I’m going to start this by talking about anti-Semitism. You’re probably all aware that anti-Israel activists, when told they are anti-Semites, hotly deny the charge, saying they are just opposed to Israel and its policies. I don’t believe them, any of them. Let’s start with anti-Semitism itself. We know that for some 2000 years, Jews have been persecuted across Europe and the Middle East, and that this persecution culminated in the Holocaust. The Holocaust had all sorts of knock-on effects, especially in Europe. I was brought up in the shadow of it. All my generation were. One thing the Holocaust did was to make anti-Semitism unpopular. You couldn’t admit openly you were an anti-Semite. Only ex-Nazis in the comfort of their private homes in South America or Cairo could get it off their chests, that they still hated Jews, that they still longed for another Holocaust. Everybody else avoided any association with the Nazis and far-right politics. Of course, as time passed, little groups of far-right lunatics stood around in wet fields making the Hitlergrüss and saying Seig Heil, because it made feel better to be absolute nonentities in funny suits. People on the left became pro-Jewish and, for a time, pro-Israeli.
But gradually, mainly in the past twenty years or so, there came a point when people couldn’t keep their hatred of Jews pent up any longer. These weren’t fascist thugs any longer so much as self-proclaimed liberals and leftists. They became infected with anti-Semitism because they wanted someone to pity and the Jews were no longer pitiable. In Wanderings, Chaim Potok’s very readable history of the Jews, he says ‘there are no more gentle Jews’. This time round, he argues, the Jews will not let themselves be herded onto railway trucks and shepherded into gas chambers. The young men and women of today’s IDF exemplify Potok’s declaration perfectly. Pity the Nazi who tries to herd them anywhere.
For some reason, a lot of people don’t like this. But they still don’t like to be called anti-Semites, because anti-Semitism is a form of racism, and they aren’t racists. They think they aren’t racists because anti-racism is the keystone of modern right-on politics. But they are racists, so they have a problem. They have a lot of circles to square, and to do that they have employed a range of lies that cast a spell on the media and most of the general public. It goes something like this. The Jews are no longer suffering, but someone must be suffering in order to deserve our pity, and the obvious candidates for victimhood are the Palestinians, because those nice Arabs I met at our conference tell me they are. This must mean that the Jews are… A hard think here, I suppose, then the obvious answer. The Jews, sorry, the Israelis are Nazis. Not ‘like the Nazis’. They are Nazis. That sweet young Israeli girl doing her first year in the IDF and feeling pangs of homesickness every night is a Nazi. That boy with a kippa dovening in a field full of tanks is a Nazi. Gilad Schalit is a Nazi.
Next, if there’s to be some sort of equivalence, there has to be a Holocaust. What? you say. What? But it’s obvious, they reply. There has been a Holocaust of the Palestinians. If this makes you feel nauseated, I don’t blame you. You ask, when, how many, where? They sneer and talk about Jenin (51 dead) and say it’s worse than gas chambers. And to make this worse, a lot of them deny the real Holocaust, aided and abetted by a UN member state, Iran.
As a result of this warped style of thinking, we are living in a fantasy world. It doesn’t matter how many rockets Hamas fire, they are some sort of friendly prank. The separation fence isn’t a fence but an ‘apartheid wall’. And it doesn’t matter how racially mixed and free and democratic Israel is, it is, as we all know, an apartheid state. It’s unimportant how many times the Palestinians say they refuse to recognize Israel and to make peace, because we know they are the true peace-makers, and it’s the Israelis who are the obstacles to peace.
The thing is, this is all so transparent a three-year-old could see through it. It’s like those Visible Man dolls, all its veins and organs and bones on display. Why do so many people fall for all this? A lot of them are students. Where on earth are they studying, what subjects, with whom? Because something basic is wrong with their education. Two weeks ago I went to a lecture on Islamophobia by a rabid anti-Israeli speaker. This man was in his 40s and dressed as if he was sixteen. He spoke in a very loud voice, and he thundered home the message that racism was wrong and islamophobia was wrong. He is a senior lecturer at a university near me. He could not tell the difference between racism and feelings of disquiet about a religion. This is the standard that passes for rigorous across the board today. Nobody wants to think any more, least of all about Israel. They hate Israel with a viciousness that can only originate in dark psychological problems with Jews. I don’t know why that is, and I don’t know how to solve it, but it’s the most dangerous single thing in the world today. I mean it. Hatred of Israel is going to provoke another war in the Middle East, and that war is capable of spreading to Europe, America and beyond. Iran is in the hands of lunatics, and other lunatics have made hatred of Israel the only political issue of any importance in the world. If we don’t do something to stop this, a lot of people are going to die. And they won’t all be Israelis.
Categories: General Antisemitism