(May 20, 2021 / JNS) Our current convulsions, with the Jewish people under murderous and venomous attack both in Israel and the Diaspora, are far more momentous than many may realize.
Israel, where a ceasefire to the conflict in Gaza has been announced, remained under fire from the rocket barrages aimed at killing Israeli civilians in the final hours before it was due to take effect. Tensions over attacks by Israeli Arabs on Israeli Jews, with some ugly retaliation by Jewish extremists, remain high.
But the violence is not confined to the Middle East. There has been a huge upsurge in attacks on Diaspora Jews in Britain, Europe and America.
On the streets of European cities, demonstrators have been screaming for the destruction of Israel and chanting that the “army of Mohammed” has returned to slaughter the Jews.
Israelis living in Los Angeles say that while they were dining at a restaurant in the city, dozens of people waving Palestinian flags badly beat them after chillingly asking “who is Jewish?”
Britain’s Jewish defense organization, the Community Security Trust, reports at least a five-fold increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the course of the Gaza war.
The most dramatic example was a four-hour motorcade festooned with Palestinian flags whose occupants drove around Jewish areas of North London screaming abuse. One of these thugs used a megaphone to scream: “F*** the Jews, f*** their daughters, f*** their mothers, rape their daughters and free Palestine.”
These appalling events are not the result of just another conflict between Israel and the Palestinians provoking a predictable anti-Israel reaction. What’s happening now is that the Palestinian war against Israel has been reframed as a war against the Jews.
Diaspora Jews are being physically and verbally attacked, their children intimidated and their synagogues vandalized.
Most of this is being perpetrated by Muslims. But it is being reinforced by extreme hostility to Israel from Western “progressives.” These self-professed “anti-racists” tell themselves that they are on the side of the angels. But while they may be genuinely horrified by the attacks on Jewish people in their cities, they refuse to acknowledge that their own stance on Israel is profoundly anti-Jew.
It’s not just the twisted reporting, distortions and blood libels straight from the Hamas propaganda playbook that have been transmitted round the clock by the BBC, Sky UK, the Guardian, The New York Times and much of the rest of the mainstream media. Worse still is the intensity of the perverse and unjustified passions with which Israel is demonized.
It’s the spitting outrage that not enough Israelis are dying to justify military action to stop thousands of incoming rockets.
It’s the furious and contemptuous dismissal of the fact that the Israel Defense Forces uniquely warn of impending rocket strikes against civilian targets in order to save civilian life.
It’s the virulent satisfaction with which every single military action Israel takes against the Palestinians, purely to save Israeli lives, is seized upon as proof of its moral depravity.
Even though horror and outrage have been expressed over the millions slaughtered in Syria or China’s persecution of the Uyghurs, those atrocities don’t arouse the same obsessive and visceral passions as Israel’s defense of its people’s lives. It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that the explanation for this otherwise inexplicable perversity towards the Jewish state is a desire to denounce Jews simply because they are Jews.
For what is shockingly clear from this unique pathology is that there’s a profound need in the West for the Jews to be proved bad people. Among the Israel-haters is a breathless eagerness for the moment when they can shout “gotcha” and then put the Jews into the public pillory.
The causes of this are undoubtedly complex. But the main reason is surely that they can’t tolerate the idea that the “chosen people”—a term they misrepresent as “privileged,” despite the Jews’ belief that they were chosen instead for an onerous set of duties—may be morally superior to them.
So if they can’t be like the Jews, they’ll make sure the Jews are pulled down off their supposed moral pedestal to be just like them—or worse.
To any rational, decent individual, this may seem incredible. But the signature characteristic of anti-Semitism, which makes it unlike any other racism or bigotry, is that it is unhinged.
For a Jew, it’s impossible not to hear in all this the unmistakable echoes of previous horrors—the medieval blood libel against the Jews that incited their slaughter, the centuries of Christian pogroms against the Jews of Europe and the Holocaust. While the Nazi comparison is repeatedly misused, on this occasion, it is all too justified. Indeed, it is not too fanciful to view what we are witnessing as the last, overlooked but still active front of the Second World War.
The anti-Jewish animus in both the Muslim world and the liberal West has deep roots in both Nazism and the Holocaust.
With the West demoralized after the Holocaust took place in the epicenter of European high culture, left-wing thinkers urged a total repudiation of the nation-state and core Western values as fundamentally unjust and discriminatory. This led, in turn, to the dogma that Israel was a colonial and illegitimate enterprise, Zionism was racism, and the Jews had no right to self-determination.
In the Muslim world, although Jew-hatred is rooted in Islamic theology this was given rocket fuel in the early part of the last century by the emergence of Islamism, or politicized Islam, whose foundational thinkers drew upon both communism and Nazism.
In the 1930s, Arab nationalism in Syria and Iraq modeled itself on Italian and German fascism. After the rebirth of Israel in 1948, Egypt and the Arab League recruited former Nazi intelligence officers and SS generals to help destroy the Jewish state.
The most notorious Arab Nazi was the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who became Hitler’s ally and was pledged to eradicate the Jews of the entire Middle East if Hitler won the war. And al-Husseini’s most devoted acolyte today is the current leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
In World War II, the allies fought an attempt to conquer and destroy Western civilization and exterminate the Jews.
Today, the Palestinians of both Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah constantly churn out Nazi-style, murderous incitement against the Jewish people. And the Iranian regime, which funds and arms Hamas, has been at war against the West for four decades and regularly announces its genocidal intentions towards the Jews.
So today’s war against Western civilization and the Jews amounts to infernal unfinished business. But unlike the Second World War, when those in the free world on the side of the fascists were regarded as traitors, such people today march on the streets of London and elsewhere arm in arm with those pledged to Islamic holy war against the Jews and the rest of the “infidel” world.
In the United States, President Joe Biden told Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that America expects an immediate and “significant de-escalation” on the path to a ceasefire. This while the rockets from Gaza were still flying against Israel. The demand was as unconscionable as it would have been to tell the British to de-escalate during the Blitz.
Worse yet, after Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) confronted Biden over the Gaza war and echoed an earlier speech in which she accused Israel of “racism” and running an “apartheid system,” Biden said of Tlaib: “God thank you for being a fighter.”
The heirs to the Nazis are still intent upon the same terrible aims. The difference now is that those fighting for civilization are being undermined by an enormous fifth column—and even the leader of the free world itself has become a useful idiot for the other side.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy.” Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.
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