OpinionIsrael at War

The West’s abandonment of the Jews

Human rights culture has mainstreamed Hamas lies.

Samantha Power, USAID administrator, speaks at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 1, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
Samantha Power, USAID administrator, speaks at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 1, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips
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, in 2018. To access her work, go to: melaniephillips.substack.com.

With every day that passes, it becomes ever clearer that Western civilization is no longer civilized.

Israel’s war of defense against a genocidal enemy is an inflection point in the seismic battle between civilization and barbarism. The West is failing that test.

This was illustrated at the Oscars. Numerous Hollywood stars sported red pins supposedly backing a ceasefire in Gaza. The pin depicts the palm of an orangey-red hand on a red background with a black heart in the middle.

For some Israel supporters, this image channeled the infamous picture taken in 2000, when a Palestinian terrorist involved in the savage lynching of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah triumphantly displayed his two bloody palms to the frenzied mob.

The group that distributed the pin, Artists4Ceasefire, claims that the hand image “conveys the beautiful community of people from all backgrounds that have come together in support of centering our shared humanity” and that the heart is an “invitation for us to lead with our hearts.”

This asinine froth does not convince. The palm of a hand does not denote community; hand symbols are usually white, a heart is usually red and a red hand signifies a bloody one.

A black heart, meanwhile, commonly denotes evil. And the 2000 lynching involved ripping the heart out of one of the Israeli corpses and holding it exultantly in a Palestinian hand.

Conversely, the image could have been reflecting the symbol used in countless anti-Israel demonstrations to signify that Israel has blood on its hands: A symbol that grotesquely paints the Israelis fighting to defend themselves against genocide as wanton killers of the innocent.

The Oscars ceremony also featured an attempt to transform Israeli suffering into Israeli oppression by Jonathan Glazer, director of the much-lauded Holocaust movie “The Zone of Interest.”

Standing with his two backers, Glazer said, “Right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.” The victims of the Oct. 7 pogrom and the inhabitants of Gaza, he said, were “all the victims of this dehumanization.”

His ignorance was staggering. Apart from no land being illegally “occupied” by Israel, the cause of the conflict is the century-old attempt by the Palestinian Arabs to eradicate the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel and then the Jewish state. And to accuse Israel of dehumanization, when it’s going to greater lengths than any other army in the world to minimize civilian casualties, was simply malevolent.

Far worse, though, was Glazer’s abuse of Judaism and the Holocaust to claim that Israel had hijacked both. He implied that Israelis were like Nazis and that their behavior went against Jewish principles. 

This to describe a war caused by the worst atrocities against Jews since the Holocaust and Israel’s attempt to ensure that a second Holocaust does not happen again.

The obscenity of Glazer’s comments can scarcely be exaggerated. The belief that demonizing Israeli Jews somehow represents Jewish values is, however, a pathology that has twisted the minds of many liberal American Jews. It is being fed by a venomously distorted presentation of Israelis as child-killers in Gaza that’s being ruthlessly pumped out by Western media.

This accusation, of course, channels a paranoid antisemitic trope. It’s also based on Hamas propaganda claims that are patently untrue.

In a notable article in Tablet, Abraham Wyner, professor of statistics and data science at the University of Pennsylvania, has used basic statistical analysis to suggest that the Hamas casualty figures of 30,000 dead Gazans, of whom 70% are said to be women and children, are fake because the daily totals increase too consistently to be real.

Other problems with these figures are that they include as children the many teenagers who are committing Hamas atrocities, as well as the civilians killed by thousands of rockets falling short into Gaza.

Why, though, do so many believe these patent untruths propagated by Hamas? One reason is that the false premises of “intersectional” identity politics automatically turn Israelis into “oppressors” and the Palestinians into their “victims.” This doesn’t explain, however, why so many subscribe to the demonstrably ludicrous belief that Israel is committing “genocide.”

For decades, the Palestinians have accused Israelis of being “Nazis” and committing “genocide” to obscure the fact that their own Holocaust denial runs in tandem with their declared intention to kill every Jew.

This “genocide” smear has been taken up by the Palestinians’ Western supporters largely through the influence of human rights culture.

In total contradiction to its foundational ideals, this culture has turned into a vehicle for singling out certain human rights for extinction: The right of the Jewish people to live in their own ancestral homeland.

In the 1970s, radical idealists who were disillusioned after the discrediting of European socialism alighted upon “human rights” as another universalizing creed promising to bring about utopia.

As the ultimate particularist culture, Judaism is in the way of all universalizing creeds; and so Israel, the particularist Jewish state, had to be dumped. The stage was set for the demonization of Israel tied to the increasing dominance of international human rights doctrine.

A living example of this is Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Obama administration’s U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

A noted expert on genocide, Power has long said the United States bears a unique responsibility to prevent mass atrocities.

It was therefore an irony that, earlier this year, Power was attacked by current and former USAID employees for belonging to an administration providing military support to Israel in the war against Hamas. Although she told these officials it was “very important that what happened on Oct. 7 never happen again,” she failed to push back against their claim that Israel was committing “genocide” in Gaza.

Given her history, this perhaps wasn’t surprising. In 2002, she was asked as a “thought experiment” what she would advise the U.S. president to do about the Israel-Palestinian problem “if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving towards genocide.”

In response to this already disturbingly loaded question, Power said that something should be put “on the line” to help the situation. This might mean “alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import. … It does require external intervention.”

Power wasn’t talking about preventing the Palestinians from committing genocide against the Jews of Israel. She was talking about invading Israel to prevent an Israeli genocide against the Palestinians.

She was suggesting that Israel might commit atrocities against people who themselves make Israel the victim of precisely such atrocities: The vile smear being used against Israel today.

She also suggested that the only people who might be alienated if the U.S. invaded Israel for this purpose would be American Jews, who she said exercised tremendous political and financial power over America.

The antisemitism of this remark aside, the thinking here was that Jews can’t be allowed to get in the way of the human rights doctrine that state power is always used to make victims and never to protect people from becoming victims in the first place.

Israel is fighting a desperate battle for its survival. Its people are in a state of ever-deepening trauma, grief and anxiety. Some of their families and friends are still hostages in Gaza meeting unthinkable fates. The death toll among their conscripted children and grandchildren fighting to defend their country is steadily ticking upwards.

They understand that genocidal savages intend to continue their attacks until they have destroyed the Jewish homeland and slaughtered every Jew.

In this truly desperate situation, what’s even worse is that the so-called “civilized” West—which also wants the Jews removed from its headspace and its conscience—is accusing them of the crime of which they are the present and intended victims.

That is an unspeakable abandonment of the Jewish people and to the West a source of ineradicable shame.

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