Jewish World Review May 14, 2002/ 3 Sivan, 5762
The Bush Administration was also pleased to see Israel's "partner for peace" freed up and his fax line reconnected. And, waddayaknow, at the very moment the President was discussing this latest hopeful development with Ariel Sharon at the White House, the "peace process" did indeed get back on its customary track with the detonation of a brand new suicide bomber in a pool hall in Rishon Letzion. Sixteen dead Israelis, and much joy from the heroic martyr's proud parents: "Yasser, that's my baby! Do we get a cheque from Saddam? Or the Saudis? Or both?"
Could there be a more heartening sign that the "peace process" is once again rolling along than the cheery sound of Palestinian baby kaboomers? All we need now is some guy to lend his name to a new plan which would open the way to get us back to Tenet, which would get us back to Mitchell, which would get us back to Wye River, which would get us back to Oslo, which would get us back to Kansas. Have I forgotten someone? Zinni? Did he have a plan? Or was his plan not to have a plan?
Last Tuesday, one suicide bomber killed almost as many civilians as the entire Israeli army did during the notorious Jenin "massacre." Where are the condemnations from the EU? Where's the UN inquiry? Oh, wait, I forgot. When Palestinians kill Israelis, that just means Israel needs to do more to redouble its efforts to get the "peace process" back on that long and winding track.
It's instructive to contrast the eternal forbearance the EU demands of Israel with their own behaviour. On Sunday, the French presidential election ended with a result that the Republic's establishment claimed had strengthened their democracy. Can't quite see it myself.
For a start, President Chirac refused to "jaw-jaw" with his opponent at all: Why, to debate him would only dignify him! No one else wanted to "jaw-jaw," either: Instead, there were large demonstrations by the left urging people to vote for "the crook, not the fascist." To make the street-theatre look a little better on TV, schools gave their pupils the day off to go and make up the numbers in a demonstration against a fellow most of them had barely heard of. To some of us, there's always something a little totalitarian about the state conscripting children in its propaganda efforts, but Chirac, though undoubtedly the crook, seemed appreciative of these fascistic touches.
The media rallied overwhelmingly to his soiled banner. Under France's onerous electoral laws, neither candidate is allowed to campaign on the day before the election, but, in an unprecedented display of cheerleading, the press urged voters to turn out for Monsieur Sleaze. Four out of five people voted for "the crook," but that still left a fifth of French electors to support a "fascist" who in any healthy political culture would have been a joke candidate: Putting aside his views, he's 74 and he's never held public office. If an election with only one viable candidate, no debate, a biased media, a blind eye to corruption, and public demonstrations with bused-in schoolchildren "strengthens" your democracy, then I'm moving to Zimbabwe.
The day after the French election attention turned to the Netherlands. Like President Chirac, Prime Minister Wim Kok had declared that his principal opponent, Pim Fortuyn, was someone who was beneath debate. So on Monday someone shot him dead. A militant vegan, if reports are to be believed. From across the North Sea, Tony Blair issued a heartfelt tribute to the first victim of political assassination in Holland in 350 years: "No matter what feelings political figures arouse, the ballot box is the place to express them."
In Rotterdam, voters had done just that: 35% of electors in the Netherlands' second largest city had cast their ballots for Pim Fortuyn. Yet that wasn't enough to get him a debate with Wim Kok, and even in death he remained, at least to the grudging Mr. Blair, beyond the pale (to coin a phrase). Fortuyn and Le Pen had virtually nothing in common: Le Pen's a Vichy nostalgist; Fortuyn was a flamboyant gay sociology professor, a beneficiary of Dutch liberalism who boasted about the ethnic diversity of his many lovers. Le Pen's a left-wing protectionist; Fortuyn was a Thatcherite on economic issues. But in the shorthand of European politics both were dismissed as "extreme," "hateful" and, of course, "right-wing."
Canadian columnist Mark Kingwell and others have commented on the public confusion over "right" and "left" labels, but here's an easy layman's guide: "left" is redundant, you never hear it any more; and "right" just means the side you're meant to dislike. Diehard Maoist Commies in Red China are "hardline conservatives" just as much as John Ashcroft is.
Apart from their mutual antipathy to Muslim immigration, Fortuyn and Le Pen would have loathed each other. But they cocked their individual snooks at the pieties of contemporary Eurofantasy and so they were beyond debate: Mais non, said Chirac and Blair and Kok, we cannot talk with these men, no matter how many people vote for them.
To engage them would only legitimize them. What did either Fortuyn or Le Pen do to deserve having their voters ignored by the political establishment? Did they kill anyone? Did they issue orders for murders and bombings? Did they fund terrorism? Did they supply terrorists with weapons and training?
Yasser Arafat has done -- is doing -- all these things, and yet the Europeans insist he is their "friend," a legitimate leader, a constructive "partner for peace," and someone who the Israelis must keep talking to, no matter how huge the vast mound of corpses grows. Oh, and as we all know, it's Ariel Sharon who is "extreme" and "right-wing": the side you're meant to dislike.
European humbug has reached almost deafening levels in the last few weeks. There's the Pope's emissary high-fiving with the Chairman as he's liberated from his compound, while back home, legitimate political leaders who submit themselves to the ballot box are disdained and then assassinated. Yasser, of course, has postponed indefinitely his "re-election" campaign, but that doesn't stop the generous European Union subsidies which indirectly fund Palestinian suicide bombers. Smug, intolerant and decadent, Continental politics are in an advanced state of disease.
When the establishment is too
arrogant to "jaw-jaw," "war-war" -- or at least massive civil unrest
-- isn't too far behind.
05/10/02 The home office of extremism