Of all the bigotries in the world today, one stands out for special consideration. That is not simply because it is so odious, though it is certainly that. It is because it is the one bigotry that presents a clear and present danger of translating into a genocidal outcome. It is also the one form of bigotry that has been openly accepted and internalised by large sections of a British and West-European political intelligentsia that remains dominated by the liberal-Left.
I am talking, of course, about anti-Zionism – a uniquely discriminatory agenda aimed at deligitimising the State of Israel and ending that country’s existence as the national homeland of the Jewish people.
In the context of Iranian threats to destroy the country, the loss of Turkey as an ally and the new pre-eminence of extreme, anti-Israeli Islamists in Egypt, the rantings of Western anti-Zionists have now acquired a new and more dangerous significance.
Think of it this way: it’s one thing to spout abuse about black people to a group of equally bigoted but basically passive racists when nobody else is listening; it’s quite another to do exactly the same thing in front of a frenzied, knife-wielding mob of skinheads heading towards a black neighbourhood.
I make no direct analogy, but enter Ben White, author of, “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide”. On Sunday, he published an extensive piece in the leading weekly magazine of the British Left, The New Statesman. Essentially, it’s a trash job on Israeli democracy. It, perversely, charges a British pro-Israel grouping, BICOM, with having unwittingly revealed, in a series of recent essays, that Israel is not in fact a proper democracy at all: it’s a racist“ethnocracy“ run by and for Jews.
You’ve heard it all before, of course. And I will come to the “substance“ (if such a word is appropriate in the circumstances) in a moment.
But let me first re-emphaise the point made above, and make it relevant to the fate of Israel in the Middle East.
For there is nothing new about fanatical hostility to Israel in the British and European mainstream. The Guardian newspaper – the media-intellectual home of the British Left and, effectively, the house journal of the BBC – has been at it for years.
What is new is the context in the Middle East where Israel now looks set to be ensnared in a potentially deadly triangle of annihilationist regimes. On one point on that triangle is Turkey – a country that in little more than a blink of an eye has moved from being an ally to an enemy; a country whose leadership is increasingly using anti-Israeli rhetoric as a rallying cry and which has even gone so far as to threaten sending its warships to protect pro-Hamas “aid“ flotillas to Gaza.
Now draw a straight line from Ankara to Cairo for the second point on the triangle. Egypt’s parliamentary elections were resoundingly won by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists – both of which combine extreme forms of anti-Semitism with resolute opposition to the existence of the Jewish state. Together, they took over 70 percent of the seats.
Now go to Tehran, drawing the line necessary to complete the triangle from both Ankara and Cairo. (Iranian hostility to Israel surely needs no elaboration.)