Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Thursday 25 November 2010

Sounds Familiar: On the Hypocrisy, Ignorance, and Racism of the anti-Israel Left

Here they stand – a group of Irish “peace activists”; one of their posters (issued in 1936) reads “Visit Palestine”.  I wonder whether the irony is lost on them – or whether they and the other lefties who are deliberately appropriating that symbol of Zionism, the national liberation movement of a martyr-people, as a token of the “Palestinian” cause – realize that the poster and its set companions, all dating to the Mandate period, were designed by an Austrian-born refugee Jew named Franz Krausz who lost his brothers in the Holocaust but managed to avoid that fate by obtaining a visa for himself and his bride to Eretz Israel, where they arrived in 1934.

Little surprises me nowadays regarding the sheer ignorance that exists regarding the history and politics of “Palestine” – and the repellent perversity of the Left. Yes, the leftist attitude to Israel is rooted in shameful ignorance and utter hypocrisy – and even in antisemitism – and there are still some leftist voices unafraid to proclaim it so. Below I reproduce two eloquent condemnations of leftist anti-Zionism, by a Jew and a non-Jew.

Henryk Broder is a Polish-born German-Jewish journalist who blogs (in German) at Contemptuous of western appeasement of Islamism, he regards anti-Zionism as motivated by antisemitism. His career as the scourge of the German left , berating it for its hypocrisy – its revolting double standard towards Jews and Israel, was engendered by the hijacking in 1976 of an Israel-bound Air France airliner by members of the Baader Meinhof gang, who in a Nazi-like selection separated Jewish from non-Jewish passengers, eventually letting the latter go). When briefly resident in Israel, he contributed the following article to Forum on the Jewish People, Zionism and Israel (Winter 1981, pp. 109-117). It takes the form of an “open letter” to “my dear (more or less) leftist friends”, entitled bluntly “You are no less anti-semites than your Nazi parents”. It said, in part:

'The claim that a leftist cannot, by his very nature, be an anti-Semite, since that’s the domain of the right, is a popular claim, but phony as far as it goes....

Actually, why is it that a man of the Left cannot be an anti-Semite? Are leftist like yourselves better people? ....In the final analysis, your parents did such a good job with you that your anti-Semitic potential is “loose” and, as it were, free-floating, devoid of any specific target.... ...[T]here is still the Super-Jew – the State of Israel with which you stubbornly pre-occupy yourselves as though you had nothing better to do.

Your anti-Zionism is nothing more than a left-wing version of anti-Semitism. The same logic, the same methodology, the same vocabulary – only Jew has been replaced by “Zionist”. I don’t have to dissect the articles that appear in Unser Zeit, Rote Fahne, Neve, and Taz, etc. [Left-wing newspapers in Germany.] I don’t have to prove for the umpteenth time that Israel is judged by altogether different standards from other, non-Jewish states – just as Jews are judged by altogether different criteria than non-Jews.... And it works: the Jews are the Nazis, the Palestinians are the victims of the Jews ...

Today, your Jew is the State of Israel, just as your parents believed that they would be much better off without the Jews, so you believe there would be no strife in the Middle East without Israel. There isn’t a single Arab state which isn’t involved in an incessant quarrel with at least one other country in the region... But for you, Israel is the only warmonger in the area, the one obstacle to peace and socialism.

....In your ever-changing repertory, there burns only one constant fire: Palestine. No other strip of land is closer to your heart. The smell of gunpowder of no other conflict is closer to your nostrils. Your concern with Palestine is based on one fundamental consideration. The fact that it is Jews who are oppressing the Palestinians....

It’s the old game you always play in different guises: the Jews are allowed less than the others, but more is demanded of them. They are permitted to suffer blows and humiliation which they may, at best, complain about – but mustn’t hit back. And when the Jews behave as others always have, you foam at the mouth....

There is nothing new under the sun. In Poland or Russia, when a child disappeared just before Passover, everyone knew for certain: once again the Jews need Christian blood to bake their matzot. Usually this led to a pogrom. The Christian rioters were always disappointed when the “slaughtered” child was discovered, or when it became clear that an Aryan had caused his disappearance. In Poland, even today, they believe more in stories of this kind than they do in party communiqués.

... [U]p until now, that is, the Six Day War, not one Pope  called for opening up the Holy City to all faiths. Until then, the Jews were the one religious group which did not have free access to their holy places. Today, with Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty and open to the members of every religion, the supreme spiritual shepherd of the Catholics thinks he must call for the “freedom of Jerusalem”. And what’s worse – no one gets angry, or cries out in protest.

Anti-Jewish hostility is something like the urge for food or sex, it seems to have an almost anthropological base. At any rate, it is the lowest common denominator of western culture, something upon which everyone can agree, from the Vatican to the Kremlin.... The murder of the Christian children couldn’t be refuted by resorting to the real facts – just as the truth couldn’t demolish the Protocols of the Elders of Zion which were concocted by the Czarist secret police. When it suits your needs, you treat the facts with the same didain.

You don’t have a clue about anything, but your minds are made up about everything. You don’t know that Israel took in the same number of Jews from Arab countries as Arabs fled from it in 1948. You talk about Palestine and refer to the same coastal strip including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. You don’t know that, historically, the area east of the Jordan is part of Palestine and that it was only in 1922 that the British gave it to the Hashemite Dynasty .... Nor do you know that ... Abdullah [the present King Abdullah of Jordan’s great-grandfather] sought cooperation and peace between Jews and Arabs, and that for this he was murdered by Arab terrorists. You avoid anything which might shake your predetermined hostility.

....During the time I have been writing this letter, the January 1981 issue of Emma [a feminist monthly] has appeared. On the last page, there is an ad about what will be included in the magazine’s forthcoming issue. One of the stories is entitled “Palestine: Ingrid Strubl was there”. Where were you, Ms Strubl? In Palestine. For Emma there is no Israel. The second phase of the final soliution has been absolutely determined, and now it’s just a question of time. I asked Alice Schwarzer [the editor of Emma] what she was thinking when she inserted the ad in that way. She said she didn’t think anything. How obvious has the idea of the Jewish entity become – so obvious, that one no longer thinks about it.

Upon her return to Cologne from “Palestine” Ms Strubl announced that the Jews have no business being there, that it is, in fact, an absolute stupidity, just because this or that Hebrew tribe lived there 2,000 years ago. I didn’t even try to explain to her that there are historic, religious and metaphysical ties, ties which she is apparently incapable of grasping. I let it go with the simple argument that we had tried living without a state for 2,000 years and chalked up some terrible experiences along the way....

...As she sees things, the State of Israel is in and of itself an occupied state which should be dismantled, even if the territory under its control were to shrink to the environs of Tel Aviv. Her concern is not for a just Middle East settlement based on a mutual compromise by Israel and the Arabs, and a modus vivendi which they must find if they are not to destroy one another. For her, and for many others on the German Left, it is a matter of principle. The Jewish State must not be.'

Pilar Rahola is also a journalist with her ideological roots firmly in the Left. But like Broder she is appalled at the utter ignorance, hypocrisy, and moral bankruptcy of consensual leftwing attitudes towards Jews and Israel. Unlike Broder she is not a Jew writing about the betrayal of Israel by the leftist children of Hitlerite parents, but a non-Jew writing about the betrayal of Israel by the Left in her native Spain, and for that matter elsewhere in the West. These words of hers are separated from Broder’s piece, above, by nigh on three decades, yet how familiar they sound, and how justified they are:

‘.... Intellectual thinkers and international journalists have given up on Israel. It doesn’t exist. That is why, when someone tries to go beyond the “single thought” of criticizing Israel, he becomes suspect and unfaithful, and is immediately segregated. Why?

I’ve been trying to answer this question for years: why?  Why, of all the conflicts in the world, only this one interests them?  Why is a tiny country which struggles to survive criminalized?  Why does manipulated information triumph so easily?  Why are all the people of Israel, reduced to a simple mass of murderous imperialists?

