A Unity Government, Without Arabs and Without Haredim

The study of Torah is good in combination with an occupation, since the toil of both makes sin forgotten. All Torah that is not combined with work will eventually cease and lead to sin. — Rabban Gamliel, son of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi (Babylonian Talmud, Avot 2:2)

Without Herut and Without Maki – David Ben Gurion*

I like reading about Jewish history and especially the modern history of the State of Israel. One thing I learned about were the almost incomprehensible sacrifices made by some people in order to get here, to create an actual Jewish state in our homeland after millennia of often oppressive exile, and to defend it in essentially a 71-year long war. Maybe longer. The land is soaked in our blood, the blood of Jewish people.

The world is full of Jew-haters. It seems that it has always been so, since the day we left Egypt. When they didn’t hate us, they tolerated us as second-class humans. Sometimes not even as humans.

In most places, they got what they always said they wanted. Much of the world is now Jew-free. Hitler and Stalin eliminated the Jews of Europe, and the Muslim world vomited them out in response to the “insult” of the re-establishment of our state. The Jewish state has become the center of the Jewish universe, in one human lifetime. The conditions that allowed the Jewish people to survive as a people in diaspora are now gone. If the Jewish state does not continue to exist, neither will the Jewish people.

Unfortunately, the State of Israel is in serious danger now. And not just from the Iranian regime and the Palestinian Arabs (although these are serious threats too).

In an article published a few weeks ago demographer Dan Ben-David notes that the academic accomplishments of Israeli children are among the worst in the developed world. Without a well-educated population, we will not be able to maintain our first-world economy, or for that matter, our first-world military. This is in part because of the combination of the lack of a core curriculum including “secular” subjects like mathematics and English in Haredi schools, and an astronomical Haredi birthrate of “7.1 children, in contrast to 4.0 among [non-Haredi] religious Jews, 3.4 among Muslim Arab-Israelis and 2.2 among secular Jews.”

Here is a graph that projects the likely size of these groups in 2065:

It is reassuring to know that Meir Kahane’s prediction that the Arabs would out-reproduce us  will not be fulfilled, but the explosive growth of a Haredi population that is not prepared to contribute to a modern technology and information based economy is unsustainable. In 2014 only 13% of Haredi 12th grade boys took matriculation exams required for admission to universities, compared to 78% of non-Haredi boys (figures for girls are higher, 32% vs. 87%). Although entrance requirements to universities are often waived for them, there is a high dropout rate. In 2014 only 2.4% of Haredi men and 8.3% of Haredi women aged 25-35 held academic degrees, compared to 28% and 45% respectively in the non-Haredi population.

“High-tech” is only a solution for those who can read documentation in English and do mathematics. Gemara may or may not have spiritual value, but it isn’t helpful in microprocessor design, for example.

Although non-Haredim are angered by the refusal of the Haredi parties to agree to allow a reasonable percentage of their youth to do military service (or other national service), the worse problem is that they are not suited for it, or for many other kinds of employment – intellectually, physically, or temperamentally.

This is a politically-caused problem. The laws that would require secular subjects to be taught in any school that receives government funding either don’t exist, have no teeth, or are not enforced. The government supports the yeshivot in which young men study Torah, and liberal welfare benefits make it possible for underemployed families (supported primarily by women, who mostly work in education or child care in their communities for low salaries) to grow unaffected by economic constraints.

The fact that almost every Israeli government since the first has included the Haredi parties, with them often holding the balance of power, means that little is done to change the situation.

I am not anti-religion and I am not anti-Haredi. But the existence of a large class of Jews whose only occupation is study has never before existed in Jewish history. Perhaps there are 100 or even 1000 Torah scholars so important that they should be supported by the state – but tens or hundreds of thousands?

I am aware that the Left uses these facts as ammunition against the Right, which most recently has been depending on support from the Haredi parties to form its coalitions. But nevertheless they are facts, and we have to face the truth that the Right, for which I vote, has been irresponsible, caving in to the exaggerated demands of the Haredim.

