From October 7 to Eurovision: Are we seeing a sea change starting in Western culture?

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By David Wurmser, Ph.D.

Something is changing.  The Western world was asleep, adrift, and decaying. But then came the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. It instantly became a clarifying moment for Israelis – something which put them at odds even with their own elites, let alone the rest of the world.  They were fighting for the very survival they thought they had reliably secured. But then came the campus frenzies against American Jews, as well as European Jewish communities, which became a clarifying moment for young American and European Jews and their families. And then the burning of American flags and the ensuing flag wars in the Palestine Encampments, the “little Gazas” as Senator Tom Cotton calls them, across American academia, in war memorials and on the streets, which became a clarifying moment for many Americans.  And now we see the Eurovision song contest, which became a clarifying moment on the European continent. What started in the horrific shock of the depth of human moral depravity exhibited on October 7 appears to have a profound series of direct and ripple effects across the West, baring bankrupt elites, exposing rising new ones, and perhaps even signaling a return to the values and ideas grounding Western identity and civilization.

Everyone approached their clarifying event differently, as it was filtered through deep questions of identity, culture, pride and security – all issues unique to each of the communities mentioned.  But there is across the broad a common theme: elites have failed and the populations – the common man – are stepping up to the plate. And they are all showing remarkable sobriety, resolve, leadership and moral lucidity in contrast to their drifting, weak, sheep-like and morally conflicted elites.


Israel is perhaps the easiest to grasp and understand. So much of the country donned their uniforms and for months – without internet, without social media – fought for their very lives.  They came together in unity and wanted nothing short of full victory. They held a common sense of purpose. They defended their families and their homes and buried their friends and loved ones.  They braved the missiles and sent another generation of their young children to battle.

Israelis all retreated more into their identity and deeper connection with the experience and trajectory of their 4000-year history that had been shunted onto the sidetrack of their culture for decades. Israeli soldiers took strength and meaning from their Jewish history, heritage and for many, their religion.  The drift and complacence of Israeli society ended and its delusion burst that it had transcended its 4000-year fate and had became a normal nation among nations in a region that no longer sought to eradicate it. Wisdoms, admonitions, and enemies from the Bible sprang back to life and were reanimated in the Israeli psyche. Israel was suddenly intensely Jewish – for some in a religious, for others culturally and historic sense.  Israel was fighting Amalek, and it was a unified family fighting to survive a siege.

But all Israelis understood one thing: what was before October 6 – the failed acrimonious debates, the intensity of brotherly hatred, and the bizarre perversion of elites – political, social and media — that relished the rising divisions as Roman emperors once did both in commanding and enjoying the mortal combat of gladiators – cannot be any more. 

The debates now are shelved, the brothers fighting and dying shoulder to shoulder, and the elites in all sectors of society awaiting their verdict to go home which will come as soon as the guns fall silent.  Israel will have a rebirth, and it will need a new elite to do so. All Israelis understand now they were in one boat; disagreements were and still will be there but the fate of all was common. 

So now, a new Israeli, akin to the World War II generation of Americans, is being forged from the horrors of the dark Sabbath of October 7 and the grit of the battlefields of Gaza, Judea, Samaria, the Golan and Lebanon. 

American and European Jews

American and European Jews grasped early, as well, that this was about them too.  They quickly began to rally behind Israel and pay closer attention to their cousins. Their plight was neither theoretical nor separate.  Jewish communities across the globe instinctively knew that the fate of Israel was their fate.  Soon, the war thousands of miles away came closer and closer personally to them, not just their cousins.  The taboo on antisemitic rhetoric in polite society was broken.  There were random attacks on Jews – some fatal — and antisemitic hate crimes skyrocketed.  And then came the Palestine takeover of our educational institutions.  Left unprotected by the Biden administration, Jewish children found themselves exposed to hatred, physically prevented from access to libraries and free movement in campuses and ability to study, marked as separate, terrified of encountering teachers and professors that would fail them because of who they were, and finally facing increased threats and finally violence.

The curtain seemed to be descending on the golden age of American Jewry – the greatest Diaspora Jewish community of all times – as each American Jew personally, felt under siege.  The moment that unleashed the realization into acute form was when the Chabad Rabbi at Columbia University declared in early April that the university’s Jews should leave the campus because their security could no longer be guaranteed. 

The dam burst. Parents pulled their children out of school.  Jews had lived in American paradise. The very foundations of the American enterprise was intertwined with the flourishing and freedom of the Jewish community for more than three centuries.  The New Jerusalem and the Old Jerusalem were blood brothers in the American experiment.  The rise of antisemitic hatred, however, not only shattered the Jewish sense of security, but also made Jews wonder how solid the American idea – upon which the welfare of the Jewish community is anchored – still is.  Jews inherently understood what they faced was not just a wave of antisemitism, but something that so deeply threatened America that it could signal the passing of a great historical era, leading to another age of mass Jewish wandering to find safe harbor.

But then a remarkable thing happened.  Young Jews, profoundly failed by elite Jewish institutions that stood helpless at this moment of truth, began to assert themselves.  A new generation of Jewish leaders – eloquent, proud, rediscovering their faith and identity in parallel to their Israeli cousins, but also unwilling to give up on the American home and the idea behind it that supported their aspirations, dreams and gave them secure life – suddenly emerged on the campuses.  They testified powerfully to Congress. They spoke on the quads and stairways to make a stand.  They wove their affinity with Israel, respect for Jewish history, and love of America together. Socially and even physically brave, they stood up to their peers and professors to fight back. 

Jewish elites had failed. Elite Jewish institutions stood paralyzed.  But a new generation of Jews – which was more anchored to their Jewish history and identity, but also more unwilling to take the American idea for granted – rushed to the trenches and now rises to sweep them aside.

America more broadly

Non-Jewish Americans came next.  The change emerged directly form the campus Jewish question and the chain of events originating in the October 7 attacks by Hamas.  The “little Gazas” sprung up around the country like mushrooms not only focused on hating Jews, but also on attacking the idea of America – the very thing that these radicals understood was what made the Jews so secure and allowed them to flourish either as an American community or as the Israeli nation. Moreover, harboring the deep objective of destroying the ideas and cultural foundations of the American idea, these radicals – Islamist green or socialist red —  knew the Jewish community embodied a strong part of the American nation’s Judeo-Christian core, and thus the road to destroy America lay through destruction of Judaism and Christianity.  Soon, imported European ideas of antisemtic fascism – the Black – also appeard. The attack on American Jews was just part of the progressive Bolshevik-Islamist-Fascist attack on America itself.  So, flags were burned.  War memorials that have nothing to do with Jews or Israel were desecrated.  Dead Americans who paid the ultimate price to defend their freedom and country were dishonored.

But the antisemitic assault was not broad in American society. They were not like the deep sense of guilt Americans still harbored in the summer of 2020 of the issue of the American Black experience – misplaced guilt because such feelings persist despite the remarkable arc or moral progress over a century – which led the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Even that was a bait and switch exploiting genuine feelings of guilt to launch a violent attack on the very goodness that animated Americans.  But that took time to sort out and realize.

But not so with the Israel issue. Polls consistently showed broad and deep American support for Israel, so there was no deeper sentiment of “anti-colonial” civil rights guilt these riots evoke. Americans identified with Israel and understood its attachment as an indigenous nation to the land for which it was fighting. 

Moreover, Americans had become, even in its earliest days before independence, a remarkably Judeophilic culture. Whether George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whether Mark Twain or John Steinbeck, American leaders and cultural icons committed to letters and words their respect and affinity with Jews.  And Israel seemed to have struck the deep sense of  Cincinnatus virtue that Americans always valued within themselves: the agrarian, farmer spirit of independence and making the land bloom, the fierce attachment to their values and willingness to alone defend them.  So, Americans all along filtered their understanding of October 7 through such a favorable view of Israel.

But the frenzied world of the Palestine encampments and their flag-burning and “death-to-America-chanting” zombie seances not only triggered disgust and evoked a deep sense of American patriotism, but it also showed Americans how profoundly rotted their elite institutions were. Their kids were not alright, and they were not alright because the people to whom Americans had entrusted their childrens’ education was instead turning them against everything they held dear. Congressional hearings of college officials became awful spectacles of mediocre wokeness. Americans on the national level began to see the entire educational system – for which every American family had to part with their life-savings to pay for —  the same way as local parents in Virginia had seen their school boards in 2022-23, which led then to pitched arguments across the country as well as the election of Republicans as senior state officials.  Americans understood their elite institutions no longer transmitted to their young American values or culture, nor taught civic virtue, nor nurtured patriotism, nor even respected family or faith in any way. 

