No, it’s not about race

The growth of the right-wing politics in Israel that Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke decry isn’t due to racism. It’s due to the Israelis finally wising up.

Victor Rosenthal (Credit: abuyehuda.com)
Victor Rosenthal

Americans need to take a vacation from using the word “racist,” at least in connection with Israel, because they don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about, and it’s insulting as hell. Especially from presidential hopefuls:

That [U.S.-Israel] relationship, if it is to be successful, must transcend partisanship in the United States, and it must be able to transcend a prime minister who is racist, as he warns about Arabs coming to the polls, who wants to defy any prospect for peace as he threatens to annex the West Bank, and who has sided with a far-right, racist party in order to maintain his hold on power. — Beto O’Rourke

I just believe that the United States should deal with the Middle East on a level playing field basis. In other words, the goal must be to try to bring people together and not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing, dare I say, racist government. — Bernie Sanders

I know that Americans are obsessed with race. It’s understandable, given the historical facts that half of the country had a slavery-based economy until 1865, that vicious, legally sanctioned discrimination against the descendants of those slaves persisted until the 1960s and that racial hatred—on the part of both whites and blacks—is still prevalent in American society.

This is an American problem. It is not Israel’s problem, although Israel’s problem is based in history, too. It is the history of violent Arab/Muslim rejection of Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the region, which is championed today by the Palestinian Arab leadership represented by the PLO and Hamas.

Israel’s problem is not race-related; Jews and Arabs are closer genetically than Jews, even Ashkenazi Jews, and Europeans. It is not color-related; Jews and Arabs both come in all colors. It is not even an ethnic conflict, since Jews and Arabs can and do get along, despite many cultural differences, in Israel, in environments where the influence of the PLO and Hamas is weak.

No, ours is a violent political conflict. But unlike similar conflicts all over the world, ours is not allowed to end. The Jews have spiritual, historical, legal, aboriginal and moral rights to what we call the Land of Israel, and we’ve defended those rights through several wars. But for two main reasons, the conflict cannot be ended.

One reason is that the Western world is not happy with the idea of a sovereign Jewish state. It doesn’t like the idea of an ethnic nation-state in general, or the idea of a Jewish one in particular. It has internalized the KGB-developed narrative of a Palestinian people whose “human rights” are denied by the very existence of a Jewish state. So the West keeps pushing various “solutions,” and the Arabs keep rejecting the ones that allow the Jewish state to continue to exist.

Wars cause population shifts. Three million Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. They do not have a “right of return,” and the world understands. Some 800,000 Jews were forced to leave Arab countries after 1948. Most went to Israel. Nobody dreamed that they might have a “right of return” to Baghdad or Algiers. Nobody established a special United Nations agency to take care of them and their descendants until this claimed “right” could be exercised. But the West coddled the Arab refugees from the 1948 war and the United Nations encouraged them in their fantasy of return.

The meddling of the West is problematic, but it is the second reason that is more serious: The Jews are stupid. Yes, you heard that right. The much-vaunted Jewish mind, which has produced so many Nobel Prizes, has not been able to figure out that when someone is trying to kill you, the most moral thing to do is to fight back.

I know, it’s in the Talmud: “When someone is coming to kill you, rise up and kill him first” (B.T., Sanhedrin 72a). But we don’t do that. The Arabs ethnically cleansed every last Jew from the areas they occupied in 1948, but we didn’t do the same (contrary to Arab propaganda, very few of the Arabs who fled Israel at that time were driven out by force). The Jordanians violated the cease-fire agreement and refused to allow Jews or Christians to visit their holy sites in Jerusalem and Hebron. They turned synagogues into stables and tore up Jewish gravestones to build urinals. The Jews, on the other hand, ultimately granted the Arabs in Israel full citizenship, so they could elect Knesset members who support terrorism against Jews.

In 1967 they came to kill us again, and this time we conquered Jerusalem, and all of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. But we still didn’t kick them out, and we even gave them control of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest place. And what a surprise—we are not allowed to pray there, and they have ripped out tons of earth from underneath the Mount, destroying Jewish history, maybe even artifacts of the First Temple! And we knew about it and didn’t stop them.

The Jews are stupid because they think they should be “better” than their enemies, according to some Western/Christian standard that even the hypocritical West doesn’t live up to. The authors of the Talmud were right after all.

There is no shortage of hatred here in our region, but it isn’t racism. And it is mostly Jew-hatred on the Arab side. There are some Jews that hate Arabs, usually because of a bad experience, such as losing a mother or a child to terrorism, but the government, media and cultural establishment have sent a message of peace and tolerance since the beginning of the state and especially since the Oslo period of the 1990s. The PLO and Hamas have done precisely the opposite, from the time of the father of Palestinian nationalism, Haj Amin el-Husseini, who incited pogroms in the 1920s and then spent World War II in Berlin, where he encouraged Hitler to kill as many Jews as possible, raised an S.S. division from, Bosnian Muslims and broadcast anti-Jewish propaganda to the Middle East in Arabic.

Husseini’s disciple Yasser Arafat initially set up the P.A. education system, geared to teach irredentism and Jew-hatred; he initiated the policy of venerating and paying terrorists who murder Jews. His successor Mahmoud Abbas continued and expanded it. Now there is a whole generation of potential murderers among the Palestinian Arabs, who see Jews not as people but only as objects of hate, the filthy offspring of apes and pigs. Today, a Palestinian teenager who is chastised by his parents might take a knife and slaughter a Jew in the street to redeem himself.

The Jew-hatred that burns so hot among the Palestinian Arabs, nurtured over the years by the Palestinian leadership and tolerated and even subsidized by the West, is the single most important factor that prevents a peaceful end to the conflict here.

But that doesn’t fit the worldview of people like Rep. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke. They worry about the human rights of the Palestinian Arabs, but don’t notice that the right to life of the Jews in Israel is threatened by an array of dozens of countries, including some that are armed to the teeth with rockets aimed at Israel. They think that Israel has not offered enough to the Palestinians, despite the fact that she offered far more than she could afford several times, and the offers were rejected—because no offer that allows the continued existence of a Jewish state will be acceptable to them.

The Jews have behaved stupidly, but the growth of the very right-wing politics in Israel that Beto and Bernie decry shows that they are finally smartening up.

American Democratic politicians should do the same.

This column first appeared on AbuYehuda.com

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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