It seems to me that war with Iran and/or its proxies is inevitable, and analysts agree that this will be one of Israel’s most difficult wars, both for the IDF and for the home front, which will be exposed to the huge missile arsenals accumulated by Hamas and especially Hezbollah. At this moment, tension is especially high, and it seems clear that we need a strong national unity government capable of both managing the war to come and bringing together the population.

Unfortunately, Benny Gantz is a mediocrity with a mediocre record who should not be Prime Minister, and his associates are worse. Binyamin Netanyahu is under a legal cloud and will probably be indicted. Despite his brilliance, Netanyahu seems to only be able to function as a dictator, one who believes that he is both omnipotent and immortal, and doesn’t need to delegate authority or allow for a successor.

As I write, the anti-Zionist Arab parties are considering recommending Gantz to the President to form the government. They haven’t recommended a Zionist party since 1992, when they recommended Rabin’s Labor Party. If they do, they will have received some significant promises in return. If Gantz were to make a deal with them, it would be something less than treasonous, but still a betrayal.

The best practical solution seems to be a unity government without Arabs (or acquiescence to their demands) and without Haredim, with the Likud led by someone other than Netanyahu. And yes, there would have to be a rotation of the PM job between Likud and Blue and White.

Is such a thing possible? I don’t know. Certainly today it looks unlikely.

But one thing is certain: there will not be another election. Only politicians and ad agencies like elections, and the people have had enough. We need a government, and we need it now – before we are at war.

_____________________________
* A campaign slogan of Ben Gurion’s, meaning that neither Herut – the predecessor of today’s Likud and a party that Ben Gurion wanted to paint as extremist – and Maki, the communist party, could join his coalition.

Posted in Israeli Arabs, Israeli Politics, The Jewish people, War | 1 Comment

Antisemitism: Far Worse than You Thought

I just finished Bari Weiss’ book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism. I suggest that you read it.

Not because I agree with everything in it, especially her answers to the question implied by its title. Be proud of being Jewish, she says, stay liberal, don’t hide your Jewishness, don’t let the Linda Sarsours push you around, live your life according to Jewish principles (by which she seems to mean the ones you learn about in a Reform synagogue, not the traditional mitzvot) and more. Even “support Israel.” All good things, but – with the exception of an injunction to take measures to protect the security of Jewish institutions – not much that you can use when they are banging at your door in the middle of the night.

I also think that she goes a bit far when she asserts that Donald Trump “trashed – gleefully and shamelessly – the unwritten rules of our society that have kept American Jews and, therefore, America safe.” His legacy is “a culture demolished, smashed, twisted beyond recognition,” according to Weiss.

No. A great deal has gone wrong in America in the last few decades, but there are plenty of villains to go around, including Trump’s recent predecessors and the over-the-top insanity of the Left’s reaction to Trump. If the culture is smashed, Trump is one of the fragments, not the one who smashed it.

And although Weiss’ historical chapters, including her analysis of the three directions from which Jews are being bombarded today – the Right, the Left, and “Radical Islam” (I think her editor stuck in the word “radical”)  – are well written and very informative, they are also not why I am recommending the book.

I want people to read this book because there is no way you can do so and still maintain that there is no runaway antisemitism problem in North America. There is no way you can maintain that Jews in the last remaining safe diaspora stronghold will continue to be safe, and not just from a few heavily armed neo-Nazi wackos. If she does one thing exceptionally well in this book, it is to accurately convey the extent of the phenomenon. The neo-Nazis, the intersectional leftists smugly categorizing Jews as exploiters with no rights, the Farrakhanists on New York subways, the imams preaching about killing Jews – there are more of them every day.

Weiss talks a lot about Europe, where everyday life for Jews is rapidly becoming more difficult and dangerous, mostly because of the influx of Muslim migrants from places where, as she points out, Jew-hatred is normative. In other words, it’s part of almost everybody’s repertoire of common knowledge. Is the Pope Catholic? Does the bear defecate in the woods? Are the Jews a subhuman race descended from apes and pigs? Ask anyone in Iraq. In Somalia, when you stub your toe you curse the Jews. Muslim migrants from places like that do not leave their antisemitism at the airport along with any prohibited invasive plants.

