Boycotting Israel, on the airwaves

I have a confession to make: I’m a “ham.” Not a poor actor (although I’m that as well), but an amateur radio operator. I’ve been one since the age of 13, when I used my paper route earnings to buy things like vacuum tubes (the first commercial transistor radio came out in 1954), frequency control crystals, wire for antennas, and so on. Even more nerdily, I’m a ham that communicates with Morse code.

In general, the world has passed ham radio by. Who wants to bother when you can talk all around the world for free with a smartphone app? The “magic of radio” is lost on most young people today, with a few exceptions. In most countries local or national governments have placed restrictions on antennas for various (often stupid) reasons. “Electromagnetic pollution” from cheap electronic devices has increased radio noise levels in many places, making long-distance communication more difficult.

But those of us who are still fascinated by communicating long distances with primitive equipment and no additional infrastructure still do it, and we’ve developed various forms of competition to make it more fun. For example, there are weekend-long contests in which we try to make as many contacts in possible in a short time. One of the biggest is coming up in less than two weeks, a 48-hour world-wide event in which an entrant’s score is determined by the number of contacts made, the number of “entities” contacted and where they are located, on each of 5 frequency bands. Entities are not precisely countries – there are both geographical and political criteria, so that Hawaii, for example, counts separately from the USA. And yes, “Palestine” is an entity!

There is also a long-term competition whose goal is to contact all of the 340 entities, on one or multiple bands. This program is called DXCC (“DX” means distance, and “CC” is “Century Club” since the lowest level of the award is given for 100 entities).

DXCC can be a decades-long endeavor, because some of the entities are uninhabited and some administrations – North Korea is an example – do not issue amateur radio licenses to their citizens, nor permit foreigners to operate from their country. Some just have one or a handful of “hams” who may not be active. In some cases, expeditions of radio hams travel to an uninhabited location – sometimes in extremely remote and inhospitable places, like Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic, or sometimes to places where political instability makes the project very dangerous. Several German hams were killed in 1983 when they tried to reach the Spratly Islands and their boat was fired upon by the Vietnamese military. Others have been lost in storms at sea.

These expeditions (called “DXpeditions”) can cost tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. They are financed in part by the participants, and in part by donations from individual operators and radio clubs around the world.

DXCC is adjudicated by the American national amateur radio organization, which makes the rules and issues the awards. It is the most prestigious award in amateur radio, and like international sports competitions, great effort is expended to ensure fairness and prevent cheating. The criteria for getting credit for an entity are strict: a contact has to be with a legitimately licensed amateur and the applicant has to provide documentation that confirms that a two-way contact actually took place. In the past, this required the applicant to submit a postcard or letter signed by his counterpart. Confirmations were carefully examined, and irregularities could result in disqualification. Today many confirmations are done via an internet-accessible computer system, but there are still very stringent requirements for verification.

Like any other international hobby or sport, there has always been an ethic that politics should not interfere. Amateur radio, since it involves communication, was especially valued as an activity that could promote cooperation and peace. During the Cold War, American and Soviet hams regularly communicated and competed. Many governments strongly supported amateur radio because it helped develop technically and operationally competent individuals, useful for the national economy and the military services. There were only a few countries that didn’t permit their citizens to contact certain other countries. But for Israel it was, and is, a different story.

Every radio station, whether a broadcast station, ship, aircraft, or amateur, has a unique call sign; and the first few letters of the call sign (the “prefix”) indicate the country that it belongs to. Israel’s prefix is 4X. When I first came here in 1979, I operated for a few months (before I received Israeli citizenship) with my American call sign followed by “/4X” to indicate that I was in Israel. I was swamped by callers from the Soviet bloc. It turned out that the Soviet hams were forbidden to contact Israelis, but Americans in Israel were allowed! Since there were at least 19 different DX entities that were part of the Soviet Union, this placed Israelis at a real disadvantage in various competitions. The Soviet ban was lifted shortly thereafter, but many countries continued such prohibitions.

Today, there are countries that boycott Israel on the radio. Some that I have found (friendly hams in those countries have let me know without officially “contacting” me) are Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Libya, and others. If there are five or ten countries boycotting Israel in radio competition, then this places Israeli amateur operators at a serious disadvantage.

The countries in question may claim that the bans exist to prevent espionage. This is silly. Today, it is much easier to send information clandestinely via the internet than by radio. In any event, all a spy outside of the country needs to do is use a call sign that does not start with 4X and they can make their contact!

In the last few years there have been DXpeditions to Iran, Yemen, and Libya by amateur radio operators from various countries. Iran has a few active hams of its own, but teams of operators from other countries have gone there (one from Russia is there now) and made tens of thousands of contacts with amateurs all over the world, even in the US or Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia – but not one in Israel.

This is a very small and unimportant arena, but it is an example of the pervasiveness of the effort to write the Jewish state out of existence. No other country has its legitimacy, indeed, its very being, challenged like this, in every field of endeavor.

This is a form of boycott which is not tolerated in athletics and should not be allowed in “radiosport” either. Athletes that have refused to compete with Israelis in international competitions have forfeited their matches, often lying about their reason for withdrawing. Sometimes they are even fined by sanctioning bodies.

There is one way to stop this discrimination, and that is for the organizations that sponsor radio contests and issue awards to announce that contacts with any country that boycotts another will not count in their contest or for their award. It’s that simple.

Naturally, there is a lot of opposition to this idea. Why should hams in the US, for example, be penalized by losing credit for contacting Iran just because Iran is boycotting Israel? How is that their fault?

It’s not. But it’s up to the sponsoring organizations to maintain a level playing field. By closing their eyes to discrimination, they make it possible. Amateur radio organizations ought to follow the example of international sporting groups and penalize boycotters. It’s the right thing to do.

Posted in Iran, Middle East politics | Leave a comment

Choosing Dishonor

You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war. – Winston Churchill, to Neville Chamberlain

As I write this, the recent “security incident” in Gaza seems to have receded to become, well, a “security incident” and not the opening volleys of a war.

It started when one of Israel’s special units had penetrated 3 km. into Gaza to carry out an “intelligence gathering mission,” which was intended to proceed quietly without contact with the enemy. Maybe the intention was to find out about tunnels, or the location of the Israelis (and bodies) held hostage by Hamas. Or something else. In any event, the force ran into a Hamas checkpoint and aroused suspicion. A firefight broke out and the Israeli commander, a 41-year old sgan aluf (referred to only as “Lt. Colonel M.”), was killed, and another officer “moderately” wounded. The force was extracted with assistance from the air force. Seven Hamas fighters were killed in the incident, one of whom was a battalion commander. The IDF made a point of saying that no Israelis (alive or dead) were in the hands of Hamas.

Hamas retaliated by firing almost 500 rockets and mortars into Israel starting about 4 pm the next day and continuing until the early morning hours, the most concentrated barrage in Israel’s history (during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah succeeded in firing about 130 rockets per day). The Iron Dome system intercepted many of them, but several buildings were hit, there were numerous injuries and one fatality.

In addition Hamas fired an antitank missile at a military bus immediately after dozens of soldiers had disembarked from it. One nearby soldier was seriously injured and the driver lightly wounded. The bus was stopped in full view of the border, in violation of IDF protocol. Disturbingly, it was clear that the bus had been under observation for some time before the attack, and the missile could have been fired when it was occupied, causing mass casualties. It’s been suggested that Hamas deliberately exercised restraint to avoid provoking a massive Israeli response.

In any event, Israel struck back by destroying numerous military targets in Gaza, including three high-rise buildings in urban areas, which an IDF spokesperson proudly announced, was done “without casualties.” The IAF also hit some rocket-launching teams, but many of the rockets were launched by timers and other remote-control devices while the Hamas operatives were safely underground in Gaza’s tunnel system.

The fighting was stopped when the two sides agreed to an Egyptian cease-fire proposal. Some Israeli cabinet ministers (Lieberman, Bennett, Shaked, and Elkin) were strongly opposed, but the position of the PM and the defense establishment was to accept the cease-fire, and since the IDF offered “insufficient options” for continuing to fight, their position was carried without a vote.

In response to what he called “capitulation to terror,” Lieberman has just announced (Wednesday afternoon) that he will resign as Defense Minister and take his party, Israel Beytenu, out of the coalition, leaving Netanyahu with a one-seat margin. That almost certainly guarantees that there will be early elections.

