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Liberalism

israel politics middle east philosophy liberal left rightWhat are the philosophical motivations behind international delegitimization campaigns against the state of Israel? And does philosophy provide alternative paradigms to help defend the legitimacy of the Jewish State?  How does resurgent antisemitism corrupt discussion in political and activist circles? Ben Cohen’s four-part series examines these questions. His starting point is a sympathetic critique of Israeli scholar Yoram Hazony’s essay, Israel Through European Eyes.

Hazony's explanation of the intellectual origins of Israel's current, woeful predicament robustly counters the typical platitudes one encounters in discussions of how Israel should respond.

"Change your policy," insists the left. "Engage in better PR," advises the right.

There is some superficial truth in both of these observations, but neither deals with either the cause of delegitimization nor its terrifying persistence....More >>

Israel politics Middle East philosophy sovereignty Arab PalestinianThere is a paradigm that puts Israel on the right side of history. It is Immanuel Kant's conception of international politics.

Kant’s paradigm is decidedly liberal. By "liberal", I mean a framework of accountable government in which individual rights are paramount. This is something broadly compatible with democratic currents from social democracy to modern conservatism.

To begin with, Kant's thought does not wholly militate against nationalism, even if he does serve as an early example of cosmopolitanism. The great scholar of the Middle East, Elie Kedourie, regarded Kant's idea of self-determination, his signal contribution to the philosphy of the Enlightenment, as central to the intellectual development of nationalism.

Kedourie was not hugely enamored of Kant. But its worth noting that when Kant's followers turn their attention to international affairs, what bothers them is not so much the existence of nation-states as the widespread absence of lawfully-constituted states.

With Kant, everything flows from the "categorical imperative," the most fundamental of all principles.

Since human beings possess reason, they are, as the philosopher Thomas Donaldson puts it in an essay on Kant...More >>

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Confusion to our enemies!

Jonathon Narvey is the Editor of The Propagandist....More >>

Liberalism war politics AfghanistanImagine that your daughter is being constantly and viciously harassed by a gang of racist bullies at school. You make an appointment with the principal. You show him your daughter's bruises, her torn clothes, and you ask him what he intends to do about it.

The principal listens sympathetically to your story. Then he  proceeds with a litany of all those things that make his work so difficult, the person-hours lost to teachers taking stress leave, the uncaring, cost-cutting conservatives on the school board, the socio-economic conditions that prevail in the homes of the boys who have been tearing out clumps of your daughter's hair, the deficiencies in the working-hours provisions of the principals' union contract, and so on.

You patiently agree with much of what he has to say, not just politely, but sincerely. At last he concludes: You know, it was a bad idea to have children from your community enrol here in the first place. You really must try to find another school for your daughter, one that will provide, how can I put it, a less hostile environment...More >>

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