Should French Jews proudly wear their kipot? She doesn’t know if, in their place, she would. But Europe provides a clue as to why her solutions won’t work in the US. France has the third largest population of Jews in the world (about half a million), after Israel and the US. But they comprise only about 0.7% of the French population. If the non-Jewish population and the government can’t protect them, then it doesn’t matter how proud they are of their Jewishness, how liberal they are, or how “out” they are about being Jewish. And many French Jews have already decided to either move to “safe” neighborhoods in large cities – you could call them ghettos – or to abandon careers or sell businesses and leave the country.

In the UK, there are fewer than 300,000 Jews, about 0.44% of the population. Weiss notes that a recent poll had some 40% of British Jews saying they would “seriously consider emigrating” if the antisemitic – there’s no arguing this point – Jeremy Corbyn were to become Prime Minister. They, too, are making the same calculation.

The US and Canada have larger percentages of Jews – 1.8% and 1.1% respectively. But that is still minuscule in comparison to the non-Jewish majority. If they lose the support of that majority, then their position becomes untenable. And as Corbyn has shown, shockingly, it is even possible for a major political party in a democratic country to take a turn toward antisemitism.

Weiss’ point of view is that of a liberal Jew living in the US, and why she wants to “fight anti-Semitism” is to try to bring back the golden age of American Jewry, which she sees as slipping away. She would like to reverse some of the trends, but – revealingly – she wants to do it by changing the Jews. As Kenneth Levin has pointed out in his book The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege, that can’t work. It isn’t up to the Jews. Antisemitism is irrational and the antisemites will hate them regardless of how they behave. And when you are less than 2% of the population (and getting smaller), you don’t have the leverage to move the country, despite what antisemites may believe about Jewish power.

I would like to look at the problem from a broader perspective: what do we need to do to preserve the Jewish people in the face of its enemies?

The first thing I notice is that much of the diaspora is already lost. There are almost no Jews left anywhere in the Muslim world, and Hitler and Stalin put an end to the Jews of the former Russian Empire and Central Europe. There is no future for Jews in France. The UK is on the cusp of a similar fate, dependent on the political whim of the 99.56% of the population that is not Jewish. Even if Corbyn is not elected, conditions for Jews in the UK are almost certain to be worse in the future than they are now.

That leaves the US and Canada. Perhaps, as Weiss suggests, if the Jews could be more unified they could resist antisemitic trends and personalities better. Perhaps; although it seems to me that the Jewish communities are just as polarized as the society as a whole. If – just for example – the left wing of the Democratic party in the US were to “Corbynize” the party, there would be little that the tiny minority of Jews could do.

Weiss wants to fight antisemitism by being honest, liberal, proud, and enlightened. All those qualities are useless against enemies that are precisely the opposite in all respects, and that is the case with antisemites. There is only one way to deter your enemies, and that is to be more powerful than them – and to demonstrate this whenever the occasion arises.

This can’t happen within a country where Jews are a tiny minority, but it may be possible on the world stage. Israel, as Weiss notes, has a powerful army and nuclear weapons. It also has less visible assets, like a very high level of technical competence. Israel is the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and the way to preserve the people and its culture, is for Israel to survive and thrive. Insofar as it does, it can be a place of refuge for the inhabitants of those diaspora communities that may not.

I don’t think that Weiss has the answers for North American Jews. But maybe her description of exactly how bad the situation is, and how it is likely to get worse, will impel some of them to think seriously about aliyah.

Posted in American Jews, American politics, American society | Leave a comment

The Day Before the Election

It’s the day before the election and I awoke with a strong feeling of disquiet.

PM Netanyahu has said that he approves of the idea of a “mutual defense pact” with the US. While I don’t precisely know what that would be, I can’t see any way it could be a good thing.