So who won this round?

Hamas suffered greater numerical losses in manpower and military assets, with buildings, tunnels, even ships destroyed. The death of Lt. Colonel M., a highly accomplished career officer who had apparently participated in or led numerous successful operations of the type that failed on Sunday night, was a very heavy loss for Israel that is hard to quantify.

From a psychological warfare standpoint, as always, the incident was a clear victory for Hamas. Although everyone knew it already, it was demonstrated that the Iron dome system cannot provide 100% protection, and that it is possible to overwhelm it with the sheer number of projectiles. Hamas demonstrated that it could fire rockets without risking its fighters. Israelis were sent scurrying into shelters like insects, people were hurt, homes and vehicles were destroyed, and only by luck (or a miracle if you prefer), was only one person killed. Hamas limited its barrage to short-range rockets that only reached Ashkelon, but announced that if Israel continued its response, they would introduce their longer range missiles, which can strike Tel Aviv.

And Israel blinked.

Many Israelis are furious at the government and at the defense establishment, which hasn’t come up with a practical plan to defeat Hamas. There seem to be several reasons for this:

  • Truly defeating Hamas would probably result in significant civilian casualties in Gaza, since Hamas has embedded its military installations in the civilian population, and officials are afraid that the “international community” (the UN and the EU) would severely punish Israel as a result.
  • A full-scale war would cause even more casualties and destruction on Israel’s home front, which officials believe the public would not accept, and they would be blamed.
  • A war against Hamas could provoke intervention from Hezbollah, and would inflame the situation in Judea and Samaria, leading to a much more serious multi-front war and an outbreak of terrorism.
  • Hamas’ rival, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is closely tied to Iran, would be empowered if Hamas were defeated.
  • Israel would have to take full control of Gaza, which would require a military occupation and probably bring about a long-term insurgency.

There may be other reasons. But whatever they are, our leaders have decided that fighting, except in a very limited way, isn’t an option. They have decided to appease the UN and the EU, to try to keep Hamas in power but limit its offensive abilities, and to try – an impossible but in any case pointless feat – to improve the humanitarian condition of the civilian population without allowing Hamas to use the resources provided to strengthen its military capabilities.

For months they allowed the fire-bombing of thousands of acres of agricultural land and nature reserves. Now their response to a murderous rocket attack is to demonstrate our ability to take down tall buildings without hurting anybody.

They have decided to accept an unending war of attrition – which implies sacrificing the citizens of southern Israel, who will get no peace. Hamas is getting more and more competent; its rockets are more numerous, more powerful, and more accurate. When Hamas demonstrated its ability to create chaos with a carefully calibrated attack in the South and threatened to extend it to the heart of the country, our leaders allowed themselves to be deterred and backed down. Hamas is in control. Hamas decides when to fan the flames and when to turn them down.

Our leaders gave in to extortion, and they accepted humiliation. Like Neville Chamberlain, they chose dishonor over war, but like Chamberlain, in the end they will get war.

Lieberman is right. The cease-fire with Hamas is just the latest example of capitulation to terror.

The end result, if this policy is allowed to continue, will be the depopulation of southern Israel and the loss of part of our country. Netanyahu’s Sudetenland will be Sderot, Nahal Oz, Yad Mordechai, Mifalsim, Nativ Ha’asara, Or HaNer, and the rest.

Yesterday a friend in America asked me if I was safe. Yes, I said, I live in Rehovot and the rockets only went as far as Ashkelon. This time. I realized that I was embarrassed. I wanted to say, believe me, we taught them a lesson; they’ll never try this again. But I couldn’t say that because I knew they would. We have given them permission.

Dear PM Netanyahu, Chief of Staff Eisenkot, and whoever will be the new Minister of Defense: this is not acceptable. I know the problem is difficult, but you need to solve it. You need to come up with a solution that is better than giving up, paying them off, and hoping for the best. You need to develop an integrated military, political, diplomatic, and cognitive/psychological plan to extirpate the Nazi-like evil from its nest, to restore our power of deterrence, and to bring back our self-respect as a sovereign nation.

