General Antisemitism

“Feared, loathed, and isolated.” An open letter to Peter Kosminsky

Mr. Kosminsky,

My initial skepticism over the objectivity of your multi-part drama to be aired on British TV which, as you say, strives to “come to an understanding of the most dangerous and intractable war of our age…the conflict between Arab and Jew in the Middle East”, called The Promise, seems warranted now that I’ve read your introduction to the film printed in the Guardian on January 28th.

You claim that, among the lessons you’ve learned from researching modern Israel, is that 60 years after the Holocaust:

“Israel is isolated, loathed and feared in equal measure by its neighbours, finding little sympathy outside America for its uncompromising view of how to defend its borders and secure its future.”

You then ask:

“How did Israel squander the compassion [derived from the horrors of the Holocaust] of the world within a lifetime?”

To this question, I’ll briefly ask an admittedly rhetorical one:

How dare you.

“Isolated”, you say?

Actually far from being isolated, my country is actually more economically entwined with Europe than we’ve ever been – the story of a tiny nation with little in the way of natural resources outperforming not only its neighbors, but some larger European nations as well.   That Arab countries on our borders don’t wish to share in our relative prosperity, that 62 years after our birth those same Arab states continue in their self-defeating (either de facto or de jure) economic boycott of our country is not a reflection of our values, but rather of theirs.  In nearly every measurable social, educational, and economic category, my country often wildly exceeds the performance of our oil rich neighbors.  That my Israeli passport makes me persona non-grata in most of the Arab world is an indictment of their intolerance, their intransigence, their bigotry, not mine.

“Loathed”, you say?

If by “loathed”, perhaps you’re referring to the fact that 90% of the Arab world have an unfavorable opinion toward Jews That is, empirical evidence demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of Arabs are openly not just anti-Israel, but wildly anti-Semitic – polling data which is thoroughly consistent with the evidence of state sanctioned Jew-hatred documented continually, yet frequently ignored by those who see such facts as inconsistent with their predetermined conclusions.  While the overlap between anti-Israel sentiment and outright anti-Semitism in the rest of the world is a bit more complicated, in our region the data proves that the two are quite simply one and the same.  That copies of the Elders of the Protocols of Zion sell briskly on the Arab street, that conspiracy theories about Jews being responsible for 9/11 are popular, and that state-owned newspapers in Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia continue to publish cartoons portraying Jews as hideous, treacherous, bloodthirsty villains is not a reflection on me.  It is an indictment against them, their culture, and their values.

“Feared”, you say?

The notion that my democratic Jewish state is feared would almost be comical if it wasn’t so dangerous.  Tell me, Mr. Kosminsky, were we feared when six Arab armies sought our destruction on the day of our birth in 1948?  Were we feared in the weeks prior to June 1967 when Arab leaders were telling roaring crowds in Cairo, Damascus, and Tripoli that the the annihilation of the Jewish state was near, or when those same leaders conspired with the Soviet Union to launch a surprise attack on us six years later on the holiest day of the year?  Have all the civilian casualties and human carnage we’ve suffered as the result of suicide bombings and rocket fire in the years since those full-scale attacks indicated to you that we are feared?  What you characterize as fear may simply be something more akin to a grudging acceptance by our enemies regarding our resolve, our steadfastness, and our will to survive despite their enmity – not a commentary on our villainy.

That Jews – who have but one state to call their own, and who represent 2/10 of 1% of the world’s population – inspire fear in others is again not proof of our sins, our phobias, our behavior – but is a window into the soul of those who allow themselves to believe the most ludicrous, and historically lethal, Judeophobic calumnies.

As a citizen of the country which you now claim expertise, I can assure you that I don’t seek the compassion you audaciously claim we squandered. I have no need for your sympathy, and I don’t require your affirmation.  Our national right to exist, my rights as a citizen in the national homeland of the Jewish people, is not suspended in mid-air awaiting your approval.  I refuse to give you that power.

To the degree to which my stubborn refusal to allow you, and others, the right to pass judgment on my merit may inspire fear, loathing, and isolation, I’m okay with that.

I’d rather be alive and hated than posthumously loved.


