Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States who is now a candidate to head the Jewish Agency, has rightly said that the decline in support for Israel among American Jews has reached a crisis point. The Jewish Agency, he said, “needs to bring young American Jews back from the brink.”
However, the Jewish Agency won’t address this problem by simply tackling American Jews. The roots of this crisis are broader and deeper.
At a conference at the Al Quds University in Ramallah in June, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas delivered a recorded speech with the title, “The Zionist Narrative: Between Reversal and Cancellation.”
In a piece for the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser has written that Abbas “proudly noted” in this speech that international public opinion had recently undergone a gradual shift towards accepting the Palestinian narrative.
As Kuperwasser wrote, this “narrative” is a tissue of demonstrable and idiotic lies designed to promulgate the fiction that the Palestinian Arabs are the true inheritors of the land of Israel rather than the Jews.
But as Kuperwasser also observes, the Palestinian position is that the Jews of Israel must return to the places from where they allegedly came—not the land of Israel, their actual original homeland, but Europe, where they were scattered in exile, persecuted and murdered in great number.
“The narrative,” he writes, “also emphasizes that the Palestinian struggle is national and Islamic at the same time and ultimately states that in light of all this, all of Palestine is included, and Israel should not be recognized in any way as the nation-state of the Jewish people, which, at any rate, does not exist. At most, it is possible to temporarily accept the existence of an ‘Israeli people’ which is a new concept referring to Israel as the state of all its citizens.”
And this narrative also holds that no one has the right to object to the Palestinians’ use of terrorism to achieve their aim of annihilating Israel and driving the Jews out.
So the claim made by the Palestinians’ supporters that they are backing a state of Palestine side by side with Israel is totally contradicted by the Palestinians’ own exterminatory narrative.
Kuperwasser rehearses all this because he is appalled at the behavior of Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, who has promised a “loan” to the P.A. Kuperwasser says this is a “circuitous deal that makes Israel’s protests about the P.A. paying terrorists’ salaries ridiculous in the eyes of the world and Israeli law.”
The broader question, though, is how Western liberals in general can support such an obviously odious, bigoted and murderous Palestinian agenda.
The latest such useful idiot is the bestselling novelist, Sally Rooney. She has refused to have her new novel published by Modan, the Hebrew-language Israeli publisher of her first two books, because she supports a cultural boycott of Israel.
Rooney happens to be Irish; and the Irish Republic—one of the most anti-Israel countries in Europe—is a boiling cesspool of Jew-bashing.
The dogged British anti-Semitism researcher David Collier has just published a 202-page report in which he chronicles horrific anti-Jewish attitudes in Ireland driven from the top down by Irish politicians and echoed by journalists, academics and other cultural leaders.
There are many plausible explanations for this Israel animus in Ireland and the West. Ireland sees itself as the victim of English colonialism and so identifies with the Palestinians’ false narrative of Jewish colonialism.
Rooney is a self-confessed Marxist. Israel is being demonized through a perfect intellectual storm: a combination of Marxist identification of capitalism with oppression; liberal internationalist hostility to the Western concept of the nation-state; and the Palestinian propaganda program cooked up in the 1960s with the former Soviet Union to turn the Arab war of annihilation against Israel into Israel’s oppression of the newly-minted “Palestinians.”
This propaganda narrative is now the signature cause of “progressive” folk who astoundingly therefore make common cause with deeply regressive Islamists, who endorse throwing gay people off rooftops and stoning women to death.
What actually binds these groups together, however, is a deadly animus against Judaism and the Jewish people.
The Palestinians’ hatred of Israel is based on hatred of the Jews founded upon Islamic theological sources. Medieval and Nazi-style anti-Semitism pour out of the P.A. in an unstoppable torrent.
Even those Palestinian supporters who harbor no ill-will towards Jews as people therefore promote a Palestinian narrative that is based on Jew-hatred. So it’s no surprise that threaded through pro-Palestinian western discourse are unambiguous anti-Semitic tropes.
The deeper question, though, is why it’s always the Jews who get it in the neck from so many different groups. No other people has ever had this experience.
Many decent folk in the West who know nothing about Judaism or Jewish history simply cannot understand why anti-Semitism, which they don’t understand at all, takes up so much global energy.
Many Jews ask themselves the same question. In an anguished piece for Tablet, the Reform Rabbi Amiel Hirsch writes: “Of all the savageries in the sordid history of human affairs, what explains the singling out of the Jews for unique odium? … No other supremacist ideology is as singularly fixated on one group of people. It is not only the hatred of a Jew. Many antisemites have never met a Jew in their lives. It is the obsession with Jewry, the Jewish people” as “… the source of evil in the world.”
Again, there are many obvious explanations. These include jealousy of the “chosen people,” a term that is widely misunderstood; cultural suspicions fueled by observant Jews keeping themselves apart; the Jew-hatred embedded in dominant interpretations of Christianity and Islam over the centuries.
But the Jews were singled out long before Christianity and Islam. They have always been used as society’s scapegoats. The question is why?
The point is that anti-Semitism isn’t just a form of prejudice or racism. Plenty of other people are victims of that. Anti-Semitism is qualitatively different—and ultimately mysterious.
For there is no other people which is obsessively demonized and delegitimized by double standards, systematic falsehoods and being airbrushed out of its own history. No other people has been subjected to the repeated aim of eradicating it from the face of the earth, to the general indifference of everyone else. No other group has been the victim of a mindset that ascribes to people who form some 0.2 percent of the global population the malign power of a conspiracy to manipulate the world.
And it’s this uniquely deranged, paranoid and incomprehensible mindset that’s been given rocket fuel by the Palestinian narrative.
For people don’t care about the Palestinians. What does animate a terrifying number of their supporters is a deep desire for the Jews to vanish from their world. Palestinianism is not just about the eradication of Israel. It has weaponized Israel against the Jewish people.
Many Jews are frightened of acknowledging the uniqueness of Jewish suffering. Partly, this comes from a principled concern not to denigrate the suffering of others. Partly, lining up Jewish suffering alongside that of others is a panicky attempt to prevent the world from abandoning the Jews once again. Mainly, though, it comes from a deep reluctance to acknowledge the uniqueness of the Jewish people out of fear that this will increase anti-Semitism.
The result is now all around us. For without acknowledging the uniqueness of the Jews and the uniquely unhinged animus against them, there is scant chance of increasing public understanding of Judaism, anti-Semitism and the State of Israel.
This is the nettle, however difficult and painful, that the Jewish Agency should now grasp.
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.