One of the things that sometimes bothers me is how easily one can characterize as anti Semitic - any media outlet that does not lavish praise on Israel or that expresses sympathy towards Palestinians. One of the favorite ‘whipping boys’ in this regard is National Public Radio (NPR). I have heard it said many times that they are anti Semitic because of their often very negative characterizations of Israel and their often sympathetic portrayals of the plight of the Palestinians.
I must admit that whenever I hear one of these reports, it turns my stomach. But in no way do I think they are anti Semitic. But they are biased.
The question is why do they seem to favor the Palestinian cause and look at Israel so negatively? If they are not anti Semitic, what gives? I think it is important to understand that what motivates these people is not anti Semitism. Far from it.
I see certain media people like those at NPR as moral relativists. I believe that this mostly accounts for their attitude. Moral relativism is the ‘religion’ of the liberal agnostic mind. They are married to the notion that nothing can be proven. God therefore may very possibly not exist - at least not in any active sense. Once they become agnostic they further conclude that there are no provable moral absolutes – with the possible exception of the basic humanist value of not hurting others in the course of pursuing one’s goals.
To the moral relativist there is no absolute right and wrong. Because who is to say what is right and what is wrong? One man’s right may be another man’s wrong. Everything is relative. The debate over embryonic stem cell research illustrates that.
This attitude finds itself most comfortable in the intellectual world of Academia. This is where absolutes are constantly being challenged. Scientific inquiry is in their nature. And it is why an Ivy League university like Princeton can employ a moral ethicist who advocates euthanasia – or worse.
NPR is of that intellectual mindset. They too reject absolutes because they see many absolutes in conflict with each other – especially when it comes to religious values.
When it comes to Israel this same thought process takes place. They see Israel and the Palestinians as two peoples – both with legitimate claims and grievances. History plays little if any role in their thinking. They do not delve into the past. What happened - happened. They look at the here and now.
So when these kinds of people seem to bash Israel, it isn’t because they are necessarily anti-Semitic. It’s because the Palestinians are seen as the oppressed minority. Israel is seen as the bully with all the power which they use brutally against the poor indigenous Arabs.
In other words, Palestinians are the underdogs and their side needs to be emphasized. They are the more in need than the wealthy and powerful Israelis. Moral relativism impels them to favor the underdog.
How can I be sure that NPR and their ‘spiritual’ partners aren’t just plain anti Semitic?
Let’s look at history.
The fact is that when Israel was seen as the underdog - pre 67, they were the darlings of this type of liberal mindset. The Arabs were then seen as all powerful and ready to drive the poor holocaust surviving Jews that populated tiny Israel into the sea. These are the same people who would put their careers on the line in the cause of agitating to help the Jewish people in Europe during the Holocaust.
The actor - Marlon Brando was a good example of this kind of person. He was in the forefront of protesting the American government's unwillingness to help the Jewish concentration camp inmates during the Holocaust. He participated in public productions about it at the behest of screen writer Ben Hecht and Holocaust hero Peter Bergson.
But before he died Marlon Brando was critical of Israel and one of the biggest supporters of the Palestinian cause. Was he an anti Semite? No. He was just a human being with relativist values. To people like Marlon Brando and those who work at NPR there is no right or wrong. Just who is on top and who on the bottom. And they must always support those on the bottom.
So the next time anyone wants to call these kinds of people anti Semites, I think they ought to reconsider. Because I really don’t think they are. They are just misguided. The real villain is moral relativism.