Adam Levick

79 replies »


    • Well done Adam Levick, and shame on all those who accept a writer’s word that they have done research and this somehow giving a piece credibility as being based in truth.
      The current situation, which has been current for the last 44 years and wasn’t very different from the 20 years prior to the Six Day War, is a terrible indictment on humanity. The political situation, as it affects the “man on the street”, be they in a Jewish street or a Moslem one, is far worse today than it was before the present intifada. Condemnation can be aimed at both sides of the political debate (or perhaps there are more sides than two?) and a wholly unhelpful rhetoric is pervasive, each argument being one of blame rather than one of constructive search for a solution.
      However it is totally unhelpful that people such as Kosminsky distort public opinion through the distortion of history. Despite much of the story being anchored in history, the ‘artistiic license that changes that history is both unhelpful and harmful.
      Where does Kosminsky find a Palestinian who slept on snow in the Carmel hills overlooking the Mediterrean? Or how did he find one who felt so “unwelcome” in Ein Hod – an otherwise quiet and innocuous artist colony -that he hadn’t visited in 60 years? That just isn’t so. It paints a picture of universal animosity and a hardship that extends beyond the reality of the history that was the so-called basis for this story. Sure, there were Palestinians who fled their hiomme on the advice of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalenm and ended up in horrid shanty towns in Trans-Jordan and were left there for decades. But the soty of being taken as a child and put in a gulag in the Gallilee?
      I haven’t seen the series to the end, but when are people in the media going to accepta ressonssposibility for not inflaming an already difficult situation by turning poetic license into an excuse for poor research and biased outcomes, and using ‘art’ as an excuse for promoting xenophobic stereotypes.
      Anti-Israel propoganda has been used by the same governments that have recently been deposed and overthrown by their own people to ensure the populus had an external enemy to blame rather than their own government. Now is a time that we can step away from historical distortions and cease to inflict those sorts of illegitimate complaint and start working towards a positive solution where all inhabitants of that area could live in peace and greater prosperity.
      It was not the Israelis who caused the late President Hussein of Jordan to expel the Palestinians from Jordan in 1970. It was not Israel that would not allow Gaza to rejoin Egypt in 1981 when the rest of the adjoining Sinai was restored to pre 1967 borders.
      Instead of presenting a litany of xenophobic bias the story would have been, if anything, stronger if it presented the real conundrum that is Arab Israel relations today. Please, let’s move on. I have seen the inequities that impact the Arab population within and without of pre-1967 Israel borders. I have also see the pain and loss that this “war” has created for both sides, even though I don’t live there. I just hope that people won’t use the fantasy that is Kosminsky’s vision of history as a reference point for what should now be a re-frameworking of the potential for peace with new governements throughout the region.

  2. Peter Kosminsky is just another of these self-hating Jews who has grown up in privilege and never fought for freedom. Now he’s earning blood-money.

    Even without episode 4 the whole series is terribly distorted and anti-Israel (…from the censorship about the crimes of the British…the censorship about Oriental Jews fleeing massacres in Arab countries…to the ridiculous misrepresentation of today’s Israeli Jews and in particular “the settlers”…)

    But episode 4 in particular, is an incitement to anti-semitic murder:
    In episode 4, after the Hebron massacres have been referred to only vaguely (and as if the Jews deserved them); the English heroine “innocently” smuggles weapons into Gaza where she finds herself staying at the home of the “poor, traumatised” family of a suicide bomber – who are persecuted “mercilessly” by the IDF. She chains herself and an Arab child to a house to protest it being blown up mercilessly by the IDF. The viewer is made to pity the Arab child at the hands of the “ruthless” IDF instead of being sensitised to the evil child abuse of a family encouraging suicide bombing.

    The episode finishes with a curse from the Grandfather: that the State of Israel began with (Jewish) violence and therefore would never flourish. If Kosminsky would just keep his pathological self-hatred to himself, it would not be so bad; but as a film director he has tremendous influence. Many people think his representation is for real!!! (They don’t realise that he leaves out or distorts historical facts).

  3. So SO well expressed, Adam. “I’d rather be alive and hated than posthumously loved.” – such a good summary. Subscribing now, and will always share stuff like this.