And then came their moment. The Israeli and American Jewish question suddenly flowed together into the broader American question. In late April at the University of North Carolina, the little Gaza encampment – as all other encampments across the land – tore down the American flag at the university’s flagpole, burned it and replaced it with the Palestine flag.  The president of the university sent for police and marched along with them to take down the flag of Palestine and raise the American flag, accompanied by a rousing speech about the meaning of the American flag and its unique purpose in flying above us all.   No sooner had the flag been raised than the progressive Red-Green-Black (Bolshevik-Islamist-Fascist) radicals from the Palestine encampments sought to tear it down again.  But it was not to be. They were met by a group from the university’s Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epslion Pi (AEPi), who in a Iwo-Jima like moment, surrounded the flag, protected it from touching the ground and being soiled, and stood firm against projectiles to ensure the American flag remains flying on the pole.  The image that emerged from that incident was iconic and captured the American nation. 

Those of us who remember the late 1970s, remember the humiliation – already bubbling from the fall of Saigon – reverberating as American hostages were taken by Iran’s Ayatollahs.  They also remember the American victory in the Lake Placid Olympic hockey game of 1980, and the shift toward patriotism and energy generated by pride that took over the American soul in its wake.  As Iran had done in 1978-9, Iran’s proxies (Hamas), their minions and their Bolshevik and fascist allies of progressive radicals on American campuses had done in 2024.  So, those of us who do remember the American awakening of 1979-80 easily identify the current American re-Awakening of 2024 emerging from the images of  the AEPi defense of the flag at UNC.  The young frat boys were the equivalent of the young US hockey Olympic team at Lake Placid.  Across the country, young Americans – indeed many frats but then far beyond– began to mobilize to defend their flag and march to assert their pride in America.

Israel, the American Jewish question, and the reawakening of America were all now flowing in alignment – and all by virtue of a young new leadership emerging on the ossified husk of their community’s elites and their failing stagnant structures. 


But to the surprise of many Israelis, American Jews, and other Americans, it appears this is beginning to grip even Europe in the last weeks.  True, there were signs: the wave of elections, starting with Brexit, that symbolized a welling rejection of elites, elite culture, and elite power, had been brewing for years.  The discerning observer could see it.  But there still wasn’t the moment – the defining event to lay bare the vast chasm emerging between the elites and the societies over which they lorded. 

The moment may well have come this week – the usually politically marginal Eurovision song event.  The artistic elites of Europe, along with the state broadcast authorities which ran it considered not inviting Israel – a traditional powerhouse at this song competition – to bow to the ostensible antisemitic sentiments gripping the European.  Trying to use Israel’s song entry as “too political in hopes that Israel would thus disqualify itself – saving the EBU from the embarrassment of singling out and banning the Jewish state,” Europe’s elites demanded the wounded Jewish nation to go through several iterations of its song before the European Broadcast Union (EBU) would allow it to perform. But Israel played along, watered it down until its words were anodyne and palatable enough that the EBU could no longer hook its hopes of disqualification on them.

Israel came to the event in Malmo, Sweden – the epicenter of Islamist radical hatred of Jews and Israel —  and so did the masses of enraged radicals and European Muslims from across the continent. They threatened the Israeli singer, forced her to lockdown in her hotel room and brave riots attacking her convoy on the way to perform. Other nations’ delegates refused to have their rooms in proximity to the Israeli singer, and thus she had to be removed to a remote and isolated wing of the hotel.  Several delegations threatened a boycott and virtue signaled through costume and press conferences their dripping disdain of the Jewish singer.  Those few singers who in an unguarded moment had been photographed interacting with the Israeli singer, even in fleeting moments, were forced to apologize and ask that the picture be expunged from the public record. Israeli journalists and presenters were even forced by the European Broadcaster Union to remove their small yellow ribbons some wore to symbolize their hope of the return of Israel’s 132 hostages from Hamas torture and captivity.  The elites of Europe had decided that the people of Europe could not stomach association with Israel, in even song. Still, the desire of their national delegations to be feted outweighed their ostensible rage and they all performed. 

But Israel’s 20-year old Eden Golan still quietly took the stage, stood alone in front a loudly jeering audience of booing and shrieking pro-Palestine chants that tried to drown out the performance.  But in an act of bravery and immense discipline, she sang and sang true. 

And when she did, a remarkable thing happened.  The competition had a 50% popular vote across Europe and 50% an elite-board driven vote of judges that would combine to produce the winner.  Israel swept the popular vote.  Golan garnered a remarkable 327 points from the voting populations of Europe.  Moreover in 15 of the 35 nations, Israel outright won the popular vote (12 points for each win) and took second place (10 points) in seven more. Clearly, the people of Europe made their voce heard: Israel was not to be shunned, and in fact was wildly popular.

Then the elites spoke through the EBU judges.  They knew better what the people wanted than the people. While the judges’ votes historically have never varied too sharply from the popular vote, this time they did – and across the board.  Israel received only 52 votes by the EBU judges’ panels. 24 nations awarded the Israeli singer 0 votes.  11 more gave her extremely low votes (3-5 votes).  And no nation awarded Israel winning tallies.  In fact, many of the nations in which Israel won the popular vote by wide margins had their judges award Israel zero points. Western European elites led the trend: the UK, Switzerland, Luxembourg, San Marino, Spain, Finland, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Andorra, Belgium, and Sweden all had been won by Israel with 12 points on the popular vote, but all had the judges award Israel zero points.  Four of the five UK judges had ranked Israel as the worst song of the 35.

On the immense strength of the popular vote, and despite the unprecedented split action of the EBU broadcasting and artistic elites of Europe, Israel still finished in fifth place overall.  What was equally interesting was not only the popularity, but the image of the Israeli next to the other contestants.  Ireland and others fielded singers that were all twisted, depraved or sexually conflicted.  They were all orc-like caricatures of art.  Except Israel and one or two others (such as Armenia).  It was really a contest not only over songs, but over avant-garde artistic depravity versus wholesome ballads.  In many ways, Israel represented a return to normalcy, though swirling in a maelstrom of hate and threat.  Most European singers represented the degeneracy of a dying culture – a dying culture not only tolerated by but peddled by the continent’s elites.  A picture of the most anti-Israeli singer, Ireland’s Bambi Thug (right), juxtaposed with Israel’s, Eden Golan (left), could not be more symbolic and stark:

And yet, what had been laid bare was that the populations of Europe were just fine with Israel and liked the wholesomeness they saw, but the elites of Europe knew better and had to punish Israel and ensure it would lose to protect their twisted cultural bizarreness.  The tide of antisemitism, and the self-destructive depravity of it and accompanying it, was largely an immigrant and elite phenomenon; it was not at all populist.

We have yet to see if a new generation will emerge in Europe that will seize the reins from their obviously out of touch elites.  Recent elections suggest that may be happening, but it is too early to tell what sort of impact the Eurovision event had and what it may trigger. 


But from these events from Israel on October 7th to Eurovision on May 11, several things are clear.  Elites have failed the young generation, and a new generation is arising.  In Israel and among American Jews, a new leadership is rising in front of our very eyes from the battlefields of Gaza and U.S. campuses. Among non-Jewish Americans, a new patriotism seems to be stirring that reminds one of the eve of the Reagan era. And in Europe, the populations seem refreshingly to be unmoved by their 2000-year legacy of hating Jews.

Antisemitism is dangerous and rampant, but it is not just tolerated, but encouraged and fomented by elites. We have learned how in the past how antisemitism was the vehicle used by cynical elites to tap into their population’s worst instincts – implying elites may be cynical but not the ultimate font of the evil.  But what we see here and in Europe is the opposite: antisemitism is held by elites against the sentiments of the populations.  It takes an active role of elites and tolerance, including the protection and encouragement of a minority of antisemites, as well as expressions of their own antisemitic libels, to create the 1930s-like climate of antisemitism that we see today. And still the population did not buy it, or at least this time.

October 7 was a horror.  But it triggered an historic change, perhaps a change of eras.  And this time, the Jews and Israel are not mere subjects of history, but its catalyst.  Jews for two millennia spoke of being a light among nations – much like the American idea of itself being a beacon, John Winthrop’s shining city on a hill as the pilgrim leader on the Mayflower suggested – but by being disempowered, there was hardly any reality of this role for Jews as their quest for mere survival was all-consuming.  But now, despite being small and in a war again for its every survival, Israel seems to be casting some light that is shining onto populations and peoples far away, triggering in them a rediscovery of themselves and what made those distant lands and cultures great.   Rising from the ashes of October 7, Israel is leading the world to realizing the failure of its elites, the threat to their cultures, and the need to rally to defend the long line of western civilization that ran from Mts. Moriah and Sinai, and from Plato to NATO.