Israel’s ‘You Built It’ Culture (FrontPageMagazine.com) By Daniel Greenfield 08/07/12)
Front Page Magazine.com
Front Page Magazine.com Articles-Index-Top
When Mitt Romney arrived in Jerusalem and suggested that Israel’s
success contrasted with its Muslim neighbors was due to a culture of
success, he was waving a red flag in front of a red bull. Romney’s
comments were as provocative to the left as Obama’s “You didn’t
build that” remark was to us.
To the left, success has become the Mark of Cain. Where success once
used to be proof of good character, the balance has shifted and it is
now proof of bad character. The left blames all disparities on
injustice. If A has less than B, then B has somehow discriminated
against A. All that’s left is for the sociologists and critical race
theorists to plug in the variables, write their papers and explain
the mechanism for the injustice and how it can be remedied through
This is the era of “You didn’t build that” where achievement is
inherently unfair and an object of guilt. To succeed is to steal.
Anyone who has achieved more than those around him has unfairly taken
from them. And the more he succeeds, the more he has to feel guilty
about and the most he must atone through social justice.
Mitt Romney didn’t build companies; he unfairly redistributed what
should have been equal resources in an unequal way to create that
success. America also didn’t build anything; it just looted the
resources and markets that should have been divided equally among the
nations of the world. And the same goes for Jews and the Jewish
State. Individual success is not exceptionalism; it’s stealing from
The left already knows why Israel is more successful. Because it’s a
greedy country whose success has come at the expense of its poorer
neighbors. The left finds the idea of explaining success in terms of
character, either individual or national, to be offensive. To suggest
that success is due to personal virtue is to also imply that failure
is due to a lack of virtue. The left is not interested in exploring
what’s wrong with nations or groups that fail, only in explaining how
their failure is no fault of their own.
The left was only interested in Jews as an oppressed minority and in
Israel as a small doomed country. Once Jews became successful and
Israel emerged victorious, the left turned on them and on Israel.
Israel’s success is one of the greatest weapons that the left uses
against it. If Israelis were still living in tents and trying to get
the power to stay on for more than a few hours a day, the Jewish
State wouldn’t make nearly as tempting a target. Israel’s
transformation from a bunch of refugees and farmers armed with third-
rate weapons to a prosperous nation of flowering orchards, booming
tech companies and new towns rising out of the earth, is proof of its
immorality. If the Jewish State were truly moral, it would have
Most offensively Israel’s economic success has kept pace with its
transition from socialist collectives to free enterprise, going from
a “You didn’t build that” culture to a “You built it” culture. While
the Palestinian Authority and most of Israel’s Muslim neighbors still
operate under government monopolies, Israel’s tech industry
revolution has boosted its international trade while making it
possible for a few army or air force veterans to cobble together a
company that brings a revolutionary new product to market.
USB flash drives and instant messaging software came out of that “You
built it” culture. On the other side of the border malaise and
misery, bombs and fanatics, have come out of the economic monopolies
wielded by military rulers, tribal leaders and religious despots.
Like the left, the Muslim world believes that Israel’s success and
their failure is proof of guilt. But even out of the Muslim world
come glimpses of the basic truth.
Khalaf Al-Harbi, a Saudi columnist, wrote, “The secret to Israel’s
survival, despite all the great challenges it has faced, lies in
democracy and respect for the worth of the [Israeli] individual… The
secret to the collapse of the Arab countries, one after another, lies
in dictatorship and in the oppression of the individual… [Israel]
drew its power from the honor it granted to its citizens, while its
Arab neighbors trampled the [poor] creatures known as their citizens.”
Al-Harbi, no friend of Israel, went further than Mitt Romney did. If
Mitt Romney crediting freedom and democracy as the ingredients that
make for Israel’s culture of success is racist, then the Democrats
must also charge Al-Harbi with racism.
Mitt Romney came to Israel to try and explain Israel’s success in the
same terms that he has explained the success of the American
businessman, by crediting the labor and dedication of the free
individual in a culture that values freedom and accomplishment.
Every Israeli, like every American, who set foot in a new land, had
to start all over again. They had to build houses, plant fields and
raise cattle. They had to learn how to build armies and run
institutions. And they had to do all those things while surrounded by
enemies. They had to learn to sink or swim.
While the Muslim world wails over Palestinian refugees, the Jewish
State is a nation of refugees populated by refugees from Czarism,
Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Nasserism and Islamism. And each of those
refugees had to begin a new life. The process wasn’t easy and Israel
is still struggling with the challenges of absorbing millions of
people from cultures as far apart as Russia, Yemen and France. But
the refugee camps where they once lived, the tents and shacks, are a
The survivors of the Holocaust are not still living in DP camps in
Europe and Iraqi Jews aren’t living in tents in Israel. The last DP
camp in Europe closed in 1959. The last of Israel’s refugee camps
shut down in 1963. Meanwhile the Shatila refugee camp for Palestinian
Arabs has been a going concern in Beirut since 1949 making it older
than many Israeli towns.
In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt addressed the Cambridge Union and told
them, “Success, the real success, does not depend upon the position
you hold but upon how you carry yourself in that position.” That
assessment is the final rebuttal to the class warfare worldview of
the left. Success is not in what you have, but in what you make of it.
A culture of free men and women who believe that they are here to
build rather than destroy is able to do great things. And a culture
of slaves of Allah who believe that they are here to destroy what
others build and who prefer the public martyrdom of the suicide bomb
and the refugee camp cannot hope to equal their accomplishments.
When the individual has the power to build then he is living in
a “You built it” society. But when he only has the power to complain
or destroy, then he is living in the Islamic or Leftist “You didn’t
build that” society. (Copyright © 2012 FrontPageMagazine.com 08/07/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY