Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Sunday 25 July 2010

Denying the Past, Ditching the Future

David Selbourne (incidentally the grandson of a former Rabbi of Tel Aviv) is a British political philosopher and social commentator whose books include The Losing Battle with Islam (2005).  He is always profound, always interesting, and frequently controversial.  Many of his pronouncements are pessimistic, and they speak to us all the more urgently for that.

In a speech that will resonate with innumerable Britons who say "I love my country but I hate what it's become" (or the many variations on that theme that have been commonplace since 1997 when Blair took office and have not stopped under the Cameron-Clegg coalition) he attributes the nation's malaise to an assorted rogue's gallery of types who include "venal politicians, false educators, degraders of the media, thieving privatisers of the public domain".  He believes that the rot is irreversible, and that all who are able to do so should make new lives for themselves outside the UK.  An edited version of his speech, entitled "Too late to save Britain - it's time to emigrate",  is available on The Spectator's Coffee House blogsite.

I'm not sure that everyone would agree with so drastic a step as emigration, but natural conservatives like myself, believing in the social contract linking past to present to future, will identify with David Selbourne's lamentation about the deliberate destruction of Britain as "an organic and particular creation".   One factor which has led to this malign state of affairs is the lack of traditional history teaching in Britain's schools, and in deploring this Selbourne quotes to good effect the French philosopher Simone Weil: "The past, once destroyed, never returns.  Its destruction is perhaps the greatest of all crimes."

To the leftists who have put their stamp on British state education increasingly since the 1970s, a history curriculum that consists of kings and queens and battles and foreign conquests is not politically correct; it is irrelevant to the recent influx of immigrants from around the globe whose ancestors are not part of Britain's story; and of course it offends the ruling wisdom that all cultures are created equal.  Therefore only select parts of Britain's history are allowable for schoolchildren's consumption - those that highlight the leftist critique of society.  (How different from the situation in the USA, where the broad common narrative of American history is taught to and known by all children, irrespective of ethnicity and background.)

No wonder, then, that a Cardiff University professor who decided to test his 18-year-old undergraduates with five simple questions to which all British people of their age might reasonably be expected to know the answers found the following shameful results.  A mere 10% could name any of Britain's nineteenth-century prime ministers, only 16% knew that Wellington commanded Britain's Army at Waterloo, only 30% that the Boer War was fought in South Africa, only 32% that Elizabeth Tudor was on the throne when the Spanish Armada sailed, and only 38% that Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an engineer (I suspect that the comparatively large proportion of correct answers there was due to publicity for Brunel in a recent popular TV history miniseries).

With showings like that on their own history, can you wonder why so many of Britain's youth are so appallingly ignorant about the history of Zionism and Israel, and seem to believe that prior to 1948 there was a sovereign state called Palestine that was stolen by a bunch of wicked western imperialists?

In 1841, in urging a programme of russification, a group of maskilim  urged the vice-governors of the administrative districts in the Pale of Settlement to ensure in particular that Jewish children were taught Russian history, "for there is nothing which unites diverse ethnic groups with the dominant nation better than the dissemination of information concerning the nation's history and literature".

It's a lesson that should be heeded by David Cameron - who made his own history blooper last week when he said that in 1940 (when Britain stood alone against Germany following the Fall of France and before the USA had even entered the conflict!) Britain was Ameica's "junior partner" in the fight againt the Nazis.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.