The state of Israel has been in existence only for 73 years. The Zionist project has been around for somewhat longer, beginning in the 19th century. Since 1860, some 116,000 Jews and Arabs have lost their lives in wars, terrorism, and pogroms related to Arab-Jewish conflict in Eretz Yisrael. In the annals of recent human bloodshed, this doesn’t move the needle; in the Congo Wars of 1996-2001 and the genocides that immediately preceded and followed them, as many as 5.4 million were killed. The Syrian Civil War, still under way, has claimed 500-600,000 victims. And yet, more concentrated diplomatic and media activity surrounds our conflict than any other since the Cold War. Why are we special?
Israel is regularly accused of genocide. According to the UN, her alleged victims, the Arabs of Judea/Samaria/Gaza and eastern Jerusalem, who were about 1.1 million in 1970, now number at 5.2 million. Genocide? Even if this figure is exaggerated, the accusation is simply crazy.
Israel is regularly accused of apartheid, although Israeli Arab and Jewish citizens have equal rights, both de jure and de facto. There are no segregated facilities, no separate beaches, restrooms, or lunch counters (although Jews are forbidden to drink from water faucets on the Temple Mount). The Arabs in the disputed territories, by internationally recognized agreements, are citizens of the Palestinian Authority, and insofar as the PA holds elections, can vote in them. The historical phenomenon of apartheid bears no resemblance to anything found in Israel or the territories, despite the attempts of anti-Israel groups to torture definitions to make it so.
In the few decades of her existence the modern State of Israel has been attacked by soldiers of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia; other belligerents include Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO and numerous other terrorist groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She has been bombarded by missiles, rockets, mortar shells, balloons, and drones from Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and Iraq. She has been infiltrated by terrorists countless times, including by means of rubber boats and hang gliders. She is currently the target of threats to annihilate her from Iran, which has provided large amounts of money and weapons to proxies in Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza, and which is developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Iranian leaders have referred to Israel as a “cancer” that must be eliminated from the world. I don’t think there is any other nation in recent history that has its very existence questioned in a similar way.
Hamas, which took control of Gaza in a coup against the Palestinian Authority in 2007, two years after every last Israeli soldier or civilian left the strip, precipitates periodic wars against Israel while waging a continuous terror campaign against residents of southern Israel. Gaza receives millions in aid from the UN and the EU, along with large amounts of cash from Qatar, supposedly for humanitarian purposes. Hamas uses it to prepare for the next war, and to make its kleptocratic leaders fabulously rich, while the rest of the population suffers. But Israel is blamed for “occupying” Gaza and impoverishing its people.
Although the violent attacks have come from her regional enemies, European countries have been waging diplomatic and cognitive war against Israel since the first days of her existence. Britain trained and sent advisors to the Jordanian army, which invaded the brand-new state the day after the British left in 1948. European money supports international, Israeli, and Palestinian NGOs which work to subvert the State of Israel, to propagandize against her, and to engage in “lawfare,” such as attempts to arrest IDF soldiers and government officials for “war crimes” and to prosecute Israel in the International Criminal Court. But there is evidence from impartial observers that the IDF does far more to prevent collateral damage than Western armies do.
In the US, countless organizations dedicated to bringing about the end of the Jewish state exist, from the numerous campus chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine, through professional propaganda outfits like the Foundation for Middle East Peace, to Jewish organizations like IfNotNow and “A Jewish Voice for Peace” (JVP). Large foundations like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund finance numerous groups and initiatives working against the Jewish state around the world. The New Israel Fund provides millions of dollars to hundreds of Israeli “social justice” groups. Some are harmless, but others are subversive or even connected to terrorism.
The progressive Left in America is monolithically anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian, despite the fact that the PLO and Hamas have shown themselves to be racist, misogynist, homophobic, and antisemitic. Organizations like the Movement for Black Lives and other “racial justice” groups consistently line up “for Palestine” and increasingly express explicitly antisemitic beliefs. The ridiculous and illogical proposition that Israel trains American police to abuse blacks (promoted by JVP) is widely accepted, and has encouraged anti-Jewish violence in US cities. Several members of the US Congress have made attacks on Israel – which often shade into antisemitism – their stock in trade.
In the international arena, the UN is shot through with bias against Israel. From the dozens of anti-Israel resolutions passed regularly by the General Assembly, the Human Rights Commission, and various agencies such as WHO and UNESCO, to the 2001 UN-sponsored World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, and the annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” the UN seems to do little else than attack Israel.
The large “Human Rights” NGOs, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, falsely accuse Israel of apartheid, war crimes, and numerous acts of oppression; they defend terrorists, engage in lawfare against Israel, and employ many anti-Israel activists and individuals with connections to terrorist groups.
Finally, there is the almost universal contempt for Israel that is found throughout the academic world everywhere, even to a great extent in Israel. Pro-Israel students and faculty find themselves marginalized and punished if they express their beliefs. Some “scholars” and whole departments specialize in producing articles attacking Israel regardless of their actual area of expertise (if any).
Boycotts of Israel are found in every arena: athletes refuse to compete against Israelis, academics are disinvited from conferences, performers and writers who are Israeli or pro-Israel are canceled, Israeli products are boycotted. Ben and Jerry’s would prefer that Israelis don’t eat their ice cream (and not just in the territories). Israel disappears from maps and from the American passports of people born in Jerusalem. Even Israeli ham radio operators’ calls go unanswered. Perhaps they think that if they act as though we don’t exist, we will disappear.
Israel, like any modern state, isn’t perfect. But accusations of genocide, apartheid, oppression, and war crimes are not only false, they are absurd. In many cases they mirror what Israel’s enemies themselves have done, are doing, or would like to do, to Jews and their state. They constitute a Big Lie assault, in which massive repetition of outrageous falsehoods stuns the mind into accepting them.
The obsessive, extreme, and irrational hatred of Israel today is almost without precedent. In fact, there is only one historical phenomenon that can compare to it: the vile treatment of Jews throughout the millennia of recorded history. The persecutions, expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, boycotts, discrimination, and ultimately genocide that befell the Jewish people were no less obsessive, extreme, and irrational than today’s hatred of Israel.
This is not surprising, because the latter is nothing more than a mutation of the former. The State of Israel came about because Zionist thinkers realized that there was no other way for the weak, divided, Jewish people to survive in an increasingly unfriendly world than in a state of their own. In a kind of evolutionary response, Jew-hatred itself then had to become Israel-hatred to survive.
But there is an important difference: the weak, divided Jewish people had no way to fight back. Israel does.