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August 22, 2006 - A most dangerous game is being played in the Middle East. The extreme factions in the Muslim world are planning the destruction of a country. And they are laying the groundwork by trying to convince the world it is morally justified.
Of course this sounds bizarre. And it is. It is nevertheless true.
The program for Israel's destruction is playing out not only on the battlefield of guns and rockets but on the battlefield of ideas. Its main strategy is to discredit Israel by engaging in a reversal of values: reversing the meanings of good and evil. The extreme factions of the Muslim world do this by projecting their own offenses onto Israel, accusing Israel of precisely the crimes they themselves commit, including terrorism and genocide.
This battle began with the issue of the "refugees." It is true that many Palestinian Arabs were displaced from their homes in 1948 - after a war the Arab states began to destroy Israel at its birth. There were also Jewish refugees - from Europe, which had become uninhabitable for Jews, joined by thousands more from Arab lands. One hears nothing about these Jewish refugees because Israel absorbed them and made them citizens. In sharp contrast, Arab states refused to absorb the Arab refugees, instead maintaining them in squalid refugee camps as a festering sore keeping hatred of Israel alive. The so-called "right of return," a key Palestinian demand, is a cynical attempt to make Israel responsible not only for all Jewish refugees but for Arab refugees also, defeating the whole purpose of partition, which is that there be one place for Jews and one for Palestinian Arabs.
The Palestinians scored their first public relations coup by co-opting the experience of the Jews and applying it to themselves. The Jews needed a "homeland" - well, so did the Palestinians. Palestinian violence was packaged as a struggle for a "homeland" as legitimate as the Jewish one.
What the Palestinians don't mention is that Egypt and Jordan annexed the areas designated for the Palestinian homeland in 1948. Israel acquired those areas in 1967, in a war the neighboring Arab states provoked. A lengthy and tortuous process of negotiation of "land for peace" resulted in the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and culminated in the proposals of Camp David 2000. Israel accepted a deal brokered by the Clinton Administration that would have given the Palestinians 96% of the West Bank and Gaza plus shared control of Jerusalem. The Palestinians did not even offer a counter-proposal, but instead responded with a campaign of protracted violence known as the "second intifada."
So what "homeland" could the Palestinians have been talking about? The Palestinian Charter spelled it out: the Palestinian "homeland" was to include all of Israel which, according to them, had no right to exist.
The Palestinian leadership actually made this explicit in its 1974 Phased Plan Resolution. Anything the Palestinians might gain through negotiation or violence was to be considered just a stage in the process of getting the whole thing, namely all of Israel.
The Phased Plan never died; it only took on new forms. Though written over 30 years ago, its words today have an ominous prophetic ring:
The Palestinian national authority will strive to achieve a union of the confrontation countries, with the aim of completing the liberation of all Palestinian territory, and as a step along the road to comprehensive Arab unity.
Today we see this coming true in the convergence of Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran against Israel in escalating threats of violence.
The Palestinians and their allies are still hoping for their plan's fulfillment. When Israel withdrew from Gaza a year ago, the Palestinians did not greet it as a step toward peace but used the Israeli concession to begin a campaign to make southern Israel uninhabitable. Similarly, Hezbollah took advantage of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon to fortify themselves with sophisticated weapons, supplied by Iran and Syria, and nearly succeeded in making northern Israel uninhabitable. The hope was to squeeze Israel into a constantly shrinking middle until the country itself would become unviable.
We will return later to the Hezbollah war. For now, note that the language of victimization, "refugees," and "homeland" has gone a long way towards making Israel's destruction seem morally justifiable to many segments of the world. The clever manipulation of language has served the perversion of morality.
The Palestinians and their supporters try further to delegitimize Israel by calling it a "racist," "apartheid" state. Their first great success came in 1975 when, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism. This resolution stood for 16 years and was only rescinded when Israel made that a condition for participating in the Madrid Peace Conference.
A favorite tactic of the anti-Israel left is to smear Israel with the label of "apartheid." This is yet another lie, considering that non-Jews in Israel have far more rights and privileges than non-Muslims in Muslim countries. Israel grants Arabs full citizenship and representation in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Palestinians may bring their grievances to Israeli courts, and many have won their cases. Those who accuse Israel of racism should remember that Jews have had little access to justice throughout the Muslim world, have suffered much persecution and violence, and are barred from citizenship in many Muslim countries. That is where "apartheid" is truly practiced.