Posted in Israeli Politics, War | 2 Comments

We can take back our sovereignty

Every time Tzipi Livni opens her mouth, the word “democracy” comes out. According to Livni, the government and the Knesset that were democratically elected by the people are constantly “endangering” it, “undermining” it, “imperiling it,” and so on.

Nothing contradicts her more powerfully than the fact that her bloc is consistently defeated at the ballot box in elections that are probably the most free and fair in the world.

There is, however, another word that she does not say – and unfortunately, that our supposedly “right-wing” government doesn’t utter often enough either. That word is “sovereignty.”

Sovereignty is far more important than democracy, because if you don’t control what happens in your own country, then you don’t have a country, democratic or otherwise.

Israel is the one country in the world whose people’s sovereignty over their own land is regularly disputed, and I am not talking only about Judea and Samaria. Indicators of disagreement with the very existence of a Jewish state include support of BDS or a right of return for “Palestinian refugees,” both of which are widespread throughout the world.

One of the most hostile entities to Israeli sovereignty is the UN, which tries to inject itself into internal Israeli matters on a regular basis. For example, there is the Temporary International Presence in Hevron (TIPH), established after the Baruch Goldstein massacre when the Palestinian Authority requested that something be done to “guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians.” Initially the mission was staffed by Norway alone, but today it includes representatives from Norway, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

The observers are supposed to be impartial and report all “breaches of the agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel on Hebron, as well as on violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” but in fact are highly partisan, ignore Arab terrorism and report only Palestinian complaints against Israel. They take part in anti-Israel propaganda events, and harass Jewish residents of Hevron. Two recent high-profile incidents include an observer slapping a Jewish child, and another puncturing the tires of a vehicle belonging to a Jewish resident.

There is a simple solution to the problem: the government of Israel initially agreed to their presence, and the government can revoke its agreement. The PM should announce that they have 48 hours to pack up and go. I doubt that even Tzipi Livni would claim that that would be “undemocratic.”

Then of course there is UNTSO, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, which squats rent-free in the beautiful Armon Hanatziv, the former palace of the British High Commissioner, located on some of the most expensive real estate in Jerusalem. UNTSO was established in May, 1948; when the British moved out, the Red Cross and then the UN moved in. Probably the idea was that the UN would govern the international corpus separatum that it intended Jerusalem to become from that lovely spot. UNTSO’s mission today is to supervise truce agreements, most of which are long since gone.

Miri Regev, one of the few Israeli politicians that seems to care about our sovereignty and national honor, tried to kick them out last year, but didn’t succeed. She argued that their presence in Jerusalem was unnecessary (since all they have left to supervise is the 1974 disengagement resolution with Syria) and that they were engaged in anti-Israel activities. Quelle surprise! There are 376 UN employees there, and they should rent office space like anyone else – or better yet, move to Damascus.

There are countless other impingements on Israeli sovereignty, including the huge sums of money funneled to subversive NGOs from Europe; unwritten American restrictions on building in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem; EU funded and directed illegal Arab building in Area C of the territories; and UNESCO resolutions declaring various parts of Israel – including the Western Wall – to be “Palestinian heritage sites.”

But all of these things pale in comparison the biggest, most blatant, most humiliating impairment to our sovereignty of all, the continued Arab occupation of the Temple Mount.

Judging by the imbalance between the rights of Muslims and Jews on the Mount, one could be excused for thinking that it was located in an Arab country, and not in the heart of Israel’s capital. Jews are not permitted to pray (even to move their lips silently) or to use the water faucets, while Muslim children may play ball on the grounds, and teams of Muslim provocateurs scream at Jewish worshippers. Restrictions are enforced by Israeli police officers. Just last week, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the use of metal detectors on the only entrance to the Mount that Jews are permitted to use, while such detectors were removed from Muslim entrances, despite the fact that weapons that were used to murder police officers were smuggled in through those entrances.

The Temple Mount, following what is called the “status quo,” allows the Jordanian Waqf to govern and maintain the area. But since 1967, the quo hasn’t been static, with more and more restrictions placed on Jews. The Waqf has engaged in large construction projects while violating understandings that require archaeological supervision for such things, resulting in the destruction or loss of priceless artifacts. Many believe that there has been a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence of Jewish history at the site. Attempts by Israel to replace a dangerous bridge that leads to one of the gates to the Mount have been met by riots. The bridge has been in “temporary” form since 2004.

What is being endangered, undermined, and imperiled is not democracy. We have plenty of democracy, sometimes so much that the government is unable to get anything accomplished – such as solving the problem of illegal migrants – without being stymied by stupid internal politics, as well as the “guardians of democracy,” the subversive European-funded NGOs and the Supreme Court. What is at risk is our sovereignty – in the territories, in Jerusalem, even in the burning lands surrounding the Gaza strip, where we seem to be unable or unwilling to protect our own population.

Sovereignty is precious – and delicate. It can be strengthened or eroded by precedents that we allow to be established. Because of the typical Israeli attitude that “symbolic stuff doesn’t matter,” and the desire to avoid any form of conflict at all cost, we allow important principles to slip away, and soon “symbolic stuff” turns into irreversible facts on the ground.

Our government could take a lesson from Donald Trump. You can’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he was told, there will be unrest. You can’t move the embassy, they said, there will be riots. You can’t cut funding to UNRWA or demand that the PA stop paying terrorists. You can’t kill the Iran deal and re-impose sanctions. But he did all those things and the sky didn’t fall.

We can take back our sovereignty – around Gaza, at the Temple Mount, and from the UN and the EU. It won’t make everyone love us – nothing could do that in today’s world – but it might get us some respect.

Posted in Israeli Politics, The UN | 3 Comments

Did Putin pull the trigger in Pittsburgh?

America is under (cognitive) attack, almost certainly by Russia. The threat is very real and has already done a great deal of damage. Americans have almost certainly already died as a result, and the eleven Jewish victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre could be the latest.

The liberal media likes to suggest that Russia has “intervened in US elections” to benefit Donald Trump. Conservatives tend to say that the whole thing is a story made up by liberals. Both are likely wrong.

But something else is going on, and has been for decades, something more dangerous than trying to influence an election (even Obama did that to Israel). There is a serious effort being made by Russian actors to influence the social and political atmosphere in the US. I have seen no evidence that the intent is primarily, or even at all, to elect a particular candidate or party. Rather, the objective of the campaign is to destabilize the country by encouraging extremism of both the Right and the Left, to exacerbate racial, religious, and class conflict, to stoke anger, increase polarization, encourage violence, and ultimately bring about the virtual or actual secession of segments of the population from the USA.

In other words, to make the country fly apart.

The Russians are the world’s experts in cognitive warfare. The Soviets deployed it against the US starting in the 1930s, but their recent weaponization of social media has served to make it a hundred or a thousand times more effective. Eric Frank Russell’s 1957 science fiction novel “Wasp,” which I described here, written long before social media was a gleam in anyone’s eye, explains how it works.

Let me quote a recent Reuters report describing the campaign against the US being waged today. I have deleted some references to alleged intervention into elections, which make it harder to see the overall pattern:

One clear sign of the continued Russian commitment to disrupting American political life came out in charges unsealed last month against a Russian woman who serves as an accountant at a St. Petersburg company known as the Internet Research Agency. …

The indictment said the Internet Research Agency used fake social media accounts to post on both sides of politically charged issues including race, gun control and immigration. The instructions were detailed, down to how to mock particular politicians during a specific news cycle. …

If the goals of spreading divisive content have remained the same, the methods have evolved in multiple ways, researchers say. For one, there has been less reliance on pure fiction. People have been sensitized to look for completely false stories, and Facebook has been using outside fact-checkers to at least slow their spread on its pages. …

Instead, Russian accounts have been amplifying stories and internet “memes” that initially came from the U.S. far left or far right. Such postings seem more authentic, are harder to identify as foreign, and are easier to produce than made-up stories. …

“They are baiting Americans to drive more polarizing and vitriolic content” … [emphasis mine]

One of their objectives is to widen the black/white divide. Blacks are sent the message that they are oppressed, and whites that blacks unfairly get special treatment. There is some truth in both of these contentions – there always is, in good propaganda – but the nature of the messaging is to create anger, indignation, and alienation on both sides.

