As around 700 rockets rained down on southern Israel last weekend, leaving four Israelis dead and many more wounded, many in Western media were doing what comes naturally to them – suspending the normal rules of journalism to distort, twist or lie.
The usual, fundamental errors littered their reports – such as that Gaza was “occupied,” regardless of the fact that Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.
There was the usual reversal of aggressor and victim, with sly implications of moral equivalency between Arab attack and Israeli defense.
There was the usual eagerness to believe the propaganda produced by the attackers, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and a corresponding unwillingness to believe the factual claims by their Israeli victims.
A number of British media outlets led their reports with the false accusation that a pregnant Gazan woman and her 14-month-old baby had been killed by the Israeli strikes. In fact, as PIJ eventually admitted, they were killed by a malfunctioning rocket fired from Gaza.
Some outlets corrected this error; others did not. None, though, pointed out that these particular casualties furnished graphic evidence that the Gazan warmongers weren’t only targeting Israeli innocents but using their own Gazan people as human shields by putting missiles in and around civilian homes – thus committing war crimes twice over.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, politicians on the Left were doing what comes naturally to them – either ignoring this latest, murderous onslaught from Gaza against Israeli civilians, or bashing Israel for its own victimization.
In the US, while President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tweeted their support for Israel’s defense of its citizens and condemned the attacks by Hamas and PIJ, not one Democratic presidential contender saw fit to condemn the attacks from Gaza.
While some Democrats did back Israel, there was no party censure for their two Muslim congresswomen, who typically chose to defame Israel even as its citizens were being bombarded by Arab missiles.
US Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted that Gaza was occupied and suffering a “humanitarian crisis.” “How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends?” she moaned.
Yet Gaza is not occupied; the humanitarian crisis is caused by the terrorism, corruption and tyranny of Gaza’s Hamas rulers; and there is no “cycle of violence,” but only the unending attempts by those rulers to murder Israelis and Israel’s attempts to defend its people against such attacks.
Regardless of these facts, Rep. Rashida Tlaib took issue with a (for once) balanced New York Times headline for, in her words, “dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free.” The headline had read: “Gaza militants fire 250 rockets and Israel responds with airstrikes,” which was nothing more or less than the truth.
THE TRUMP administration took the morally principled position of laying the blame squarely upon the instigators of the attacks: Hamas, PIJ and, behind them, Iran. The EU and others hedged their support for Israel’s right to defend itself by implying it should nevertheless bear some degree of responsibility for the rocket attacks.
This was in line with their morally degraded assumption that Israel is at least partly to blame for the absence of a “political” solution – otherwise known as surrender – to what is, in fact, a genocidal war against the Jewish homeland.
In line with this very fact, the Palestinians in Ramallah were doing what comes naturally to them. PA President Mahmoud Abbas gave the Gazan war criminals his full support. Abbas, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi and Palestinian Parliament member Saeb Erekat inverted reality as usual and accused Israel of “aggression.”
At the same time, Abbas’s Fatah Party referred to all of Israel as “occupied” and all Israelis as “settlers,” thus continuing to advertise the destruction of Israel as its true aim and employing its corresponding strategy of writing the Jews out of their own history.
In the UK, the Labour Party was silent about the war crimes being committed by the Palestinians, whose cause it so loudly champions. Instead, it was doing what comes naturally to it – digging itself yet further into the pit of antisemitism.
As the Labour Against Antisemitism group submitted a vast digital dossier to the Equality and Human Rights Commission claiming “endemic” anti-Jewish behavior throughout the party, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was deepening his personal involvement.
In 1902, a radical writer called John Atkinson Hobson published Imperialism: A Study. Hobson claimed that the financial system and policy of nations were controlled by “men of a singular and peculiar race” who benefited from every war, revolution, “anarchist assassination or any other public shock,” and that no war could be undertaken by any European state “if the house of Rothschild and its connections set their face against it.”
In his 3,500-word preface to a newly republished edition of this book, Corbyn fawns over it as “brilliant,” “correct” and “very prescient.”
In reply to a complaint by the president of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, Corbyn nevertheless denied the “false accusation” that he had endorsed the book’s antisemitic content, which he said he totally deplored, saying that he had reserved his praise for Hobson’s criticisms of imperialism in Africa and Asia.
Yet, as Van der Zyl said, he had failed to make even a passing reference to the book’s “blatant antisemitism,” part of a general Labour pattern of endorsing antisemites and anti-Jewish tropes.
TO THE great fear of much of the British Jewish community, the current political meltdown over Brexit has increased the likelihood of a Corbyn government coming to power. But American Jews, who dwell upon antisemitism in Britain as a symptom of that country’s imminent cultural collapse, would do well to look around themselves instead.
For antisemitism is also taking an even deeper hold in the US, with Israel demonization and Jew-bashing among the Left and members of the Muslim community creating similar infernal feedback loops and similar levels of denial and moral bankruptcy, not least in the universities.
Most recently, the student government at the prestigious Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, rejected a pro-Israel group from being formed on campus.
New York University’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis has voted to boycott its own satellite campus in Tel Aviv. This, it says, is because Israel unfairly discriminates – against whom, precisely? Why, supporters of the Israel boycott movement, whom it bars from entry into the country on the entirely reasonable grounds that they present a danger to the security of the state.
And then, of course, there was the recent obscene cartoon published in The New York Times depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog leading a blind, kippah-wearing President Trump – a display of overt antisemitism exacerbated not just by the weakness of the paper’s subsequent feeble apologies but its publication the very next day of yet another deeply offensive Israel-bashing cartoon.
The Jews are often referred to as “the canaries in the mine.” With Western civilization in existential free-fall, the symbiotically linked contagions of Israel-bashing and antisemitism are both the cause and effect of this crisis.
Subscribing to the Arabs’ murderous falsehoods about Israel has destroyed the West’s moral compass – leaving it open to the murderous falsehoods about the people who gave it that moral compass in the first place and further blinding it to the forces threatening its own continued survival.
That suicidal trajectory will not be halted unless and until the West stops hating the Jewish people and learns to love them instead.The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK).
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