  4. Lucky Mike, If you stop sucking your thumb, you’ll have two hands and the ability to utilize the shift key.

  5. It saddens me to see the hostility in the comments here. How can anybody seriously claim that this programme is an attempt to bring about the down-fall of Israel?
    This is not ‘anti-Zionist propaganda’, and shame on anyone who says it is. Look at the full comments from Kosminsky. He’s fiercely critical of Britain’s cowardice in pulling out, in the manner that became a habit with the colonies: rapid retreat, leaving chaos. He points out that, just as Israel blows up the houses of terrorists, Britain did too with Irgun. Both in the show and in interviews, he compares the initial British treatment of Jewish refugees to the Nazi concentration camps. This implicitly argues that the natural consequence of this is resentment, and the ensuing comparison of the British with the Nazis. Also, right from the start, it places the current mess as being inseparable from the horrors of the Holocaust.
    This film offers representation to a huge range of views via intense arguments between lead characters: hardliners are accused of hipocritical favouritism; moderates are accused of complacency and wilful ignorance.
    In the very first episode, when the Palestinians are subjected to the usual border control humiliation, it appears to be limiting its sympathies to their plight – perhaps, even, refusing to acknowledge the rightful fear of terrorism that Israelis are forced to live with. Moments later, there is a suicide bombing. The two most pro-Palestine characters (Erin and Paul, the latter an ex-Israeli soldier, who now seeks reconciliation with his former foes) are victims, lucky to survive. Erin laments, “He’s trying to help them, and they blow him up.”
    This is a balanced account: violence avenges violence again and again, to and froe, until there can be no justice or freedom for anybody involved.
    There are massive human rights abuses on both sides of this conflict. Just like it is not Islamophobic to condemn terrorist attacks, it is not anti-Semitic to condemn the thousands of innocents killed by Israel. I condemn them both. How can a state prosper when its army sits by and watches as one group of children hurls stones at another, daily, for reasons motivated by nothing less than racism? Or when people are shot for walking too close to a wall? Or, indeed, on the other side, when terrorism by suicide bombing is encouraged as an ‘honourable’ death?
    No progress can be made here without the widespread acknowledgement that there is great immorality on both sides; that far too many innocent lives are claimed by both sides; that there is no one victim, but millions, victims of each other’s fear and hatred; and that both the Palestinians and Israelis deserve peace, freedom, sovereignty and posperity.
    Finally, I respectfully ask not to be insulted or accused of having ‘an agenda’. By all means criticise – and bear in mind that I’d be more than happy to produce references for anything I’ve claimed. I’m just trying to make a balanced point, which is what I believe this film does. And, above all, I think that, in a conflict as tragically attritional as this one, the act of ‘picking sides’ leads to a blinkered view, and a failure to acknowledge the widespread, complicated and heartbraking human cost across the conflict.

    • Robin, the series establishes a moral equivalence between Jew and Arab by lying about how evil the Jews are and ignoring the evil perpetrated by anti-Semitic Arabs. It makes out that Jews arrived from Europe post 1945 and stole the land from peaceful Arabs. The Irgun ‘terrorists’ were a tiny group compared to the socialist Haganah. The Irgun are shown as a well trained, well equipped army, while the vastly outnumbered Arabs defend themselves with a few antiquated firearms. This is a complete reversal of the truth and such vilification can only be anti-Zionist, anti- Israel and anti-Semitic.

  6. Hi,

    I’m netiher British nor Arab, I just the person who saw the drama and who follows the conflict as the rest of the world. The film made me cry. The Pianist also made me cry. It doesn’t matter who is treated unfairly it is the way the human heart responds to people suffering this is what is important. Don’t you feel sorry for the people you treated so badly when Israel was born? It’s disgusting to wach what fashists did to Jews but it’s equally disgusting to watch what you do to Palestinians. Just try to look at this through their eyes and maybe you will have an isight into the conflict you have never had before? I wish your country piece and good luck!

