The left hates Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some hate him as they would hate any Israeli leader; they just hate Israel (and they may hate Jews, too). Some hate him because they love Obama, and Netanyahu stands up to Obama–which is why many Democrats who would otherwise love Bibi have chosen to hate him. But at the core, the left hates Netanyahu because just as Israel is a nation-state in a post-national world, Bibi is a modern man in a post-modern era.
Obama is a post-modern man. The post-modern man does not take positions; he seeks perspective. The post-modern man does not defend his interests, or his values; he stands apart from them and seeks others willing to do the same. The post-modern man is not angry, and indeed does not show emotion, because emotion requires commitment, and that means having positions, interests, and values, all of which make it harder to reinvent oneself and pretend to transform the world.
Netanyahu is a modern man. He has beliefs and goals, desires and flaws. He has bled and he has shed blood. He gets angry, and he also tells jokes (often bad ones). He has waged war and he has also made peace. He counted shekels as, arguably, the best finance minister in Israel’s history. He traded away land as, arguably, the worst negotiator in Israel’s history. Yet at his best or worst, he cares about history, refers to history, uses past experiences to guide future choices in a rational way.
Modern man and post-modern man have a common enemy in medieval man–the creature who beheads prisoners with a blunt blade, and burns churches, and murders women and children, and then broadcasts his brutality, not just to frighten his enemies but to advertise his strength and glorify what he imagines is his god. The medieval man is not made any more modern or post-modern by his use of contemporary technology. What makes him medieval is his crude moral universe.
Modern man confronts medieval man by fighting him–by meeting him with force, and defeating him with overwhelming force, then by restraining him within a system of rules, rewards and punishments (and not always fairly, or successfully).
Post-modern man confronts medieval man by denying that the fight with medieval man exists, by searching for common ground (however narrow or abstract), even if the only thing in common is a shared skepticism towards the modern man.
Eventually, perversely, post-modern man comes to see modern man as the real enemy, because by fighting back, he makes it harder to deny that a fight exists.
But post-modern man cannot confront modern man openly, because that would be self-defeating. So he expresses his anger quietly, or through surrogates, or by sabotaging what post-modern and modern man have in common. And modern man reacts by protesting, openly–the very sort of gesture post-modern man detests most.
And thus we have Obama leaking his wordless frustration at Bibi through anonymous sources in the pages of the New York Times. Thus we have left-wing pundits like Jonathan Chait making wild-eyed claims that Netanyahu has gone insane. Thus we have the collective Beltway intelligentsia tearing their hair out with anxiety at what Iran might think of Bibi’s speech to Congress, in a way Iranian elites never worry about what America thinks about what Iran is doing to Americans, or anyone.
American conservatives have embraced Bibi for the same reason the American left hates him–because Bibi distinguishes between good and evil in modern fashion. It was Netanyahu who congratulated us, heartily, for killing Osama bin Laden while Obama was still trying not to offend the Muslim world by referring to the dead uber-terrorist as one of their own.
It now falls to Bibi to rouse America’s post-modern elites to resist a medieval fate, however much they may hate him for it.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak