“But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
Here we go again. Last week, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, likely provoked into action by its Iranian backers, launched an attack on the state of Israel, killing (at the time of writing) around 900 civilians and capturing Israeli soldiers, parading some of them on the internet, including women soldiers. Watching these videos is a revolting experience.
The State of Israel is already retaliating with attacks on the Gaza strip, but, predictably, neo-cons and liberal imperialists are already sounding the charge for yet another foreign intervention overseas. If you only listened to people on Twitter, you would think that Hamas had attacked the United States and not the State of Israel. I’ve written about this phenomenon in these pages before, but it seems that Americans of pretty much every political stripe are treating this conflict the same way that they have treated the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as a proxy for their personal political preferences.
In the case of Israel, there is at least more reason for the leap to defend a country halfway across the world. Unlike Ukraine, the United States has a long-standing relationship with the State of Israel, going back to its foundation in 1948. And ideologically, Israel has long been the most “Western-style” democracy in the Middle East, and so it makes a far more natural ally than the fragile kleptocracy that is the Ukrainian government.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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But the same pitfalls of well-meaning (and perhaps not so well-meaning) Americans going on the internet and crying for the United States to involve itself in ethnic conflicts applies just as well in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as in the case of Ukraine. The attacks on the State of Israel, though horrific, are no threat to its existence, and they in no way threaten the United States or its interests.
Then why do people insist upon calling for America to be involved then? The reasons, such as they are, are various. Some genuinely seem to believe that America is and should be the world’s policeman, putting down conflict everywhere it flares up. Neocons and others identify “democracy” (i.e., political and social freedoms largely unique to Western civilization) with American power, and so they wish to spread these by intervening in such conflicts abroad.
But most people are not Neocons nor are they that into democracy. In fact, most elites are not either, and they are the ones that really matter, especially when it comes to foreign policy. So, why do they go along with this?
They do so mainly because support for the “good guys” in distant ethnic conflicts is a type of “luxury belief” that is easy for the high and mighty to latch onto. A “luxury belief” is one that elites embrace as a means of signaling their status. Rather than physical displays of wealth, luxury beliefs indicate one’s status in a higher, more morally virtuous elite. Embracing these beliefs is a way of maintaining one’s status in a world where wealth and the physical signs of status are increasingly available to non-elites. Support for the “good guys” in distant ethnic conflicts is a type of “luxury belief” that is easy for the high and mighty to latch onto. Tweet This
Reflexive support for the perceived “good guys” in faraway conflicts is one of these. Another is immigration. Supporting immigrants over one’s own people is a sign you are above the lower status types who despise foreigners. After all, if you are the elite, it seems morally impoverished if you only have one country of your own. A truly righteous person should have six or seven at least—especially when you don’t have to live with the consequences of your policies (in the Middle East, for example).
The same could be said about a whole host of ideas elites have adopted, largely as the result of leftist activism in the education system, epitomized by this handy chart:
If you are wondering why elites seem so wedded to insane beliefs they only discovered five minutes ago, it is because such beliefs give them moral cover for maintaining their social status, which they otherwise lack. If you have not noticed, confidence in the institutions that run our society is at an all-time low, and our elites need a moral reason to go on ignoring the complaints of the people below them on the totem pole. And of course, those on the low end can imitate their betters by putting a Ukrainian flag in their X bios as a means of signaling that they, too, belong to the morally superior upper classes, without those upper classes actually allowing them into their sacred precincts.
You may also notice that support for these beliefs, like constant wars and mass immigration, costs them very little in material terms, since they are borne by people below them on the social scale. This might seem like an outrage to you plebes out there, but for elites that is part of the attraction. The fact they are exempt from paying for their luxury beliefs can be easily explained by the depravity of people below them—you know, the “basket of deplorables”—who sympathize with the wrong party to a conflict or prioritize their own country over that of others.
The fact they can be forced to pay for the elites’ luxury beliefs is not because elite policies are ill-conceived or unjust. The hoi polloi deserve to pay, due to their moral failure to embrace the positions of elites. “These people wouldn’t be on the bottom of the social scale,” so the reasoning goes, “if they would only get on board with our beliefs, because that’s why we are higher on the social scale, because of our morally superior ideas”—not because of social and material advantages.
Which brings me back to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are many reasons why politicians jump at the decision to defend Israel but seem not to care about the problem of mass immigration into the United States. But reflexive support for Israel is as much of a luxury belief as blind support for Ukraine. Like their counterparts on the cultural left, the Israel lobby understands you have to cultivate elites to get your preferred policies enacted. I know some people think it anti-Semitic to question the influence of Israel on the United States, but I don’t think it is. The Israelis are only doing what they believe is necessary to protect their own people. No one should fault them for that.
No, the fault lies with financial, social, and political elites who think the only way they can maintain their status is to “identify” with a country far away rather than their own. One need not sympathize with Hamas or indulge in moral equivalence to notice that the State of Israel is not governed by angels and that its treatment of Arab Christians and Palestinians is sometimes quite awful. There is no unqualified moral reason for the United States to intervene in this conflict, and to think otherwise is madness. And there is absolutely no vital national interest that could justify doing so.
Due to their increasingly delusional policies, our elites are slowly turning our country into a politically and ethnically balkanized mess, and using foreign conflicts to prop up their failing legitimacy is only going to make matters worse. The United States will likely never regain the cultural or civilizational stability it once possessed, but there is still a path to political power for politicians who would prioritize their country over that of others. Donald Trump proved that, if nothing else. Whether any elites will emerge who can stomach being ostracized by their peers as Trump did is uncertain. What is certain is that unless they do, Americans might not have a country left to prioritize in the very near future.
[Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images]