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Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz defends Israel before the court of public opinion, most recently in this Jerusalem Post blog entry. He writes,

Richard Goldstone - the primary author of a one-sided United Nations attack on Israeli actions during the Gaza war - has now become a full-fledged member of the international bash-Israel chorus. His name will forever be linked in infamy with such distorters of history and truth as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Jimmy Carter. The so-called report commissioned by the notorious United Nations Human Rights Council and issued under his name is so filled with lies, distortions and blood libels that it could have been drafted by Hamas extremists. Wait - in effect, it was!

One member of the group is an Hamas lackey who before being appointed as an “objective” judge had already reached the conclusion - without conducting any investigation or hearing any evidence - that Israel’s military actions “amount to aggression, not self defense” and that “the manner and scale of its operations in Gaza amount to an act of aggression and is contrary to international law.”

Dershowitz does this sort of thing as well as it can be done. But it will not convince the court of world opinion, for a simple reason: the enlightened world cannot wrap its mind around the prospect of the catastrophic breakdown of societies that are home to a fifth of the world’s population. The closer the Muslim world comes to the cliff, the more erratic and irrational will be the actions of Muslim extremists; and the worse the actions of Muslims extremists, the more the enlightened world will lay the problems of the Muslim world at Israel’s door. For reasons I have attempted to document since 2005, the numbers simply do not add up for most Muslim countries. As the Iranian fertility rate plunges from 7 in the past generation to 1.5 in the present one, the country will go through a slow-motion train-wreck in which the rapidly-aging population will cause a collapse in per capita output, just as Iran runs out of oil and gas. Leave aside the question of how Islam as a religion can adapt to modernity (I have offered lengthy arguments as to why it cannot). The train-wreck is proceeding before our eyes, and it compromises the survivability of a billion people. It is a foreseeable, and unstoppable, humanitarian catastrophe on a scale that dwarfs anything in the modern era.

Secular, enlightened opinion cannot absorb this fact, for it stems from the latent influence of theology on human societies; to admit that it is happening not only bursts the bounds of the Western mind to absorb horror, but threatens the founding premises of enlightened discourse. Ten years ago I chose the nom-de-guerre “Spengler” to rub in the prospect of catastrophic decline, and not only of the West.

The closer Muslim countries draw to the cliff, the more paranoid they will become. This morning’s news has Iranian president Ahmadinejad once again insisting that the Holocaust never happened. Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad, but it is the inevitability of destruction that drives men mad. The Persians have no good choices to make, and madness will lead to policy decisions no worse than sanity.

The enlightened world will lay all of these problems at Israel’s door, in the hope that by humoring the dangerous paranoid, time might be gained in order to find a solution other than catastrophic social breakdown. That is to say, the enlightened world will speak to the Muslim “narrative” (what a hideous word), just as President Obama did in Cairo June 4 when he stated that Israel was founded because of the Holocaust—precisely the Arab complaint.

Israel will find friends among the unenlightened portions of world opinion. For Christians who read Isaiah and believe that the nations are small dust on the balances and a drop of the bucket, the decline of Muslim-majority countries is a tragic but not unacceptable outcome. For China, which pursues its own self-interest and cares little who else lives or dies, Israel is a source of technology; for India, which has its own problems with Muslims, Israel may be an ally in an existential war. But it is foolish to believe that enlightened, liberal opinion will listen to the dictates of reason where Israel is concerned.

What Prof. Dershowitz does is nonetheless of vital importance, and I commend him—which brings me to Anselm. At the recommendation of a wise rabbi, I have been reading Karl Barth’s book on St. Anselm’s ontological proof of the existence of God. This states

1. God is something greather than anything else that can be conceived.
2. God may exist in the understanding.
3. It is greater to exist in reality and in the understanding than just in understanding.
4. God must there exist in reality .
Not only do I find this unconvincing on Kant’s grounds (“existence is not a predicate”), but I am persuaded by Michael Wyschogrod’s argument that even to argue that God exists is an affront to God. It is the same as asserting that God has an attribute called “being,” just like my cat and the Jefferson memorial. But God, as Wyschogrod quotes Barth, is the “lord of being.”

Nonetheless, Barth argues, Anselm’s proof has a value as an exercise by which believers in the true God align their faculty of reason with a belief in God that precedes the “proof,” and upon which the proof in fact is founded. It is the existential act of attempting the proof rather than the virtue of the proof as such that is important, according to Barth. Our knowledge of God may be restricted to what God chooses to reveal, but as humans we possess a faculty of reason which we cannot leave out of our relationship with God. From the Jewish standpoint one recalls the words of the Sh’ma, to love God with all of one’s heart, and soul, and might. Our “might” includes our reason.

Dershowitz, I venture to suggest, is in the same position as St. Anselm. He cannot prove what he knows to be true. The court is rigged, the judges bribed, the jury press-ganged from Hell — but the argument must be made. Above it all it must be made by Jews and for Jews, and for those Christians who stand with them (or should stand with them). Reason must be brought to bear on the lynching of Israel in the interest of appeasing Muslim paranoia, precisely in order to demonstrate that the court is corrupt in the first place. The supposed supporters of reason against faith, that is, the enlightened, secular liberals who bend the truth to fit the Muslim “narrative,” stand condemned by their own criteria.

No matter that Dershowitz personally may place his own faith in reason, liberalism, and enlightenment. No matter: his brief for Israel condemns the court itself.



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