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Our Daunting Task


This is a cross-post by Dr. Phyllis Chesler, writing at The Jewish Press.

Our beloved, miraculous Jewish state is under siege.

It was assumed that the ceaseless persecution of the Jews in exile would cease once we again had our own sovereign homeland, our own army, navy, and air force.

Now, 62 years after its establishment, it is abundantly clear that Israel has become the “Jew” of the world: Defamed, demonized, shunned, shamed, accused of countless blood libels, refused the right to defend itself, blamed when it does.

Daily, hourly, Israel is cursed in all the world’s languages, scapegoated for the crimes and sins of the Arab and Muslim world.

Old-style anti-Semitism is still with us but now there’s a “new” anti-Semitism coming at us from the progressive left, the intelligentsia, the “good” people. It is also coming at us from the Arab and Islamic world, enhanced by the Internet, television, radio and films.

I have been challenging anti-Semitism among leftists and feminists since the early 1970s. I first began to document the “new” anti-Semitism in 2000, right after the Palestinians launched the Second Intifada that year.

At first, I was something of a lone voice. The organized Jewish world either denied or minimized the rise of anti-Semitism and the existential threat that Israel might face. By standing up for Israel, Jews and America, I sacrificed my reputation as a politically correct intellectual. I lost publishing opportunities and most of my former friends and allies.

Why? Because we live in a time when objective truth does not count anymore, when only Big Lies matter.

For example, Islam is the world’s largest practitioner of both religious and gender apartheid. Say this on most campuses, as I have, and you will be jeered, booed, possibly physically menaced, certainly demonized as a “racist” and “Islamophobe.”

The politically correct line is that Israel is a “Nazi apartheid state.” The brainwashing has worked. Sixty years’ worth of Arab League and Saudi funding has accomplished the unbelievable: Israel is not only the bad guy, it is the very worst bad guy in the entire universe.

This is no small victory given how very bad our world is in terms of real genocide and ethnic cleansing; in terms of real slavery; in terms repeated and very public gang-rapes of girls and women as a weapon, not a spoil, of war; in terms of the oppression, torture and murder of one’s own people.

Blame Israel first – that’s the mantra. Thus, when Arab countries persecute Palestinians by revoking their citizenship (as Jordan has done – and let’s not forget that Jordan massacred more Palestinians in 1970 than Israel has killed in countless wars of self-defense), or not allowing them to work in many professions (this is true in Lebanon), or making their travel throughout the Arab world exceedingly difficult (as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan do), you almost never read about this in your morning paper.

The United Nations does not condemn Arab governments for their mistreatment of Palestinians nor does it condemn Palestinians for jailing, torturing and murdering other Palestinians.

I am alarmed at how many Jews are in the forefront of anti-Israel and pro-Hamas activism. They are our internal enemies – their own worst enemies. Recently, an organization called Jewish Voice for Peace organized a campaign asking TIAA-CREF, one of the world’s largest financial services companies, to divest from companies it says “profit from the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

Caterpillar, Motorola, and Northrop Grumman are just a few of the companies Jewish Voice for Peace has targeted for divestment. Signatories to this campaign include many liberal American rabbis, activists, and academics.

Meanwhile, J Street, which bills itself the “political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” has called upon the Treasury Department “to launch thorough investigations into whether or not the [American non-profit] organizations funding settlement activities on the West Bank have broken the law.”

Israel and the Jews cannot afford to lose. We must win this war of ideas, outwit and outrun the propaganda, hold our own militarily and survive as a people – only this time not as a mere “remnant.”

Alas, Jews can no longer afford to trust Jewish-American and Jewish-European organizations that are failing the needs of the people they claim to represent just as decades ago they failed to rescue European Jewry from the Holocaust.

Small, independent, poorly funded groups and individuals have stepped up to the task, on campuses, on the streets, on the Internet. The large Jewish organizations are following, reluctantly and slowly, behind us.

As religious Jews we have an even greater task. Especially at this time of year, can we open our hearts to all those Jews whom we fear – whom we know – are behaving recklessly, selfishly, self-destructively? Can we try to understand, really understand, that they, too, are “b’Tzelem,” and that if we cannot find ways of connecting at some level to each other, our failure to do so may doom us?

Six years ago I first proposed a new kind of meeting of the twelve tribes in these very pages (“Jews on the Precipice,” front page essay, June 18, 2004). “So many Jews who hold passionate and opposing views have simply stopped listening and talking to each other,” I wrote. “The silence is more awful than arguments . We must come together in order to strategize about our very survival.”

If such a conclave were indeed to take place, I believe we would need one psychiatrist for every three Jews present. I am not saying we are crazy. I am saying we are all so angry at each other, so hard, so sure of our own position – so stiff-necked, arrogant and self-righteous – that without professional help we would all walk out on each other, mid-sentence, blood pressure boiling, curses on our lips.

I am asking us to envision doing something very difficult, very large. Can I actually sit in a room with J Streeters, or with Women in Black, or with others who demonstrate against Israel, sign petitions against Israel, arm the rogues at the United Nations with ammunition against Israel? Probably not. I fear I’d walk right out.

Moshe broke the first set of tablets at just such a moment. But he also begged God to forgive the Jews for the very sins that drove him to break the luchot.

We are all in Moshe’s position now. In Moshe’s merit, and for God’s sake, let us have less hate or even dislike for other Jews as we strengthen our resolve and gird our loins for battle.