Yet in spite of the fact that Arabs are far better off in Israel than are Jews in Arab and Muslim lands, it is Israel that is called "racist" and "apartheid," contrary to fact and reason. Morality is once again reversed, and the crimes of the Muslim world once more projected onto Israel.
The language of moral equivalence is frequently used to discredit Israel's legitimate attempts to defend itself against terrorist attack. The general theme is that Israel is no better than the terrorists, since both engage in violent acts and are therefore morally equivalent.
The liberal Protestant Church has been especially adept at this, as well as tossing the charge of apartheid. Along with other anti-Israel groups it condemns "targeted assassinations" of terrorist leaders. It should be clear to anyone with a rudimentary sense of morality that targeting an innocent civilian and targeting the person who killed that civilian are not the same and are not morally equivalent. Yet when an Arab terrorist murders an Israeli family and Israel pursues the terrorist, it is called a "cycle of violence," as if both sides were equally to blame. The charge of "targeted assassination" is profoundly hypocritical. America practiced "targeted assassination" when it killed Saddam Hussein's two sons, when it killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and when it tried to kill Osama bin Laden. What "targeted assassination" really means is that unlike Arab terrorists, who try intentionally to kill innocent people, Israel wants only to eliminate the perpetrators, so that they cannot commit further acts of violence. The moral distinction should be obvious.
Yet I have read repeatedly in church publications, particularly those of the Presbyterian Church, that "apartheid" Israel practices "targeted assassination." These church leaders may think they are taking a moral stand, though clearly it is passion, not morality that motivates them. I wonder whether they realize that by continuing to voice these smears against Israel they are colluding with the effort to remove the moral basis for Israel's existence and set Israel up for destruction.
It cannot be repeated often enough that Israel does not intentionally target civilians. Sometimes civilians are hurt, a tragic inevitability given the fact that Arab terrorists use them as camouflage. A terrorist has as little regard for his own civilians as for those on the other side. Arab civilians placed in harm's way are martyrs to the cause, and the terrorist has no qualms about exposing them to danger. The terrorist is Israel's only target, but for the terrorist any Israeli, male or female, elder or child, is fair game.
Even Israel's nonviolent attempts to protect itself have been attacked. When Israel builds a fence around itself to keep out suicide bombers, it is called and "apartheid wall" and slammed as an act of "racism." Is there no racism in the terrorists against whom the fence is meant to protect? Those who single out Jewish noncombatants in stabbings, shootings, and bombings? How can it be that the deep and obvious racism of the Arab terrorists completely escapes Israel's critics?
The 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah marked a watershed in the campaign to discredit Israel by reversing morality. Most people have the impression that the war began with Hezbollah's kidnapping two Israeli soldiers in Israeli territory and killing several more. This did happen, but it was not all. On the same day, July 12, Hezbollah also launched rockets and mortar shells at Israeli military posts in Shebaa Farms and at the northern Israeli town of Shlomi. And this was not Hezbollah's first cross-border attack. Since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon Hezbollah violated Israel's border repeatedly, with rocket attacks, sniper fire, and kidnappings. Israel did exercise restraint, but Hezbollah's provocations continued.
Hezbollah took advantage of Israel's absence from southern Lebanon to accumulate an arsenal of rockets all along Israel's northern border. Since Hezbollah's self-proclaimed reason for being is Israel's destruction, its clear intention was that some day those rockets would be used. Israel found itself living under a threat of rocket attacks that could and did occur at any time the enemy chose. No country would be expected to put up with that indefinitely.
Hezbollah seemed determined to provoke a war with Israel. When it finally succeeded, Israel discovered it was not simply fighting a band of terrorists but a well-trained army, essentially an extension of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This army came equipped with highly sophisticated weapons supplied by Iran and shipped through Syria. For all practical purposes Israel and Iran were at war, with Iran hiding comfortably out of sight behind its proxy.
Nevertheless, in a masterstroke of arrogance Hezbollah tried to claim the moral high ground. Its incessant rocket attacks drew the Israeli army into Lebanon, after which Hezbollah justified those attacks by saying it was "resisting" a "foreign occupation." Hezbollah launched rockets from the tops of apartment buildings, then accused the Israelis of "terrorism" if they fired back. In spite of its cynical tactics Hezbollah knew it could count on widespread hatred of Israel throughout the Muslim world to sell successfully its message of moral reversal.
Hezbollah bills itself as a movement of "resistance." But what is it resisting? Israeli troops in Lebanon? There were no Israeli troops in Lebanon until Hezbollah attacked Israel across its own border. Occupation? The only "occupation" Hezbollah talks about is Shebaa Farms, a small slip of land close to where Israel, Syria, and Lebanon meet. But no one fired any rockets at Syria when that area was under Syrian control. The U.N. ruled that Shebaa Farms is Syrian, not Lebanese, and certified Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon as complete. Shebaa Farms is a contrivance by Hezbollah to accuse Israel of occupying "Lebanon," providing Hezbollah with an excuse to kill Israeli civilians.
The extreme edge of the Muslim world, gaining strength from Western failures in Iraq and now the Israel-Hezbollah war, is on its way toward legitimating genocide.
Is it an exaggeration to use this word? In both word and deed Hezbollah has proven it appropriate.
Here is Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah in his own words:
"It is an open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth." (Hezbollah statement, 1992)
"The Jews invented the legend of the Nazi atrocities... Anyone who reads the Qur'an and the holy writings of the monotheistic religions sees what they did to the prophets, and what acts of madness and slaughter the Jews carried out throughout history... Anyone who reads these texts cannot think of co-existence with them, of peace with them, or about accepting their presence, not only in Palestine of 1948 but even in a small village in Palestine, because they are a cancer which is liable to spread again at any moment." (April 9, 2000)
"Throughout history, the Jews have been Allah's most cowardly and greedy creatures. If you search the entire face of the Earth, you will find no one more miserly than the Jews, or more greedy." (Sept. 28, 2001)
"If the Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide." (Oct. 22, 2002)
And there is this from the Hezbollah Program:
We see in Israel the vanguard of the United States in our Islamic world. It is the hated enemy that must be fought until the hated ones get what they deserve....
We vigorously condemn all plans for negotiation with Israel, and regard all negotiators as enemies, for the reason that such negotiation is nothing but the recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of Palestine. Therefore we oppose and reject the Camp David Agreements, the proposals of King Fahd, the Fez and Reagan plan, Brezhnev's and the French-Egyptian proposals, and all other programs that include the recognition (even the implied recognition) of the Zionist entity.
The message is clear. Hezbollah will under no circumstances recognize Israel's right to exist, and not only does it wish to annihilate the State of Israel but also the Jewish people wherever they may live. To call Hezbollah's program genocide is no exaggeration.
As for Hezbollah's deeds, we need only mention its repeated unprovoked attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians, escalating to a war of rockets against Israel's cities. What will happen when Hezbollah manages to obtain from its Iranian patron even more sophisticated rockets and missiles, with a range that will make not just northern Israel uninhabitable?
It is important not to forget who stands behind Hezbollah and helped it become such an effective fighting force. Iran has also called for Israel's destruction many times. Iran also attacks not only Israel but the Jewish people. Its recent exhibition of cartoons mocking the Holocaust is meant to revise history, denying the old Holocaust to help set up the new one. "After the Holocaust was questioned by the President [Ahmadinejad], now I have real doubts about it," said one Iranian graphic artist. While billed as a counterpunch against the cartoons of Muhammad that appeared in the Danish press, these anti-Holocaust cartoons have a deeper purpose: to paint the Jews as a people of liars, whose fears of a new Holocaust should be taken no more seriously than their grief over the old Holocaust, which never happened.
We hardly need reminding that Iran is on the threshold of nuclear capability. The leader of an increasingly powerful nation is threatening genocide and acquiring the means to carry it out. Ahmadinejad is no mere lunatic who can be easily dismissed. He is a head of state, and he knows what he is saying.
How will the world react to this looming threat? The signs are not encouraging. The Islamic extremists have succeeded in exciting much of the Muslim world into a frenzy. Europe is once again responding to the threat of tyranny with fear and appeasement. The European Union refuses to call Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The French Foreign Minister calls Iran a stabilizing influence. The U.N. is worse than useless. It tries to impose phony solutions guaranteed to keep the flames smoldering until one day they erupt more ferociously than ever.
U.N. Security Council 1701 is a joke. It calls for Hezbollah to disarm, but no one is willing to ensure that will happen. France has slashed its troop commitment by 90%, and has announced that it would not send troops unless Hezbollah first guarantees it will disarm willingly. Hezbollah has repeatedly refused to do so. Who with a modicum of sanity would have expected otherwise? Hezbollah believes it has emerged from this war victorious and stronger than ever. So now it is supposed to disarm? No political entity has ever relinquished power willingly, especially when it feels its power is increasing.
As for Israel, in spite of trying to put a good face on it, it gets nothing from this resolution. So far the only countries that have agreed to send substantial numbers of troops are Muslim countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel, and whose sympathies lean toward the other side. Even now Iran has been trying to resupply Hezbollah with weapons, a clear violation of the resolution, but nobody protests. Only Israel is slammed by a very partisan Kofi Annan for trying to stop those arms shipments. Israel does not even get its kidnapped soldiers back. This is a lopsided resolution, based on provisions that anyone with any political wisdom should see immediately have no teeth, and it is being selectively enforced to Israel's detriment. The notion that such a resolution will solve the problem is either cynical or stupid. The resolution paves the way for a reconstituted Hezbollah with more advanced and destructive weapons, guaranteeing that round two of the Hezbollah war will be even more devastating.
One can only suspect the thinking is: this is the Jews' problem so let's just have some peace and quiet for now and let the Jews deal with it later. but when "later" comes it will not be only Jews who are affected. The more Hezbollah and Iran are allowed to strengthen themselves for their war against the Jews, the worse will be the devastation on all sides, and the greater the consequences that war will have for the entire world.
There are many enablers besides Europe and the U.N. Human Rights Watch believes Israel should be tried for war crimes, but not Hezbollah because Hezbollah is not a state. Yet Human Rights Watch does not suggest going after those states that empower Hezbollah: Iran and Syria. Human Rights Watch blames Israel for failing to distinguish between civilian and military targets, but assigns no responsibility to Hezbollah for intentionally blurring that distinction by using civilians as human shields, which clearly violates international law. Whether or not it is the conscious intention, such a position amounts to taking sides in this conflict.
And it is taking the wrong side. There were reasons for Israel's actions. Israel did not intentionally target civilians. It did not attack Beirut's water or electricity, though it could have flattened the city if it wished (as Syria did in Hama). Israel did target roads and bridges used by Hezbollah for supply and troop movement. It did attack areas from which rockets were launched at Israeli cities. Unfortunately civilians were killed, and that is indisputably tragic. It is not an excuse, simply a truism, that in war mistakes are made and innocent people hurt. But Israel has nothing to gain by killing civilians. Every Lebanese civilian casualty brings Israel no strategic advantage but only inflames world opinion against it, so why should Israel target civilians intentionally? Israel has no desire to wipe out the Lebanese people, no genocidal program like Hezbollah's. Israel is no more guilty of war crimes in Lebanon than was the U.S. in Afghanistan and in Kosovo, where many more civilians perished.
Intentionally firing rockets into civilian areas, on the other hand, is a war crime by any estimation. Hezbollah's war is by its very nature a war against civilians. Hezbollah stood up so well against the IDF because it fought its war guided by a different values. Hezbollah values dictate that the lives of civilians on either side count for nothing, save as pawns of war. Dead Israeli civilians are trophies of war, and dead Lebanese civilians are martyrs to the cause. Hezbollah intentionally places Lebanese civilians in danger's path, to inhibit the Israelis from firing back, and to inflame sentiment against Israel when any of those civilians are hurt. Thus Hezbollah fighters wear no uniform; they blend with the local population and use their homes as magazines and launching pads. Why should Hezbollah care about the Lebanese? It has no real allegiance to Lebanon, though pretending to defend it. And since the world, deceived by notions of moral equivalence, cannot distinguish between attacks on terrorist victims and attacks on the terrorists themselves, Hezbollah sees no reason to temper the depraved and nihilistic values from which it draws inspiration.
