Hezbollah march, fighters 370.
(photo credit: Reuters/Khalil Hassan)
Three cheers for Dutch courage. At present Holland is the only European country
that has followed the lead of the US and Canada and designated Hezbollah as a
Britain has blacklisted its “military wing” but
not its “political wing” (implying a distinction which does not actually exist)
and has just been rebuffed in its efforts to persuade the European Union to
follow its lead.
Europe often gets short shrift from Israelis. For the
least forgiving it is irredeemable, “a Jewish graveyard.” For many more there is
frustration at the seemingly endless patience and sympathy shown for the
Palestinians, with no commensurate feelings displayed toward Israelis at the
receiving end of Hamas’ rockets.
Sometimes the criticism of Europe in
Israel is disproportionate and self-defeating.
It is infuriatingly stupid
of certain Israeli politicians to condemn genuine friends of Israel like German
Chancellor Angela Merkel or British Foreign Secretary William Hague when they
criticize Israeli settlement policy.
But Europe does have an eternal debt
to pay the Jewish people, and the currency is this: It must, now and always,
adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward anti-Semitism.
That does not just
mean being on guard against the frightening emergence of far-right nationalists
like the Jobbik Party in Hungary, or the Golden Dawn in Greece. It should also
extend to the new fascism in our midst: The Islamist far-right.
secular fascism, extremist Islamism is profoundly anti-democratic, implacable
and all-too-willing to countenance mass-murder in the pursuit of its aims. And
while Sunni jihadists hacking a British soldier to death on the streets of
London understandably grabs the headlines, it is Shi’ite Islamism, led by the
ayatollahs in Iran, that has the ambition and the organization to pose a serious
threat to the liberal democratic west.
The US State Department has said
that it is not al-Qaida, but Iran’s proxy Hezbollah, that is the most effective
and dangerous terrorist organization in the world today. This makes the EU’s de
facto appeasement of it an act of alarming stupidity, but what makes it
inexcusable is Hezbollah’s record of poisonous, and sometimes lethal,
anti-Semitism. Lest we forget, Hezbollah has murdered Jews, and attempted to
murder more, on European soil, in Bulgaria and Cyprus.
And let no one say
this is about Israel.
The Iranian-orchestrated, Hezbollah perpetrated
terrorism in Argentina in 1994 was not against an Israeli target, but targeted
the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people were killed not
because they were “oppressing Palestinians,” or “occupying Muslim land.” They
were killed because they were Jews.
All of this is known by European
France, one of the most powerful and influential EU member
states, long ago banned Hezbollah’s Al Manar television station because of its
Protocols of the Elders of Zion-style anti-Semitic propaganda.
And yet they still refuse to call evil by its name and to formally designate
Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
There are sections of European society
that have long since abandoned the post-1945 commitment to fight anti- Semitism.
Nothing typified the moral bankruptcy of the “anti-imperialist” European Left
better than the mass demonstrations against Israel in the summer of 2006, during
the days of the Second Lebanon War; young people, purportedly committed to
progressive ideals, marching alongside the misogynistic, gay-hating,
anti-Semitic Islamist far-right. The most popular banner, held aloft by leftists
and Islamists alike, read: “We are all Hezbollah now.”
do not share such repellent views. But, in the name of realpolitik, they are
turning their backs on morality, justice and on their historic responsibility to
the Jewish people. And if they know their history, they may just realize that
the responsibility here is not just to the Jews. For anti-Semitism is not just
another hatred. It is not just another form of racism.
The late writer
Christopher Hitchens, delivering a masterful lecture on anti-Semitism for the
2010 Daniel Pearl Memorial event, described it as well as anyone: “
...anti-Semitism is... somewhat like a version of mental illness.... The Nazis
thought of Poles and Slavs and Gypsies as racial inferiors by all means, but the
organizing principle of their racism, the thing that gave it its energy and its
consistency, was the hatred of the Jew...
“Because anti-Semitism is the
godfather of racism and the gateway to tyranny and fascism and war, it is to be
regarded not as the enemy of the Jewish people, I learned, but as the common
enemy of humanity and of civilization....”
From the Nazis to Stalin, and
now to the Sunni Islamists of Hamas and the Shi’ite Islamists in Iran, we can
see that the exponents of Jew-hatred are also brutal and bloodthirsty oppressors
of their own people. The lessons of history are inescapable: The Jews may be the
first victims of such ideologies, but they are rarely the last.
author is the director of the Israel Government Fellows program of the Menachem
Begin Heritage Center (www.igf.org.il), an elite internship and educational
program for Jewish university graduates. He is writing in a personal capacity.