Almost any controversy can provide an opportunity to fan the flames of anger and hatred. Automated Russian social media “bots” even targeted the debate about vaccinating children against disease.

Jew-hatred is another area that has received a great deal of attention by social media bots. One study indicated that almost 30% of antisemitic tweets in the past year came from bots. Were they Russian-operated? It’s not known for sure, but Russia has been using Jew-hatred as part of its cognitive warfare arsenal since The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was promulgated as a tool to discredit the Bolsheviks around the turn of the 20th century.

Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh terrorist, was furious about what he believed was a Jewish conspiracy to bring illegal immigrants into the US. His last social media post on Gab (a Twitter alternative that catered to racists, Jew-haters and similar types who would be likely to have their real Twitter accounts shut down) mentioned HIAS, a Jewish organization that aids the resettlement of immigrants in the US. Another congregation that met in the Tree of Life synagogue building had hosted a HIAS event a few weeks prior to the attack. In a sense, the meme about a Jewish plot to dispossess the white race by flooding the country with immigrants provided the ideological impetus for the mass murder.

The meme is a continuation of a theme that may be as old as Jew-hatred itself: the Jew is seen as “mongrelizing” whatever racial or ethnic group the Jew-hater belongs to. Sometimes, as in Nazi Germany, it was the Jew himself that wanted to “pollute” the “pure” German race, and so laws needed to be passed to forbid intercourse between Jews and “Aryans.” During the civil rights movement in America, “Jewish agitators” were accused of supporting integration because it would inevitably lead to interracial sex and marriage, which would be a tragedy for “Southern white womanhood.” Today the alien elements are Hispanics from Central and South America, or Muslims from the Middle East or Africa, but the idea is the same. And its power to evoke violence is apparently undiminished from 1964, when it impelled Klan members in Neshoba County, Mississippi, to brutally murder civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner (the latter two, of course, being Jewish).

The idea of racial pollution did not need to be introduced by a Russian bot, but Bowers and likeminded friends spent a lot of time bouncing ideas like this off one another on social media, which has been turned into an echo chamber for extremists of all kinds – to a great extent by careful prodding from the cognitive warfare experts based at the Russian Internet Research Agency or similar institutions.

While Bowers ultimately bears responsibility for his act and may receive a well-deserved death sentence, there is a sense in which the eleven Jews who were murdered in Pittsburgh were casualties of cognitive warfare directed at the US by a foreign enemy.

Unfortunately for Bowers, “the bots made me do it” is not recognized as a legitimate excuse in federal court.

Posted in American Jews, American society, Information war, Jew Hatred, Terrorism | 2 Comments

Are Jew-haters possessed?

The Pittsburgh synagogue massacre happened a week ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I am not sure why – I live in Israel and we’ve had worse massacres. I have friends who lost children in suicide bombings. My son was first on the scene of a bus that was bombed. It’s always horrifying, whether there are one, ten or thirty victims.

I once lived in that Squirrel Hill neighborhood, but it was for a short time many years ago and I barely remember it. I think the main thing that causes my emotional response is that it was a small Conservative shul with mostly older members, like the one I went to for 25 years in Fresno. I know those people – the guy that comes early on Shabbat to open up and lead services, the one that greets people at the door, even the 97-year old woman. The average age of the Pittsburgh victims was over 80 years.

Imagine the hate that must be in the murderer, that made him open fire at such people. Who hates like that? Maybe Samir Kuntar, who bashed the brains out of a four-year old Jewish child with his rifle butt. Maybe some of the perpetrators of the Holocaust.

I have always been fascinated (not in a pleasant way) by extremes of hate, especially toward Jews. That is not to suggest that black slavery or the various genocides are not also horrifying, but they are different phenomena with different motivations and manifestations. I think it’s more illuminating to look at the details of each case than to try to generalize about multiple forms of inhumanity. Indeed, I find the standard liberal response to atrocities like Pittsburgh, which always must include mentioning racism, “Islamophobia,” and multiple forms of gender-related bias, offensive. It pretends that Jews are basically treated like everyone else (because who isn’t the victim of some kind of prejudice?) and that all we have to do to end it is to convince everyone that all humans are siblings. “Hate is not welcome here,” say the signs.

