Query: Who wrote the following paragraph? The Heritage Foundation? Some fundamentalist neo-cons? The Weekly Standard?
"We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal thinking. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the sourcebook and the envy of millions".
This is a quote from a manifesto launched recently by liberal and progressive personalities in the United Kingdom. It is part of the Euston - after a pub near the famous station where the authors met - manifesto, published in London's New Statesman, and making waves among England's left and liberal circles. For anybody who is even slightly familiar with current public opinion in Britain's left, this must be seen as an extremely courageous statement.
It is not an endorsement of American foreign policy; indeed, the document contains a strong condemnation of American support for regressive regimes; it blasts Guantanamo and objects to "renditions." Some of its authors opposed the invasion of Iraq. However, the Euston document is a breath of fresh air seeking to bring the British left back to normalcy. It reiterates the belief in the tenets of Western liberal democracy - freedom of expression, equality, and social justice - and rails against racism and bigotry. But it also says some unfashionable things about current fads that dominate the liberal and leftist discourse:
It comes out explicitly against the new strain of anti-Semitism, "not yet properly acknowledged," masquerading as anti-Zionism and as a protest against "excessive Jewish influence"; it condemns bigotry and discrimination against Muslims, but does not hesitate to point an accusing finger at Islamist-inspired terrorism; it even blasts Amnesty International - is nothing sacred? - for making a "grotesque" comparison between Guantanamo and the Gulag.
It decries leftists who support the "right" tyrannies and who, under the guise of multiculturalism, support cultures that oppress human rights, and, finally - a real sacrilege - it rejects the "double standards by which too many on the Left today treat as the worst violations of human rights those perpetrated by the democracies, while being either silent or more muted about infractions that outstrip these by far."
Such chutzpah would be audacious in any European country; in England it is heresy. Ever since the Iraq war, defending America or Israel has become a hazardous undertaking among English progressives. Worst of all is London, where the theater scene is replete with bash-America, bash-Israel plays. Characteristic was David Hare's hare-brained "Stuff Happens," which was a hit at the National Theater and depicted the whole American leadership as a bunch of evil morons. In this atmosphere, it really is courageous to include the following words in the manifesto:
"We repudiate the way of thinking according to which the events of September 11, 2001 were America's deserved comeuppance, or 'understandable' in the light of legitimate grievances resulting from US foreign policy. What was done on that day was an act of mass murder, motivated by odious fundamentalist beliefs and redeemed by nothing whatsoever. No evasive formula can hide that".
Indeed, the importance of this manifesto cannot be exaggerated: It is an open defiance aimed at journalistic-academic self-righteousness; it strikes at the very heart of British intellectual political correctness; it seeks to revive the truly liberal traditions of the left and base them on authentic democratic principles, and, above all, it seeks to avoid the past pitfalls of the very same left during the years of the Gulag, when scores of progressive intellectuals were kowtowing to Bolshevism and sang Stalin's praises. It is an attempt to save the English left - and through it the European left - from its suicidal instincts.
Almost a hundred years ago, another railway station - the Finland station in St. Petersburg - played a decisive role in establishing the brutal Bolshevik dictatorship in Russia. It was in that station that Lenin arrived in a sealed train from Zurich to instigate a revolution against the newly formed Russian democracy. It was the beginning of a process that finally destroyed communism and weakened the left everywhere. Euston station is as far from the Finland station as conceivable. The manifesto that bears its name may yet usher in a revival of the democratic, sane, and balanced left.
Mr. Rubinstein is president of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel.