illegally occupying other people’s land since 1967, which has murdered, tortured, impoverished and expropriated those others…and stood by while Palestinians are massacred” (Jewish Quarterly, Autumn 1997).
      Evil did not begin on 22 Tishrei 5784, or 4004 BC. History is neither “bunk” nor just “one damn thing after another”; events have causes, and whatever the explanation(s) the “longest hatred” persists, sadly, in one form or another. As do war, cruelty and ethnocide involving many different peoples.
      “We captured and destroyed every town and put everyone to death – men, women and children” (Deuteronomy 2.34). “He spared no-one. Everyone was put to death as the Lord God of Israel commanded” (Joshua 10.40). That was then, what next tomorrow?
      “Peace is a desire; war is a fact” (Oswald Spengler).

  2. Martian Observer says:

    This ME contest is seen as existential by the dominant participants.
    We have to do our best to prevent injury to innocent people, including Jews inside Israel and elsewhere, irrespective of the “merits” of “each side”.
    Easier said than done.

    • David Ashton says:

      We need to find a way to protect the Israelis without a major war against Muslim states. This is on top of the other problems of our era: climate change, AI, overpopulation, pandemics, financial collapse, degenerate entertainment, drug addiction, and escalating violence of all kinds.

      It is now clear from the poly-crisis of hospital and surgery waiting lists, school and nursery overcrowding, housing shortages, infrastructure decay, defence and police recruitment, prison conditions, and much else, that the numbers of people requiring care, cure or control have started to overwhelm the personnel competent and willing to provide it. This is applicable to our own nation, and also to many more in the Global South. We have had prophetic warnings for many decades past – Malthus, Galton, Churchill, Karl Pearson, William McDougall, Raymond Cattell, Garrett Hardin, &c – ignored and/or vilified.

  3. Wade Smith says:

    “The Economist”, 9 December 2023, offered an unexpected upbeat balanced alternative to the current stentorian Likud Chorus in “The Sunday/Telegraph”, “Mail”, “The Spectator” & “The Jewish Chronicle”.

    Mistaken. to say the least, is the notion that turning Iran, Lebanon, Syria and other Muslim areas, if not also “Judea and Samaria”, into another Gaza, will reduce antisemitism, mass-migration, jihadi terrorism, or the prospects of a major war.

  4. Joe Berger says:

    Welcome signs that the sensible are pulling back from the brink, even in the USA.
    Hamas and Likud want the whole cake, and the two-state solution will need a new partition. Some Arab governments may be willing to join in a supervised negotiation.
    Gaza could be annexed by Israel and its people largely resettled in the West Bank (miscalled Judea by Zionists). Banging the Holocaust and Antisemitism drums are losing traction.

  5. Joe Berger says:

    That’s not MY mugshot.

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