September 19, 2020

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What is it about us?

Today I read a very interesting piece by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz, an interview with David Brog, who runs Sheldon Adelson’s Macabee Task Force. The objective is to fight delegitimization of Israel and BDS on college campuses; but rather than applying a predetermined formula, the group cooperates with local pro-Israel students and community members to determine what works, in a very practical way. It was fascinating to me, as someone who spent years trying to counteract anti-Israel incitement in my own small community – and to a great extent, failed to do so.

One paragraph that stuck in my mind was this:

…when it comes to demonizing Israel on campus, there is no comparable effort focused on any other country. No remotely comparable effort. There’s intensive, relentless bashing of Israel… and of no other nation on earth. Not Syria, where President Bashar Assad has massacred hundreds of thousands of his own people. Not North Korea, which runs re-education and concentration camps. Not Venezuela, Cambodia or Afghanistan, which head the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index. Not China or Russia, singled out in the latest US State Department report on human rights practices. Not Yemen, Turkey or Saudi Arabia, prominently criticized in Amnesty International’s latest human rights audit. Just Israel. Israel. And Israel.

What is true on American campuses is true for Western society as a whole. As Brog notes, here and there one finds demonstrations or campaigns for one cause or another, but anti-Israel agitation and propaganda is everywhere, despite the fact that the relative number of people hurt or killed in our little conflict is minuscule. Bashar al-Assad has killed half a million Syrians and turned his country into a bloody shambles, and yet he gets less media coverage than Israel killing a few dozen Palestinians trying to penetrate our border and murder our citizens.

This almost cries out for a conspiracy theory. Who is behind it? Who pays the bills and gives the orders? The answer is “quite a lot of people,” and while some of them are secretive, it is not exactly a conspiracy. Financing comes from governments of disparate nations like Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (despite our new-found common cause), Germany, Norway and Sweden; from the EU and the UN; from Oxfam, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the multiple charitable enterprises associated with George Soros; from the Danish National Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Mennonite Central Committee, the American Friends Service Committee, and the Presbyterian Church USA; and from the pockets of millions of liberal Americans, mostly Jewish, who give to the New Israel Fund or J Street.

That’s just a small sample, which doesn’t begin to cover all of the sources of funding for anti-Israel causes. Did you participate in one of the US-wide CROP Hunger Walks sponsored by Church World Service? Then you, too, became part of the worldwide demonization-of-Israel project. Many other charitable organizations support the Palestinian Cause (the end of the Jewish state) in one way or another. Are you a college student in the US or the parent of one? Then the student activities fee that you or your child pays supports Students for Justice in Palestine, which has almost 200 active chapters in American universities.

It made news when Black Lives Matter (now called The Movement for Black Lives) published its platform which accuses Israel of “genocide” against the Palestinians and calls it an “apartheid state.” But virtually every progressive or left-wing group – including the left wing of the US Democratic Party and the British Labor Party – shares its point of view. The leaders of South Africa’s ruling ANC party called Israel a “blight on humanity,” compared it to Nazi Germany, and recalled its ambassador over the Gaza crisis. The Swedish Foreign Minister recently promised Palestinians at a PLO-sponsored event that Sweden would “fight with you and for you.”

And these are countries and organizations associated with the West. It isn’t necessary for me to add what officials and media in Iran, Turkey, and Arab countries (including those that have signed peace treaties with Israel) have to say about us every day.

Perhaps we are too close to it to recognize the historical uniqueness of the massive tsunami of anti-Israel sentiment that has washed over the world since it began, possibly aided by the Soviet KGB, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I certainly can’t think of anything comparable.

It becomes even more difficult to understand both the extent and viciousness of worldwide Israel-hate when one looks at the dimensions of the Israel-Arab conflict. Casualties in all the major and minor wars and terrorism from the 19th century to today amount to about 115,000 on both sides, about the number of Syrians killed by Bashar al-Assad in one year. The “mistreatment” of Palestinians by Israel, which is said to be so heinous, still leaves the Palestinian Arabs – at least, those in areas under Israeli control – among the healthiest and most prosperous Arabs in the Middle East. The Arab population between the river and the sea has tripled since 1970 (so much for “genocide”).

The Palestinians themselves are not so lovable. Their main contributions to modern society seem to be the popularization of airline hijacking, suicide bombing, and vehicular attacks. They glorify terrorism – Yasser Arafat once addressed the UN wearing a pistol. The father of Palestinian nationalism, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was a Nazi sympathizer who broadcast propaganda from Berlin and raised a Muslim division for the SS. Israel, on the other hand, has been responsible for countless innovations in medical and agricultural technology, and sends delegations of medical personnel and aid to disaster sites around the world, including its Syrian border.

And yet, it continues. Irrational and vicious, it even grows. Palestinian terrorism is excused as a legitimate response to “occupation,” while Israeli medical aid is dismissed as an attempt to distract from its oppression of Palestinians. Palestinian violence against gays is explained as an unfortunate cultural artifact, while Israeli tolerance is called “pinkwashing.”

Maybe there is a reader who can explain it to me. Explain how Israel is so villainous that the good that Israelis do can be dismissed. Explain why it is so important that its conflict overshadows all the other disputes in our contentious world. Explain why they support “solutions” that imply the replacement of Israel by a Palestinian Arab state.

I can come up with only one explanation: Israel is the Jewish state, and the imperative to despise the Jewish people is so deeply ingrained in Christian and Muslim traditions, that the embodiment of Jewish sovereignty, the State of Israel, has become the Devil for them.

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