Human Rights Is Becoming Europe’s New Religion

Dec. 18 2015

In a wide-ranging essay on the decay of Europe and its lessons for America, Roger Scruton observes that the notion of human rights has filled the gap left by the decline of religion:

Europe is rapidly jettisoning its Christian heritage and has found nothing to put in the place of it save the religion of “human rights.” . . . The notion of a human right purports to offer the ground for moral opinions, for legal precepts, for policies designed to establish order in places where people are in competition and conflict. However, it is itself without foundations. If you ask what religion commands or forbids, you usually get a clear answer in terms of God’s revealed law or the magisterium of the church. If you ask what rights are human or natural or fundamental, you get a different answer depending on whom you ask, and nobody seems to agree with anyone else regarding the procedure for resolving conflicts.

However, notes Scruton, there is one thing that human-rights doctrine does not oppose, namely, anti-Semitism:

It was inconceivable in my youth that anyone should voice an anti-Semitic sentiment, still more inconceivable that he should exhibit violence, contemptuous language, or any kind of assault towards others on account of their Jewishness. This has changed, and changed almost overnight.

Of course, people say that it is all the result of the bad behavior of Israel, but what is now considered bad behavior is precisely what was cheered on and endorsed a decade ago. The real cause of the new wave of anti-Semitism is the growing self-confidence and numbers of the Muslim minority—a fact that you cannot publicly declare in Britain, still less in France or Belgium, for fear of provoking the charge of Islamophobia and even the threat of legal action.

So much for the rights culture, which displays its foundationless character precisely in this matter, for which it should put itself aggressively on display. It is precisely the advocates of human rights as a social panacea who are the most ardent in seeking excuses for anti-Semitism.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Decline of religion, Europe, History & Ideas, Human Rights

 

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy