As Paul Johnson put it, “What strikes the historian surveying anti-Semitism worldwide over more than two millennia is its fundamental irrationality. It seems to make no sense, any more than malaria makes sense.” Nevertheless it continues. Some random thoughts on the latest upsurge
Aghast at what scenes were revealed for all the world to see when Allied troops liberated Hitlers’s death camps, ‘the world’s longest hatred’ went into a quick decline. Apart from a few remaining extreme ‘crazies’ who had believed Hitler’s rantings about Jews, to be thought of as being an antisemite was socially and politically unacceptable. In this atmosphere, and following a remarkable volte face at the United Nations by Stalin’s historically antisemitic, pogrom-ridden Russia, legal effect was given to the Balfour Declaration and the State of Israel was born. Stalin even allowed vassal Czechoslovakia to supply the new state with arms.
The nations’ consciences about their own millennia of Christian antisemitism did not, however, extend to sending troops to defend Israel when it was immediately attacked, at birth, by the armies (some British-trained and even initially British led—for example by Glubb Pasha) of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The nations simply watched and waited for all the Jews to be exterminated. To their surprise, the Jews won that war and set about establishing their nation, which they have since defended in succeeding wars against enemies determined to “drive them into the sea”.
But so long-standing a hatred as antisemitism was not going to give up easily.
It was not long before ‘Holocaust denial’ emerged. The Nazis and their allies had not murdered Jews— they had died of diseases in the camps; it was not possible for six million people to be murdered and for no one to know about it—the numbers must merely have been hundreds of thousands. And so on. Holocaust denial is not dead, not even after the devastating legal setback by arch-denier David Irving when he sued Deborah Lipstadt in a British Court. Although, and perhaps because, the Iranian President continues to deny that the Holocaust occurred, Holocaust denial still has a bad name.
But a new version of antisemitism has emerged in, of all places, academia. As in Australia, academia in many western countries has been taken over by the ideologically-driven Left. Part of the underlying ideology holds that no person is any better than another, that no person has any claim greater than that of another, that no nation or culture is better than any other and that, whatever the cost, all must be made equal, like it or not. And what better example to pick on that Jewish Israel?
Curiously, the Left consistently fails to criticise the tyrannies of the oil-rich Islamic states which discriminate against women, practise public capital punishment (beheadings and hangings), and punish women who are raped. The mostly Christian Left appears to have no qualms about the legitimacy of the many nations where Islam is the state religion and other religions are barely tolerated and it lodges no protests when Christians (and Buddhists) are murdered in Islamic states. David Aikman wrote of this for Commentary, February 2012, and his words are even more true today.
The Left, driven by their “all should be made equal” ideology, now retrospectively criticise past colonial empires, ignoring the clear benefits brought by the colonisers. Their mindset rejects normal human behaviour, based as it is on the family unit and its protection against outsiders. It rejects past wars of invasion and occupation, arguing for a restoration of ‘rights’ to peoples who were colonised centuries ago. With its view that all cultures are equal, the Left ignores the problems intrinsic to the geography and climate of tropical and sub-tropical countries, so clearly expounded by Jared Diamond in his book Guns, Germs and Steel. Stone age culture is equivalent to our post-Renaissance world of scientific advancement. To claim that life in our modern scientific world, with all its technological achievements, is better than it was when Middle Ages superstition was dominant, is politically incorrect, self-serving and prejudiced.
Against this background, non-Jewish academics like John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt now see Israel as the epitome of all that is wrong with contemprary Western civilisation. It is a modern, scientific, secular society, nominally Jewish in that the seventh day is Saturday, not Sunday. It was colonised, they argue, by European ‘settlers’ who have ‘dispossessed’ the indigenous inhabitants and proudly maintains that its culture is better than that of the indigenes. Even members of the Left who are themselves Jewish have joined the bandwagon of academic denunciation of everything the State of Israel does to protect its citizens from the repeated attacks by its neighbours.
To these leftist Jews, the theoretical universal brotherhood of man is more important than the natural brotherhood of members of families. To make any special allowances for the Jewish State to protect itself is repugnant to these anti-Zionist and sometimes anti-Jewish Jews. No nation or group of people, they would argue, has any rights if those rights are gained at the expense of others. They have no interest in the outcome of wars, regardless of who started the war. Germany was entitled to re-arm and to expand. Japan was within its rights in occupying China and Manchuria. Britain was wrong to bomb Dresden. Truman was wrong to authorise the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“THERE should not even be an Israel, a nation for people of one religion,” was the insistent claim, prefaced by, “I hope you will not be offended, but…” The words were those of an educated, middle-aged, white, ‘Christian’, fourth-generation Australian. (Now that all the PC identity politics has been clarified and put to one side, I continue.)
“First”, I replied, “I am not in the least offended. You are perfectly entitled to hold a view which differs from mine. But are you willing to listen to some facts which might lead you to change your mind? As Lord Keynes is reputed to have said in the House of Lords, ‘When the facts change, Sir, I change my mind. What do you do?’”
My companion politely said, “Go ahead.”
“I’ll give you two factual reasons.” I did not bother with the third (an argument, not a set of facts), which I will – for the sake of completeness – append to this short description of our conversation.
First, archaeologists have clearly demonstrated the existence of the Kingdom of David and the antedating and postdating Jewish settlement, not only of Jerusalem but of much of the area referred to by all of the monotheistic religions, as “The Holy Land”. (Any other name results in dispute, so let’s avoid them.) The coins, the religious artefacts etc. clearly prove the Jewishness of the land for some time before and after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Most of the Jews previously living there had been driven out, killed or captured and taken away by Nebuchadnezzar or by the Romans. The Old Testament, written in Babylon, is continuing proof of the former, and Rome’s Arch of Titus is continuing historical proof, if any were needed, of the latter.
Many of the 950,000 Jews living in Arab lands, before they were expelled after 1948 (curious that these refugees are never mentioned by the UN), were the descendants of those who moved west after the destruction of the first and second temples – witness the extant tribe of Cohens still living on the island of Djerba, off the coast of Tunisia – the few who were not expelled after 1948.
So there is no historical or archaeological doubt that the Holy Land was, at one time, a few thousand years ago, Jewish. Eviction was the fate of most after the successive conquests, first from the east and then from the west.
The second reason why there should be a safe state (a homeland) for this one religious group is that there is no country in Europe which has not killed them, forced them to give up their religion or thrown them out. They were forced out of England in 1290 and out of Spain and Portugal in 1492. They were confined to the Pale of Settlement by Czarist Russia. Pogroms in eastern Europe were frequent. In central Europe, they depended on the goodwill of kings, princes and emperors for protection from rampaging Christians accusing them of deicide and of kidnapping Christian children to use their blood at Passover for baking matzoh, (unleavened bread).
Many Easters, usually celebrated close to the time of Passover, were occasions for priests to arouse the wrath of their congregations about these ‘stiff-necked’ people who would not accept Jesus as the son of God. “Go back to Palestine!” was the slogan. “Get out of our country!”
There is no Islamic country which did not force Jews to convert or into the lesser status of dhimmi.
So the problem was, “To which country could evicted Jews go? Where could they live safe from the wrath of devout Christians and Muslims?” Even America denied them the welcome of the Statue of Liberty in the 1930s, turning back the steamship St Louis, with the resultant murder in Europe of most of those unfortunate passengers. The Australian representative at the 1938 Evian Conference stated that Australia did not want to import a racial problem. Australia eventually admitted too few, too late.
At this point, my companion conceded that Jews did (and do), in order to be safe, need a country of their own.
The point which I did not raise with him is the curious phenomenon that no Western voices are raised against the 29 Islamic countries which have Islam as their official religion – especially the 9 where it is the national religion, the 14 countries which have Christianity as the official religion and the 6 with Buddhism. So 49 countries are not criticised for having a state religion – only Israel.
Is that not curious?