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Hatred of Israel drags us back to the Middle Ages

Today, Israel and the West are aligned against an axis of “medievalists” that we must face down.

Anti-Semitic graffiti equating Judaism with Nazism and money, found in Madrid in 2003. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Anti-Semitic graffiti equating Judaism with Nazism and money, found in Madrid in 2003. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Fiamma Nirenstein

It was a bad joke that flyers used to announce an anti-Israel conference entitled “Jerusalem Is Ours”—featuring Italian Senator Tino Magni—included photos of various Palestinian activists, some of whom are tied to the terrorist group Hamas.

Other left-wing Italian politicos were featured, as well as Mohammad Hannoun, a staunch friend of Hamas, who not only organized the conference, but has been hosted in the Italian Chamber of Deputies by some of those same leftist politicians.

All involved in the conference, of course, are convinced that Israel is an evil colonialist, racist, even apartheid state determined to oppress the poor Palestinians, who are the “original” inhabitants of a land that was stolen from them.

Marco Carrai, Israel’s Honorary Consul for the regions of Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy, said it best: This is not about the judgment of a member of parliament, but the institutional recognition of a conference that hosts Hamas, which even the European Court of Justice has declared a terrorist organization.

Parliamentarians who claim to revere free inquiry should not be immune from studying history. If they did, they would learn that Israel is not the result of a military invasion, but the decolonization of an area that was once part of the Ottoman Empire. This land was intended to be divided fairly between its aboriginal peoples, including the Jews. There has never been a Palestinian state or a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.

Moreover, Magni would know that many Jews resisted persecution and never left the Land of Israel. They continued to live there, even after the name “Palestine” was invented by the Romans following their destruction of Jewish Judea.

Since it was established in 1948, Israel has endured numerous wars and hundreds of bloody terrorist attacks. It has been forced to defend itself against continual attempted invasions by its neighbors.

Most importantly, it has sought a peace agreement with the Palestinians many times. Each time, it has been rejected by the Palestinians, who hope Israel will simply disappear.

But there is an even more important reason for Magni to consult with history: Today, there is a large alliance of forces that former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer has called “medievalist.” They are autocratic, confessional and terroristic. Many of them have Iran has a primary sponsor. They persecute women, homosexuals, ethnic and religious minorities and others. They almost uniformly back Russia’s violently anti-Western policies.

Aligned against this unholy alliance are the forces of modernity. Today, they are united more than ever in the need to defend democracy, the rule of law and coexistence in the face of brutal aggression, whether by Iranian terrorism or the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

At the U.N. last week, however, many nations—including Italy—defended Israel from the anti-Semitic U.N. Commission of Inquiry into the May 2021 Israel-Hamas conflict, which is dedicated solely to condemning Israel.

In other words, times are changing. Those members of the Italian parliament who hate Israel should realize they are on the wrong side of history. Indeed, when will the left understand that, especially since the signing of the Abraham Accords, embracing hatred of the Jewish state only drags us back to the Middle Ages?

Fiamma Nirenstein was a member of the Italian Parliament (2008-13), where she served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Chamber of Deputies. She served in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and established and chaired the Committee for the Inquiry into Anti-Semitism. A founding member of the international Friends of Israel Initiative, she has written 13 books, including Israel Is Us (2009). Currently, she is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and is the author of Jewish Lives Matter.

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