Viewpoint: Combating the new anti-semitism

All-out attacks on Israel and attempts to intimidate its supporters demands a commensurate riposte led by the Israeli government that blends indignation with deftness.

Shark (do not publish again) (photo credit: Avi Katz)
Shark (do not publish again)
(photo credit: Avi Katz)
ON THE ADVOCACY FRONT THINGS ARE MOVING in totally opposite directions. Israel’s enemies are increasingly descending into the gutter of medieval anti-Semitic demonology, while at the same time, prominent Jewish Liberals argue that the best way to support Israel is to adopt a more distant approach, commingled with tough love.
As to the former, MEMRI, the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute, has supplied translations of standard fare in Arab broadcasts. For example, al-Jazeera, that quality Arab news network, interviewed a former Guantanamo inmate who obviously has no fond reminiscences about the prison. His special rancor, however, is reserved for the Jewish screws at Gitmo, who “employed witchcraft” to convince him that he was being penetrated by a cat or to persuade another inmate to urinate into his milk. Egyptian TV hosted the South Sinai governor and a diver from Sharm al-Sheikh to present the claim that Israel is sabotaging tourism by operating GPSguided sharks (turn left at the next coral reef and proceed 100 meters to the next edible tourist). Not to be outdone, the Palestinian Authority-controlled media informs us that Israel has invented a new species of rats that are discerning enough to attack only Arabs while sparing the Jews – a feat that hasn’t been replicated since the Ten Plagues.
Some might take comfort in the fact that these lurid and ridiculous stories merely provide fodder for Colbert Nation, the satirical US late-night TV show, to lampoon. Many Jews nourished the same comforting illusions about the notorious Czarist forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” “How could any sensible person take this presumed exposé of a Jewish plot at world domination seriously?” they asked. Unfortunately, they were wrong. The “Protocols,” which are still going strong, became a mainstay of Nazi eliminationist ideology and, in the words of British historian Norman Cohn, a “warrant for Genocide.”
While Islamo-fascist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood provide the toxic core for this hatred, it will not remain confined to the Near East or to Muslims. The anti-Semitic bacillus, once unleashed, will awaken dormant sentiments further afield, particularly during economically troubled times. The Metropolitan of Piraeus, Seraphim Mentzelopoulos, for example, blames his country’s economic travails on Jewish bankers, including Rockefeller.
Jews have been told to leave Malmo in Sweden and parts of Holland for their own good, given “uncontrollable” Muslim rage.
A glance at some of the talkbacks on American newspaper websites indicates that the US is not immune. Israel, write the talkbackers, is poisoning wells in Palestine, engaged in ethnic cleansing and practicing apartheid to cope with its demographic problem. One wonders how one remains confronted by a demographic problem after all the ethnic cleansing, but when Jews were simultaneously portrayed as plutocrats and Bolshevik levelers, sheer hatred managed to overcome a similar contradiction. After such a rich diet, the innuendos of Harvard professor Stephen Walt and Britain’s Guardian newspaper about the unlimited power of the Jewish lobby appear almost innocuous enough to be believed.
Unfortunately, just as the anti-Semites and their useful idiots are mobilizing, some of Israel’s liberal supporters are sitting on the fence.
They call Israel out and inform the world that its defense is becoming increasingly burdensome to them. Eschewing partisanship, they view themselves as evenhanded mediators. If you invite Prime Minister Benjamin .Netanyahu, you must also invite Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The World Union of Jewish Students hosts lead Palestinian negotiator Sa’eb Erekat, who announces deadpan that he repeats the same thing to Arab audiences that he says to them. If this process continues, a full-bodied defense of Israel will soon be considered suspect in these circles, because it lacks the necessary “balance”.
In the face of such neutrality, the all-out attack on Israel, coupled by attempts to intimidate its supporters, demands a commensurate riposte led by the Israeli government that blends indignation with deftness. However, the information war is too important to be left to the government alone; Israeli civil society must bear the brunt of the campaign and also avoid sabotaging it.
My problem with the rabbis who issued the letter opposing rental of apartments to Arabs is not over substance, but tactics. They had not effectively communicated the case that we are not dealing with innocent Arab attempts to improve housing conditions, but with a concerted effort by the Islamic movement to alter the demographic character of Israeli cities. That case needed to be made prior to the letter’s appearance. Instead of issuing their letter warning Jewish girls not to date Arabs, the rabbi’s wives should have gotten girls held against their will extricated from Arab villages before a camera or on U-tube. They would have explained better than any letter the trauma of attempting to escape from an Arab village.
Purim will soon be upon us with the sobering knowledge that Haman has found contemporary successors. Jews can adopt an Olympian Kissinger-style approach or rally together, employing strategy and suasion to repulse the threat.

Contributing editor Amiel Ungar is a columnist for the Makor Rishon daily and the national religious monthly Nekuda.