I do not know Corporal Gilad Shalit. I have never met him, or any of his kinfolk.
And I am not Jewish.
There is a military campaign underway to rescue him. The Israeli defense forces crossed the border this morning after launching air strikes within Gaza.
On several Dutch websites I have read the usual anti-Israel venom, this time in bucket-loads. This does not particularly bother me. Yes, I have a certain empathy for the Dutch, a sympathy if you will, because I lived there for sixteen years and I am descended from Dutch settlers in the New World. It would be abnormal of me not to be able to see things from their point of view.
But they are nuts.
Their anti-Israel position is based on three things:
Anti-Americanism, Anti-Semitism, and Oil.
Like all Europeans, the Dutch had their share of progressives and liberals who echoed the communists during the Vietnam war period, and their left-wing parties by and large are still apologists for the communists. Since the seventies, to be progressive in Europe has meant that one despises America and Americans, and sees Yanks as somehow less than human, uncivilized, barbaric, and no more than the dregs of Europe.
Coupled with a Dutch sense of denial over their role in WWII, resentment at having been turned into a third rate power when they lost the Dutch East Indies after WWII, and the mythologizing of their negligible role in their own liberation at the end of WWII, the modern Dutch proudly oppose all forms of Americanism, while simultaneously aping all things American. They justify their aping of Americans by dichotomously maintaining in their minds an artificial distinction between that which is good and therefore European (like peanut butter, blue jeans, and rock and roll) and that which is bad and therefore American (like religious bigotry, French fries, and fascism).
And Israel is always seen as somehow an extension of the Americans. Which is probably because Europeans subconsciously realize that having done their damndest to exterminate the Jews there is something profoundly un-European about Israel's existence. If it were up to the Europeans, Israel would not exist.
Europeans have never been able to confront their role in the holocaust, and the political cultures of most of the European countries standardly put all the blame for what happened on the Germans. Conveniently overlooked is that all the occupied countries had willing collaborators; people who not only sympathized entirely with the Nazi cause and held the same political beliefs, but also voluntarily co-operated with the Nazi authorities without compulsion and even without the profit motive.
Yes, there were those who validly can claim that it would have been dangerous to do otherwise.
That does not explain Holland having had more members of Nazi-front organizations than any other country. It does not explain the tens of thousands of Kaaskoppen (Cheese-heads) who volunteered to fight the Russians. It does not explain the betrayal of half a million of their own countrymen to the Nazis. It does not explain the Dutch banking system surviving the war intact. It does not explain the businesslike efficiency of the Dutch railway system during those years.
Anti-Semitism is the European disease, and the Dutch cannot legitimately claim to have avoided infection; the Dutch language has some marvelously pungent expressions that prove how deep-rooted the sickness is.
It is often remarked that Holland was the first country in Europe to allow Jews to practise their religion and welcome them in (way back during the golden age). This is true. What is not mentioned is that three centuries before Sefardi refugees settled in Amsterdam, at the same time as the Rhineland massacres and the plague, Jews had been exterminated.
Nor is it mentioned that Jews in the sixteenth century were valuable precisely because of their knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese commerce and colonialism. The Dutch sugar trade was entirely a creation of exiles from Catholic lands, and the Dutch trade with North Africa and the Levant was mostly a Jewish affaire.
Since the war, with the virtual disappearance of Dutch Jewry and the fading of the memories that there once was a Dutch Jewish community, most Dutch Gentiles are comfortable being openly anti-Israeli -- in a manner that leaves no doubt that to the Dutch mind, Israeli equals Jew, and Jews are the problem. When one takes a pro-Israel position in conversing with a Dutchman, one is automatically assumed to be Jewish, and one's point of view is disregarded because "you're a Jew and of course you would say that".
This does not mean that there aren't pro-Israel Dutchmen - there are, and they are not so small a number that they have become entirely invisible. But being pro-Israel in the Netherlands is like getting your face tattooed blue - to most people you thus advertise that you are shockingly abnormal and perverse.
Let's face it, Holland has no oil. Like all of Europe it is dependent upon the Middle-East.
Since 1973 there has been no benefit to telling Arabs where to shove it, and Holland cannot afford to let France and Germany gain any advantages by jumping in bed with the Arabs. Besides, there is so much that one can sell to the Arabs.
Personally, I cannot think of a single Dutchman who would gladly give up driving. So while the Arabs have oil, and oil money to spend, the Dutch and the other Europeans will criticise Israel, and convince themselves that they do so from the most praiseworthy motives.
Okay, now that I have briefly dealt with current Dutch attitudes and why I think they should go do something incredibly nasty to their own anatomy with a wooden shoe, let me just add that as an American whose ancestors were traded to the British by the Dutch West India company, I have little reason to see eye to eye with my distant kinfolk across the Atlantic.
Sometimes I do. That's nice. That's also unusual. Most of the time they give me bile. Most of them. Some of them all the time.
A pox upon them.
Getting back to the issue of Corporal Gilad Shalit.
And the Israeli incursion into Gaza.
I do not want a permanent Israeli presence in Gaza. I really do believe that the best way to deal with Gaza is to be out of it, so that the Arabs can mismanage their own affairs. I see no reason for Arabs and Jews to live together at present, and I don't think they can.
But, if and when the Arabs in the areas which are not under Israeli control attack Israel, it is only right that Israel strike back. Hard.
If Gilad Shalit is killed by his captors, Israel should devastate Gaza.
I know that sounds awful. And it would be contrary to much within the Judeo-Christian tradition. Completely unethical by most Jewish standards. Very very Christian, in fact.
But what can I say? I am really not very enthusiastic about Palestinians, and while I had great sympathy for them twenty years ago, they really have done everything to erase that. Frittered away any moral high ground they may, as underdog, have had. Idiots.
I only wish that Israel could've bombed the Muqata with that disgusting little man inside it.
But now I'll settle for the safe return of Corporal Gilad Shalit.
However, if a bunch of Dutch anti-Israel activists want to go stand in front of the Israeli tanks and get run over, I will be overjoyed.
[So how about it, John Cheese? Do you want to go put your money where your big fat mouth is? ]