Keep in mind the most fundamental principle of international relations: nations act in accordance with their interests. If the US decides that it is in its interest to take military (or any other) action against Iran, it will do so; if not, then not. If the US chooses to support Israel if she is attacked, it will do so – if and only if that support is seen to be in the American interest. A treaty can serve as a useful excuse for actions that one side wants to take anyway, or reasons can be found to bypass it if not – and when  there is a great power imbalance between the sides, how can the weaker party enforce its rights under the treaty?

The Hebrew term for “negotiations” can be translated literally as “give and take.” What would Israel be required to give in this situation? Why should we pay – probably in the form of concessions to the Palestinians – for help that we would either get for free, or would not get in any case?

Israel doesn’t want or need other nations to fight for us, nor do we want to do errands for others. We would like to be able to buy military equipment – better with our own money, not with military aid – and would prefer that the 800-pound gorillas of the world do not intervene in our conflicts. We don’t want to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the International Criminal Court, or countless other structures that would work against our self-defense. We would like support in the Security Council and other international forums. That would be a lot less expensive for the US than the military aid, and wouldn’t require a treaty.

Any treaty would come with some constraints on our actions. If we had had a mutual defense treaty with the US in 1967, would we have acted preemptively? Or would we have held long discussions with our ally while Egyptian tanks were on their way to Tel Aviv?

A treaty is made with one administration, but it remains in effect after a change in government. The Trump Administration has (so far) been the friendliest American administration to Israel since her founding, but some of Trump’s opposition candidates make Obama and Kerry look like Zionists. Would a treaty be honored by such an administration? What would we have already given up – that we could not get back – to get it?

One of the most important lessons of the Holocaust was that the Jewish people – and by extension, the Jewish state – cannot depend on others to protect them. By adhering to this principle, the State of Israel has managed to achieve victory in several regional wars and to develop a deterrent force that has kept her safe despite the oft-expressed desire of her enemies to destroy her. A mutual defense treaty would weaken our commitment to this principle, and practically would erode our own deterrent forces.

Caroline Glick makes an argument for an “upgraded defense relationship” with the US. She wants to see Israel’s military connection to the US be via Central Command, along with the Arab states, as well as increased cooperation in the development of advanced weapons systems. She sees various advantages to such a realignment, and if that’s all that Bibi wants, then that would be fine. However, in plain English, a “mutual defense treaty” is something else – and very undesirable.

Back to my disquiet.

In his recent statement to the country, Bibi mentioned his “close friendship” with President Trump, and indeed mentioned him numerous times in his talk. He noted that he had cleared his plan to apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria with Trump. He discussed the “historic” deal that Trump will announce immediately after the election. According to leaks, it will leave most of Area C outside of isolated Jewish communities in Palestinian hands. Naftali Bennett of the right-wing Yamina bloc displayed a map  showing a big fat corridor between Judea and Gaza, cutting the country in half. When Bibi and the Americans both said the map was “inaccurate,” Ayelet Shaked, leader of Yamina, demanded that Bibi produce the real map before the election – which of course he won’t do.

On the one hand, it’s only reasonable that Bibi would want to associate himself with the American President, especially one that has done so much for Israel. On the other, the degree of closeness makes me uncomfortable. Is Israel an independent nation which has a cooperative relationship with the US (and other great powers, like India, China, and Russia)? Or is it a satellite that takes dictation from its more powerful partner – or far worse, from one person, Mr. Trump?

It was highly problematic in 2015, when the Obama Administration intervened (against Netanyahu) in our national election. Is this not another kind of intervention? How close do we really want to be to the controversial – and mercurial – American President?

I’ve argued before that we are much too dependent on the US, and that we should start reducing that dependence, by making a plan to phase out American military aid. But Bibi is moving in the opposite direction.

Tomorrow I will cast my ballot, and no matter how uncomfortable I feel, it isn’t enough to make me vote for Benny Gantz, whose “party” consists of a few generals and one journalist stuck together with anti-Bibi chewing gum. I will vote for Yamina, knowing that they will recommend Netanyahu to form the government, and I will hope that he succeeds in forming a workable coalition.

