Recently, Jews in the West who thought themselves safe have found themselves facing the same form of antisemitism that is common in the Arab and wider Muslim world, much of it imported along with immigrants from the Middle East. In the US, Canada, Continental Europe, and Britain, Muslim Jew-hatred become cross-fertilized with the native brand, bringing along the extreme violence that characterized it at home. Ironically, traditional Islamic antisemitism itself became more radical with the injection of vicious eliminationism from Nazi Germany, starting before the war, continuing through the employment of Amin al-Husseini as propagandist for Hitler, and concluding with the arrival in Arab countries of fleeing Nazi war criminals afterwards. Now it is coming back to the post-Christian West.
Red lines are being crossed at a nauseating pace as the violence that was first directed at Jews in European countries where there was massive Muslim immigration moves westward. What American would have expected, even one year ago, that a gang of pogromists would invade a restaurant, ask who among the patrons were Jewish, and beat them? That is something that happened in Berlin in 1938 or Baghdad in 1941; but it ought to be unthinkable in Los Angeles today. And yet it happened.
For some time it has become dangerous for Orthodox Jews to walk the streets in their own neighborhoods in New York City. The perpetrators of this violence are young black and Hispanic males. The targets are often women and elderly people. All over the West, Jewish institutions, synagogues, schools, even graveyards, are targets for vandalism. Such attacks were rare in the US until recently, but they have become commonplace now. And interestingly, the vandalism often includes graffiti of slogans like “free Palestine.”
When anti-Israel demonstrators in London called for “Jewish blood” and the rape of Jewish women (in earshot of police, who did nothing), it somewhat diminished the strength of the arguments that “anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism.” Anyone who honestly believes that today didn’t get the message.
It’s often said that every time there is a flare-up of Israel’s long war to survive in the region, it is reflected in worldwide antisemitic violence. That supposedly explains the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews (and the theft of their property) by virtually every Arab country after 1948. This action was against the national interests of these countries, since Jews were among the educational, financial, medical, and technical elites (their loss was our gain, since most of the expelled Jews came to Israel). But anti-Jewish beliefs have always been irrational, extreme, and obsessive.
For the Jew-hater, everything bad, personal and political, can be explained with reference to the Jews. Facts and logical reasoning are irrelevant; indeed, the more unbelievable antisemitic beliefs may appear, the more this confirms their truth in the mind of the believer. Unsurprisingly, anti-Israelism, or misoziony, follows the same pattern: irrational, extreme, obsessive.
And this leads me to believe that the chain of causality is reversed in the traditional historical account. It makes more sense to see both the violent (but unsuccessful) attempt to dislodge the Jews from Palestine and the more successful effort of the Arab nations to rid themselves of their own Jews as stemming from the same kind of antisemitic impulse.
One of the interesting things about Jew-hatred is that it is a powerful motivator, especially of violent actions. In the past there was nothing shameful about it, so it could be used openly. Hitler and company found it a useful tool to focus public anger and create support for his party, which promised a solution. But in the case of Hitler himself, like the Arab nations after 1948, antisemitism became the motive rather than the tool, and his obsession may have lost Germany the war. After the war, the sheer horror of the Holocaust caused it to be discredited. So the KGB clothed the Jew-hating Palestinian movement with the up-to-date ideas of national liberation, anti-colonialism, and socialism. But the costume slipped from time to time, as when the Entebbe hijackers separated the Jews (Jews, not Israelis!) from the rest of the hostages. Something is exposed that should have been hidden; I call it a “wardrobe malfunction” like those that bedevil female celebrities.
More recently, Jew-hatred has adopted an even more up-to-date uniform as a movement for racial justice. And what success it has had! Colleges and universities in the West turn out dedicated pro-Palestinian activists by the tens of thousands every year. Organizations in support of racial minorities like Black Lives Matter routinely include the Palestinian Arabs as one of the oppressed groups they want to liberate. And the Palestinian cause is pursued obsessively, irrationally, and often with extremism.
That gives us a clue, especially when we consider that it’s rare to hear even the most fanatical “anti-racists” mention the fact that there is race-based slavery in some parts of the world. Not “microaggressions,” actual slavery. But of course we know what is behind their enthusiasm. These modern proponents of human rights (for some humans), the ones in the universities, the ones on the European Commission and in the New York Times, may say, or even believe, that they are motivated to be righteously angry at Israel because of her alleged denial of Palestinian rights, but we know where the emotional drive comes from. And like Hitler and the Arab nations, their obsession eats them up, and sometimes there is a wardrobe malfunction, like those folks in London promoting the rape of Jewish women. Because of Palestine, of course.
This is upsetting to some. Michelle Goldberg published a piece in the NY Times which was originally titled “Attacks on Jews Over Israel Are a Gift to the Right,” but after numerous observers noted its implication that violent attacks on Jews were bad primarily because of the political fallout, the NYT changed its headline to “The Crisis of Antisemitic Violence.” Max Blumenthal went all-out and argued that the explosion of antisemitism was “manufactured … to turn the media’s gaze away from dead children in Gaza” (no link, google it if you really want to swim in his sewer). Wardrobe malfunctions.
Unfortunately, while the IDF was moderately successful in its Gaza campaign (although it was cut short by a command from Washington), Israel has been decisively beaten in its information campaign.
The war was started by Hamas with heavy barrages of deadly rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities, from civilian areas, a double war crime. Some 4,350 rockets were launched by Hamas, of which 600-700 of them fell on their own people in Gaza. Israel’s response was very carefully targeted, using various techniques to warn civilians in areas where there were military targets. Final casualty figures are not available, but as of now the number of deaths in Gaza is reported as about 250. The IDF estimates that about half of these are civilians. Considering the number of shortfalls, it is likely that most of them were killed by Hamas’ own rockets. The IDF’s performance in destroying Hamas’ military infrastructure while sparing civilians is unmatched in the annals of urban warfare.
And yet, media opinion in the West continues to overwhelmingly blame Israel for the war, as well as to accuse her of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, deliberately targeting civilians, and more. PM Netanyahu, a centrist who many Israelis believe to be too soft on terrorism, is called a “hardline right-wing extremist,” who has presided over “massive settlement expansion” although the area occupied by Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria has barely changed since the 1990s.
There is a reason for this, and it’s not just Israeli ineptness at hasbara. It is a consequence of the blossoming of the seeds of Jew-hatred that can lie dormant for years, waiting for the right stimulus to wake them up.
If you think I’m wrong, just pay attention. Sooner or later there will be a wardrobe malfunction.