    • Robin, the series establishes a moral equivalence between Jew and Arab by lying about how evil the Jews are and ignoring the evil perpetrated by anti-Semitic Arabs. It makes out that Jews arrived from Europe post 1945 and stole the land from peaceful Arabs. The Irgun ‘terrorists’ were a tiny group compared to the socialist Haganah. The Irgun are shown as a well trained, well equipped army, while the vastly outnumbered Arabs defend themselves with a few antiquated firearms. This is a complete reversal of the truth and such vilification can only be anti-Zionist, anti- Israel and anti-Semitic.

      • Tony
        Have you even bothered to travel to East Jerusalem or the West Bank to see the real situation? Even until today the land grabbing carries on while the international community sit on their hands. This has already been declared illegal by international laws but Israel chooses to ignore it. What is even more despicable and unbelieveable are incidents of Arabs being evicted from their own homes so that Jewish settlers can move in. After 60 years, don’t you think enough is enough? Please do your research before you criticize others.

        • What a fool you make of yourself, “impartial” observer, with this comment. You cannot even attempt a single point, in a mere six sentences, instructing another to do his “research,” without reflecting a mind infected by just the kind of historical distortion this post is all about. 60 years? You mean 63, from Israel’s founding, when in fact Israelis were barred from East Jerusalem by the Arab world until 1967?

          Don’t you see? Take this error, like a proverb or koan on which to meditate, take your righteous indignation, go on a retreat and cleanse yourself with it – maybe you will achieve a vision of what “impartial” is. If you are the honest person you think you are.

        • I have travelled extensively in the disputed territories (including the whole of Jerusalem) and seen the real situation. Jewish new towns are built on unoccupied land that no one wanted before the Jews built on it. I have visited Hevron, Schem, the remains of the Etzion block and all the other places that were ethnically cleansed of their 3500 year old Jewish communities in the 1920’s Arab riots.
          The Arabs and their leftist allies declare the whole of Israel illegal.Yet the state of Israel was created by a majority vote in the UN. The Arabs launched an illegal war of annihilation against Israel the day after it was established. The Jordanians occupied the west bank and the Egyptians Gaza for 19 years after this and no one called it illegal. Since these areas have never been part of a sovereign state, according to international law they are disputed. But don’t take my word, do your own research and then tell me what international laws Israel is breaking? If you can find some, tell me why you are only concerned with democratic Israel and not really brutal dictatorships like China? Why does Turkey get a free ride in Cyprus? Why has the Darfur genocide been ignored for 30 years by the entire world, except for the Jewish American organisations who have battled to bring it to the attention of the public?
          Jews being singled out for special treatment? Nah, not by civilised modern people like you. Surely you’ve been to Israel and seen the conditions on the ground before you condemn an entire nation? Surely you’ve watched the Palestinians at the security barrier ( which is over 90% fence, not wall) and how they are treated like airline passengers when they want to cross into Israel?

    • Naasha, you are exactly the type of person this sickening piece of propaganda is aimed at. You have innocently swollowed all the lies and distortions and now think the poor Palestinians have suffered terribley at the hands of the brutal Jews. This series has very little historical fact and what little there is has been twisted and exaggerated to give a warped view of Israel and Jews.
      I just pray that you never read the anti-semitic forgery ‘Protocols of the elders of Zion’ or Hitler’s ‘Mien Kampf,’ or you’ll be rounding up Jews for the gas chamber.

  7. Sorry can’t resist commenting. First of all Adam Levick, very well written.
    Now, perhaps a few facts should be pointed out. The holocaust had nothing to do with the establishment of modern Israel. The Zionist movement was born in the late 1800’s with the aim of re-establishing the national homeland of the Jewish people in what was then known as Palestine which was a part of the Ottoman empire. Palestine then was a sparsely populated, barren, underdeveloped land.
    After the allies won world war one, the British mandate for Palestine was set up to facilitate the establishment of the Jewish national home in Palestine. This was done by International treaty and so is binding under International law.
    Britain then proceeded to cut off 80% of the mandate and create Trans Jordan ( now Jordan ).
    They then further proceeded to try to repudiate the terms of the mandate altogether, and were opposed to the establishment of a Jewish state. ( see the Peel commission).
    Needless to say the Arabs were opposed to any form of Jewish independence and self determination in the area from the start, and used violence to try to stop it, and to destroy it, as can be seen by the wars of 1948,1967, and 1973. (not to mention the terrorism, “intifadas” since then ).
    In my opinion you can subscribe to two views.
    1) Israel has no right to exist in it’s ancient homeland.
    2) Israel has the right to exist which means you have to treat her as you would any other sovereign state and accord her the right to defend herself, and to keep territories gained in DEFENSIVE wars. You would probably also have to acknowledge that this ” conflict ” is not about borders, or land, or settlements but about the Arab’s absolute refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state in their midst.
    I can see it. Can you ?

