Anti-Semitism has a long history, often written in blood. Rather than dwelling on past tragedies, we should learn from the dynamics that led to them and try to identify shifting patterns at an early stage.
Traditional anti-Semitism originated in Church teachings and propagated itself up to the Nazi period. The anti-Jewish edicts, ranging from the earlier Church synods of the 4th century to the councils of the 15th century, and the striking parallels found in the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 and later Nazi ordinances are chilling. Traditional anti-Semitism is different from all other hatreds in that it is entirely irrational: based on wild accusations, often self-contradictory (Jews are too powerful; Jews are a miserable vermin), or on hereditary and collective guilt (Jews are Christ killers) in defiance of the most basic logical principles. Thankfully, this form of virulent anti-Semitism has been largely stamped out and is no longer a main concern.
The new anti-Semitism is of a different nature. It is essentially fuelled by anti-Zionism and the main difference with the old brand is that it presents itself as convincingly rational. This pseudo-rational narrative can be summarized as follows:
“Israel has been illegally occupying foreign lands since 1967, if not since 1948, and the Palestinian indigenous population are the victims of this relentless occupation, oppression, colonization, spoliation, racism, Nazi-like treatment and apartheid practices at the hands of foreign Jewish settlers who stole their lands and make Arab lives miserable in spite of their courageous resistance.”
The cornerstone of this web of lies is the notion of “illegal occupation.” As long as this notion remains unchallenged, whatever is built upon it will stand because “occupation” is vilified all over the world and all occupied territories have been liberated from their colonial powers in the past century. “Occupation” has no redeeming value. Persistent occupiers are bound to be pilloried, mercilessly. And the blemish of “occupation” will not be circumscribed to political leaders and their government policies; the blemish will naturally spread to all “Zionists” and, by extension, to all Jews.
The falsehood of this “occupation narrative” has been crawling, spreading and bursting with the same tenacity and the same slanderous fury as the famous “calumny” tirade in the Figaro of Beaumarchais. Surprisingly, Israelis and Jews have remained inexplicably passive to this deadly onslaught, while pouring a few buckets of water on the raging forest fire. But now that this evil has turned into a “universal chorus of hatred and exclusion” in universities, in the media, in boycott campaigns, in Islamist calls for genocide, in UN resolutions, and in threatening policy shifts from our most trusted allies, it would be suicidal not to react. And react forcefully.
This is a time for action for both Jews and non-Jews. Manifestations of anti-Semitism are the proverbial canary in the mine: they are a harbinger of deep social and political upheavals which affect all sections of the community. Even though everyone should be concerned, the Jewish community ought to be particularly vigilant and proactive in fighting this scourge. Jewish leaders should first recognize the problem and fully appreciate its ramifications and its magnitude. They should set aside any trivial, internal divergences and speak with a unified voice. And they should not be bashful in attacking the cornerstone of the anti-Zionist propaganda machine which fuels the new anti-Semitism. Demolish the myth of “occupation” and the whole edifice of hateful propaganda will start to crumble.
For this to happen, Jews around the world together with their non-Jewish friends must be aware of the assault on the truth that a masterful Arab propaganda has been conducting for the past decades. Distorted narratives and intentional omissions of fundamental historic and legal facts have gradually led to false accusations, delegitimization and demonization of the Jewish State of Israel. If the Arabs have been able to peddle these lies and to drag public opinion to their side, especially the left-leaning advocates of social justice and human rights, why would the Jews and their allies be incapable of restoring factual truths?
For too long, Israel has demonstrated her desire for peace by offering concession upon concession in a “peace process” that all but ignored her legal rights as they have been recognized in international law since 1920. Israel’s peace driven approach has boomeranged in the most vicious ways, turning a political stalemate into racial hatred and growing anti-Semitism. Even the so-called “moderate” Fatah faction of the Palestinian Authority is openly intransigent to any Jewish national presence in the region. It is high time to say “enough is enough.”
A broad effort aimed at restoring the truth is required. It should be carried out on many fronts. At the international level, Israel should put an end to the charade of the “two-state solution” as it has been defined in the Oslo process, and come up with a made-in-Israel plan that accounts for her acquired rights in international law and her strategic needs of self-defence. Diaspora Jews and community leaders of all political hues should embark on a proactive campaign of education/information targeting students, academics, the media and political figures in a pattern faithful to factual events of recent history and consonant with the renewed position of the Israeli government.
We should understand that the current wave of the new anti-Semitism has not only political overtones but is largely fuelled by Middle East politics, the Palestinian construct and, ironically, the ongoing “peace process.” Those who believe that this process should be pursued, in the way it has been shaped since 1993, will encourage the creation of a new sovereign Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria with Jerusalem as its capital and will usher, perhaps unwittingly, the demise of Israel. Those who oppose pursuing such a process that flies in the face of international law; that makes a mockery of the legal rights of Israel to the lands that harbour 90% of the Jewish historic patrimony; and that places Israel in existential danger, should stand firm and make their voices heard. The former will hope in vain to appease the anti-Semites. The latter will stand for truth and justice as prerequisites of a lasting peace.
S.B. is a guest writer from Toronto, Canada for our site.