Hezbollah can only feel encouraged and emboldened by the reaction of the world. By far the majority of world reaction either cheers on Hezbollah or fears and appeases it. Even the U.S. has pressured Israel to accept a resolution that practically guarantees to restore the status quo ante, reinstating the conditions that led to the war, in spite of Condoleezza Rice's optimistic assurances that would never happen. Resolution 1701 will not disarm Hezbollah and will not even bring back Israel's kidnapped soldiers. Hezbollah gives up nothing. It gets a chance to regroup and become even stronger, ready to fight another day when the stakes will be much higher not only for Israel but for the world.
I stake no claim for Israel's moral perfection, nor do I need to in order to reveal Hezbollah's agenda. Israel has committed some serious blunders, and some of its policies have been woefully misguided. I have offered sharp criticisms of those policies even on this web site. I say this to dissuade those who would accuse me of justifying everything Israel does simply because I am calling Israel's enemies what they really are. It seems that only Israel is judged by a standard of having to be morally perfect in order to justify its right to exist. Israel is not morally perfect. No country is, not by a long shot. But Israel is also not the moral equivalent of its enemies. Israel is imperfect, but those out to destroy Israel cross the line from imperfection into evil.
This becomes clear when we consider just what each side is fighting for. Israel does not want to occupy Lebanon, and was not occupying any Lebanese territory. It was Hezbollah that repeatedly violated Israel's border. "Occupation" is a trumped-up charge Hezbollah uses to justify calling itself a "resistance." Israel's memories of the last Lebanon war, which was also caused by cross-border terrorism, are very bitter ones. Israel's reluctance to reenter Lebanese territory contributed to its ill-fated decision not to send in ground troops until it was too late.
Israel is fighting to protect its towns and cities from infiltration and the threat of rocket attacks. To those who blame Israel for this war, I would ask: What would you do if confronted by an enemy who has amassed huge numbers of lethal weapons all along your border and has demonstrated a willingness to use them?
Hezbollah is fighting to destroy Israel and to kill Jews for the sake of killing Jews. Hezbollah admits this, as we have already seen, and who is anyone to doubt they mean what they say?
The charge of "occupation" is not only ironic, it is diabolical. Even the United Nations ruled that Israel occupies no Lebanese territory. So what does Hezbollah do? It fires more than a hundred rockets each day at Israeli cities and villages, drawing in the Israeli army to try to stop them, and when the Israeli army arrives Hezbollah accuses Israel of occupation! Talk about a setup. Nevertheless, Hezbollah knows that "occupation" and "resistance" are buzz words that resound throughout the Muslim world, and so the great lie works. Hezbollah draws Israel into a war that Israel never wanted, resulting in terrible destruction on all sides. Then Hezbollah claims it is defending Lebanon! And with God's blessing yet!
Hezbollah is fighting for precisely what it says it is fighting for, when it talks to its own people in their own language and not merely for the benefit of the Western press. Hezbollah has made its methods and goals very clear:
I am no philosopher, and cannot tell you exactly where the line between good and evil is drawn. I only know this crosses the line by a considerable distance.
In spite of the true nature of this conflict, Israel, not Hezbollah, has been increasingly demonized in world opinion. How could this have happened?
There are many reasons. Israel has a far better case than the one it has presented. For some reason - perhaps a belief it would be futile - Israel has not devoted sufficient resources towards making its legitimate case to the world, while its enemies have engineered a systematic public relations offensive that has even resorted to doctoring news photographs.
But there are much deeper reasons. A "hidden war," a campaign of disinformation started years ago, is now bearing fruit. This campaign has several components:
Each of these points deserves examination.
1. Rewriting history. The Palestinians and their supporters have tried to rewrite just about every event in history that has gained worldwide attention, such as Camp David, the "massacre" in Jenin, and Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. But the centerpiece of this effort has been Israel's 1948 War of Independence. It is bedrock history that the new nation of Israel did not want war with its neighbors, but that after the U.N. voted partition Israel was invaded by five Arab armies. Yet if this can be reversed in the minds of many, leading them to believe that Israel was the aggressor, then the legitimacy of Israel's existence is called into question and its destruction seems morally justified.
