Elementally, there are two different personality types here. Where you come down reveals a lot not just about your politics – though political views flow from it – but about the orientation of your soul.
Zero-sum personalities often resent the rich and the gifted and may succumb to a temptation to punish them. Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments are a frequent consequence. Ex-nihilo personalities have no reason to resent Jews or Israel.
A nation populated by ex-nihilo types would see Israel as the embodiment of virtues its own citizens deem crucial to their happiness and prosperity. For America, abandoning Israel would mean rejecting values that have been key to our identity as a powerhouse of creative and commercial leadership. In simple terms, it’s bad for business [bold mine-DL].
That is the Israel test, in which Americans have a greater stake in choosing rightly than we do in any calculus based on the questionable premise that the United States must have a democratic ally precisely in the space between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
You start to see why Israel divides free-market America from socialist Western Europe [bold mine-DL], and pro-business, anti-tax conservatives from those left-liberals, including some Jews, who would use government power to press the “rich” further and further to support the rest of us.
No, actually, I don’t, because the thesis of The Israel Test makes no sense. Let’s think about this. If we believe Gilder, the author of The Israel Test, secular sympathy for a socialist state increases in proportion to one’s hostility to redistributive and socialist views. This is an outlandish effort to impose unbearably great significance on a single state, which isn’t doing the state or its citizens any favors, and it doesn’t even remotely match up to the contours of political divisions over Israel here or anywhere in the West. It cannot begin to account for small-government conservatives who don’t like foreign aid and entangling alliances, it leaves no room for liberal hawks who want universal health care, and of course it cannot make sense of progressives and realists who are critical of Israel in the context of ongoing, ultimately unconditional support. The list could go on.
Armenian immigrants are on average quite successful in commerce wherever they live, but almost the exact opposite coalition of political forces sympathizes with Armenians today as embraces a fervently and conventionally “pro-Israel” view. Would anyone seriously argue that it is “bad for business” or a rejection of “values that have been key to our identity as a powerhouse of creative and commercial leadership” if Washington continues to side with Ankara and Baku rather than Yerevan over every issue? Indeed, many people in the energy sector would argue that going against Baku and favoring Yerevan would be bad for our actual oil business. Even the strained, overdone strategic argument for the alliance with Israel has some semblance of truth to it; The Israel Test as presented here seems to have little or none. Even the rather exaggerated “civilizational” argument for Israel has some basis in reality.
The second part of Klinghoffer’s column does have some interesting reflections on the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, but it seems to me where the earlier part of the column went badly awry and where Gilder apparently also erred was in the conflation of the divine act of creation with human creativity and ingenuity. The latter imitates the former, but it is not the same kind of act. Properly speaking, there are no “ex nihilo personalities,” because people cannot create ex nihilo. As the old joke has it, God tells the scientist to make his own dirt before he can use it to create life.