Candidly Speaking: The state of Jew-hatred

As the 'Jew among the nations,' Israel has become the new vehicle for demonizing Jews.

Isi Leibler 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Isi Leibler 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Almost 300 parliamentarians, academicians, human rights activists and Jewish leaders from all corners of the globe are participating in the Global Forum against Anti Semitism, held under the auspices of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs. More importantly, at least 45 governments are represented and have pledged meaningful cooperation with Israel to combat the world's oldest hatred. This commitment, combined with the record number of high-caliber participants, reflects a growing concern about a mushrooming of Judeophobia which would have been deemed inconceivable just over a decade ago, when anti-Semites were considered an almost extinct species. Today the intensity of the hatred has become so fierce that it is ominously reminiscent of previous occasions when demonization preceded Jewish catastrophes. Paradoxically, setting aside the Arab world, this anti-Semitic tsunami is taking place at a time when Jews have achieved a unique level of equality, freedom and affluence, and annual Holocaust memorials have been institutionalized and elevated to unprecedented status. Yet it should also be noted that in the post-Holocaust era, overt anti-Semitism tended to rise and decline in tandem with perceptions of strength or weakness on the part of Israel. Anti-Semitism sank to its lowest levels in the wake of the Six Day War, and experienced an exponential increase after the Second Lebanon War, when Israel was perceived as weak. CONTEMPORARY anti-Semitism differs from the traditional hatred Jews encountered throughout the millennia. But the venom emanating from the Islamic world is no less lethal than the most obscene Nazi variety, even incorporating the notorious medieval blood libel. Islamic Judeophobia combines demonic religious xenophobia and racism; depicts Jews and Israelis as vampires or descendants of apes and pigs; as evil creatures who disseminate AIDS; as conspirators seeking to enslave mankind; and as the real masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks. In a word, Jews are again being portrayed as the source of all the woes of mankind and presented as cancers that must be excised from humanity. The electronic age is a boon to these hate-mongers, who, unlike their Nazi predecessors, are today able to globally disseminate their satanic defamation of Jews through the Internet, instantly and effectively. In the West, Arab Judeophobia has been refined and integrated with the long-standing religious, cultural and racial prejudice which, due to Holocaust reverberations, had been suppressed for over half a century. The newly resurrected blend of anti-Semitism is thus no longer directed primarily against individual Jews. Israel, the "Jew amongst the nations," has become the new vehicle for demonizing Jews. The symbolic turning point was the cartoon displaying Ariel Sharon as a monster devouring Palestinian children which was awarded the prize for the best cartoon in the UK a few years ago. This approach and other calumnies, especially employing Holocaust inversion by linking Israeli behavior with Nazi crimes, have become staple features of much of the Western media. The new anti-Semitism depicts Israel as evil incarnate. Even after a rogue state like Iran threatens to wipe Israel off the map and may well unleash a global nuclear catastrophe, most Europeans still regard the Jewish state as the greatest threat to world peace. MEANWHILE, LEADING human rights groups have been hijacked by anti-Israel bigots shamelessly applying double standards against the Jewish state. Likewise, many traditional liberals and social democrats, formerly allies of the Jewish people, now parade under banners such as "We are all Hizbullah," making a mockery of their purported concern for human rights. The United Nations Human Rights Council, the World Conference on Racism and any number of NGOs ignore barbaric regimes which deny basic human rights to their citizens and direct their venom against Israel. Whether these hate fests are motivated by anti-Semitism or simply dedicated to delegitimizing the Jewish state is irrelevant. Not surprisingly, European Jews in particular feel besieged. Some are in denial or lie low, hoping the hatred will decline of its own accord; most are deeply pessimistic about the future for their children in the continent which only 60 years ago was soaked in the blood of their forbears. The most severe repercussions are visible at European universities, which have been transformed into centers of Israelphobia. To a lesser extent this is now also emerging on campuses in the United States. OVER THE past few years, the phenomenon of marginal Jews demonizing the Jewish state has increasingly come to the fore. Jews defaming their people is not a new experience and can be traced back to early antiquity, to Jewish converts to Christianity in the Middle Ages, and to universalists like Karl Marx, who made no effort to conceal loathing for his people. More recently, Jews who embraced Stalinism or became fellow travelers were applauding the murder of their kinsmen and defending the repressive anti-Semitic Soviet regime. Today, under the guise of promoting human rights, their successors are publicly supporting the most rabid enemies of Israel. Some even have the hutzpa to claim that Jewish moral values impel them to promote the delegitimization of the Jewish state and defend murderers and suicide bombers who target civilians. Not surprisingly, the jihadists and their allies enthusiastically exploit these people. Whenever challenged, Jewish Israel-bashers complain that they are victims of Zionist McCarthyism and insist they are merely indulging in legitimate criticism of Israeli policies. This underlines the need to reiterate the distinction between legitimate criticism, as opposed to demonization or delegitimization of the Jewish state, frequently a camouflage for outright anti-Semitism. Some progress has been achieved and bodies like the European Union now publicly caution that anti-Zionism may be employed as a vehicle to promote anti-Semitism. The reality is that far from being shielded from criticism, the Israel government undergoes more disapproval and criticism from its own people and Jews generally, than any other regime. IN THE context of confronting Islamic Jew-hatred, the time has come to repudiate the politically correct mantra that, as currently manifested, Islam is a religion of peace. This is arrant nonsense. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share scriptures and sacred texts which incorporate themes implicitly endorsing violence. But, equally, they provide scope for interpretations promoting tolerance and respect for outsiders. Today, under the influence of Wahhabi teachings from Saudi Arabia, it cannot be denied that the dominant Islamic bodies, as well as many secular Arabs, if not actively endorsing violence, at best tend to remain silent. To expose this in no way contradicts or inhibits simultaneously reaching out and endeavoring to build bridges with moderate Islamic groups courageous enough to condemn the jihadists. FINALLY, it is a fact that since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Jewish state has failed to effectively make its case in the international arena. For political reasons, the government has also tended to understate the criminal anti-Semitic incitement and culture of death and martyrdom that to this day prevails in the areas administered by our purportedly moderate Palestinian peace partner. In order to create "the right atmosphere" for promoting the peace process, there has been an inclination to understate the fact that kindergartens, mosques, media and all levels of society under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority continue breeding future killers of Jews and sanctifying martyrdom. The object of the Global Forum is to review these issues and consider policies designed to reverse the tide. My hope is that it will create a standing body to conduct ongoing activities in conjunction with the Israeli government until the next meeting convenes. The presence of prominent non-Jewish parliamentarians and personalities representing a broad political spectrum suggests that efforts to expand alliances with political and NGO groups genuinely promoting human rights are beginning to bear fruit. Above all, the presence of 45 governments that have pledged to cooperate with the Israeli government to overcome this evil should be interpreted as a signal that the tide may be turning. Nor should we underestimate the benefit of the extraordinary support Israel now receives from vast numbers of evangelical Christians, whose important contribution many of us are only now beginning to fully appreciate. CLEARLY the struggle of the Jewish people against the world's oldest hatred will be ongoing. But we have overcome far worse situations. We must now employ our global assets in the most effective manner and join with others to expose, shame and discredit the bigots and barbarians who promote Judeophobia and racism and threaten to pollute the social hygiene of democracies.