In the West, we are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States. Tonight I say to you: Maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel.
In this new century, the “West” is no longer a matter of geography. The West is defined by societies committed to freedom and democracy. That at least is how the terrorists see it. And if we are serious about meeting this challenge, we would expand the only military alliance committed to the defense of the West to include those on the front lines of this war. That means bringing countries such as Israel into NATO.
My friends, I do not pretend to have all the answers to Gaza this evening. But I do know this: The free world makes a terrible mistake if we deceive ourselves into thinking this is not our fight. - Rupert Murdoch, On Receiving AJC National Human Relations Award, March 4, 2009
This is a beautiful, bold statement from Mr. Murdoch. Elsewhere in his speech he poses important questions, like "Why do we never hear calls for Hamas leaders to be charged with war crimes? And where are the international human rights groups demanding that Hamas stop blurring the most fundamental line in warfare: the distinction between civilian and combatant?"
These are important questions, and the muting of these questions in much of the popular media begs all thoughtful, humanitarians to turn away from the media sources that suppress them, and to raise the questions in their own circles of influence whenever possible. For if they are suppressed enough, eventually we will be the ones who do not survive because we allow defensive acts of violence to be condemned, while permissively ignoring heinous acts of aggresssion and barabarism as they creep beyond the borders of their perpetrators homelands, and move into our own.
Yet, there remains an important and careful nuance to be made to Mr. Murdoch's assertion. "...if we allow the terrorists to succeed...", by this and other commentary from Mr. Murdoch I understand that he means this to be our fight via intervention, and military intervention when it seems desirable. Unless I am wrong on that point, it is from there that I have a serious point of departure with his views, and those that have been championed by the political right, with support from a few on the left.
Moreover, I would also dissent from Mr. Murdoch's view that it is freedom, tolerance and democracy that they hate, nor that we defend. By arguing as much, Murdoch, like George W Bush, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney, minimizes the pure religious zeal that fuels the middle eastern terrorist propaganda, and pretends the West's own march toward a self-inflicted death is not occurring before our own eyes.
Taking these three points in order, first, please consider the problem of intervention. If Mr. Murdoch were to say we should let Israel defend herself, and we should cheer them on as they do - and then that this would set the framework and example for how we are free and ought of right defend our own nation within our own boundaries - then he would hear rousing cheers from this corner.
But this is not the case. Instead, those who support Israel's right of self-defense are always eager to be ready to jump in with our own armed forces. Oddly though, never entirely to fight on behalf of Israel, but only to stir up other fights in the Middle East. Let's see, who was it that actually got the Sunnis and Shiites to fight with each other? It almost begs the question, are we actually doing much of what we accuse the middle easterners of doing themselves?
As to the second issue - is it freedom, tolerance and democracy our enemies hate? While we may object to the form of democracy they take, there are many democracies in the middle east. To say they hate freedom and tolerance requires further definition - what do you mean by freedom and tolerance when you make such a statement?
What is clear, however, is that they hate the presence, proselytization, and possibility of expansion of othe religions in their own countries. If this is hatred of freedom and tolerance, however, then perhaps those of us who would intervene to defeat them, hold an equal hatred of the same kinds of freedom and tolerance. Regardless, their attacks are directed at those things they want to rid themselves of, but they are specifically motivated to do so by religious beliefs that teach them theirs is right and others are wrong. So it is a fight of principled belief - not specifically directed against freedom or tolerance. We should be careful to identify what we mean when we say things like this.
Similarly, on the third issue, it's not really accurate to say we are defending freedom and democracy by intervening in these battlegrounds. We can do this without fighting wars in Iraq, or even Afghanistan. If we are defending these values, we have done it without specifically intervening in a fight for Israel for over a generation. More importantly, we come across as weak in the extreme when we palce these values out in front of a long war, in light of what has happened and is presently happening between our own shores.
We are selling off freedom by the month as our own Congress spends trillions dismantling the economic system we've enjoyed for the past 400 years. We imprison 25% of the world's inmates and champion freedom? Our moral fabric and family structure are but a shadow of psat generations in our own society. Freedom in the West is very much at risk - yet we would showcase our defense of it as if we have never been stronger.
These tragic misperceptions overlook the real reasons the battles in the Middle East exist, and why so many Americans continue to put so much stock in the fight for the Middle East. What are the real reasons? Stay tuned as they come into focus.