Peace with Realism

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Ironically, Holocaust survivors have been found among the victims of the Palestinian suicide bombs. Genocide is indeed the terrorists' agenda. Every Jewish civilian, regardless of age or role in society, is a target. The terrorists' openly stated purpose is to destroy the State of Israel by killing as many Israelis as they can and sending the rest into flight. Nevertheless it is Israel who stands accused of racism and Nazism. How can we explain this reversal of basic human values, the application of the Nazi label by those who would perpetuate the spirit of Nazism against those who were the victims of Nazism?

It is true that Israel has taken some aggressive measures. It has demolished the homes of terrorists, destroyed buildings used to cover arms smuggling, set up checkpoints to screen against possible terrorist activity, and is building a fence to keep terrorists away from Israeli cities. Some of these measures have caused hardship to many Palestinians. But Israel did not engage in any of this activity before the wave of terrorism became gravely serious. Israel also has no policy of attacking Palestinian civilians, even at times putting its own soldiers at risk in order to minimize Palestinian casualties, while the terrorists try to kill and injure as many Israeli civilians as they can.

The Nazi label does not fit Israel by any stretch of the imagination. So why is it becoming increasingly acceptable now to apply such language to Israel, both in Europe and in the Muslim world?

There are many reasons for it:

  1. Europe has had a legacy of anti-Semitism spanning centuries, and which has never really died. It went into brief hiding after the World War II Holocaust, but now that Jews have been governing and defending themselves successfully in Israel, Holocaust guilt is rapidly evaporating.

  2. The Arabs have oil, the Jews do not.

  3. Many European countries now have large and growing Muslim populations of which they are afraid. The United Nations also has 57 Muslim countries and many others symapthetic to their cause, while there is only one Jewish state. Israel is the one member of the U.N. barred from sitting on the Security Council.

  4. Within the Muslim world itself, a sovereign Jewish presence is anathema. The proper historic place of Jews in the Muslim world is the place of the dhimmi, the subservient non-Muslim minority. A powerful Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim world is thus an offense not only to Arabs but to Muslims in general. And so hatred of Israel, usually connected to hatred of Jews, is the one issue that unites the disparate factions of the Muslim world. Anti-Semitic invective on the scale of the Nazis (and in fact often borrowed from them) circulates throughout many Muslim countries in newspapers, television, and sermons preached in mosques.

While today there is a concerted effort to paint Israel, and by extension the Jewish people, with the label "Nazi," it is not a coincidence that the Nazis were by far the worst persecutors of the Jews throughout history. Hardly any Jew alive today has not been deeply affected by the Nazi Holocaust. Nevertheless, today it is becoming acceptable to throw this word at the Israeli Prime Minister, at Israel, and at Jews in general without even giving a thought to the pain that the word inflicts.

One tactic of debate often used against Jews is particularly demagogic. Many of Israel's critics like to claim that Jews try to silence them by calling their criticism of Israel "anti-Semitic." But I would like to ask, Who is trying to silence whom?

First, it should be very clear that criticizing Israel in itself does not make one an anti-Semite. Israel is no more above criticism than any other country, and some serious criticism of Israel can be found elsewhere on this web site. Unlike the totalitarian regimes that are trying to destroy it, Israel is a democracy and has many critics among its own citizens, who surely are not anti-Semites. And it is also possible for non-Israelis to criticize Israeli policies without bearing any personal antagonism towards Jews.

However, so much criticism of Israel comes from such gross distortions of the facts and such a flagrant double standard that one wonders what could possibly explain its irrationality if not something as similarly irrational as anti-Semitism. Those who criticize Israel most harshly do not even pretend to make distinctions between Israelis and Jews. Arab newspapers and Palestinian textbooks contain many ethnic stereotypes and slurs against Jews as a people, as well as such classic anti-Semitic propaganda as Holocaust denial, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and blood libel. It is disingenuous to make the claim that when criticism of Israel reaches the point of condemnation, as it often does, it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

Of course, criticism of Israel can be, and often is, anti-Semitic in a much less obvious manner.

Criticism of Israel based on a double standard that makes no mention of the hundreds of Israeli deaths and casualties due to terrorism - this is anti-Semitism.

Shedding more tears for a building - the Church of the Nativity - than for the lives of the innocent people murdered by the terrorists who used that building as a propaganda tool against Israel - this is anti-Semitism.

Passing resolution after resolution in the United Nations condemning Israel while at the most (and usually only after U.S. insistence) making grudging mention of Palestinian terrorism - this is anti-Semitism.

Calling any Israeli a Nazi while the Palestinian terrorists try to kill as many civilians as they can and maim as many more with bombs packed with metal shards and nails, and as long as the Palestinians have their phased plan for Israel's liquidation - this is anti-Semitism.

Expecting Israel to accept the murder of its citizens without making any effort to defend itself - this is anti-Semitism.

Condemning Israel for "war crimes" while remaining silent or at best lukewarm about Israeli injuries and deaths at the hands of terrorists - this is anti-Semitism.

In short, holding Israel to a standard by which no other nation on earth is judged is anti-Semitism.

How else can one explain it?

Now those who engage in such one-sided criticism employ a devious tactic. Jews are not allowed to expose the obvious anti-Semitism in what these people say, because to do so would be to accuse them of anti-Semitism! So when Jews try to rebut these critics, the assumption is that Jews cannot argue the case on its merits but can only make accusations of anti-Semitism - so the Jewish protest is silenced. It's as if I were to hit you in the head with a brick and then tell you not to complain because it wouldn't be fair to accuse me of assault. When anti-Semitism is ruled out of the discussion a priori, then one cannot challenge it even when it is present.

Not every criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, but much of it - perhaps even most of it is, and no one should be allowed to intimidate Israel's supporters from saying so.

So let us return to the question: Why this reversal of values? Why are Jews now the ones increasingly being labeled Nazis?

Foreign policy is almost never based on morality, but on self-interest. And in whose self-interest, save the Jews, is the support of Israel? Perhaps the United States, since Israel is the front-line target of terrorists sworn to destroy the United States as well. But that still leaves most of the rest of the world.

Israel is a small country. Its natural resources are limited. It has no oil. And European countries today have growing Muslim, not Jewish populations. So their own self-interest would appear to dictate supporting the Arabs in their fanatical campaign against Israel.

But there is just one thing standing in the way: morality.

Painting Israel with the Nazi label removes that obstacle.

If Israel can be pushed into a corner where it must use vigorous means to defend itself or else face the methodical slaughter of its civilians (and not since the Nazis themselves has the slaughter of Jewish civilians been so methodical!), then the world can look at Israel and say: the Jews are no better than we are! The Jews are acting like Nazis!

And so the European nations can appease their growing Muslim populations without guilt.

And so the European legacy of anti-Semitism, which has never really died, can persist without guilt.

And so the Arab nations, forever bent on Israel's destruction, can pursue their agenda without condemnation.

The use of the term "Nazi" today is an expression of politics, not morality. If Europe has any lingering guilt for the Nazis' destruction of European Jewry, which could never have taken place without European cooperation, what better way to get rid of that guilt once and for all and to justify the hatred of Israel than to cast Jews themselves in the role of Nazis?

As George Orwell himself might very well have said: "War is peace! Freedom is slavery! Jews are Nazis!"

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:
Peace with Realism