Friday, January 06, 2006

Is It?

Shrinkwrapped questions how the world will change with Ariel Sharon's passing on the mantle of power. Are we, now, in a period comparable to the late-30's, when we still had an opportunity to stop Hitler?:

In 1971, the great Italian film maker, Vittorio De Sica directed The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival that same year. The movie was a character study of a wealthy Italian Jewish family in the town Ferrara in 1938. The Finzi-Contini family is already destroyed but do not realize it yet. The fascist government of Mussolini was not particularly energetic in their persecution of Jews but their much more powerful ally demanded that Italy at least make some attempts to aid in the "final solution." The scourge of anti-Semitism which had been in abeyance for many years in Italy was slowly gaining force and depth in 1938. The movie is a fascinating, elegiac look at wealthy, narcissistic young people who, like insects with one wing trapped in amber, do not perceive that their world is about to end.

I have written before (in "Good Muslims" and "Good Germans" and again, in A Ticking Clock) that in our war on Islamic fascism, we are in the late 1930's. We can stop Hitler/al Qaeda/Islamic fascism/Iran now at some indeterminate, possibly terrible cost, or stop them later, at horrific cost.

Of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, Roger Ebert describes the family and its reaction to the approaching storm:

Giorgio's father says of the Finzi-Continis: "They're different. They don't even seem to be Jewish." They're different because wealth and privilege and generations of intellectual and social position have bred them into a family as proud as it is vulnerable. The other Jews in the town react to Mussolini's edicts in various ways: Giorgio is enraged; his father is philosophical. But the Finzi-Continis hardly seem to know, or care, what is happening. They are above mere edicts; they chose to live behind their walls long before the Fascists said they must.

The Finzi-Continis were insulated by their wealth from the realities of the world that was crashing down around them; it seems today that our liberal elites, equally insulated from the world by their wealth and success, believe if they continue to behave as if time has stopped, then they need do nothing to prevent the coming disaster. However, we are clearly approaching a pivotal moment. Sigmund, Carl, and Alfred (in a post that should be read more widely) asks some questions that need to be addressed:

The civilized world is on trial today.

It is a simple matter, really. How we respond to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks denying the Holocaust and excoriating Jews will say a lot more about us that it will about him.

What lessons have we learned from the past? What morality have we integrated into our very being as the result of the Holocaust, directed against the Jews, by design? What morality have we integrated into ourselves as a result of that wider holocaust, the one that left 50 million dead in the span of six years?

The Palestinians have only slowed their genocidal attacks in order to turn their rage on themselves, for now, yet once the Iranians have their bomb, Israel's existence will be at risk both from the air (Iranian missiles) and from the land (Palestinian suicide bombers). Al Qaeda has taken up residence in Gaza to facilitate the mass death and destruction they hope to rain upon the hated Jews.

How will the world respond? One answer is here:

Norway's Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen is backing a planned consumer boycott of Israeli goods, contradicting the coalition government's policy.

Ms Halvorsen voiced support for a campaign of solidarity with the Palestinians, due to be launched by her Socialist Left party this month.

Some on the left, especially in Europe but with fellow travelers in the United States, will hope to "feed the crocodile so as to be eaten last." Others will resort to the failed policy of using "soft power" to somehow convince Iran's mad mullahs to "play nice":

Iran nuclear research troubles EU
European nations have called on Iran to reverse its decision on Tuesday to resume nuclear fuel research, part of its controversial nuclear programme.

It is always easier and more comforting to imagine that the present will continue indefinitely; it is behind much of the isolationist impulse in this country, both on the left and the right. It is always easier in the short run to live like the Finzi-Continis, especially when one has comfort and wealth which would be put at risk by taking action.

Time is short and Israel's future may depend on whether or not their next leader can become like Sharon, one of the 20%, or like so much of Europe and the isolationists here at home, the Finzi-Continis reborn whose own well being and continued existence may well depend on what the Israelis (and perhaps the Americans) do in the next few months.