2. Projection. The Arabs know, but do not care, that their crimes have no moral justification. Nevertheless, they win in the public arena if they can convince people that Jews are no better than they are. So they fling charges of "targeting civilians," "apartheid," "ethnic cleansing," and "genocide." Sometimes civilians do get hurt, but Israel does not intentionally target them, both for reasons of conscience and because it would be contrary to Israel's self-interest. We have already mentioned the problem of the Arabs using civilians as human shields. As for the rest, 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs, and Israel has no plans to eject them. Yet Arab states have practiced apartheid and ethnic cleansing by mistreating and persecuting their Jews and throwing them out of their lands. The Jews have become the "shadow" or projection of the dark side of the Arab and Muslim worlds, allowing the latter to deny and externalize their own transgressions and to justify their passionate hatred.
3. Presenting the Arab as the underdog. The absurdity of this delusion would be laughable if it were not so widespread. The Palestinians, who have turned down many opportunities to find peaceful negotiated solutions, want the world to believe they are alone fighting a mighty Jewish military machine. The fact is that Israel is fighting a never-ending war against an axis composed of Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Syria, Iran, and various other terror groups, with financing from Saudi Arabia, and all these forces oppose Israel's existence no matter how much or how little territory it occupies.
4. Lying about the true objectives. The big lie the Arabs tell about their intentions is that they are "resisting an occupation." The word "occupation" resonates powerfully with the political left, and has been a game winner for the Arabs. But just what does that word mean? Sometimes it means territories Israel acquired during the Arab-instigated Six-Day War - yet ever since Oslo, the more control Israel relinquishes over those territories, the more aggressive the Arabs become. Hezbollah's agenda is not Palestine but (supposedly) Lebanon, so for Hezbollah "occupation" means the Shebaa Farms, a claim with no basis in fact. But what "occupation" really means, and has always meant, is the entire slice of territory "occupied" by Israel, "from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea." This is spelled out in the PLO Charter, the Hamas Charter, and the Hezbollah Program, and is what Palestinians have always said when talking amongst themselves and instructing their children in school.
All the above strategies are part of a coordinated campaign to delegitimize Israel, undermine its right to exist, and set it up for a justified destruction. We are now entering a new and dangerous phase of this campaign. The Palestinians have, with some justification, become so confident that their campaign to demonize Israel is working that they are becoming less inhibited about stating their true intentions in the hearing of Western ears.
Rashid Khalidi, Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University and a leading Palestinian intellectual, recently made the following statement on national public television:
I'm suggesting that, if you try and talk about Palestine, which is a country, a people, a nation that's never had sovereignty, never had statehood, that has been under occupation by Israel ever since 1948, then you are - and you ignore that - you are trying to blame the victim, in essence.
A short paragraph loaded with disinformation. First, Palestine is not a country. Second, the reason Palestine has not enjoyed statehood is because the Palestinians rejected partition, which would have given them a state in 1948 (or even in 1937 had they accepted the proposals of the Peel Commission, or again in 2000 with Camp David). Third, note the key phrase: under occupation by Israel ever since 1948. The truth comes out: Palestinians consider all of Israel "occupied territory" and therefore deny Israel's right to exist. This was no secret to those who read Palestinian newspapers or watch Palestinian TV. Now it is no longer a secret to Americans.
It used to be taken for granted that everyone admitted Israel's right to exist, so why even pressure the Palestinians to change their charter? That is no longer the case. Israel's legitimacy has been so undermined within a large segment of world opinion that openly questioning Israel's right to exist is becoming acceptable. Why did Khalidi so openly make such a brazen, anti-peace statement? Because he thinks he can get away with it. And maybe he can.
