Juliana Pilon, Senior Fellow, The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), continues the torrid pace of her publications in 2024. Dr. Pilon has written an article for the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, published online in January 2024; a piece in the February 2024 issue of New English Review; and a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal on February 2nd. All her recent writings focused on the combined challenges to the nation of Israel and Western civilization.
Dr. Pilon’s article “Will Covenantal Liberal Nationalism Survive? Israel and America under Threat” explores the idea of a covenant. A covenant, unlike a contract, has the Creator as one of the parties to it. A covenant possesses deep religious, legal, and political connotations that a contract does not have. Moses and his fellow Israelites and William Bradford and more than forty Pilgrims covenanted with God. But “[i]t can take a cataclysmic event,” Dr. Pilon observed, “to renew a people’s resolve and commitment to one another, and even to life itself.” Israel’s people have experienced such an event with Hamas’s slaughter of more than 1200 men, women, and children on October 7. If warnings are not heeded, she predicted, the United States will be heading toward another.
For Hamas and their legions of allies, “the ultimate target is Western civilization, and the real enemy is the covenantal form of liberal nationalism and the ideas that nourish it.” Highly effective forces both inside and outside of the United States have committed themselves to corrupting and dispiriting the culture. “Highly influential, homegrown Western ‘useful idiots’ are gleefully engaged in the demoralization of their own nations. America’s current trajectory to self-sabotage is nowhere more dangerously evident than in the strategic myopia of a sizeable segment of the national security establishment.” Like the Israelis after October 7th, the rededication to uphold the covenantal form of liberal nationalism, she hopes, will come soon to her adopted country. The clock is ticking.
In the article “The Peace of Fields” for the February 2024 issue of New English Review, Dr. Pilon directs her attention to Yehuda Amichai, one of Israel’s most revered poets. Born in Germany in 1924, he escaped Nazi atrocities and immigrated to Jerusalem before his teens. He “fought in World War II as a soldier in the British Army, the 1947- 48 Arab-Israeli war, the 1956 Sinai War, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.”
Amichai’s poetry returns to the Torah and reflects on it. Not surprisingly, he speaks of war weariness. “But giving up is never an option.” Israel’s enemies, lurking within and without, “failed to appreciate that the abolition of difference, the canceling of strife, cannot be imposed. It must emerge from within the soul, without the thud of the heavy rubber stamp. The consensus of state-enforced groupthink, with dissent crushed beneath the policeman’s boot, is a death in life, an insult to man and God.”
Dr. Pilon uses the metaphor of the Amalekites, the evil and relentless enemies of the Israelites, to drive home her point. “Until Amalek’s latest incarnation is slain again, the world is in grave danger and the field-flowers cannot bloom. It will be slain because it must. But we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent again.”
Finally, in a letter to the February 2nd issue of The Wall Street Journal entitled “The Health of Our Democracy—and Its Vanguard,” Dr. Pilon agrees with Barton Swaim, a columnist for the Journal, that our language needs to be refurbished according to classical liberal principles. Democracy is not an unmixed blessing, as Alexis de Tocqueville warned us about prior to the Civil War. Woodrow Wilson, the champion of progressivism, remarked that democracy could indeed presage democratic tyranny, for it “‘is bound by no principle of its own nature to say itself nay as to the exercise of any power.’”
The United States created the first modern republican government in the history of mankind. It had numerous divisions of power and checks and balances built in. Radical activists repeat “our democracy” ad nauseum because it empowers them with a chilling sovereign will to sweep away all safeguards.