Fighting the New Antisemitism

By Amnon Rubinstein

© Reprinted with permission from Haaretz Daily

A feature of the new wave of anti-Semitism in Europe is its identification between Israelis and Jews. Prof. Ulrich Beck, a sociologist from the University of Munich, explains it as "the globalization of emotions": Worldwide television coverage stirs up deep emotional identification among various ethnic groups, on both sides of the divide. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict thus spills over its borders, and something that should be an extra-European issue becomes an internal European one, and "endangers the national compromise on which the balance between Jews and non-Jews rests" (Le Monde, November 22).

Anti-Semitism's historical foundation runs deep, and refuses to die even in the wake of the Holocaust, the victory of Zionism and the establishment of the Jewish state; but without doubt, Israel's harsh response to the war of terror being waged against it by the Palestinians - closures, lengthy curfews, daily Palestinian fatalities, suffering at check points, damage to property - has given rise to a deep emotional reaction not only to (and within) it, but also against the Jews who support it.

This fact places special responsibility on the shoulders of the government and the defense establishment. In planning their policies and activities, they have to take into account that everything that is done to the Palestinians has immediate implications not only for us here, but also for Jewish communities in the Diaspora. It may not always be just, because there is criminal disregard in Europe when it comes to the responsibility of the Palestinian leadership for this terrible situation, but these are the facts of life.

The decision on the route of the separation fence was a mistake not only from an Israeli point of view, but also because it has immediate implications for the security of Jewish communities around the world. This consideration should give added impetus to the desire to reach a settlement that will end the occupation, which constitutes a disaster for the Israelis too; will lead to the evacuation of settlements, such as Netzarim, from the heart of Palestinian populations; and will put an end to the suffering of the Palestinians - the sight of which is harsh for Israelis and which in Europe, provides cause for the new anti-Semitism.

Zionism always saw itself not only as striving to establish a state for the Jews, but also as safeguarding Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Therefore, and without detracting from the serious nature of the renewed hatred for Jews and the Der Stuermer-like Arab-Muslim propaganda, Israel must take this reality into consideration. Political moderation is called for not only in the interests of Israel, but also as far as Jewish interests are concerned.

Israel must be at the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism. The peace agreement with Egypt, for example, does not include a clause against anti-Semitic propaganda - and even if it did, Egypt would breach it just as it has done others. But how can one accept the fact that at the exhibition to mark the opening of the new library in Alexandria, the Bible was displayed alongside "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as an expression of Jewish culture?

Any future peace agreement and any settlement with the Palestinians must include a clause that forbids anti-Semitic incitement. However, even without one, Israel must exercise the pinch of influence it has to initiate denunciations against expressions of incitement of this kind. It must protest the repeated use of the blood libel; and at every international forum, even if it is currently isolated at them, it must propose resolutions against anti-Semitic propaganda.

And to Egypt, it must be said, openly and without fear, that the racial incitement of its media against Jews - first and foremost, the Nazi-like television show, "A Horseless Rider," and the latest, disgraceful exhibition in Alexandria - is seen by Israel as a very serious blow to the possibility of upholding true peace relations in the future. This is an essentially different issue from any other dispute that Israel has with Egypt.

And finally, one can expect Israeli academics to watch their tongues; and when they do attack Israel, they must refrain from lies or from labeling it with titles that serve to stoke the fires of anti-Semitic incitement, the likes of which the world has not known since the 1930s. Criticizing Israel is legitimate, abroad too; but look, there we see a journalist from The Guardian (Julie Burchill, who announced her resignation Saturday) who says she is quitting her job because, among other things, she does not accept the distinction the newspaper makes between anti-Zionism, which it passionately espouses, and anti-Semitism, to which it is opposed.

It would be worthwhile for Israeli academics to take this current state of affairs into account and to steer clear away from publishing additional untrue announcements in The Guardian - like the one published in March in which they claimed that under the cover of the war in Iraq, Israel was planning to expel Palestinians from the territories.


 

 

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03 Apr 2005 / 23 Adar II 5765 0