But enough is enough. Bibi cannot and – it’s lately becoming more and more evident – should not be Prime Minister for life. It’s time for Israel to develop some reasonable alternatives.

Posted in Israeli Politics, US-Israel Relations | 2 Comments

Drama (not so much) and Democracy

PM Netanyahu promised a dramatic announcement Tuesday night. It was about as dramatic as he could have made it, given that he is a caretaker PM who does not have a coalition, and that it is one week before the election. I brought my dinner into the living room to eat while watching him on the TV. It was probably unnecessary. There is very little that he could actually do at this point, no matter how much he wanted to.

Netanyahu noted that the long-awaited Trump plan would be released shortly after the election, and that this was a historic opportunity to take action that – thanks to his close relationship with President Trump – would receive the sanction of the US. He promised that if elected he would apply sovereignty (ribonut) to all Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as soon as Trump’s plan was released. He promised that immediately after the election, without waiting for the American plan, he would apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area. He displayed a detailed map of the area that would be included. This would finally establish, he said, the eastern border of the State of Israel, and would ensure that Judea and Samaria would not become a terrorist stronghold like Gaza.

Here is Netanyahu’s map:

Netanyahu’s map of the Jordan Valley, 10 September 2019

On the right you can see a list of the Jewish communities that would be included. There are also several Arab towns that will remain under PA control, including Jericho (the orange area in the center).

Netanyahu mentioned that the presence of the IDF in all of the Jordan Valley is absolutely essential for the defense of the country. He is not the first to have said this. In fact, his words “the entire Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of the term” echo a similar statement by Yitzhak Rabin in his last speech to the Knesset before he was murdered.

Although the Left likes to present Rabin as the martyred champion of its policy of withdrawal, Rabin was extremely suspicious of the Oslo accords that he was unable to avoid signing, and envisioned a final agreement that would create a Palestinian entity that was less than a sovereign state, and which occupied less than the entire area of Judea and Samaria. In particular, he wanted to keep the Jordan valley. A glance at a relief map of Israel – I have one on my wall – shows why:

The heights here are exaggerated, but the difference in elevation between the valley floor and the mountains surrounding it is between 1000-2000 meters. The importance of Netanyahu’s and Rabin’s stress on the “broadest meaning of the term” is that it includes both the valley floor and the rising western slope. Any attack on Israel from the east would have to cross this formidable natural barrier; and if an enemy were able to dominate the western ridge, the heavily populated areas of the country would be at its mercy. The topography is similar to that of the Golan Heights, but the Jordan Valley is even more critical strategically.

Netanyahu mentioned the US President and his close relationship with him at least five times (I stopped counting), and while this is apparently good politics in Israel where most people – both on the Right and the Left – are in awe of the power of the US, it has several worrying aspects. For one thing, the transformation of Israel into a partisan issue that was encouraged by the Obama Administration has become even more apparent as it is fed by the polarized domestic American politics surrounding Trump. The more Netanyahu associates himself with Trump, the more Trump’s enemies become our enemies. And when they ultimately gain power, they will attempt to reverse Trump’s policies, including – especially – his pro-Israel ones. In May, Bernie Sanders even indicated that he would consider moving the American Embassy back to Tel Aviv “if it would help bring peace” (he seems to have since backtracked).

Another concern is that Netanyahu seems to be building on an assumption of continued administration support. There is a degree of instability in US policy, as is indicated by the surprise departures of Trump’s special envoy Jason D. Greenblatt, who was to be the key negotiator of the “deal of the century,” and National Security Advisor John Bolton. Bolton was more hawkish on such North Korea, Iran, and Afghanistan than Trump, and while as of this writing we don’t know what particular disagreement prompted Trump to fire him, it could be related to the rumors that Trump will meet with Iranian President Rouhani. While no US President has been as consistently pro-Israel as Trump, there is no guarantee that this will continue.

