(May 19, 2022 / JNS) The “broken windows” theory of policing, responsible for a dramatic drop in crime in New York City in the 1990s, rested on a simple proposition. It was that bad people are encouraged to commit serious crimes if lesser social nuisances such as littering, vandalism, or fare evasion are ignored.
This gives the fatal signal that the authorities are giving free rein to disorder. To stop serious breaches, there must be a consistent message that there will be zero tolerance for breaches any rules that maintain a civilized society.
The “broken windows” theory could also apply to politics. Classicist and commentator Victor Davis Hansen has published a chilling analysis of America that suggests it is headed inexorably towards destruction.
American politics, he writes, resembles the violent last days of the Roman Republic. The traditional foundations of the American system – a stable economy, energy independence, vast food surpluses, hallowed universities, a professional justice system, law enforcement and a credible criminal justice system – are dissolving.
All of this is true. But as he also notes, “all of these disasters are self-induced. These are choices, not fate.
This is indeed the key. A culture self-destructs if its inhabitants choose not to defend it. Bad people get away with really bad things when everyone else chooses to look the other way.
The same dismal and demoralized cultural trajectory is playing out in Britain, but not as explosively as in America.
Successive British governments have chosen not to take the necessary steps to control the country’s borders or prevent the balkanization of British society through Islamist intimidation. They have chosen not to show zero tolerance for the various follies and bullying of identity politics, thus giving the green light to ever more socially and culturally destructive behavior.
In foreign policy, we are witnessing the terrifying results of the failure to apply zero tolerance to violations of the rules of civilization. The West’s eagerness to take advantage of the Russian mafia state and its even more suicidal appeasement of Iran culminated in Russia’s horrific attack on Ukraine and the genocidal Iranian regime that has come to the point of bursting of nuclear weapons.
The failure to learn the lesson of the “broken windows” theory is particularly evident during the tsunami of anti-Semitism that engulfed Israel and the Jewish Diaspora.
This happened because the West chose not to display zero tolerance for Palestinian lies designed to demonize Israel, erase the Jewish people from their own history and rob them of their country.
Instead, these lies were indiscriminately recycled by the Western media, which did the Palestinians’ dirty work for them by turning Palestinian Arab aggressors into victims and their Israeli victims into bloodthirsty oppressors.
This was clearly underscored in the recent murder of AlJazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an exchange of fire between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Jenin.
It remains unclear whether Abu Akleh was killed by a Palestinian or an Israeli bullet. And Israeli police say they only stepped in to control his funeral procession when it was in danger of being turned away by a crowd determined to hysterically incite it. Despite this, the Western media denounced Israel for killing Abu Akleh and wantonly brutalizing his mourners.
Worse, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also embraced this malicious and unfair narrative. On both the Palestinians and Iran, the Biden administration seems keen to display “zero tolerance” for Israel’s interests rather than those who intend to wipe it off the map.
Meanwhile, there is a huge and continuous spike in anti-Semitic attacks in America and Britain. These things are all connected.
Following Akleh’s fury, Israel’s Consul General in New York, Asaf Zamir, stressed on CNN that anti-Semitic incidents in New York had quadrupled in the past year, saying, “You automatically blame Israel for things we didn’t do. This turns into anti-Semitic attacks ultimately and anti-Semitic sentiments in the United States. »
Anti-Semitism can never be eradicated. However, much more could be done to drive it underground making it completely unacceptable. This is where the Jewish world itself is collapsing. It has shown no “zero tolerance” towards those who promote it.
Many in the Jewish world have worried for years about the rise of anti-Semitism and have spent millions of dollars trying to combat it. Yet, in general, this has proven ineffective because Israel’s defenders have always sought to play defense rather than adopting the only strategy that works: going on the offensive.
According to the “broken windows” theory, the police did not wait for the murder rate to rise, but took steps to show that they would not tolerate lesser offences. But Israel’s defenders only react when anti-Semitic attacks break out, ignoring the toxic subculture in which they have been incubated.
While Israel’s defenders have limited themselves to playing catch-up, their enemies have proactively and aggressively reshaped the cultural and political landscape.
Palestinianism has worked through a strategy, applied for decades and backed by huge funds, to seed an entirely false narrative among gullible Western liberals that has reversed aggressor and victim and demonized Israel and its defenders.
These defenders must adopt a similar proactive and aggressive strategy against Israel’s enemies, but based on truth rather than lies.
It means creating an infrastructure that seeks to frame public debate rather than react to it. The main focus should not be on talking about Israel and the Jewish people (although that is still important). Its main purpose should be to alert the public to the key fact of which it is almost entirely unaware – that it is being lied to and that the cause it can support in good faith is evil and genocidal.
It is astonishing, for example, that Israel’s advocates do not regularly publish the tantalizing and deranged anti-Semitic cartoons, sermons and statements that are perpetually aired by the Palestinian media and painstakingly translated and posted on Middle Eastern websites. . Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and Palestinian Media Watch.
Such material provides a weapon with which to target the Achilles heel of Israel haters – their narcissistic self-esteem. Because what is essential for these individuals is their self-confidence as people of conscience committed to anti-racism, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, etc.
An effective pro-Israel strategy would name and shame all such offenders – media outlets, specific journalists, academics and other cultural leaders – by rubbing their noses at what is being said by the Palestinians they defend, in order to expose these ” progressives” as facilitators of racism, ethnic cleansing and Arab imperialism.
Most people in the West have no idea that the Palestinians they support are spouting Nazi-like incitement against Israel and the Jewish people. This is because no one – in the Jewish world or elsewhere – uses such material to wonder how a civilized person could ever support such people. Instead, a growing number of liberal Jews also support them.
Media watchers like the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) and Honest Reporting do a great job of exposing the lies, but who outside of the Jewish community hears about their work? A joint strategy would ensure that political and other figures whose statements are newsworthy give these findings a megaphone. It might even give them a TV channel.
All of this would require a huge investment of money, personnel and time. More importantly, however, it would require the pro-Israel world to adopt an entirely different mindset – creating a strategy to smash the enemy’s windows before they no longer break yours.
Melanie Phillips, British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for ‘The Times of London’, her personal and political memoir, ‘Guardian Angel’, has been published by Bombardier, which has also published her first novel, ‘The Legacy’. Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access his work.