The New anti-Semitism targets Jews doing the most innocent activities, like shopping, then finds Jews guilty for the most basic acts of self-defense. “Hate is a faith,” Jean-Paul Sartre taught in 1944 in Anti-Semite and Jew. The irrational, obsessive hostility threatens Zionism’s needed evolution from a reactive ideology offering refuge to a proactive ideology seeking individual and national self-fulfillment. The new anti-Semitism imposes a new Zionist dilemma: Zionism must be more than a response to anti-Semitism; but it cannot afford to ignore or internalize modern anti-Zionism either.

Sartre called anti-Semitism a “poor man’s snobbery.” Today, anti-Zionism is the Politically Correct elite’s snobbery.  This past week, Jimmy Carter 
said, “one of the origins for” the Parisian terror “is the Palestinian problem.” More ominously, the ICC, the International Criminal Court, decided to investigate Israel’s alleged “war crimes,” while the UN Human Rights Council’s International Commission of Inquiry, headed by the biased William Schabas held kangaroo court hearings in Geneva.

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Democratic Israel is being prosecuted for daring to defend itself, when Hamas explicitly targets civilians, ISIS slaughters hundreds, including throwing gays off high-rises; 200,000 are killed in Syria’s civil war; and, in Israel’s club of democracies, the twelve-country coalition including America and Canada has launched over 1,000 necessary airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against ISIS,  yet somehow the Pentagon has “no operational reporting or intelligence” of any civilian deaths. Justice is not just if applied disproportionately. The totalitarian assault on Israel since the 1970s in the international arena has made international law a farce.

Menachem Begin famously said “Goyim kill Goyim and they blame the Jews”; today, Islamist terrorists kill sacrilegious cartoonists and they blame the Jews, while, at the ICC and the UN Hamas kills innocents and they indict the Jews. The Noxious Nexus is a totalitarian intersection combining terrorism, anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, demonization, disproportion, ideological warfare and international lawfare.  Jews, Israelis and Israel, overlapping targets, are singled out for murder by terrorists, for blame by bigots, then for punishment for the sin of self-defense by “human rights” hypocrites.  

The Noxious Nexus starts with Palestinians’ anti-normalization BDS campaign. The blacklisters’ binoculars magnify any Israeli misstep, seen in the widest possible field of vision, then they flip the binoculars around to minimize Palestinian sins, no matter how big or blatant. Refusing to interact with Israelis even in benign circumstances fuels demonization and delegitimization. All that hatred dehumanizing others rationalizes violence against them.

What’s a centrist, Identity Zionist to do in such a poisonous atmosphere, as the Zionist Right goes apoplectic, feeling hounded, and the Zionist Left gets all apologetic, feeling guilty.  It’s easy to feel insecure, angry, paranoid, which the writer Cynthia Ozick called “narapoid” -- when you think everyone’s out to get you, and they are. This fragility makes the nastiness of Jimmy Carter, who never met a dictator he didn’t like, drown out the reassuring eloquence of the French and British prime ministers. It makes us obsess about the growing hatred on politically correct campuses and the UN, which lost their moral compasses long ago. Viewing European soldiers surrounding Jews through this fear evokes the Holocaust, when, in 2015, European power is defending Jews not killing them.

In Paris, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fell into the trap Sartre identified that “anti-Semitism makes the Jew.” French Jews, like all Jews, should indeed feel “the state of Israel is your home.” Still, visiting Paris, a statesman – and secure -- would have emphasized the power of Jewish choice and dignity today, rather than risk sounding like an insecure provincial riling his base back home.

It’s Manners 101, Diplomacy 101, but also modern Zionist ideology 101. Confident, centrist, Identity Zionists don’t need to denigrate France or America or anywhere else to celebrate Israel as the Jewish homeland. And beware, Israel is not the obvious winner in the where’s-the-Jew-safest derby. 

My Zionism does not begin with the “how-can-you not make Aliyah” guilt trip. It starts with “why don’t you appreciate the anchoring power of Jewish nationalism, the joys of peoplehood, the delight of the 3 B’s: Being Jewish, belonging to a thriving people, and always working on becoming better, individually and collectively, in our homeland?” For some, embracing this constructive Zionist dynamic will culminate in moving to Israel; for others, it won’t; but their identities will be enriched and our destinies will become more intertwined.

Turning left, I applaud Yitzhak Herzog for branding his alliance “the Zionist Camp,” emphasizing that neither Left nor Right own national and traditional values.  But the “Zionist Camp” becomes an empty label if key members like Stav Shaffir call Hatikvah “racist” or Meirav Michaeli discourages mothers from sending their children to the IDF. Chaim Herzog’s son understands that the national conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is not about “racism”; that Palestinian and Soviet propagandists imposed the term in the 1970s, seeking to Nazify and South Africanize Israel. David Ben-Gurion’s successor understands that a democracy’s national anthem can celebrate the majority culture, as long as minority rights are respected. And Major Herzog, with his distinguished military intelligence record, understands the importance of military service.   

Herzog must show leadership by repudiating his extremist allies’ delegitimizing rhetoric and having them affirm their commitment to Zionist ideals. Demonstrating backbone this way could embarrass the incumbent prime minster who often caves to extremist allies, while proving Herzog to be a tough, patriotic, muscular Zionist moderate.  

The Right’s Shtetl Zionism sees the world as our oppressor; the Left’s Shtetl Zionism internalizes the oppressors’ critique. Even in the ghetto, Political Zionists, Cultural Zionists, Socialist Zionists, Religious Zionists, Revisionists Zionists refused to limit their Zionism to one of reaction. If, while defending themselves and building a state, they could afford to dream so broadly, constructively, expansively, universally, democratically, so can we, so must we. 

Gil Troy is a Professor of History at McGill University and the author of ten books including Why I Am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish identity and the Challenges of Today and, most recently, 
Moynihan's Moment: America's Fight Against Zionism as Racism.

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