  8. All self-hating-Jews should be banned for life from ever visiting Israel. This includes Mike Leigh who sees himself as a champion for the Arab-cause against israel. He hasn’t got the faintest idea concerning the almost 1,000,000 Jews whom were forced out of the Arab-World at the inception of ‘The State of Israel’ in 1948, through discrimination, attacks and murder. We the Jewish refugees of the Arab-world outnumbered the arabb refugees of the post British-Mandate-of-Palestine by two to one, however to date this subject has always been taboo both in the west and the arab-world. We lost far more, the real-estate that we the jews of the arab-lands owned was five times the size of the whole of Israel today. there are 22 arab states why weren’t those arab refugees settled there among their bretheren, israel took the mjority of the jewish refugees from the arab lands so why did the arabs let them fester as open sore wounds for the past 63 years. Don’t keep blaming Israel.

  9. I am not Jewish but married to an Israeli, lived in Israel for 4 years from May 1973 to 1977 and we have four adult sons. My husband is an engineer working in Israel still and has been involved in the recent past in attempting to clean up the Mountain Aquifer for all people in the region, Jews and Arabs, by trying to introduce a system of proper sanitation to West Bank Arab villages, not of course connected to the Israeli main sewerage system. He and his group had little or no support from the Israel government and hostility from the Israel military. Sadly through my personal experience I see a dramatic decline in temperance in Israeli thought and action from the seventies onwards and my increasing belief that hate and aggression is a strong political tool wielded by canny, cynical politicans, like the present and previous governnments, especially to be vamped up around election time. It will hopefully backfire on the operators in due course who seem never to learn that hate can only generate hate, violence more violence, injustice more injustice and that applies to both sides. Deaths of the innocent on any sides are just sickening to me and to most caring people.
    I agree with the temperate Robin. People lose the argument when they become offensive. Passion is one thing, insult something else. Peter Kosminsky’s drama was about passion and an attempt to understand what is happening now in a historical context i.e. excessive, escalating violence between an elephant and a flee basically, albeit a flee, Palestinian Gaza today, with no doubt Iranian rockets to fire from a basically over populated, entrapped area virtually under siege…. not unlike those other refugee camps used politically to keep the political wars going between Israel and her neighbours. Kosminsky’s broad historical structure in The Promise served the purpose of presenting a view of all parties, British, Israelis, terrorists and peacemakers from all sides and refused to ignore the fact that it is becoming increasingly impossible to mend fences when the Israelis are busily building them and settling Palestinian land with Jews of hardline faith who seem to ignore the fact that they are just a tiny tiny minority in the global scheme of things in which all human beings have to find a way to live together, to survive together, to stop killing their own kind … or are these and other fanatics not part of the human race? Successive governments since Oslo have pretended that there would be a stop to the settlements whilst actually encouraging them and thereby providing no hope for a peaceful settlement for Jews and Arabs in the region.
    Centuries ago the English, Scots and Welsh were at each other’s throats from war to war. It was with Union, a United Kingdom, that the whole area of the British Isles began to prosper. The Israelis have the advantage in terms of strength and organisation and it is on their shoulders ethically to set the example, to create the possibility of co-joined States of Israel and Palestine under autonomous governments working to give all populations in the region an equality of living standards, education, peace and justice. You have to be brave enough to defuse he bombs. Before that can be achieved, people like Kosminsky should be applauded for attempting to bring before a much wider audience, globally, the futility of inhumane behaviour on both sides between cultures which have much more in common as Semitic races than should keep them apart. My husband served in all wars up to and including 1973 and our nephew was killed in a tank in no-man’s land across the Lebanon border after Israel ignored the UN cease-fire. My final word is that however cultures my differ, the sins are the same. Carer.