Books: Defining the enemy

Two books examine how the delegitimization of Israel commingles with anti-Semitism

A soldier detains a Palestinian protester during a demonstration at the Hawara checkpoint in January. (photo credit: ABED OMAR QUSINI/REUTERS)
A soldier detains a Palestinian protester during a demonstration at the Hawara checkpoint in January.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is well-known to readers of The Jerusalem Post as a most diligent, veteran defender of Jews and Israel who has published numerous books and articles on anti-Semitism, defamation of Israel and related subjects.
The focus of his latest, extensive volume, The War of a Million Cuts: The Struggle Against the Delegitimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism sums up the details and tactics of this process, and its originators, mechanisms and modes of transition.
Anti-Semitism and the attempts to destroy Israel overlap and intertwine with each other, while numerous enemies attempt to hurt us daily – from the mosques of Ramallah to the Parliament of Norway.
Many accusations are far from being monolithic and are phrased indirectly, and some are made up of incredible lies and crude fabrications. Moreover, there is an automatic Arab majority at the UN that largely contributes to the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel propaganda.
The author’s extensive and well-researched study identifies the sources and key elements of the methodology of the total propaganda war against Israel, which denies the Jewish people its right to self-determination and claims Israel is a racist, imperialist country promoted by the invention of the Holocaust, which never happened. It applies a double-standard to Israel and Jews, and uses symbols and images of the classic blood-libel anti-Semitism of the Middle Ages.
The truth is that anti-Semitism never died at Auschwitz; it is very much alive, active and virulent today. The age-old hate motifs had been replaced by spurious accusations of new, baseless hate crimes, allegedly committed in the Israeli wars of defense.
The offensive against Israel has developed over the past few decades into a major war. Arab propaganda has succeeded in turning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict into the foremost geopolitical issue, and had thus drawn the world’s attention away from other real, terrible crimes and suffering still prevailing in many parts of the Near East today.
Having presented a long list of unjust accusations, lies and provocations from which Israel and the Jewish people suffer today and identifying the culprits, the author tells us how to continue to defend ourselves by spreading the truth. It will be a long and difficult war, but one that must be won.
MUSLIM ANTI-SEMITISM has become a most serious issue in Western Europe today – and it is certainly one of the main causes of the general rise of the anti-Semitism.
Gunther Jikeli, a research fellow at the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European- Jewish Studies, Potsdam University of Germany, and at the Groupe Societes, Religions, Laicites at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, and his team interviewed 117 ordinary Muslim men in London (chiefly of South Asian background), in Paris (chiefly North African) and in Berlin (chiefly Turkish), in order to find out about and define Muslim anti-Semitism in more scientific terms.
As detailed in European Muslim Antisemitism: Why Young Urban Males Say They Don’t Like Jews, the researchers hoped that by conducting open-ended interviews with private individuals rather than with organizations, they would not only learn their views but discover the true origins of stereotypes underpinning Muslim anti-Jewish characterizations, and the arguments justifying this frequently open, violent – and often religious, if not strangely enough, racial – Jew hatred.
They soon found that what was most important to European Muslims was, above all, their own identity as “European Muslims.” In this respect, Islam and Islamism were the most crucial contributing factors.
Both Islam and Islamism, so essential to European Muslims in delineating their national identity and source of pride, has been spread and sustained by scores of organizations that have exploited this search for identity by disseminating vicious anti-Semitic literature in newspapers, bulletins, shops, clubs, mosques, book fairs, cinemas and TV stations.
Muslim organizations produce an avalanche of Jewish conspiracy theories (including the alleged Jewish participation in the 9/11 attacks), accusations that Jews rule the world, control the media canard and run the US government and stock exchange. The trope of rich Jewish financial companies, banks and their managers is accompanied by a bevy of accusations that Jews are stingy, greedy, exploitative, clannish, treacherous and too clever for Muslims to congregate.
The Holocaust has been presented as a Jewish fraud, with many Muslims casting doubts on the well-established facts and preferring to believe in “what my people are saying.” Rumors persist that Hitler was Jewish, or had Jewish ancestors; others believe Hitler and the Jews collaborated to build a “Greater Israel” at the Muslims’ expense.
Equating the Holocaust with other atrocities and the treatment of Palestinians has become a standard anti-Semitic technique. The majority of Muslims see Jews as hostile perpetrators of discrimination, responsible for all of the world’s woes and tragedies. Almost everyone holds that Jews have made a global war against Muslims.
The Palestinian propaganda has striven to persuade all Muslims that Jews are collectively responsible for the terrible actions of Israel; it has accused Israelis of being the reprehensible occupiers who drove the Arabs off their lands. The films showing Jewish soldiers machine-gunning stone-throwing Palestinian children has convinced many viewers that Jews must be eliminated, while Palestine was and should remain exclusively Muslim. It has become, for many, a sin to be associated with a Jew.
While this is what the vast majority of Muslims are shown to have believed, there was still a small number that had positive views of Jews and Judaism and courageously shared them with Jikeli and his colleagues. At least five have clearly rejected the hostility.
All five were brought up in traditional Muslim homes where anti-Jewish feelings ran high, yet have preserved their own individual attitudes despite all adverse propaganda. In two instances more intimate contact with Jewish girls, occasional friends, influenced them positively.
But it was, above all, the result of the inner call of each individual, his education and sheer unwillingness to be like the others. They still believe the Jew is a Muslim enemy, but respect their religion and universal values.
Most accusations against Jews have been sharpened by the Palestinians’ vicious propaganda, which has found an eager, listening ear among the mostly ignorant Muslim masses. They, in turn, have influenced their equally ignorant European neighbors.
It is perhaps a good time to make our Palestinian neighbors realize that slander is a double-edged sword, and that their subversive anti-Israeli activities will make any future peace-making accommodation not only more difficult, but impossible.