Why is there no Palestinian guilt?  Why is Arafat a hero and Sharon a monster?  Finally, why when Israel is the only country in the World which is threatened with extinction, it is also the only one that nobody considers a victim?

I don’t believe that there is a single answer to these questions. Just as it is impossible to completely explain the historical evil of anti-Semitism, it is also not possible to totally explain the present-day imbecility of anti-Israelism. Both drink from the fountain of intolerance and lies. Also, if we accept that anti-Israelism is the new form of anti-Semitism, we conclude that circumstances may have changed, but the deepest myths, both of the medieval Christian anti-Semitism and of the modern political anti-Semitism, are still intact. Those myths are part of the chronicle of Israel.

For example, the Medieval Jew accused of killing Christian children to drink their blood connects directly with the Israeli Jew who kills Palestinian children to steal their land. Always they are innocent children and dark Jews.

Similarly, the Jewish bankers who wanted to dominate the world through the European banks, according to the myth of the Protocols, connect directly with the idea that the Wall Street Jews want to dominate the World through the White House. Control of the Press, control of Finances, the Universal Conspiracy, all that which has created the historical hatred against the Jews, is found today in hatred of the Israelis. In the subconscious, then, beats the DNA of the Western anti-Semite, which produces an efficient cultural medium.

But what beats in the conscious? Why does a renewed intolerance surge with such virulence, centered now, not against the Jewish people, but against the Jewish state? From my point of view, this has historical and geopolitical motives, among others, the decades long bloody Soviet role, the European anti-Americanism, the West’s energy dependency and the growing Islamist phenomenon. But it also emerges from a set of defeats which we suffer as free societies, leading to a strong ethical relativism.

The moral defeat of the left. For decades, the left raised the flag of freedom wherever there was injustice. It was the depositary of the utopian hopes of society. It was the great builder of the future.

Despite the murderous evil of Stalinism’s sinking these utopias, the left has preserved intact its aura of struggle, and still pretends to point out good and evil in the world. Even those who would never vote for leftist options, grant great prestige to leftist intellectuals, and allow them to be the ones who monopolize the concept of solidarity. As they have always done. Thus, those who struggled against Pinochet were freedom-fighters, but Castro’s victims, are expelled from the heroes’ paradise, and converted into undercover fascists.

This historic treason to freedom is reproduced nowadays, with mathematical precision. For example, the leaders of Hezbollah are considered resistance heroes, while pacifists like the Israeli singer Noa, are insulted in the streets of Barcelona. Today too, as yesterday, the left is hawking totalitarian ideologies, falls in love with dictators and, in its offensive against Israel, ignores the destruction of fundamental rights. It hates rabbis, but falls in love with imams; shouts against the Israeli Defence Forces, but applauds Hamas’s terrorists; weeps for the Palestinian victims, but scorns the Jewish victims, and when it is touched by Palestinian children, it does it only if it can blame the Israelis.

It will never denounce the culture of hatred, or its preparation for murder. A year ago, at the AIPAC conference in Washington I asked the following questions:

Why don’t we see demonstrations in Europe against the Islamic dictatorships?

Why are there no demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of Muslim women?

Why are there no declarations against the use of bomb-carrying children in the conflicts in which Islam is involved?

Why is the left only obsessed with fighting against two of the most solid democracies of the planet, those which have suffered the bloodiest terrorist attacks, the United States and Israel?

Because the left no longer has any ideas, only slogans. It no longer defends rights, but prejudices. And the greatest prejudice of all is the one aimed against Israel. I accuse, then, in a formal manner that the main responsibility for the new anti-Semitic hatred disguised as anti-Zionism, comes from those who should have been there to defend freedom, solidarity and progress. Far from it, they defend despots, forget their victims and remain silent before medieval ideologies which aim at the destruction of free societies. The treason of the left is an authentic treason against modernity.

.... [S]everal Spanish left-wing organizations tried to take me to court, accusing me of being a negationist, like the Nazis, because I deny the “Palestinian Holocaust”. They were attempting to prohibit me from writing articles and to send me to prison.

.....The United Nations is only useful to Islamofascists like Ahmadinejad, or dangerous demagogues like Hugo Chavez which offers them a planetary loudspeaker where they can spit their hatred. And, of course, to systematically attack Israel. The UN, too exists to fight Israel.

....Tolerant and cultural Islam suffers today the violent attack of a totalitarian virus which tries to stop its ethical development. This virus uses the name of G-d to perpetrate the most terrible horrors: lapidate women, enslave them, use youths as human bombs. Let’s not forget: They kill us with cellular phones connected to the Middle Ages. If Stalinism destroyed the left, and Nazism destroyed Europe, Islamic fundamentalism is destroying Islam. And it also has an anti-Semitic DNA. Perhaps Islamic anti-Semitism is the most serious intolerant phenomenon of our times; indeed, it contaminates more than 1,400 million people, who are educated, massively, in hatred towards the Jew.

In the crossroads of these defeats, is Israel. Orphan and forgotten by a reasonable left, orphan and abandoned by serious journalism, orphan and rejected by a decent UN, and rejected by a tolerant Islam, Israel suffers the paradigm of the 21st Century: the lack of a solid commitment with the values of liberty. Nothing seems strange. Jewish culture represents, as no other does, the metaphor of a concept of civilization which suffers today attacks on all flanks. The Jews are the thermometer of the world’s health. Whenever the world has had totalitarian fever, they have suffered. In the Spanish Middle Ages, in Christian persecutions, in Russian pogroms, in European Fascism, in Islamic fundamentalism. Always, the first enemy of totalitarianism has been the Jew. And, in these times of energy dependency and social uncertainty, Israel embodies, in its own flesh, the eternal Jew.

A pariah nation among nations, for a pariah people among peoples. That is why the anti-Semitism of the 21st Century has dressed itself with the efficient disguise of anti-Israelism, or its synonym, anti-Zionism. Is all criticism of Israel anti-Semitism? No. But all present-day anti-Semitism has turned into prejudice and the demonization of the Jewish State. New clothes for an old hatred.

Benjamin Franklin said: “Where liberty is, there is my country.” And Albert Einstein added: “The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” This is the double commitment, here and now; never remain inactive in front of evil in action and defend the countries of liberty.’


  1. The Jew, whether or not the Jew likes it, is a permanent reminder of God; and thence, accountability and Judgement. The Church, when it functions as it should, is also a reminder and suffers persecution. Jesus warned the Church to guard against worldly popularity.

    Totalitarianism hates any other authority, and most especially, one that can call it to account. Thus Islam and the Left hate Western democracy and God. The putative servants of God will also be hated. This doesn't explain everything, but it goes a long way to explaining the persistence of the phenomenon.

  2. An interesting insight,Ian. Thanks.

  3. before I read your piece I read this by Timothy Snyder which seems to have been a warm-up for the book Bloodlands he is now promoting
    and I wonder whether in this disregard for what Germans (and the SU) did in the East the left found (probably unconsciously) a model of how to get rid of Israel and thus the Holocaust guilt. i.e. the guilt for what we did in the East vanished comfortably behind the PC bashing of communism so why not vanish the guilt for what we did to the Jews by making it PC to bash Israel.

    It is a very convoluted thought and it seems to be beyond me to explain myself clearly but take as the read thread of it the remark that Germans will never forgive the Jews for the Holocaust.

    Sebastian Haffner and others claim that the left in 1930s Germany let itself be picked of by Hitler's thugs one by one because they preferred to not coalesce with people whose dogma wasn't clean i.e. a social democrat would probably avoid to go into a street fight close to a communist mix that we the left's claims to higher morality and you may have a desire to get rid of it and so become the perfect human for the future again.

  4. Many thanks for the link, Anon, and for the rest of your comment. I'm not at all familiar with what Haffner says and will have to bone up on it.

  5. sorry
    I forgot to sign, I am Silke, I am too stupid to get myself a web persona

    this is the book I was referring to
    but I heard that other authors have lamented the fact that the German left was unable to unite and thus made it easy for Hitler's thugs to pick them off one by one. It seems resisting communists paid quite a blood price in Berlin at the time.

    Haffner is also the author of "Germany: Jekyll and Hyde"
    which it is said Churchill insisted his co-workers read.

    He was a German journalist who migrated to England in order to be able to marry his pregnant Jewish fiancée and because he wanted to get away from it all. Despite an at the beginning practically non-existent knowledge of the language he made it there against all odds.

    He was a very good observer of humankind.

    did I tell you how much I enjoy your blog? I herewith do and thank you for it enthusiastically.

  6. Thanks so much, Silke.
    I've "seen" you on the legendary EoZ blog and on RM's great blog.
    Apologies for my tardiness for posting this, but I was so tired from a day's hard proofreading that I had an early night!

  7. From the website this morning:

    Novelist Martin Amis has called the UK and the West “a little antisemitic” which expects “higher moral standards from Israel than its neighbours.”

    In an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the London Fields author said: “If you bring up Israel in a public meeting in England, the whole atmosphere changes. The standard left-wing person never feels more comfortable than when attacking Israel. Because they are the only foreigners you can attack.

    “Everyone else is protected by having dark skin, or colonial history, or something. But you can attack Israel. And the atmosphere becomes very unpleasant. It is traditional, snobbish, British anti-Semitism combined with present-day circumstances."

    He also revealed the importance of his relationships with Jewish people. “"There have been very significant Jews in my life. Christopher Hitchens, who did not know he was a Jew until 1989. And Saul Bellow. And my current wife [Isabel Fonseca] is Jewish, and so my daughters are too, by Jewish law, and that matters to me. I'm pleased, I am proud. It makes me more inside history than I would be."

  8. I discovered your site only recently and just wanted to thank you for the thoughtful, illuminating, invaluable texts.

  9. Many thanks for the encouraging words, Malgorzata.

  10. here's an older Martin Amis "outrage"

    As anyone who reads the serious press knows, the cause of their fury was and is Amis’s insistence that there are worse ideas in the world than America, and a radical version of Islam that might have stepped out of a liberal’s nightmare is one them. That liberals cannot make a stand against a global wave of religious mayhem that is ‘irrationalist, misogynist, homophobic, inquisitional, totalitarian, imperialist and genocidal,’ to use Amis’s list, is a moral failure as great as their predecessors’ inability to see Josef Stalin for what he was and offer support to communism’s victims.

    This year shortly after the Marmara incident Walter Russell Mead said similarly unfriendly things about 30s liberals and at the same time David Rieff at the TNR kind of supported the motion.
    If you want links let me know, I think I can dig them up probably faster than you can ;-)


  11. If you have the links to hand, Silke, please post them here, but don't go to any trouble.

  12. here's the Walter Russell Mead one
    the David Rieff one follows in the next comment
    no trouble at all

  13. here's the David Rieff one

    since you are Aussie I dare to mention that Rieff is Susan Sontag's son and currently my favourite source on what is the Zeitgeist dominating NGOs


    PS: one "complaint" - the other day when I wanted to quote from your blog at EoZ I found that the really nice blue makes the procedure awkward. I hat to first copy it into an e-mail, re-format it and then paste it.
    the way it is now it showed up in the Elder's comment space as almost invisible light blue.

  14. Thanks very much - will have a look at those over the weekend.
    Susan Sontag had no Aussie connection as far as I know.
    Sorry about the blues with the blue ...!

  15. youcancallmemeyer28 November 2010 at 20:50

    Stumbled onto your blog via a link at Ray Cook's blog, via Elder of Ziyon via Solomonia from whence I began.

    I live in Sydney so it's interesting to get an Australian perspective on matters Jewish/Israeli.

    I've bookmarked your site and will lurk around later.

  16. Hi, Meyer! Thanks - I'm from Melbourne but am at present in the UK.


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