Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Truly Antisemites

A few months ago I had the privilege of interviewing Prof. Robert S Wistrich, one of the world's top experts in antisemitism { listen to interview }. He discusses the massive evidence of widespread, crude, almost medieval levels of antisemitism in the Arab world, and argues, backing his claims with well researched facts and anecdotal evidence, that the international community is ignoring the vicious and rampant antisemitism throughout the Arab world. This arab antisemitism, he argues, is the context within which the Arab / Israel conflict has to be viewed if it is to be understood. For example, knowing that Palestinian President Abbas did academic research 'proving' the holocaust never happened (a view widely shared in the Arab world, not to mention Iran), surely raises questions about his ability to one day negotiate and accept a permanent resolution for the Palestinians.  Why then is it totally ignored by the world media, and the international community of democratic states?

Perhaps there is no simple answer for this, but I'm going to take a plunge and offer the non-politically correct line, by arguing that this ignoring of the obvious, is in and of itself fueled by underlying antisemitism in the western world. Of course as soon as one talks about antisemitism in this context the pro Palestinian movement attempt to undermine the debate, claiming they are not antisemites, simply against the policy of Israel or 'anti-zionists' , and many of the pro-Israel lobby buy into that line, avoiding accusations of antisemitism as much as possible. I believe this avoidance adds to the silence when it comes to Arab antisemitism. We are allowing our enemies to dictate the use of the antisemitism label, in effect taking it away from the Jews, so that we are once again not being allowed to name and shame antisemites. Everyone has a right to confront his or her accuser, and we as Jews have the absolute right to name and shame the antisemites out there.

Lets be very careful however, not to call anyone who debates Israeli policy as antisemitic, so when does valid debate and argument with Israel cross the line? How can we know whether overt or covert hatred of Jews is the motivation for a pro-Palestinian politician or journalist? Ask yourself a simple question: does the argument cross the boundaries of logic? For example, what motivates a feminist group or gay rights group to support Hamas? They share no values: Hamas is a totalitarian violent group with no respect for the rights of anyone: women under Hamas are suppressed, gays are in fear of their lives. Compare that with Israel, a state whose democracy is enshrined in the very fabric of it's society, where women stand alongside men in every profession and where the gay community finds itself accepted and supported by the state. Why then does Hamas enjoy the unwavering support of these groups? Obviously propaganda sows the seeds, but those seeds land in soil already fertilized by  antisemitism.

Still not convinced? Only recently the 'global march on Jerusalem' & flytilla 2 were  organized amidst the backdrop of the Syrian regime's genocide against its own citizens, occurring a few hundred miles north of Jerusalem. If people truly were motivated by a desire to support human rights in the Arab world, rather than hatred of Israel, then surely their energies would have been focused on Syria. Such single minded hatred by non Palestinians crosses all lines of logic.

I've encountered people in the UK who have argued that 'the Palestinian genocide' by Israel is the motivation. In fact, far from a genocide, since 1967 the Palestinians continue to live in their cities, worship at their holy places, something they deny Jews the same rights in Palestinian areas, and their population grows. In a world where we can see what real genocide looks like, a world that can see it in Rwanda, Sudan, Syria etc, to accuse Israel of doing the same is absurd. The fact that countries, NGOs, and the media accepts this lie can again only be because of a readiness to accept the worst about the Jewish state. No amount of evidence or logical argument would sway this person's view. He wanted to believe it, because he was primed to believe the worst in a state run by Jews.

The Apartheid Israel argument is equally as idiotic, and yet even South African civil rights leader Desmond Tutu has accused Israel of apartheid, pointing at the security fence erected at the height of of the intifada which successfully halted the wave of bus, and restaurant bombings that killed hundreds of Israeli civilians. Equally the check points in and out of Palestinian controlled areas have saved uncountable Jewish lives, admittedly at a cost to the ease of movement of Palestinians, but when weighed against the alternative, surely it is a legitimate argument to say it is the price the Palestinians have to pay for harboring terror in their community? Bear in mind that the barrier and check points are a defensive response to terror attacks and not punitive.  In any case check points do not equal apartheid: denial of medical rights, transport, education, judicial services etc were the hallmarks of apartheid S.Africa, all of which the Palestinians share with the Jews. Israeli Arabs are a significant minority in Israel, who enjoy a level of democratic rights the rest of the Arab world has always been denied. This is easy to verify by any visitor to Israel and yet vast numbers of people the world over believe the apartheid myth. The reason has to be that they want to accept it. They are primed to believe it by prejudice.

Antisemitism is not new, and it isn't going away, so lets not kid ourselves any longer that things out there have improved over the years, or that we can separate antizionism from antisemitism. In 'nice' countries like The UK & US people are not generally 'Protoculs' type antisemites, but rather the polite 'some of my best friends' antisemites. In fact I believe that many of the people who feel so vehemently and strongly against Israel, do not realize how much antisemitism fuels their passion. We aren't going to make it disappear, but lets not be afraid to call a spade a spade. They won't like it, but let them know that we know the truth: they are truly antisemites!

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