And while the Arabs have found it easier to tell open lies about their intentions, Jews have been finding it more difficult to tell the truth. Israel's enemies are not only anti-Zionist but virulently anti-Semitic. This is obvious to anyone who knows the Arab media and what is preached in mosques throughout the Muslim world. Yet Jews are increasingly being denied permission to point this out. More and more, when Jews point to incidents of anti-Semitism, they are accused of calling anti-Semites anyone who disagrees with them. This demagogic tactic stifles honest discussion and has the effect of denying that anti-Semitism exists at all. If Jews are not allowed to voice the charge of anti-Semitism even when it applies, then anti-Semitism acquires immunity from critical examination. Often when Jews defend against unfair criticism of Israel, they are accused of not allowing any criticism at all - and the discussion often ends there, before any real issues are considered.
It is the same with the Holocaust. While evidence mounts that a new Holocaust may well be in the planning stages, Jews are accused of being paranoid and obsessed with the old one. Those who deny the Holocaust are increasing. Hezbollah and Iran both proclaim the Holocaust a myth, while an Egyptian Government paper proclaims the Jews "Accursed forever and ever" and laments that Hitler should have finished the job. Either the Holocaust never happened or, if it did, it didn't go far enough. So calls for a new Holocaust arise, under the banner of a Holy War blessed by God.
Holocaust denial is no mere sociopathic fantasy. It is a tactic of war, meant to undermine any Jewish claim not only to Israel but also to the truth. Holocaust denial has become a ritual performed to prepare Israel for sacrifice. That is why Iran's Holocaust cartoons should not be lightly dismissed. Those cartoons will kill - and this time the perpetrators of the violence will not be the people protesting the cartoons.
The war against Israel is not just a a war of bombs and rockets but a war of words. And just like bombs and rockets, words affect lives. Words fuel the passions that make those weapons kill, and words justify the indifference that allows it to happen.
An Orwellian transformation of language has taken over the Middle East. Muslim hatred of Jews and intolerance of Israel's existence can only be described as a particularly vicious form of racism. That should be obvious. Nevertheless all the labels of racism are applied to Israel, not to Muslims, even though Israelis do not teach their schoolchildren that Muslims are a cancer that must be eradicated, do not preach genocide in their synagogues, and do not blow up Muslim families with suicide bombs in the belief that God will reward them in heaven.
None of this is coincidental, and provides a context in which criticism of Israel must be evaluated. Very often criticism of Israel does not take the form of reasoned argument but of slogans: "apartheid," "racism," "state-sponsored terrorism" - and often those who make such charges have little to say about real state sponsors of terrorism such as Syria and Iran. Of course Israel may be criticized. I do it myself. But when the Presbyterian Church divests its holdings from companies doing business with Israel while hardly having a critical word to say about the Palestinians, when academic organizations boycott Israel selectively, or when Israel is held to an imposible double standard of perfection and tarred with labels that better fit the other side, then something deeper is going on. Whether or not the motives of people who do this are sinister, they are colluding with, or at the very least enabling, a premeditated campaign to deprive Israel of its moral legitimacy. The intended result is to make the annihilation of Israel a moral imperative ("Smash the oppressor!").
The extreme but extensive fringes of the Muslim world have spent years preparing for a second Holocaust. The widespread revival of Nazi slogans, the popularization of anti-Semitic classics like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the use of the Qur'an and Muhammad's teachings to prove God's hatred of the Jews, once again accusing Jews of using gentile children's blood for their rituals, teaching schoolchildren that Jews are subhuman, apes and pigs, preaching violence against Jews in televised sermons in mosques: this is the way a Holocaust begins, through the institutionalized use of rhetoric to inflame racist passion. When people throw labels at Israel ("apartheid," "racist") without permitting rational discourse, they are joining this verbal violence. These are not "only" words. Words are powerful. Words kill.
Already Jews around the world are suffering because of the violence these words inspire. Brutality against French Jews from France's large Muslim population has been a problem for years. Even Jews from England are emigrating to Israel because of the rise in British anti-Semitism. Israel, as dangerous as it can be, still serves a purpose as haven for Jews who feel they have no other option. Yet as tiny as Israel is in comparison to the vastness of the Muslim world, the latter can still not tolerate Israel's existence.
The language of morality must be reclaimed. We cannot stop haters from hating or from attacking the innocent. But we do not have to accept their advertising. We can see through their attempts to reverse the language of morality and to make words mean their opposites, just as Orwell predicted. The terrorists may kill as many as they like. At the very least let us not allow them to claim that what they are doing is noble.
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