Although it is an election promise, nevertheless the statement that he will bring about the extension of sovereignty to all the communities in Judea and Samaria is a significant one. Critics on the right point out that he did not promise to apply sovereignty to the land as he did to the Golan Heights and as he intends to do to the Jordan Valley, but only to the communities. This is an interesting application of the concept of sovereignty, which may have important consequences.

Next Tuesday’s election is too close to call at this point. There are, like last time, parties that are flirting with the 3.25% threshold of votes needed to enter the Knesset; like last time, Netanyahu’s Likud and its center-left opposition are running neck and neck; and also like last time, Avigdor Lieberman will hold the balance of power in coalition negotiations.

One thing that is clear, however, is this: one failed round of coalition negotiations and rerun of the election in a year is all the Israeli people will stand for. Either they will come up with a government this time, or the people will rise in revolt (and I will join them). There is a huge amount of frustration that has built up against politicians who seem to be unable to deal with the rising cost of living – especially housing – the endless drip of terrorism, the arson balloons and rockets from Gaza, the continued presence of African migrants in Tel Aviv, questions of religion and state, army service for Haredim, and countless other issues. It doesn’t help that many Knesset members, who are well paid, are accused of or even already indicted for corruption (one of Netanyahu’s opponents accused him of trying to create a “government of suspects,” a memshelet chashudim).

I’m still not entirely sure whom I will vote for, although I am leaning toward Yamina, the right-wing coalition led by Ayelet Shaked. I don’t like to decide things earlier than necessary. I never know what might happen to change my mind. So I won’t be certain until I am standing there and reaching for that little slip of paper, the great instrument of democracy.

Posted in Israeli Politics, US-Israel Relations | 3 Comments

Antisemitism and Misoziony

Since 1945, antisemitism has rarely been an issue in the national politics of the US and the UK. Today, at least for Jews, it is a real concern in both countries.

In both cases, it is tangled up with anti-Zionism, or even misoziony, the extreme and irrational hatred of the Jewish state. There are still some “paleo-” antisemites who will admit that they just hate Jews for the same old reasons that have been animating their type for thousands of years, but they are considered outside the limits of acceptable discourse. They are the ones who perpetrate mass murders, so we have to take them seriously; but we don’t have to listen to their stupid arguments. Then there are special kinds of antisemites, like the ones who follow Louis Farrakhan in the belief that the Jews aren’t the real Jews (blacks are). They are also violent, but their arguments can be dismissed as well.

The more serious problems – at least from an intellectual point of view – both in the US and the UK, revolve around those who say that they don’t hate Jews, they are just “critical of Israeli policy.” They often insist, further, that they believe in Israel’s “right to exist” but only want it to stop “oppressing Palestinians.” Sometimes they claim that they oppose the “racist” or “colonialist” ideology of Zionism.

Let’s start there. Zionism is no more or less than the belief that the Jewish people have a right to a sovereign state in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. Prior to 1948, Zionists wanted to establish such a state, and since then to preserve it. There’s no racial component to it: Zionism doesn’t imply that Jews are superior to Arabs or anybody else. Without going too far into the tortuous ideology of intersectional postcolonialism and its hierarchy of victimhood, there’s nothing colonialist about a people returning to its aboriginal home and expelling the latest in a series of colonial powers; in fact, the opposite is the case.

This simple definition, however, makes it impossible to understand some of the complaints about Zionism and Zionists made by the UK Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn and others. For example, Corbyn’s now-famous 2013 remark,

[Zionists] clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either… So I think they needed two lessons, which we can perhaps help them with.

makes little sense if one assumes that “Zionists” are just  people who support Israel. Here is a translation by Simon Hattenstone in the usually anti-Israel Guardian:

…these British Zionists don’t study history, and they don’t understand irony … In other words, they are uneducated, they have failed to integrate or assimilate, they are outsiders, they don’t belong, they need to be taught a lesson. Sorry, Jeremy, this is the language of supremacism.

