I was at the protests against him last week. I spoke to countless pro-Israel Jewish activists. There is one conclusion: Israel is playing with fire. In the past, Israel received bipartisan support. The Democrats have not turned into Israel haters. But only a blind person can’t feel the change. This isn’t predetermined destiny. It can be stopped. But I’m not certain that the current government is capable of doing what is best for Israel. It is enthusiastic over the illusion of an alliance with the new administration. This is dangerous.
Trump became president even though he did not have the Republican Party’s support and even though most Americans did not vote for him. He appointed Stephen Bannon as his senior advisor. Bannon may not have been caught making an anti-Semitic comment himself, but he has been connected—and it is a real connection—to white supremacists who are usually also anti-Semites. And the combination between the two announces a rise in the level of anti-Semitism.
This is the same Bannon who was behind the statement issued two weeks ago, in honor of International Holocaust Day, which fails to mention the Jews. And the Israeli Right turned a blind eye.
I personally heard a senior Jewish official at a closed forum. We are talking about a person who works day and night for Israel. A peace process is needed, he cried out there. Even if nothing comes out of it, even if it’s clear that the Palestinian side will say no, there is a need for an impressive presentation of an Israeli willingness for peace. It’s not that this senior official doesn’t know that there is zero chance of that happening. It’s not that he doesn’t know that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has turned down every offer. He does know that. But in the battle against delegitimization, more has to be done. Much more.
Israel can do more. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can do more. But he’s not doing more. He has turned himself into a caricature of Emile Zola. He accuses. All he does is accuse. Everyone is to blame. He is perfect and wonderful. It’s sad, because there is another Netanyahu. The smart Netanyahu. More than smart. He can be at the top of the list of Israel’s most impressive leaders. It’s time for the small politician, the talkbacker, the haggler, to return to the drawer, and for this smart person to spring into action. It would be good not only for Israel, but also for Netanyahu.
The United Nations decided to mark an international Holocaust remembrance day in 2005. It was the initiative of Silvan Shalom, who served as foreign minister at the time. The decision stated as follows: “The Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.” Representatives of Muslim countries expressed reservations. The Indonesian ambassador argued that “the Holocaust is not the only human tragedy,” and an Egyptian diplomat said that “the resolution must cover all over cases of genocide.” They protested the fact that the resolution talks about Jews.
In January 2014, then-EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a statement in honor of International Holocaust Day. She refused to mention the word “Jews.” She was clearly anti-Israel. She drew angry reactions in Israel. Now it’s Trump, and the silence is deafening. It won’t stop the radical right in Israel from worshipping the man following the path taken by Ashton and Muslim countries. No, it’s not Holocaust denial. It’s Holocaust distortion. As long as he gives them permission to settle in every Kasbah and on every hill, in order to replace the Jewish state with one big state.
The deterioration is on the left as well. Bernie Sanders, the unshakable leader of the Democratic Left in the United States, tweeted congratulations to Linda Sarsour for organizing the mass protests following Trump’s inauguration as president: “Thank you for helping to build a progressive movement. When we stand together, we win.”
Something bad is happening to the world’s greatest and most important democracy. Trump is carrying a dark cloud of racist comments and a group of supporters that includes anti-Semites and racists. But the Democratic response is as scary. Because the Sanders-Sarsour coalition is basically the red-green coalition. Left and jihadists.
In the anti-Israel protests, mainly in Europe, there is a collaboration between radical left and Islamists. In Britain, it’s reflected in the Labour Party, which has turned into an incubator of anti-Semitism. The party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, announced in the past that he was friends with Hamas and Hezbollah. In the US, it’s the cooperation on campuses between members of the red-green coalition. The common denominator is of course hatred for Israel. It infiltrated the Democratic Party very quickly and climbed all the way up to a leader of Sanders’ caliber. And what Corbyn did to the British Labour Party Sanders is doing to the Democratic Party in the US.
Because Linda Sarsour, the protest leader, opposes the State of Israel’s existence, supports BDS and “one big state” (like part of the Israeli Right, because edges always meet). She is also an Islamist for all intents and purposes and supports, for example, Sharia law. When the Shalom Hartman Institute initiated a collaboration with Muslim American activists, Sarsour signed a petition opposing the initiative. She is against cooperation with bodies seeking peace. She supports cooperation only with bodies that deny Israel’s right to exist.