February 6, 2012

Is Israel the most easterly outpost of Western civilization?

Niall Ferguson, the Scotch historian currently at Harvard, bangs the war drums in Newsweek:
Israel and Iran on the Eve of Destruction in a New Six-Day War 
Jerusalem—It probably felt a bit like this in the months before the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel launched its hugely successful preemptive strike against Egypt and its allies. Forty-five years later, the little country that is the most easterly outpost of Western civilization has Iran in its sights.

Why is Israel the most easterly outpost of Western civilization? What about Christian countries much farther to the east, like Armenia and Georgia? Not to mention Russia (Moscow is east of Jerusalem -- and if you are making up a list of important figures in Western civilization, it's hard to leave off Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Tchaikovsky, Chekhov, Stravinsky, and Nabokov, right)? 

Here in L.A., there are lots of Armenians and lots of Israelis. I don't think many people here would define Israelis as obviously more members of Western civilization than Armenians. Back in December, I went to an Armenian wedding in the church across the Hollywood Freeway from Universal Studios. Here's their webpage. Seems pretty Christian to me. Moreover, Armenians make up a small but hardly unnoticeable number of eminent figures in the cultural history of Western civilization, such as the composer Khachaturian

Now, lots of Armenian-Americans would like more help from the U.S. government in their struggles with their Muslim rivals Azerbaijan and Turkey. And Armenians are relatively prosperous, intelligent, and energetic. But, truth be told, Armenian isn't a very important country, so, despite a sizable Armenian Caucus in the U.S Congress (overwhelmingly made up of non-Armenians), the U.S. doesn't do a lot for Armenia. Armenian concerns don't take up much space in American newspapers, even in L.A.

Fifty years ago, Israel was culturally an outpost of northern Europe, the late Austro-Hungarian Empire's southernmost province. But my vague impression is that it has been working hard to stop being a neurotic, high-achieving Teutonic culture and become a pleasure-loving Mediterranean culture. The Ashkenazis (and their Russian in-laws) still more or less run the place, but they've ceded a lot of cultural legitimacy to non-Ashkenazi Jews. Israel still produces some classical musicians and chemists, but the Jersey Shoreification of Israeli daily life is ongoing, along with various other trends, such as the Black Hatification of parts of the country, and the Afrikaanerization of the West Bank. Its cultural future seems kind of like Armenia or Lebanon.

93 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let him go fight.

Jeff Burton said...

Maybe south-easterly most? Mid-easterly most?

RKU said...

Ha, ha! Come the Discontinuity, I suspect there's going to be a whole big bunch of academic "openings" at Harvard...

Rudyard said...

He is going from the East/West map used by military contractors

No Name said...

I'm sure the Armenians are nice people, but aren't they -well kinda -'ethically challenged" like many Mediterranean types?

Anonymous said...

"But, truth be told, Armenian isn't a very important country"

Neither is Israel, but that hasn't stopped them.

Anyway I dispute your premise that being Christian makes one "Western". Russia, Armenia, Georgia, etc. may be Christian, but they are not Western.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

How many Armenians and Georgians subscribe to those bits of Western (especially American) culture which many of us find important, such as rule of law, maximising education, free markets, religious tolerance, life of the mind, scientific research, and personal generosity?

I can understand thinking that US support for Israel is excessive and counterproductive. But the insistence that it is based entirely on lobbying and manipulation, rather than actual cultural similarity, undermines the whole rest of the argument. Hell, Israel is more western in that sense than most of the Balkans, never mind Tbilsi.

Sid said...

Niall Ferguson in his new book, "Civilization" even comments on how diffuse and obscure the concept of "Western Civilization" can be. If you ask academics if Latin America is in the tradition of Western civilization, or if it branched off elsewhere and is now incorrigibly non-Western, you won't get a clear answer.

slumber_j said...

True, Armenia isn't a very important country. But the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem is pretty damned important, no? Arguably *more* important!! No?

Anonymous said...

No one runs SSI (permanent disability) scams like the LA-based Armenians.

RK said...

Who says "Scotch" anymore?

Anonymous said...

most easterly outpost of Western civilization?

New Zealand?

B.B.

BAS said...

I heard that since the Kardashians only sleep with black guys, interracial dating has now become fashionable in that community much to the dismay of Armenian guys.

Peter said...

Armenia's sometimes frosty relationships with Turkey and Azerbaijan aren't based on Christianity-vs.-Islam. Armenia has a friendly relationship with uber-Muslim Iran, in fact Iran takes Armenia's side in Armenia's conflicts with Islamic (though highly secularized) Azerbaijan.

An argument could be made that Kazakhstan is the easternmost outpost of Western civilization. Official policy is that it is an European country, notwithstanding the fact that only a very small part is geographically part of Europe.

MQ said...

when Israel launched its hugely successful preemptive strike against Egypt and its allies.

Hugely successful in the short run. In the long run not so much. It has created a situation where almost half of the people living on Israeli territory are Palestinian refugees under occupation.

Anonymous said...

That's a good question in light of stories like this:

"US warns tourists against 'immodest attire' in Jerusalem"

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4185277,00.html

"Concerns over recent haredi extremism in Israel's capital prompt US consulate to publish Jerusalem travel recommendations for American tourists"

"The US State Department is concerned over recent violence exhibited by extremists in Israel's haredi community and has published a travel recommendation for tourists: Do not walk around dressed immodestly in haredi neighborhoods for fear that extremists would assault you in the street.

The travel recommendations which were updated by the US State Department two weeks ago with the recent phenomenon of women's exclusion and haredi violence in mind, calls on American tourists to dress appropriately when visiting religious sites in the Old City and in haredi neighborhoods and to avoid driving through those neighborhoods during the Sabbath."

Anonymous said...

Russia's status as a "Western" nation is highly debatable; Toynbee, for example, did not count it as such. For that matter, many Russians have been strikingly ambivalent about the West (cf the Slavophiles).

Syon

Anonymous said...

Steve, this guy writes hagiographies of the Rothschilds.

Anonymous said...

This kind of thing gets taken to ridiculous extremes. I was watching an interview recently with a hedge fund manager named Kyle Bass who was speaking of Japan as a Western country and called it the "most xenophobic country in the Western world". He spoke of this as if it were uncontroversial. Japan obviously is not Western.

Anonymous said...

France, Germany, the British Isles (and the Anglosphere diaspora of N. America and OZ/NZ), Italy, Benelux, Austria, Switzerland and Scandinavia always seemed like the most Western or the "real" West. Spain and Portugal always seemed a bit off, and Poland, while Roman Catholic, always seemed a bit too eastern and Slavic to be truly "Western".

Propeller Island said...

What about Christian countries much farther to the east, like Armenia and Georgia? Not to mention Russia.

Niall Ferguson is over 40, which means he is a child of Cold War. For him, Western civilization still means "Free World" (remember this expression?) He will never think of Russia as part of the club.

U.S. doesn't do a lot for Armenia.

But Russia does. In fact, Russia's relation to Armenia is quite similar to America's relation to Israel. The reason is the same: mutual affinity.

(Members of the old Armenian diaspora will dispute this affinity but they haven't been to the mother country for a hundred years.)

But my vague impression is that it has been working hard to stop being a neurotic, high-achieving Teutonic culture and become a pleasure-loving Mediterranean culture.

My impression is that Israel was never very Teutonic but always considerably Levantian. But in the last couple of decade they are becoming more and more American. This has bad sides (Jersey Shoreification) and good sides (Silicon Valleyization).

Lucius said...

As a commentary on Tel-Aviv hedonism this latter part stretches into interesting territory, but is it quite fair to call it "Jersey Shore"ification? My notion has been that godless Israeli decadence has a tonier quality to it-- more like people stepped out of an ambisexual Prada ad (assuming the Prada models are Jewish, I guess).

Maybe, maybe . . . but dignifying Armenia in this context is paradoxically a bit like our McCainiac friends wanting to go to war for that heroic outpost of Western values, Georgia. Do we really want to dignify any Central Asian states with that kind of unearned gravitas? Just for Katchaturian's sake?

But back to Jersey Shore for a moment: living with a certain level of wealth and privilege, while having to constantly navigate the threat of violent death at the hands of yokels out of "Deliverance" (plus head wrappings) can understandably warp people's better ambitions. Maybe Israel today isn't Plato's Republic in terms of virtue, but "Muslims in the MidEast", as Sen. Bullworth would call them, lend distant credence to some of the more paranoid ramblings of left-leaning Studies majors: theocracy, patriarchy, "rape culture". Switch "Late Capital" to "third great monotheistic religion of tolerance and peace" and sometimes they start to make sense.

Duke of Qin said...

It's the other way around. Israel westernmost outpost of Middle-Eastern civilization.

anony-mouse said...

Given that 100% of Israel's 'brain' Nobels have been given solely in the 21st century, I doubt that Israel is becoming less Western.

SFG said...

The Sephardim have more kids...even Jews are prone to dysgenics. And I think the Israelis' interest in Teutonic culture is a bit, ah, suppressed due to not-so-recent events.

As for Prada ads...yes, the secular Israelis are decadent in the Western fashion, gay rights and all. The black hats are outbreeding them, though.

It's too bad. Some of the original plans for Israel had the language as German!

Anonymous said...

Scotch historian. Dang, that's the type of job I'd like.

swimming swan said...

"The Sephardim have more kids...even Jews are prone to dysgenics. And I think the Israelis' interest in Teutonic culture is a bit, ah, suppressed due to not-so-recent events."

Let's look at it this way: Ashkenazi types will be way smarter than you while those of Sephardic descent will be as smart as you or a little smarter. Not to mention those genetic problems in the Ashkenazi population vs not so much in the Sephardim.

I don't know why you're being such an ass.

DoJ said...

New Zealand anon wins this thread.

Chris said...

Ummm, hint:
Why are traditionally eastern countries like Russia that have often been defined as outside Western Civ, not considered the most eastern parts of Western Civ? Hmmmm...

Western Civilization is the successor to the former holdings of the Catholicized Western Empire. The Jews have been a central part of this culture's identity and self-mythology since at least, say, about AD 3. So has the Holy Land, which is why Israel really is an outpost of Western Civ in the minds of those who live in Western Civ.

Of course, there are those who don't live in Western Civ anymore, in their minds, regardless of their geography.

Russians? Georgians? Armenians? What next, you going to want the Pope to concede a bunch of theology to the metropolitans in the Orthodox church?

Anonymous said...

I've heard Scandinavians refer to Europe as a foreign land. "In Europe...", "while I was in Europe", etc. Brits do that too. Russians do that all the time. The region whose natives never use "in Europe" to mean "abroad" consists of France, Germany, the Low Countries, northern Italy, Switzerland, Austria. Interestingly, that is almost exactly the area over which Charlemagne was crowned Emperor on December 25, 800 AD.

J said...

Steve generally is more cultured than that. Some time ago Christianity split into a Western branch and an Eastern - Orthodox, Nestorian - branch. Are Chinese Nestorians - Western? Christianity itself is a MIddle Eastern religion, so how can you use it as a measure of Westernity?

We in Israel certainly dont intend to be an outpost of anything. We are not here to convert Muslims to Christianity and not to Judaism. We are refugees from genocydical Europe and horrible Muslim lands. We have no ideology or civilization to impose on any one. You are attributing us intentions we dont have.

Auntie Analogue said...

Most Western governments have officially recognized and lamented the Holocaust but have trod on eggshells, hemmed and hawed, when it comes to recognizing and lamenting Turkey's 1915 genocide against the Armenians. Has this something to do with why the West regards Israel as its westernmost outpost while disregarding Armenia?

The rise of the USSR's power made it a vital concern of the West (and of Great Britain before the US superseded Britsh Imperial power - hence the Crimean War) to cultivate good relations with Turkey - to have Turkey act as the cork in the Dardanelles to prevent Soviet naval access to the Mediterranean Sea and thus to the USSR's Arab client states that ring the eastern and central Mediterranean, so it behooved Western/NATO governments (and the Western media who backed them) to play nice toward Turkey, which included making no official recogntion of Turkey's genocide of the Armenians. Now that Turkey's AKP party is culling the Turkish military, which had always been the guarantor of Turkey's secularism, now that the AKP is "Islamizing" Turkey, now that Turkey is chilling its political and military friendship with Israel, and now that Turkey is apparently vying, against Iran, for hegemonic influence in the Middle East's Arab states, the West may find it opportune to, at long last, recognize officially the genocide the Turk's committed against Armenians. The fly in this ointment for the Armenians and for the West is, of course, Russia's support for the Assad regime in Syria: the West will not want Turkey to open the Bosphorus to Russian naval forces.


There's also the problem of the millions of Turks and Germans of Turkish descent in Germany, plus the EU's fretting over admitting Turkey to the EU at a time when the EU/Eurozone teeters at the financial precipice - all these considerations weigh upon how the West regards Israel and, more distantly Armenia. Armenia being landlocked and surrounded by chiefly, if not wholly hostile powers, makes it hard for the West, which doesn't have sea or direct air access to Armenia, to make noises that might provoke one, or more, of Armenia's neighbors to attempt a repetition of Turkey's bloody 1915 deed.


It will be interesting to see how all of this develops.

Auntie Analogue said...

I apologize for the erratum in the first paragraph of my earlier comment: "regards Israel as its westernmost outpost." I ought to have written: "regards Israel as its easternmost outpost."

Peter said...

Armenia being landlocked and surrounded by chiefly, if not wholly hostile powers, makes it hard for the West, which doesn't have sea or direct air access to Armenia

One salient feature of modern Armenia is its comparative lack of land access to the rest of the world. Its main trade route consists of a couple of two-lane roads and a single-tracked rail line to Georgia and its ports on the Black Sea. There's also a mountain road to Iran that's often closed by snow for weeks at a time in winter. All land crossings to Azerbaijan are closed off, which includes a rail line that continues on to Iran. With a recent thaw in relations Armenia might be able to open some land routes to Turkey, but that hasn't yet happened.

LemmusLemmus said...

Australia? New Zealand?

Anonymous said...

...to prevent Soviet naval access to the Mediterranean Sea...
...open the Bosphorus to Russian naval forces...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreux_Convention_Regarding_the_Regime_of_the_Turkish_Straits

since no one will actually RTFA, the straits are open. even to military vessels. since 1936. That's before the cold war for those that don't know.

this is probably beyond the isteve readers' level of understanding of turkish and russian geopolitics, (not that there is particularly wrong with that, i don't know anything about american college football either), but russians actually want turkey to restrict naval access to straits. to prevent US navy from having a presence in the Black Sea.

as for Armenia. No one ever mentions Russian military (and economic and everything else, russian customs troops on armenian-turkish border) presence there. i suspect that's because no one knew that.

Armenia-Azerbaijan problem. That's a solvable problem. Except that US, Russia, France and Iran are meddling on Armenia's behalf. When you saw US act with the other three on anything else.

Now, Aliyev (that would be Azerbaijan's president) has/tries to have israel on his side for the past several years.

I can go on for a few more pages like this on many tangentials.

the important thing is as "The Great Game ain't so great anymore" article implies, if you want to meddle in reginal politics you have to have a higher resolution map than a tabletop game has.

Anonymous said...

"I can understand thinking that US support for Israel is excessive and counterproductive. But the insistence that it is based entirely on lobbying and manipulation, rather than actual cultural similarity, undermines the whole rest of the argument. Hell, Israel is more western in that sense than most of the Balkans, never mind Tbilsi."

It's a rather hard argument to believe in, considering it's for an apartheid state.

The best argument the Israeli's have for their treatment of the Arab population is "they have it better here than in any of their own countries". Which is an ethnic argument -- a racialist argument, really -- reminiscent of what was said about blacks in the Jim Crow Era.

Now imagine a US politician defending the latter, today. He certainly will defend the former.

Evidently Israeli culture is not only equal to "Western" or US culture, but actually far more important. And it's more important than US culture even within US borders; maybe especially.

On one hand, we're supposed to believe in our cultural connection to the Jewish people. On the other, we're supposed to have no connection to, well, our own cultural history.

Anonymous said...

"This kind of thing gets taken to ridiculous extremes. I was watching an interview recently with a hedge fund manager named Kyle Bass who was speaking of Japan as a Western country and called it the "most xenophobic country in the Western world". He spoke of this as if it were uncontroversial. Japan obviously is not Western."

Japan is US-owned, really. It's to the US what India was to the British.

It's franchised, post-WWII.

The one thing the Japs have retained is racial homogeneity, which is verboten, for obvious but unstated reasons, in any Western Country. Western as in White.

TH said...

I like Huntington's classification of civilizations which is largely based on religion. Russia is not Western. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, etc. may be important cultural figures for Westerners, too, but that does not mean that Russia is Western any more than the fact that Avicenna and al-Farabi were once influential in the West makes Persia part of the West.

The difference between Western and Orthodox Christianity became particularly salient after the collapse of communism in Europe. Those nations east of the Iron Curtain that are traditionally Catholic or Protestant strongly gravitated towards the West, easily adopting Western institutions like democracy and the market economy and joining Western organizations like the EU. In contrast, democracy and free markets have not had much success in Orthodox ex-communist nations. Moreover, while Catholic and Protestant ex-communist nations were desperate to escape being dominated by Russia, Orthodox ex-communist nations do not seem to mind being bossed around by the leading Orthodox country.

Huntington was unsure on how to classify Israel. He thought that it could be considered a civilization of its own, but one that is similar to the West.

Anonymous said...

Steve,
Ferguson would be offended to be desribed as 'Scotch'. 'Scottish' is the word.
'Scotch' is a drink not a nationality.

Anonymous said...

Yes.The state of Israel was founded on mittel-europan ideals of socialism and intellectualism, the founding stock were ashkenazim from Poland, Russia, Germany etc who in the main were highly educated, cultured and idealistic.
However the bulk of the population appaers to be sephardim from north africa, ultra-orthodox jews and hostile arabs these days - and the gruff, hairy chain wearers that Steve has a phobia of appear to have the upper hand, rather than the nerdy computer guys.

Peter A said...

Russia was on the verge of becoming Western until 1917. It is no accident that every one of the important Russian cultural figures Steve cites was born and educated in the Russian Empire, not the USSR. You can see Soviet "Communism" as down deep simply an expression of the desire of the Russian people to throw the Westernizers out of the country.

I certainly wouldn't call Armenians and Georgians "Western." For that matter neither are modern Greeks or Serbs. Poland is clearly Western, it is no accident that Poland today is actually better governed, more efficient and less corrupt than Greece. Western Civilization is pretty much identical to the traditional Protestant and Catholic countries.

Ashkenazi Jews are Western, but Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews are not. Israel, as Steve points out, is clearly moving into the non-Western camp.

DaveinHackensack said...

Niall Ferguson left his wife of 20+ years recently and married Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I saw that recently when I was looking up how to pronounce his first name.

IHTG said...

The Ashkenazis (and their Russian in-laws)

If what you're saying here is that Russian immigrants to Israel have joined the Ashkenazi founding stock in "running the country", then I can tell you that's quite untrue.

In fact, it's always been only a fraction of the Ashkenazi population in Israel that's been truly 'elite'.

Anonymous said...

"Japan obviously is not Western"

Since the late Meiji (ie, since circa late 19th century, and certainly post 1905), Japan has been considered an "honorary" Western nation, even an honorary "white" nation, by important quarters both within and without. I suppose one might say this accointed for the schizophrenia of Japanese ethno-racist ultranationalism of the 30s and 40s. Japan is a nation within the Western fold, but retaining many features unique to itself. (It's a bit one-foot-in, one-foot-out, perhaps not unlike Mexico without all the nonsense.)

Japan may, under the influence of China, at some future point drift back into a distinctly Asian orbit, but not at present.

dearieme said...

"Ferguson would be offended to be desribed as 'Scotch'." That depends on whether he was indoctrinated with that silly schoolteacher taboo when he was young.

fwood1 said...

An Armenian Congregational church?! I wonder how many Armenians are Protestant?

Daybreaker said...

"Why is Israel the most easterly outpost of Western civilization?"

Israel is is not the most easterly outpost of Western civilization. That is an antisemitic claim, or one made by self-hating Jews, because it plays into antisemitic Islamic attempts to delegitimize Israel by speaking as though Jews were not a native middle eastern people living in their own part of the world. This is an attempt to frame Israel in an anticolonialist narrative, which is in fact an antisemitic narrative, one that annihilates Jews morally by annihilating their middle eastern nature, which is a preparation for driving the Jews into the sea.

Of course, one doesn't waste one's time trying to explain a sophisticated viewpoint like that to some redneck. He would probably not be able to understand it properly, and there's a risk that he would take offense and even G_d forbid use it as an excuse to support an antisemitic policy of limiting aid and military support to Israel.

Each argument and counterargument should be made to the proper audience, in the proper time and context.

Jeff said...

I liked Anonymous's comments about Europeans' perceptions of where Europe is. Obviously people can have different perceptions of where Western civilization is.

It reminds me of the definition of who is a Yankee.

To a Southerner, it's somebody from the North.

To a Northerner, it's someone from New England.

To a New Englander, it's someone from Vermont.

To a Vermonter, it's somebody who eats pie for breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Outpost? It's more like Israeli, along with NY and LA, are the centers of the West, now controlled by Jews.

Alat said...

If you ask academics if Latin America is in the tradition of Western civilization, or if it branched off elsewhere and is now incorrigibly non-Western, you won't get a clear answer.

Which proves that academics are incredibly muddle-headed. Latin America speaks European languages, follows European religions, has all its cultural references in the West, and a large plurality of its population came from the West.

Russia/Slavdom may be considered part of the West or an independent civilization, but there is no sense in which Latin America could be an independent civilization. Ergo, it remains part of the West.

Frenchman Alain RouquiƩ nailed it: Latin America is the "Far West":

http://books.google.com.br/books/about/Am%C3%A9rique_latine.html?id=6hpGAAAAYAAJ

What's funny is that until the mid-19th century it was the United States that wanted to picture itself as a distinct civilization separate from the West, while Latin America was very clearly placed within it. While (most of) the newly independent Latins had many civil wars between conservatives and liberals, the same dispute as in most of Europe, American politics was unshakably liberal-democratic - the "new civilization". But then the U.S. conquered Europe (WWI + WWII) and successfully recreated Europe in its image; in Latin America this process is much more difficult and is still ongoing.

Anonymous said...

Israel is how the West *needs* to be if it wants to survive: culturally confident, reproductive (above replacement, even for secular Ashkenazim), family-friendly. The elites serve in the army and are less stupid than in Europe and the US.

Mr. Anon said...

"DaveinHackensack said...

Niall Ferguson left his wife of 20+ years recently and married Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I saw that recently when I was looking up how to pronounce his first name."

So now we know how to pronounce his first name: Creep

gummisariat said...

I think this should be called the Ferguson Paradox.

It goes like this: push open borders policies so that the core of the West itself--EU, US, Canada, Australia, etc--is overwhelmed by non-Westerners while, at the same time, defending Israel as the great symbol of Western values and power against 'muzzie darkies'.
It's hilarious when you think about it. It's like some Roman outpost fighting barbarians in the name of Roman glory while the core of Roman civilization--centered in Rome of course--is opened up to just about every non-Roman citizen from all over the empire.

Of course, Ferguson is one of those types who define 'Western' culturally than ethnically. So, if a billion Africans come to Europe and dig Shakespeare, Dickens, and Rothchilds, the West is still the West.

This is true of his sexual life as well. He dumps his white wife and children and goes with a black woman. But in his mind, his sexual behavior is pro-Western because Ali Hirsi supports 'Western values'.

With conservatives like these...

Andrea Ostrov Letania said...

"I like Huntington's classification of civilizations which is largely based on religion. Russia is not Western. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, etc. may be important cultural figures for Westerners, too, but that does not mean that Russia is Western any more than the fact that Avicenna and al-Farabi were once influential in the West makes Persia part of the West."

Given current demographic trends, both Russia and EU will be Muslim in 50 yrs.

Anonymous said...

Russia is a huge country. Some of it's European, some of it's not.

If Russia isn't Western because it's Orthodox, I suppose Greece isn't Western either.
Though Greece is the birthplace of Western Civilization, many Russians are racially and culturally closer to Northern Europeans. Many Russians have viking blood, look pale, and have cultural ties with Poland, Finland, Germany, etc.

Svigor said...

Anyway I dispute your premise that being Christian makes one "Western". Russia, Armenia, Georgia, etc. may be Christian, but they are not Western.

Agreed. Similarly, Ashkenazis may be Caucasoid, but they are not ethnically White (Mike Wallace agrees). And they're the most Caucasoid Israelis. Israel isn't particularly Caucasoid, is certainly not ethnically White, and I don't regard it as western, either (western countries aren't trending toward segregated buses, don't forbid the "wrong" marriages, make foreign workers sign "no sex with native women" contracts, etc., and they aren't found in the Levant).

Of course, the Whiskey caucus knows this to be ANTI-SEMITISM!!!

Marc B said...

Russia is far more of a Western country than Armenia in every measurable way. People get caught up in this idea that Russians as a separate people mostly they are somewhat geographically isolated/disconnected from Europe and because they are coarse and less refined. They don't measure up to the modern European's view of the New Man or the Metro-Sexual approximation in the US. They are by far the least influenced white majority country to 20th Cultural Marxist modernity. If you were to look at the accomplishments in science, the arts, and literature, Russians measure up and sometimes exceed the accomplishments of the clearly defined Western World.

Armenians are a diligent Central Asian people with an Arab temperament.

bruce banner said...

The first wave of Ashkenazi settlers in Israel were more of the tough, resilient, straight-out-of- the- Shtetl kind (think Norman Mailer/Ed Asner) rather than the stereotypical suave, urban and modern American Jew. Not unlike the first generations of Eastern European Jews in America, who were pretty tough at first (think Bugsy Siegel, kirk Douglas).
In a way, self-selection assured that Jews attracted to Israel were pretty much adapted to the rough conditions of the Middle-east. Pioneers would have to prove to be ruthless, clannish, religious, self-reliant, good with their hands, etc to survive.
Now, if you grow up in the Middle-east (never forget that´s where Israel is located), in an all -Jewish culture, in close contact with the more "authentic" Sephardic and Mizrahic communities, surrounded by Arabs and other Middle -eastern types, with such a pioneering/kibbutz background, you´ll tend to discard more and more European cultural elements and come closer to the Levantine outlook.
From the start, Israelis were bound to join the " gruff, hairy chain wearers" club of levantine societies. Some fit in naturally, being from the Middle east in the first place (most Sephardim, all of the Mizrahim).
Ashkenazis had just to get in touch with their inner hairy man with golden chain to fit better. It could be argued that for Ashkenazis the Western, European, man in a suit was just a surface, a made-up recent front for the Goyim ready to be dropped, and that they were just one step away to devolve into hairy men with golden chains. They´re just keepin´it real.

Anonymous said...

How many Armenians and Georgians subscribe to those bits of Western (especially American) culture which many of us find important, such as rule of law, maximising education, free markets, religious tolerance, life of the mind, scientific research, and personal generosity?


I never noticed the Jews subscribed to those things. Not for people other than themselves.

Anonymous said...

Israel is how the West *needs* to be if it wants to survive


Israel is how Jews in the West would hate the West to be. They put their considerable wealth and influence to work to insure that the West never becomes like Israel.

Anonymous said...

Israel is is not the most easterly outpost of Western civilization. That is an antisemitic claim, or one made by self-hating Jews, because it plays into antisemitic Islamic attempts to delegitimize Israel by speaking as though Jews were not a native middle eastern people living in their own part of the world.


But many Jews are not a native middle eastern people living in their own part of the world. For instance, European Jews are not a "native middle eastern people".

Anonymous said...

Israel is not a western country, either geographically or culturally.

bruce banner said...

Correction:
" they were just one step away from devolving into hairy men with golden chains

Anonymous said...

Israel is an artificial nation from the ground up, so it's hard to say that it represents Western culture. Are Jews even central to Western culture?

Whatever Israel is, it isn't my business to support or defend it in any way, or accept her refugees when or if the fall comes.

Vinteuil said...

"...if you are making up a list of important figures in Western civilization, it's hard to leave off Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Tchaikovsky, Chekhov, Stravinsky, and Nabokov..."

...to say nothing of Borodin, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Shostakovich...

For the last century and a half, Moscow & St. Petersburg have been at least as central to the Western musical tradition as Vienna or Bayreuth or Sant'Agata.

Anonymous said...

To capsulize Israel's contributions to today's civilization by stating that it "still produces some classical musicians and chemists" shows Sailer's stupendous, deep, and abiding ignorance of Israel's deep and broad accomplishments in all fields of intellectual endeavor. His ignorance is such, that he doesn't even know enough to be embarrassed by his statement. Sadly, many of his readers swallow his misinformation hook, line, and sinker.

Svigor said...

Israel is how the West *needs* to be if it wants to survive: culturally confident, reproductive (above replacement, even for secular Ashkenazim), family-friendly. The elites serve in the army and are less stupid than in Europe and the US.

I think the real lesson Israelis and Jews can teach westerners is serving as a model for ethnocentrism (popularly known as racism), in particular a strong ethnic identity ("who's we?"), putting ourselves first and last ("is it good for us?"), immunity to criticism (accusations flung back at accuser, never given a moment's consideration), and moral/ethical double standards (one set of rules for dealings between ourselves, another set of rules for dealing with the other).

The first step is to stop listening to what "cognitive elites" say, and start paying attention to what they do.

Svigor said...

Israel isn't particularly Caucasoid, is certainly not ethnically White

Correction: Israel isn't particularly European. It's overwhelmingly Caucasoid. Moreso than the U.S., easily.

Anonymous said...

Uh, what about Australia?

Even if Israel WERE the most easterly outpost of Western civilization it makes no sense to go and fight for it while Western civilization, and the people who actually made it, are being destroyed back home. A demand for a little quid pro would seem to be in order.

Svigor said...

If Russia isn't Western because it's Orthodox, I suppose Greece isn't Western either.
Though Greece is the birthplace of Western Civilization, many Russians are racially and culturally closer to Northern Europeans. Many Russians have viking blood, look pale, and have cultural ties with Poland, Finland, Germany, etc.


The eastern empire/western empire divide really does seem to underlie a lot of people's sense of what is western civilization, and what is not. E.g., the Roman empire lived for another thousand years after the fall of the western empire, but this isn't at all a part of the narrative - more like a fringe position. It's the sort of thing the Carolingians, the Holy Roman Emperors, and the Catholic Church would have promoted, but it seems to have been uncritically incorporated into modern history.

Svigor said...

Even if Israel WERE the most easterly outpost of Western civilization it makes no sense to go and fight for it while Western civilization, and the people who actually made it, are being destroyed back home. A demand for a little quid pro would seem to be in order.

Indeed. Absolutely. Support for Israel should absolutely be withheld until Israel & the diaspora start reciprocating; not just back off on their open-borders mania, but reverse policy and start working as hard to close the borders and restore self-determination and free association to Americans, as they have against these things (since the 19th century).

Of course, to Jewish Supremacists like our favorite Ulster Scotsman, that makes me an ANTI-SEMITE!!!

So be it (see above about immunity to criticism).

elvisd said...

"the gruff, hairy chain wearers that Steve has a phobia of"

Classic! Our new megatrend/pop demographic, like Soccer Mom and NASCAR dad.

elvisd said...

"Israel is an artificial nation from the ground up"

All modern nations are "artificial". Ethnic tribalism is "natural".

elvisd said...

"the gruff, hairy chain wearers that Steve has a phobia of"

Classic! Our new megatrend/pop demographic, like Soccer Mom and NASCAR dad.

Propeller Island said...

"Even if Israel WERE the most easterly outpost of Western civilization it makes no sense to go and fight for it."

Who exactly is fighting for Israel other than Israelis? And no, vetoing resolutions in the UN or giving loan guarantees does not count as fighting.

Ironically, Israel is currently one of the few remaining outposts of Western civilization able to defend itself.

Svigor said...

Ironically, Israel is currently one of the few remaining outposts of Western civilization able to defend itself.

"Ironically," the Jewish diaspora (and thus, by extension, the Israelis) works as hard as they can to make it the only "outpost of western civilization able to defend itself."

No, wait, that's not irony, that's skullduggery.

Hunsdon said...

Propellerhead said:

Ironically, Israel is currently one of the few remaining outposts of Western civilization able to defend itself.

Hunsdon replied:

I especially like the job they're doing in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Oh, wait.

jeppo said...

The idea of "The West" dates back to the Greco-Persian wars of the 5th century BC: Greece vs Persia, Europe vs Asia, West vs East. What we need is a new definition of the West that goes beyond the familiar Cold War paradigm.

The problem with Huntington's definition is that it artificially divides Europe (western and central from eastern) and Christianity (Catholic and Protestant from Orthodox), when the much more obvious civilizational divide is between Europe and Asia and between Christianity and Islam.

Basically the West is (or should be considered) Greater European civilization, meaning ALL of Europe is Western. Russia and Turkey are both geographically Eurasian countries, but Russia is a European nation with an Asian empire while Turkey is an Asian nation with a European toehold. So Russia is a Western nation but Turkey is not.

Georgia and Armenia may both be Christian nations, but they are south of the Caucasus Mtns and therefore in Asia rather than Europe. Verdict: Non-Western.

The majority of Jews in Israel are from the Middle East rather than Europe, and about 20% of the population are Arabs. Verdict: Non-Western.

The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are all European/white majority nations, and therefore Western. Europeans/whites are minorities in all of Latin America, with the exception of Argentina and Uruguay. So while Mexico, Brazil and the rest of LA can safely be considered non-Western, Argentina and Uruguay are harder to classify. Latin America can probably be considered a civilization unto itself, a sort of mestizo/mulatto offshoot of the West, and Argentina and Uruguay seem to be more culturally akin to the rest of their continent than they are to Europe, but it's a tough call. Verdict: Non-Western.

So the (white European) West consists of Europe, Russia, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Now you know :)

Anonymous said...

"All modern nations are "artificial". Ethnic tribalism is "natural"."

All modern nations are not artificial. Nations like Japan, Sweden, Germany and many others are based on shared language, common history and culture, an ancient connection with the land and a genetic relationship between the majority of the population. Based on those criteria, Israel is completely new and artificial.

Anonymous said...

Just because something is Christian does not mean it's Western. As Philip Jenkins has pointed out, Christianity is fast becoming a non-Western religion.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Anonymous 11:54.

Apartheid state? I always wonder if people are actually being serious when they make that statement, or just trying to make a rhetorical point to try and capture ground.

No, their best argument isn't that the Palestinians have it better off than other places, Israel's best argument is that those other people want to kill them, and have a significant track record of aiding her enemies. Which somehow went unmentioned in your analysis. That still isn't necessarily an argument that it has anything to do with us, but the facts is what they is.

Anonymous 6:27. So you refute the point that ethnic tribalism is natural by pointing out that lots of countries have "a genetic relationship between (sic) the majority of the population." Oops.

There is perhaps some tendency for island and peninsular nations to to seem less artificial because of their natural geographic unity. Like North and South Korea, or Haiti and DR, or the British Isles. As for Germany, you might want to look at an 1840 map of the place before you trumpet that it's a good example of a nation that's not artificial. While you're at it, have a run at Sweden's last few centuries.

Related point: I think people just naturally default to the world map they had in 5th grade, regarding those countries as the normal, natural ones that have existed that way for centuries and are supposed to be that way. Hence the vague hand-waving idea that everything east of Athens sorta belongs to (ill-defined) "Arabs." Israel was too small to notice, but now seems an intrusion. American Christians, especially evangelicals, had lots of maps of the area in their Bibles with Israel quite prominent. Hence they default to a different picture.

gummistan said...

It's wrong to think of Israel as an nation in its own right. Not only was it founded just several decades ago by European Jewish settlers but it's part of a link that goes from UK to France to other EU nations to Russia to US to Canada, and etc. Israel culture, politics, and economy are more integrated with the West than any other nation is. NY, LA, DC, Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and etc are intimately connected and coordinated at all times. It's not so much an outpost--an outdated term in the era of globalism when information zips instantly all over the world and air travel is cheap, especially for global elites--, but a hyper-player in the global network. Since Jews are the most powerful movers of globalism, Israel is a powerful link in the system.
'Outpost' connotes something just barely hanging on and weakly connected to the center. There is no single center in globalism. The 'center' is in the very activity of trade, information, finance, and etc that are happening at all times. Jewish power isn't centered in just UK or US or Israel but 'centered' in its connection to all things.

neil craig said...

These slitty eyed Australians & New Zealanders will be surprised.

I would tend to count Singapore as a representative of western civilisation, despite its multiethnic, majority Chinese population, as representing much of the best of what western culture used to do. Maybe thats just me.

Anonymous said...

@gummistan,

Would you consider protests against globalism to be anti-Semitic? What happens if the globalism of Jewish networks fails? It's not very popular, and it's becoming less popular all the time. Most people seem to be faring not so well under Jewish networks and influence.

Anonymous said...

Just because something is Christian does not mean it's Western. As Philip Jenkins has pointed out, Christianity is fast becoming a non-Western religion.

Was Christianity ever western to begin with?

Svigor said...

Apartheid state? I always wonder if people are actually being serious when they make that statement, or just trying to make a rhetorical point to try and capture ground.

It certainly fits the bill far better than any other "western" nation. Where else do the (medieval-minded) fundies get to decide marriage law? Citizenship?

Where else in the "west" do they make foreign workers sign "no truckin' wid our wimmenz" contracts? Put zee ethnicity on zee paperz?

Israel's way, way out in front in the Apartheid race. Everybody else in the "west" tripped over the tape at the starting line.

The crap about who wants to kill Israelis is just that - crap. Thais, Indians, Mestizos and Nigerians don't want to blow up Israelis. Neither do the Falashas (I think I've got the right word there - the "Black Jews"?) And yet, they get the Jim Crow treatment, too. Funny how un-cosmopolitan the Jewish homeland is, innit?

Svigor said...

Was Christianity ever western to begin with?

No, but by the time it took over Europe, it had been thoroughly re-tooled to be European. Which is why it's so funny when Jews take credit for it. Took a looooooot of customizing. There's probably a couple dozen original parts left in that car.

Svigor said...

2/7/12 8:01 PM

Israel isn't "globalist." Globalism is open borders, welcomed diversity, and secularism (inter alia). Israel's either outright hostile to, or trending in the opposite direction of, these values.

Jewish globalism is a conditional Jewish value. I.e., subject to "is it good for the Jews?", like everything else. In the diaspora, the answer is "yes," so Jews push it there. Back at the ethnic clubhouse, the answer is "no," so Jews oppose it there.

Anonymous said...

The Jews/Israel vs. Armenia(ns) analogy breaks down when you realize just how more diasporized the former nation is than the latter.

To quote an (admittedly commie) source, "Armenia has always remained Armenian in its majority, while the Jews of Palestine have been largely replaced by another nation which has sunk endless roots of ancestors there."

Anonymous said...

"Who says "Scotch" anymore?"

Only Seagrams and 3M.

David said...

Jeppo is correct.

TGGP said...

Daniel Larison points out that the U.S has favored Turkey & Azerbaijan over Armenia & Russia.

Russia was long outside of western civilization because of the Great Schism. It started moving back with Peter the Great. Even Marxism was a western importation that the Slavophiles (like many of the conservative novelists westerners favor) would have rejected precisely because it was western.