12 replies »

  1. harmless

    Forget psychiatrists this guy needs a straight jacket.

    You must be loving the good old Soviet system – declaring mentally ill your opponents… They didn’t need psychiatrists either to put their opposition members in mental institutions. Reading your previous posts explains perfectly your appreciation of their methods.

  2. mostly harmless,

    If you would sneer less and think more then you’d know that Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a woman, and whilst it is possible to disagree with her on some issues many of her points here deserve thinking about.

  3. mostly harmless ” Forget psychiatrists this guy needs a straight jacket”

    Phyllis Chesler is a woman, obviously.

  4. All fine until the last paragraph. There can be no discussion with those who stand fore square with Israels enemies . They are beyond reach . Forget the fact they call themselves Jews . This is a distraction and quite irrelevant except to those who use them as the so called ‘Good Jew card’ and who thus merit outstanding propaganda value. There should be no sentimentality , no religious connection. They should be viewed in the same light as any Palestinian NGO , hostile media publication ,politician and just about anyone who seeks to delegitimise Israels soverign rights.

    Whether it is pro Palestinian meetings held at St Johns Wood Liberal Synagogue or the demonstrations outside Ahava tomorrow and every other Saturday the ‘Jews ‘that take part should be viewed not as wayward kinfolk but as hostile elements to be countered with every legitimate weapon at ones disposal.

  5. harvey

    … the ‘Jews ‘that take part should be viewed not as wayward kinfolk but as hostile elements to be countered with every legitimate weapon at ones disposal.

    These Jews are separating themselves from the other non-Jewish demonstrators using names like “Jews for Palestine” etc. They give the perfect cover for the antisemites who can say that we are not Jewhaters because the Jews say the same like us. These Theobalds are making much more damage the Jewish people than their gentile fellow travellers.

  6. Well you should know, moistly, and believe me I do know what I am talking about.

    Dr Chesler, thank you for this.

    I wish I could say that your vision is realisable – unfortunately I doubt that it is and for a myriad of reasons, most of which lie far beyond our influence.

    For myself, I do not hate those Jews whom I see as have sold out their people, as having joined the enemy in the hope of getting a trouble-free ride from the detractors of Israel. I cannot forgive them for holding their brothers and sisters to ransom. I cannot forgive them for the damage they do, by their writings and actions, which shore up the hatred of me by people who have never met me simply because I am a Jew and because I believe that Israel has a right to defend herself.

    I cannot forgive them for providing a spurious seal of approval – because they write as Jews – for that hatred; because if they as Jews can hate their people, then it is permissible for every unreconstructed, hate-filled individual to hate them likewise. The Guardian shows this in action, and CiF, with its Theobald-Jew editor give this egregious behaviour a seal of questionable approval.

    I also note that you make no suggestions or recommendations, other than not to hate fellow Jews who sell out their people, as to how we might win this battle. Is yours a message of hope or despair?

    For myself, I am not despairing. I believe that these people will out-hate themselves and burn themselves out.

  7. “…Alas, Jews can no longer afford to trust Jewish-American and Jewish-European organizations that are failing the needs of the people they claim to represent just as decades ago they failed to rescue European Jewry from the Holocaust…”

    Very true, Dr Chesler.

    As has been written here before, they bury their heads in the sand and leave their backsides exposed for the kicking they deserve.

  8. mostly dumbness,how many guys do you know many called Phyllis.Or perhaps you do know guys called Phyllis.

  9. Watching Romero’s epic Zombie cycle I know exactly what the intelligentsia, progressive liberals and the “good” people remind me of:

    stenchers – the walking dead.

  10. In September 2005, Trevor Phillips, the Chairman of the UK Commission for Racial Equality warned his audience that the July terror attacks in London had exposed a racial “nightmare” and that some areas were turning into “fully-fledged ghettos”.

    Phillips claimed that a natural or economic disaster on the scale of the hurricane that devastated New Orleans could prove a tipping point in race relations in Britain.

    “When the hurricane hits, those communities are set up for destruction,” he said.

    Phil Woolas, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, in Greater Manchester said: “We have to take what he is saying very seriously indeed.”

    The economy is in trouble. Given the recent events at Manchester University, it seems that he was right.

    Having written that, however, I wonder whether we are missing something important here, and whether Phyllis Chesler may be correct in one point:

    Muslims are enjoined to emulate their prophet in their daily lives. The Muslim prophet was a devious robber who schemed against and betrayed his allies. According to Ali Sina the Muslim prophet’s most used stratagem – probably because he was paranoid – was to set his allies against each other. (Understanding Muhammad: A psychobiography – by Ali Sina)</i).

    Sina writes that the Muslim prophet's modus operandi can be summed up in the Arabic proverb: Darabani, wa baka; Sabaqani wa’shtaka“He struck me and started crying; then he went ahead of me and charged me with beating him!” and his followers in the Middle East and elsewhere play this dirty game today.

    Sina also writes that there is nothing about Arabs which makes them particularly susceptible to stupidity, that converts to Islam become the haters of their own people, and deliberately incite hatred against them (he gives Yvonne “Tiddley” Ridley as one such example).

    The Koran enjoins the Muslim to strike fear and terror into the hearts of the unbelievers and this they are trying to do.

    We also learn that the Muslim prophet remained powerful by turning his allies against one another.

    It is not beyond the realms of possibility that turning Jew against Jew and Christian against Christian are not more of the same.

    So let’s not play.