Coming to New York at the beginning of February just in time to enjoy the brutal chill and snow of winter, something we rarely have in Israel, I had the opportunity to meet with a wide range of Jews holed up inside to stay warm, up to date as ever on Israel and the latest developments in the Jewish world.
From the warm confines of their heated offices and homes, things don’t look so bad; for those that fled to Florida, things look even better. At times it seems as if Israel, and the modern day Islamic crusade against the Jews, are light years away. Israeli election fever is reaching a pitch and Bibi-bashing is being orchestrated from the White House, zealously tolerated by the Israeli media and leftist cohorts, but one never really has to breach the confines of heated comfort zones and deal with the brutal cold.
Many of those I met expressed a subtle smugness, a kind of underlying and unspoken attitude of "as much as I care about Israel, and as much as I am concerned about the unprecedented anti-Semitism and murderous attacks on Jews in Paris, and Copenhagen, here in America we have a different reality, we don’t have to prepare our suitcases as many are doing in most European countries. All we have to do is simply mind our own business and the current wave of Jew hatred will pass-over us."
What my fellow Jews in America fail to comprehend is that the latest wave of hatred of Israel and of Jews in particular is not related whatsoever to Israel, nor to the "settlements", or even to the so-called occupation, it is not because of the war this past summer against Hamas; in fact, it is not because of what the Jews do, but because of what we are and what we represent in the minds of those that hate us.
As Matt Friedman, the former AP reporter recently wrote; historians of Western history have explained that at times of confusion and external dangers, and when society is unable to provide answers that make these threats go away, negative sentiment tends to revolve around Jews. Discussions of issues of the period often end up as discussions about Jews.
In the late 1800s, French society was riven by the clash between the old France of the church and army, and the new France of liberalism and the rule of law. All of this sentiment erupted around the figure of a Jew, Alfred Dreyfus, accused of betraying France as a spy for Germany. His accusers knew he was innocent, but that didn’t matter; he was a symbol of everything they wanted to condemn.
During the 1920s and 1930s Germans were preoccupied with their humiliation at the end of World War I. This soon became a discussion of imaginary Jewish traitors who had stabbed Germany in the back. Germans were preoccupied as well with the woes of their economy – this soon became a discussion of Jewish wealth, and Jewish bankers.
In the years of the rise of communism and the Cold War, communists concerned with their ideological opponents talked about Jewish capitalists and cosmopolitans, or Jewish doctors plotting against the state. At the very same time, in capitalist societies threatened by communism, people condemned Jewish Bolsheviks.
This is the face of this recurring obsession. As the journalist Charles Maurras wrote, approvingly, in 1911: ‘Everything seems impossible, or frighteningly difficult, without the providential arrival of anti-Semitism, through which all things fall into place and are simplified.’
Despite being the smallest nation in the Middle East and never knowing a moment of acceptance and peace since its inception, Israel has in fact become the alleged symbol of the ills of the West – colonialism, nationalism, militarism, and racism. This is not because of the Jewish settlers or the mighty I.D.F., rather it is because Israel and today’s Jews are the heirs to the Jewish banker and Jewish commissar of the past. It is because when moral failure raises its head in the Western imagination, the head tends to wear a skullcap.
Today’s current epidemic of primal hatred of Israel and of the Jews by Islamic organizations and the Western liberal intelligentsia stems from a concept known as redemptive anti-Semitism. For example, in a Nazi directive of 1943: "The extermination of Jewry throughout the world is the precondition for an enduring peace". Such a statement is remarkably similar, if not identical, to the hated past leader of Iran, Ahmadinejad, who proclaimed at every opportunity that "the Zionist regime will be wiped out and humanity liberated".
A common thread unifying the desire for the total destruction of Jews is shared by Islamic terror and Nazism. It is not a coincidence that both German Nazism and modern Islamism arose in the 1920s.The Nazi’s spoke of redemptive anti-Semitism, namely a form of anti-Semitism that explains the world and offers a form of “redemption” by exterminating all the Jews. Modern radical Islamism provides the same rational for murdering Jews and Israeli’s in particular.
Palestinian Arab anti-Semitism has long been recognized as the Arab world’s prominent vehicle for the hatred of the Jews. From academics teaching that Judaism permits murder and rape of non-Jews, to religious leaders teaching that Islam demands the extermination of Jews, Palestinian anti-Semitism is a compelling force driving hatred and terror. The Palestinian Authority depicts Jews as the archetypal force of evil throughout history. Jews are said to be responsible for all the world’s problems: wars, financial crises, even the spreading of AIDS. Jews are a danger to humanity. Blame has become the opium of the Arabs, and the greatest blame for their failures is that directed at Israel.
Whereas this paradigm has been used before by Nazis, the Palestinians take it a step further, turning demonization of Jews into the basis for Palestinian denial of Israel’s right to exist and a central component of Palestinian national identity. The anti-Semitic oppression, persecution and expulsions suffered by Jews throughout history are presented as the legitimate self-defense responses of the nations of the world, an idea that has been adopted wholly by Western intellectuals.
Palestinian Arabs, in ways similar to the Nazis in the past, have created a false and deceptive reality that will sooner than later crumble and implode. Over the past three years we have all witnessed how quickly Arab leaders throughout the Middle East have to flee from their own people due to the eruption of rage and hatred by the Arab mobs.
The true narrative of the Middle East is that no Arab state genuinely respects human rights. No Arab state hosts a responsible media. No Arab society fully respects the rights of women or minorities, and no Arab government has ever accepted public responsibility for its own shortcomings. Blame has become the opium of the Arabs, and the greatest blame for their failures is that directed at Israel.
So is born the obsessive campaign to demonize and de-legitimize Israel, the home of the Jewish nation. Only by spreading the word and exposing the historically lethal link between Islamic terror and Nazism, can the modern torchbearers of “redemptive anti-Semitism” regain the moral high ground in defending Israel against the global tsunami of ever growing anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel.
So as my hosts in New York do the utmost to keep the brutal cold as far away as possible, they won’t succeed by minding their own business.