Many perpetrators from very diverse backgrounds are heavily involved in the ongoing de-legitimization of Israel, without any one being dominant. This is different from the build up of extreme anti-Semitism before the Holocaust. Then most of the overwhelming demonization of the Jews came from a single source: Hitler and his followers and allies. They built on an infrastructure laid over many centuries, mainly by the Catholic Church and certain factions of Protestantism.
On Sunday and Monday of the past week Boston-based CAMERA – which combats media distortion of information about Israel – held a conference on Israel’s de-legitimization. The lecturers were experts who have studied various sources of demonization. This gave an audience of about 1,000 people an overview of this frightening phenomenon. Many had come from other parts of the United States and Canada.
The purveyors of anti-Israel hatred include large parts of the Muslim world. At the conference Daniel Pipes said that Jews should focus their efforts on combating adherents of radical Islam. His view however may be too narrow an approach as much of the de-legitimization of Israel comes from the mainstream of Muslim societies. Former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler showed how several categories of law, including human rights law, have been corrupted by the United Nations. The same subject was dealt with in more detail by Professor Anne Bayefsky of the Hudson Institute.
Andrea Levin, who heads CAMERA, gave a number of examples of how the New York Times corrupts information about Israel. The academic Tammy Benjamin illustrated how anti-Israel hatred is promoted on the campuses of the University of California, the largest State university system in the United States. The forces of de-legitimization are on the one hand university teachers who use their courses for propaganda. On the other hand Muslim and leftist students spew hatred against Israel and try to frighten pro-Israeli Jews. Even if this contradicts university rules often administrations hardly react to complaints.
Professor Alvin Rosenfeld of the University of Indiana focused on Jews and Israelis who are in the forefront of those causing damage to Israel. He mentioned that after the Gaza flotilla incident more than 1,000 US rabbis, rabbinical students and academics instituted a fast to pray that Israel will become a more moral state and be nicer to the inhabitants of Gaza. Professor Gerald Steinberg of Bar Ilan University, who heads NGO Monitor claimed, that NGOs are often at the origin of anti-Israel news in the media.
Other hate promoters are various Christian groups, mainly liberal Protestants. Yet another source of hatred is trade unions. One cannot neglect right-wing sources of anti-Israel hate promotion, but one overwhelming message of the Boston conference was that the greatest threat to Israel comes from various groups in the Muslim world, assisted to a large extent by many extreme left-wing forces, but also by more moderate mainstream forces from social democracy.
The cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen drew a number of categories of Jewish Israel haters as cuckoo birds. In particular, his caricature of the ultraorthodox Neturei Karta cuckoo elicited much laughter in the public.
A conference of this kind gives a much more complete overview than reading about anti-Israeli incidents in newspapers from time to time, or even hearing a lecture on a specific category of perpetrators. One also understands much better that the Israeli government has been neglecting this largely non-violent war against the country for many decades and until today.
Israel today is endangered by potential genocide in two ways. The first is obvious. If radical Muslims obtain an atom bomb, there is a substantial threat that they will use it against Israel. One such peril comes from Shiite Iran. The American government has informed the Israeli government that Iran is about one year away from producing such a nuclear weapon.
Another possibility is that atom bombs belonging to Pakistan, a Sunni Muslim country, fall into radical Muslim hands if disorder in Pakistan increases. This is far from theoretical: in September this year, Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, warned that the country’s very survival was threatened by the twin forces of extremism and the huge floods that struck the country earlier this year.
There is, however, a second way in which Israel is threatened by mass murder. This is the above described method of the “thousand cuts.” In my presentation on the increasing ideological criminality of Europe I pointed out that the culmination of the growing pressure exerted on Israel may force it to make concessions and go back to indefensible borders, which Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz borders.”
A viable peace may be possible. However, a process in which only Israel makes concessions will lead to an agreement which is called “peace” but may be nothing more than an intermediate step to mass murder. This is all the more true in an increasingly uncertain world deriving from two major factors: the structural instability of the global economy and the large jihadist forces in the Muslim world.
The message of the increasing de-legitimization of Israel is frightening, yet we should learn to understand it as best as possible. It was an important achievement of CAMERA, to bring so many expert lecturers together from many countries.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 18 books, several of which deal with anti-Semitism and the de-legitimization of Israel
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