Corbyn isn’t the only one who thinks he can avoid being an antisemite by replacing the word “Jews” with “Zionists.” Marc Lamont Hill, the former CNN commentator fired for calling for “a free Palestine from the river to the sea” in a speech at the UN, accused major news organizations of being “Zionist organizations” that produced “Zionist content.” Hill insisted that he was not playing on the antisemitic theme of Jewish-controlled media, but it’s hard not to hear the echoes of the traditional music when one listens to his original comment, especially since the networks in question are not particularly pro-Israel.

The ophidian Congresswoman Ilhan Omar couches her anti-Zionist sentiments in language that clearly echoes antisemitic ideas that are far older than she is. Jews and money, Jews with influence behind the scenes, Jewish allegiance to a foreign power, and hypnotically powerful Jews. It’s possible that she is given a pass for her utterances, because as a Muslim immigrant from Somalia, she isn’t expected to understand American norms. Or maybe knows precisely what she is doing, pushing the window of acceptable discourse to include more and coarser expressions of antisemitism.

Today a Jewish state exists and has a legal pedigree, starting with the San Remo Conference and the Anglo-American treaty of 1924 at which the British Mandate for Palestine was ratified, that is no less well-grounded than those of its enemies. Israel successfully defended its territory in several wars, and has a democratic government. There is no country more “legitimate,” whatever that means.

Anti-Zionism – and even more so, the pathological misoziony that characterizes left-wing and academic talk about Israel – can’t be understood except in one of two ways.

One is an affirmation of the eliminationist ideology of the Khamenei regime of Iran that calls for wiping Israel of the face of the earth. This is cognitive warfare in the service of geopolitical and religious conflict. While it is antisemitic in fact, hatred of Jews is secondary to the imperative of destroying the Jewish state, which has become an obsession on the part of Iranian leaders (and which I hope and believe will lead to their undoing).

The other is that misoziony is traditional Jew-hatred, raised to a higher level of abstraction. Because the Jewish state is the state of the Jewish people, it can be hated above all others. Consider some of the parallels between antisemitism and misoziony:

For the antisemite the Jew is the cause of all his personal misfortunes. For the misozionist, Israel is responsible for all the conflict and instability of the Mideast, not to mention the poor treatment of women in Palestinian society, the poor state of public health in the region, Gaza’s sanitation, water, and electricity problems, and more.

For the antisemite the Jew is the powerful conspirator behind the curtains, pulling the strings of the financial and media worlds. For the misozionist, it’s Israel (or Zionists acting on her behalf).

For the antisemite the Jew kills non-Jewish children and drains their blood. For the misozionist, Israel kills non-Jewish children and steals their organs.

For the antisemite the Jew poisons wells and spreads disease. For the misozionist, the IDF uses poison gas and exploding bullets, and Israel was responsible for the spread of AIDS.

For the antisemite the Jew is the source and repository of sexual immorality. For the misozionist, Israel is.

For the antisemite any accusation against the Jew is immediately believed. No proof is necessary. For the misozionist, the same is true of Israel.

For the antisemite the Jewish question is more important than any other concern. For the misozionist, it is more important to call out Israel for her alleged sins than any other country, even if the other country engages in genocide, naked aggression, or extreme racism.

The Holocaust put a damper on public expressions of antisemitism. Few wanted to admit being like Nazis (although there were exceptions), but in recent years the Internet and its ability to bring like-minded communities of evil individuals together and allow them to validate their beliefs and describe their fantasies to one another, facilitated the rebirth of the most vicious antisemitism (as it did for other vices, like pedophilia). Thus we have mass shootings in synagogues in the US, almost unimaginable two decades ago.

But there was no taboo against misoziony. It was not only allowed to develop unfettered, it was actively promoted by the KGB as a psychological warfare component of the Cold War (Israel was aligned with the West, Nasser et al. with the Soviets). The New Left, the heirs of the old fashioned Stalinists, picked it up in the 1960s.

Today, it permits the gloriously ignorant Western Left to gratify its need to hate and to be angry, in terms which resonate subconsciously with the viral traces of the oldest hatred that still reside in the reptilian part of their brains.

Posted in Jew Hatred | 2 Comments