Analysis: An ugly circle of anti-Semitism

Right, Left using Gaza operation for ugliest displays since World War II.

January 25, 2009 23:57
3 minute read.
Analysis: An ugly circle of anti-Semitism

anti israel in spain 248.88. (photo credit: AP [file])


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Are Jews all over the world paying the price for Israel's actions? This is a very loaded question. Paying the price has a negative connotation. To understand this clearly, we must always bear in mind that a large portion of Diaspora Jews have no direct affiliation with Jewish organizations or synagogues, nor do they contribute to Jewish causes. We are talking about the effect of Israel's actions on identified Jews. The attacks have been on synagogues, Jewish institutions and Holocaust memorials. While non-identified Jews may feel they are "paying the price" for Israel's actions, those within the Jewish community do not. While non-identified Jews critical of Israel's policy would also bear some resentment toward the Israeli government or its people, most identified Jews give me the clear impression that Israel has their full backing and understanding. The fact that the Israeli government kept expressing its sorrow and even apologized for civilian deaths made Diaspora Jews feel that the Gaza action was clearly not against civilians. If anything, the growth of anti-Semitism will probably push identified Jews closer to each other and closer to Israel - a kind of "circling of the wagons" reaction. These Jews, at least, have always been aware of an underlying streak of anti-Semitism. This brings into question the argument of anti-Israel versus anti-Semitic. I've always been opposed to the artificial separation between anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. Criticism of Israel by those who accept its existence is not anti-Israel. Violently expressed criticism of Israel by those who want to see it disappear is certainly anti-Semitic. The two are united in a bond to which none would admit, the skinheads on the Right and the knee-jerk liberals on the extreme Left. We have seen images from the Holocaust being used, and there have been calls for us to be sent to the gas chambers. This shows how all the extremes have met in an ugly circle. The intellectual basis for my argument comes from the late professor Talmon, who wrote about the totalitarianism of the Right, as well as that of the Left. Both are intolerant of Jews and egged on by Arab and Muslim presences (and sometimes funding). Today's anti-Semitism is reaching the ugliest proportions I have seen since World War II. Nonetheless, I do not believe that American or Canadian Jews will run away. The vast majority will stand their ground and will not let the anti-Semites determine how they feel about Israel. Looking into the future, I do not believe that the current upsurge of anti-Semitism worldwide is a factor in how Israel will deal with wars to come. The Israeli leadership of all parties has always seen Israel as the indispensable center of the Jewish people, the embodiment of its physical continuation and spiritual development. Israeli leaders today appreciate the importance of the Diaspora much more than the founding fathers, and any future wars waged in Israel will not be wars of expansion, but defensive wars. We will defend not only our interests, but also the interests of Jews everywhere. A powerless Jewish people was destroyed in the European Holocaust. The powerful Jewish people fights not only for the Jewish people in their homeland, but for a Jewish identity everywhere. It does this simply by acting with dignity, humility and humanity, even when it is at war. Avraham Avi-Hai is the former world chairman of the United Israel Appeal and veteran member of the executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization. He acted as senior adviser to many of Israel's founding fathers, including David Ben-Gurion, Levi Eshkol and Teddy Kollek. Avi-Hai is a founder and long-time lecturer at the Rothberg School for Overseas Students at the Hebrew University.

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