But there is something eerily similar between then and now. Hitler’s Nazi movement made an appeal to dark human passions that sweet reason could not assuage. Sweet reason — can’t we all just get along ? — does not solve all issues, pace Chamberlain, Obama, and the bien–pensant liberals of our day. Today, I fear, our (mostly liberal) chattering classes, so intent on getting on with negotiation and avoiding confrontation, simply fail to notice that Islamism, in this respect not unlike the Nazism of yore, appeals to passions that are not provided for by rational-man images of bourgeois society.
Today’s New York Times tells us that “at least 6 die as Islamists clash with Hamas” in the Gaza territory. The story of bloody mayhem, members of one Islamicist faction killing those of another, is buried on page 7, with the front page taken up by more important news: “retailers see slowing sales in key season,” “idle Iraqi date farms show decline in economy,” a shooting in Harlem, etc. But the violence of Palestinian Islamicists against one another gets swept under a page-seven rug. And New York Times’s readers are spared a confrontation with uncomfortable reality.
The sweet-reason, can’t-we-all-just-get-along movement in Israel is called Peace Now, and is promoted by left-wing parties like Meretz. Peace Now was founded some thirty years ago with the proposition that if only Israel were nicer to the Arabs, the Arabs, in turn, would be nicer to Israel. If Peace Now has a guiding principle, it is that radical, uncompromising Islamicism is to be strictly ignored. But, alas, while Israel has tried to be as nice as possible to the Arabs (most notably at Camp David in 2000 and at Taba in 2001), more or less following Peace Now prescriptions, there have been no positive results, peace now being more elusive than ever. Consequently, as explained by Carlo Strenger in a recent issue of Haaretz, Peace Now has virtually disappeared from Israeli politics.
Update on the intra–Islamist violence in Gaza (Haaretz, 8/15/09):
Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said 24 people were killed, including six Hamas police officers and an 11-year-old girl. At least 150 people were wounded, he said.