Of late, shocked to their ultra-sensitive core, our chattering classes tug
extra-hard on our national fire bells.
With exhilarated alarm, they alert
us to how unloved we are overseas. Our news purveyors appear to take uncommon
pleasure in driving the point home.
The other day broadcasters announced
solemnly that “Germans have become markedly more critical of Israel, with 59%
describing it as aggressive, according to a survey published by the Stern
This monumentally significant poll was conducted on the eve of
German President Joachim Gauck’s visit to our backwoods.
We’re definitely on a
treacherous downward spiral because, as several reporters stressed, “a similar
Stern survey in 2009 found that only 49 percent considered Israel aggressive.”
Underscoring how we’re perceived by the descendants of active Nazis and of
those who inactively couldn’t care less about their Germanic genocide, we were
somberly informed that “70 percent of Germans agree with the statement that
Israel pursues its interests without consideration for other nations.” Three
years ago, just 59 percent of holier-than-thou Germans regarded us as an
egocentric and thoughtless bunch. Things were so peachy then.
It was with utter glee that our media seized upon the annual BBC poll
geared to identify the countries with the most “negative influence” on the
world. “Israel’s image hits another nadir in Europe,” gravely intoned our
talking heads. According to 24,090 respondents worldwide, only Iran and Pakistan
outranked Israel in perceived malice. Iran got top billing (55 percent of the
vote), Pakistan was the runner-up (51 percent), while Israel and North Korea
tied for the title of third-worst (50 percent).
This sufficed to convince
our memory-deficient correspondents that things were never as bad. Last year,
they told us, a mere 47 percent claimed that we upset them most. Things indeed
seem to be deteriorating ominously.
But are they?
Next on the hit-Israel
hit parade came the American State Department’s castigation of our use of the
term “illegal infiltrators” to describe the African illegal infiltrators who
illegally infiltrate into our sovereign domain (where we and not the current
Washington elite supposedly have the final say-so).
a spade a spade elicits warranted world disapproval, warned local
opinion-molders with paralyzing panic. The never-put-a-foot-wrong Obama
administration has just – again – frowned upon us for not living up to its
expectations of absolute political correctness. Time to quake in our
But is it?
Is there indeed anything new in the fact that we’re
cast as the villain of whatever drama plays out in the international arena at
any given time? Right now we mar global contentment by constantly nagging about
the Iranian “commitment to Israel’s destruction” (as Tehran’s military
chief-of-staff recently declared without undue niceties, but failed thereby to
cause noticeable unease among Western democracies).
before the Iranian threat to obliterate us became potent and before we suggested
that we might be forced to maybe help ourselves, we weren’t exactly popular
among the smug spectator states.
Let’s rewind and recall.
the same BBC poll (then with 28,389 respondents in 27 countries) also revealed
that we aren’t liked. But in contrast to third-place now, five years ago Israel
topped the list of trouble-making countries and even beat Iran for the dubious
That was when Ehud Olmert headed our government, and there
has never been an Israeli PM as wrong-headedly generous with territorial and
other existential concessions as he was. Yet Olmert’s inordinate, risk-fraught
largesse was rewarded with heaps of scorn from the polled masses abroad. So much
for leftist land-for-popularity slogans (akin to the land-for-peace
But what’s the fuss?
Even 2007 was nothing new. In 2003, the EU
citizenry voted Israel “the greatest danger to world peace.” The same happened
in 2000, when Ehud Barak headed Israel’s second-most compromising government
Right-wingers, left-wingers, patriots, defeatists – it makes no difference, not in this 21st century, nor in the 20th,
14th, 7th or in BCE days. The more things change, the more they stay the
Jews always have and still attract abuse – even when they call
themselves Israelis. From time immemorial they found themselves in the
eye of whatever storm was brewing. They didn’t rouse the tempest, but it
always menacingly revolved around them.
From the dawn of history Jews
were civilization’s codifiers of ethics and harbingers of progress. That’s
enough in itself to render them unbearable irritants. Higher ideals accentuate
others’ deficiencies. Jews robbed the world of its complacency and, as
mankind’s killjoys, they became catalysts of controversy.
was caught up in paganism’s fear, frenzy and frolic, we introduced the
principled One- God. When others adopted offshoots of our monotheism, they
accused us of deicide or of spurning Allah’s Prophet.
secular lot – be they of the fascist or the professorial varieties – denigrate
Jews as imposers of austerity, moralistic emasculators and corrupters of
mythical natural bliss.
Jews were the reviled plutocrats and the
bourgeoisie in dictatorships of the proletariat, and the proletariat agitators
to robber-barons and captains of capitalist industry.
We were too
ostentatiously rich or too bedraggled poor, too repulsively ugly or too
exotically enticing, too obsequious or too arrogant, too downtrodden or too
exploiting, too high on the moral ground or baking matzos with the blood of
Christian tots (or Muslims, depending on libelous particulars). We were
continuously too smart for our own good and therefore accused of cabals and
hatching nefarious plots. We were the perfect target because we were
weak, but decried as too strong when we strove not to be so
Taking up our cause was always unfashionable. It still is.
Arnold Toynbee’s exasperating “fossils,” we remain the irksome touchstone for
whatever transcends the sordid and selfish. We are in their faces, be they
Nordic or Malay – even when we belittle ourselves, borrow their inane ways, look
like them, adopt their fads, dance to their rhythms and try to win their
acceptance at any cost. Our existence constitutes a constant embarrassing
reminder of their crimes.
We were always guilty as charged. We Jews – in
our independent Israeli present or in our Wandering Jew past – always endangered
the peace of the world, much as pudgy, bespectacled Piggy did in William
Golding’s philosophic and conceptual masterpiece, The Lord of the Flies. This
allegoric novel probes the descent into primitive tribalism and savagery of
planewrecked schoolboys on an uninhabited island. Eventually animal instincts
vanquish the last vestiges of civilized reason and collective sanity.
worst offenders are the uniformed choirboys, seemingly the most cultured (like
boastful German kulturtrager or academic Israel-bashers on campuses
everywhere). Piggy’s ethics and responsible good sense plainly produce
conflict. Without his bothersome input, all would happily share the same dark
impulses and infectious brutality. Only Piggy spoils things, being
obviously too far removed from humanity’s barbaric roots and always obsessing
about rights and wrongs.
Mankind, like Golding’s marooned kids, creates
its own demons and then hysterically seeks to accord them a tangible identity it
can berate and bully, hate and harm – like Piggy, or like Jews,
a.k.a. Zionists, Israelis or whatnot.
Piggy, Jews are humanity’s intellectuals, offering it only enlightenment.
Piggy’s glasses, through which he observes the world and makes sense of chaos,
are also the source of fire and light. But while benefits from Piggy are
grabbed, he himself is shunned. His higher ideals accentuate the others’
misbehavior. Depriving them of their peace, he becomes the driving force of
discord. Like us.
Our detractors always remember that we’re Piggy, never
one of the boys. They’ll always side with our attackers and blame us for it.
It’s time we stop blaming ourselves too, trying to make sense of their
antipathy, winning them over and convincing them that we’re regular folks. It’s
time to stop trying to make them like us, secure their approval and good press
or care about their opinion of us.
Smearing Jews inevitably justifies
enmity towards them. They bring it on themselves. They always did.
Europeans who decades ago shouted “Jews to Palestine,” and showed no mercy to
those who couldn’t flee in time, now shout “Jews out of Palestine.” With
Jews unwanted anywhere, the bottom line precludes any Jewish
Killing Jews was never like killing others. Since Israel is
foremost in Ahmadinejad’s sights, there’s no urgency for even nonviolent
measures like persistent no-nonsense sanctions against his nuclear ambitions. If
only Jews are nuked, the rest of the world can tolerate Iran’s bomb. A
Jewish-only target is almost a plausible compromise.
It’s not about
issues or our misdeeds. It’s time for in-house popularity-seekers to quit trying
to curry favor by joining the anti-Piggy clamor and snitching about the generic
Piggy’s trumped-up transgressions, his outlaw settlements and defiant
self-defense. Nothing good can come of additionally tarnishing his already
unjustifiably battered image.
It’s time for this world’s nonfictional
Piggy to overcome his awe of remorseless choirboys who presume to pass judgment
on him. If we’re to preempt the bloody end of the fictional Piggy, we must
overcome our awe of remorseless Judeophobes – genteel or otherwise – who presume
to pass judgment on us. Our lives depend on it. No