Fiamma Nirenstein’s latest book, Jewish Lives Matter, paints an aptly bleak portrait of the way in which Jew-hatred has had a happy resurgence in the West under the guise of human rights.
The term, which represents a genuinely high value, is so abused by the people who earn their livelihoods promoting it through various progressive movements and heavily funded NGOs, as well as by many of the very groups it aims to protect that its original meaning is all but a hologram.
As Nirenstein adeptly illustrates, this inversion of good and evil was given a serious push by champions of the Palestinian cause, whose false claims against the Zionist enterprise provided the perfect cloak for any antisemitism that was dormant, or at least kept under wraps, in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Indeed, while it was no longer acceptable to admit to a desire to annihilate the Jews, Israel became an acceptable target for what Natan Sharansky dubbed the three Ds: demonization, double standards and delegitimization.
How did Israel become an acceptable target?
“Today’s pro-Palestinian movements have found, especially in America, but also in France through the Islamic nexus, a conceptual link with the themes of racial injustice, colonial racism, and the persecution of blacks and women throughout history.”Fiamma Nirenstein
“Today’s pro-Palestinian movements have found, especially in America, but also in France through the Islamic nexus, a conceptual link with the themes of racial injustice, colonial racism, and the persecution of blacks and women throughout history,” she writes. “Although Jews could only be identified by a very manipulative observer as the white oppressor or masculinist, this is precisely what has happened. The so-called intersectionality purportedly aimed at realizing human rights for all has become the catalyst for the current wave of antisemitism.”
THE TITLE of the book derives from this very phenomenon. Nirenstein, a prolific author, journalist and former member of the Italian Parliament, describes how the May 25, 2020 killing of African-American George Floyd at the hands of a sadistic Minneapolis police officer gave rise not only to riots on behalf of blacks in the United States but sparked an explosion of anti-Israel vitriol.
And this, she points out, was a full year before Operation Guardian of the Walls, Israel’s 11-day war against Hamas in Gaza, which would open the floodgates to Israel-bashing and open antisemitism on the streets of Los Angeles, New York, Paris and London.
Immediately following the tragic incident, she notes, “signs and slogans throughout all American states drew certain analogies. A cartoon circulating on social media depicted an American policeman with his knee on Floyd’s neck alongside an Israeli soldier with his knee on a Palestinian’s neck. A mural of George Floyd wearing a keffiyeh in front of the Palestinian flag also circulated online. A petition circulated by the leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the University of California claimed that Israel had taught the methods to American police forces that resulted in George Floyd’s death.”
The Black Lives Matter movement, which began in 2013, picked up serious steam during this period. Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza jumped on the bandwagon, thanks to encouragement by US groups like Students for Justice in Palestine. Because the overall goal of radical organizations banding together in intersectional unity was to undermine the entire fabric of America, and cancel any and all of the traditions that made it great, antisemitism was a natural accompaniment.
As Nirenstein reminds us, “Each wave of antisemitism corresponds to a vertical crisis of the society or culture that produces it.” American cancel culture is just such a crisis.
IN HIS prophetic novel, 1984, published in Britain in 1949, George Orwell depicts a dystopian universe in which an all-powerful Party rules through the use of the Thought Police and the erasure of the past.
“In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it,” says his protagonist, Winston Smith. “They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening.”
Smith’s account is chillingly prescient, given the condition of Western democracies cowering before the tyranny of self-defined intersectional victims out to destroy the foundations of the very societies that grant them the freedom to do so.
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue, street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered,” Smith tells his lover. “And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
Nirenstein, an expert in global terrorism and antisemitism, bemoans this state of affairs, which both lends itself to and feeds on lies about America and, of course, Israel.
“The United States and Israel have been lumped together in an onslaught of accusations for a long time; the anti-Americanism/antisemitism nexus is one of the most important political phenomena of our era,” she states. “If Jews have never been forgiven for carrying on their tragic coat of arms: the memory of the Shoah, which connotes the criminal nature of Europe’s recent past and reverberates in the present, Americans will never be forgiven for having saved Europe from itself.”
This joint hatred, as she calls it, “has by now also invaded American streets and universities, and it is a very notable phenomenon with overtones of antisemitic criminalization and street assaults on anyone who wears a yarmulke or Star of David or dares to speak Hebrew.”
THE INTERSECTIONAL ploy of linking the Palestinians to a progressive agenda against all oppression is not only outrageous, since the Palestinian Authority, which has total control over its media, openly discriminates against women, gays and blacks; but more importantly, it is what Nirenstein refers to as the “postmodern way of justifying the most ancient hatred... the new version of antisemitism that puts the Jew in the same category as the white supremacist. And it is also a symptom of a cognitive disease that overturns the concept of responsibility and guilt to the point of deeming racist even those who are avowedly and politically anti-racist just because they are white or, in the case of Jews, Israeli.”
Yes, she writes, “Both whiteness and Israeliness are now associated with alleged apartheid in a country that is an evident mosaic of ethnicities, skin colors, languages and histories, and which recognizes the rights of all its minorities, while having one defect, namely that of not wanting to be devoured by its enemies.”
The distortion, she adds, “arises from a view of the world as a hub of evil inflicted on the weak and oppressed, who therefore have the right to rebel using all means. Jews have been strangely expunged from the list of the persecuted and added to that of the persecutors.”
Unfortunately, many liberals, among them Jews, fit Orwell’s characterization of those who can be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, in the pursuit of political correctness or to avoid, at all costs, accusations of racism.
It is this growing population that Nirenstein addresses in her book, which she says is more like an open letter to many of her friends who are falling prey – slowly and without realizing it, because they are decent people – to an alien antisemitic spirit... that has worked its way into their mindset precisely in the name of the good things in which they believe, that is, human rights.”
SHE EXPRESSES shock that they could have been gripped by such an instinctive repulsion for the most important manifestation of the Jewish people, Israel, and aims not only to respond to the accusations, but also to accuse.
She therefore dedicates Jewish Lives Matter, published in Italian by Giuntina and in English by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, to those who truly fight for human rights, without being misled.
Indeed, it is they who deserve and can benefit from her passionate, fact-packed reinforcement, which is sorely needed backup in the war against vilification.