But it’s not the same. There is no hatred that is at the same time as pervasive (in both time and space), as intense, and as murderous as Jew-hatred. There is no other hatred that flourishes even where its targets can’t be found, or which transmogrifies itself to stay in existence despite variations in social, political, or religious environments. Yes, there was a nasty Armenian genocide which happened at a particular time and place, but there have been countless massacres, expulsions, pogroms, terror attacks, one almost-total genocide, and several wars motivated by genocidal intent over all of recorded Jewish history and everywhere that Jews lived. Jew-hatred initially took (and still takes, in some contexts) a religious form, then a national/political/economic one, and ultimately the murderous and inescapable racial configuration of the Nazis.

The form of Jewish nationalism known as Zionism developed during the 19th century as a result of the refusal of Western European nations to allow Jews to integrate into their societies by maintaining legal and social restrictions on their educational and occupational opportunities, and the continued vicious physical and economic persecution of Jews in the Russian Empire. It was a combination of the hope that in a state of our own we could be a normal people, which would result in our being treated like any other nationality; and the despair that the quality of our existence in the diaspora would never be acceptable. But the diabolical force of Jew-hatred was cleverer than the Zionists, and as the center of gravity of the Jewish people shifted from the diaspora to the State of Israel, our state also became the focus of Jew-hatred.

Almost all of my life in America I lived among non-Jews, and I experienced a varying amount of anti-Jewish feeling. When I lived in an ethnic neighborhood of Long Island, it seems to have depended on what church someone went to. In Central California, many people had never met a Jew before, and while nobody asked me about horns, sometimes they seemed to come close. I was used to hearing the expression “Jew him down,” and a good friend actually tried gluing a nickel to the sidewalk (I wasn’t fooled and told him to pick it up). One of my best friends was a Mennonite, and his church – and politics – were strongly anti-Zionist. He asked me once what I thought, he listened, and we agreed not to discuss it.

His church once hosted a vicious Holocaust denier – I went to the event and wrote about it here. Never in my waking life did I feel more in the presence of the darkest evil than on that day. I won’t forget it.

I called the mimetic institution of Jew-hatred “diabolical.” It’s often compared to a virus because of the way it spreads and mutates, but I prefer the analogy of diabolical possession because of the way it twists its victims and causes them to commit acts of unspeakable evil. Who would have thought that the Pittsburgh shooter was capable of gunning down a 97-year old woman?

Paradoxically, the effect of this demonic affliction is to make the possessed attribute a demonic nature to Jews. The great historian Bernard Lewis made a very illuminating remark in a short essay from 2006 that is one of the best things I’ve read about Jew hatred. He said that there are two distinguishing characteristics  that set Jew hatred apart from ordinary antipathy to the Other: one is holding Jews to a higher standard than anyone else, and the other is the “accusation of cosmic, satanic evil” to Jews or their state. The double standard sometimes appears in other forms of prejudice, but the attribution of diabolical evil is unique.

Lewis argues that this follows from the root of Jew-hatred itself, the accusation of guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus. Interestingly, he notes that although Jews were looked down upon and oppressed to a greater or lesser degree in the Muslim world, the attribution of demonic evil was not found among Muslims until it was imported from Europe, beginning in the 19th century, and then promulgated wholesale in the Middle East by the Nazis. Today, of course, the traditional memes of Jews and Israel being the root of evil in the world are as popular among Muslims as Christians, and have been absorbed by Israel’s antagonists in its unending conflict with its neighbors.

Lewis goes on to say that the behavior of the international community, especially as embodied by the United Nations, has done a great deal to validate the most extreme anti-Jewish acts of the Arab world, including ethnic cleansing of Jews in the parts of Palestine that came under Arab control, and of their own Jewish populations after 1948. The UN, in a word, never said “boo” about any of this, while expending great resources to aid Arab refugees (or more correctly, to aid the Arab states in exploiting Arab refugees as a weapon against Israel).

While it’s hard to see an institution as possessed by demons, the shameless acquiescence to demonic anti-Israel narratives by developed nations that should know better makes one wonder about the leadership of those nations. Perhaps their cabinets should include a Minister of Exorcism that could intervene in the most egregious cases?

Posted in American society, Jew Hatred, Zionism | 3 Comments