Every day, more celebrated Jewish personalities – writers, artists, academics – are depicting Israel as a racist, vicious and inhumane “entity” that has to be dismantled. Many of them have assumed pivotal roles in the global campaign to delegitimize the Jewish State. Their relentless attacks could well play out in ways that indeed puts an end to Israeli sovereignty.
The severest blow to Israel’s reputation in a decade was delivered by a Jewish judge, Richard Goldstone.
Meanwhile, there is uproar in Herzliya over renaming part of a city street after Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Israel’s most influential philosopher, who coined the “Judeo-Nazis” expression for the Israeli army.
George Steiner, who has been proclaimed the most important literary critic in the world, questioned whether Israel should have come into being at all. Elsewhere, Eric Hobsbawm, one of the greatest living historians, supported the Second Intifada, endorsing the “the cause of liberation.”
Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, wrote letters to "Palestinian partisans." The late historian Tony Judt has been outspoken in his rejection of Israel’s right to exist and offered Israelis the fate of other religious minorities in the Middle East.
United Nations envoy Richard Falk is one of the most radical demonizers of the Jewish State. Historian Norman Finkelstein is one of the staunchest Western supporters of Hezbollah. Nobel laureate Harold Pinter, film directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh and historian Ilan Pappe have been the most famous anti-Israeli figures in the UK.
The initiative for an anti-Israel boycott in London was taken by Stephen and Hilary Rose, two renowned Jewish academics. The linguist Noam Chomsky, considered “the intellectual godfather” of the anti-Israel campaign, seeks the abolition of the Jewish State. Jewish philosopher Judith Butler is leading the divestment from Israel.
Michael Lerner’s magazine, Tikkun, is probably the most virulently anti-Israel screed ever published under Jewish auspices. There are the Israeli “neo- Canaanites”, Haim Hanegbi and Meron Benvenisti, who have come to the conclusion that “Israel as a Jewish state can no longer exist.” In Paris, bestselling author Stephane Hessel, himself of Jewish origin, is also inciting against Israel.
There are dozens of Jews leading the NGOs promoting campaigns for boycotts and sanctions against Israel. Now, a new book by the historian Deborah Lipstadt, titled The Eichmann trial, sheds light on another Jewish philosopher who demonized Israel, Hannah Arendt, who followed the Eichmann trial as correspondent of the New Yorker magazine. Arendt accused David Ben Gurion of speaking “the same language of Eichmann” and discussed “the bankruptcy of Zionism.”
For well over a century, Jewish intellectuals (and especially German-Jewish academics) rejected the legitimacy and desirability of harnessing the interests of the Jewish people into a political state. Only the Shoah, the most extreme demonstration imaginable of evil versus Jewish powerlessness, succeeded in turning the objections of these intellectuals to Israel into an embarrassment.
The extreme damage to Israel’s reputation inflicted by these and other Jewish intellectuals has been greatly underestimated. Indeed, with their words and actions they are boosting pernicious Judeophobic propaganda. Now, we are again in an era where the Jews are once more sentenced to solitary confinement on the moral high ground, with no other nation except Israel expected to disappear from this world.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism